I just celebrated my 52nd birthday, and realised my life could kind of be split into two halves, with roughly the last half of my life free from the abuse I experienced through childhood and early adulthood. Wow! What a milestone!
This led me to reflect on the valuable growth points within the pain, which shaped and enabled me to step into my true self: vulnerable, courageous and someone who speaks out about the elephant in the room. I am grateful.
I want to share what I am grateful for, to support you in owning your light, let’s be clear… I do not believe I (or you) need to suffer to grow. Suffering to me is a reflection of the wounds in our culture, and part of the limited aspects of being human. Yet within us we also hold magic and the infinite, and are truly incredible. We can create miracles.
Zorba says, “Life is the full catastrophe! “
I say, “We are the full catastrophe! “
Within each of us we are a universe of life giving and life destroying. We are dark and light. We are powerful and helpless. We are spiritual and soulful beings living in a human body.
Though suffering is inevitable in this human journey, I don’t believe I asked for or deserved pain and suffering. I hold that we can learn through love, compassion, playfulness and curiosity. Just as babies grow, develop and learn through love and play. But we are meaning making creatures and so we will usually seek a meaning to help us develop some certainty and meaning to navigate our way through.
Please know I am not grateful for the years of abuse, but I am grateful for what it shaped in me.
Let’s begin!
I am grateful for the absence of my parents, (which does not deny the heartbreak, pain and impact on my sense of self), as it allowed me to leap into the unknown and not be held back by their filter of how I should be. As my daughter said to me many years ago, ‘let me make my own mistakes’.
I am grateful for my creative unconscious, which always led me to write poems and stories, ever since I was very young. There was a way I could name the unnamable, even if it began in symbolic language when I was not safe enough to know it consciously.
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I am grateful for being disowned by both my parents (which does not deny my heartbreak and pain that needed it’s own processing), because I know now, I can say anything and fear nothing. What is the worst that can happen? It already has, and I lived through it!
I am grateful for speaking up to my father, as an adult, every time he was inappropriate, critical and demeaning. Despite feeling uncomfortable seeing the confusion on his face because he didn’t consciously know what I was talking about, I kept speaking out and something in him heard my boundary and stopped, even though I heard it continue to play out with others.
I am grateful for speaking out; because each time I did I made my reality and me more important than preserving and not offending the other person’s ego ideal sense of self.
I am grateful I learnt that after half a lifetime of betraying myself (unconsciously and involuntarily) I prefer to betray another and honor my truth.
I am grateful that the years of abuse and neglect shaped me to keep searching and seeking. I was always seeking as a child, because I was so used to enduring and not getting what I needed. This hunger to seek to get something of what I needed shaped the adult seeker in me to never give up, and keep seeking till I could find all the missing pieces and develop deep theories and processes to heal myself and others.
I am grateful that in discovering how much I over-extended for others, I learnt how to recognise the costs and find my own boundary and only extend when I felt the other was meeting me in commitment.
After the first chapter of my life shaping me into others were my reference point, I discovered I could extend the reference point beyond what I thought was acceptable because what was the worst thing that could happen, I had lived through it already, and this freed me from worrying about how others saw me, so I could discover my own line and boundary and claim my own reference point. Otherwise I would always be anticipating what I perceived was the line and reference point according to my fantasies of what I thought others would find acceptable. Then I could adjust my own reference point because I had gone where I needed to and freely made my own adjustments to find my center and truth.
I am grateful for the terror of domestic violence reaching such a point that I had no option but to escape. I am not grateful for being abused. To me that is masochistic and sadistic, but I am grateful for that point which finally found my ‘that’s enough’.
I am grateful because if the years of abuse had not carried me to the very bottom of a deep, black hole, I would have remained trapped and asleep. Instead, it was from this place that I was able to wake up for the first time in my life and begin to find me.
I am grateful that it was in my heart being broken that I came to discover my heart. I remember putting my hand to my heart to feel my heart beating and I couldn’t find it. It was as if my heart was frozen from all the heart pain and betrayals and it was locked away to protect and prevent any further breakages to my heart. But I couldn’t find it for me. I panicked till I found my heart through the love for my daughters.
I am grateful for my two daughters, because when we escaped, it was my love for them, which led me to take steps. I couldn’t do it for myself, but in attempting to help their healing through childhood, I found my own healing. I knew they needed me to lead the way, for them. In finding it for my daughters I could then give myself what I needed and had been waiting for others to give me. The circle of love, we helped each other heal.
I am grateful in experiencing the worst; I automatically could know what was missing. Even if at first I couldn’t know it in words, the cells of my body knew it and my body and unconscious kept a dialogue of dreams, fears and fantasies which kept at me to open me to listen to my deep creative unconscious and all that was buried there.
I am not grateful for the 14 forms of abuse I was tormented by, but I am grateful for the wisdom of what each type taught me, because each type taught me to attend to the ‘little’ and not disregard or ignore their pervasive and accumulative impact. Each type of abuse taught about how our beliefs, our unconscious, our defence system and instinct, how we attribute and name, how and what we communicate, our behaviours, and more all communicate and inform beyond what our mind gets caught inside of with the ‘should’s’ and ‘rules’ from our environment.
I am grateful for the betrayals from my sisters because inside the pain of not experiencing what I needed I found what is needed and now provide this for others in my retreats, online coaching and events.
I am grateful in experiencing abuse and the loss of my healthy instinct, I found my instinct and my trust for that in me and how vital it can be as our protector and guide, because I knew immediately ‘he’ was someone to get away from but I didn’t yet have the strength or internal permission. Every woman I meet who has escaped I asked if she had warning signs and every woman had her instinct give her warnings.
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I am grateful that after the helplessness of abuse and the repercussion of not trusting myself, that I found keeping fit because it was in lifting weights and the excitement of feeling and experiencing my body being strong that I discovered another layer to being strong on the inside. In lifting each weight and spontaneously telling myself I am strong, I made a pledge that even if someone was bigger or louder than me, that I would never let their energy or voice be louder than my own quiet voice, which knows.
I am grateful how the abuse led me to therapy, which enabled me to find the first safe place in my life, and so to be able to develop the emotional muscle to allow myself to take risks and affect others, so that it was no longer one sided with another only being allowed to affect me.
I am grateful for full bodied mind, body and unconscious focused therapy which led me to let free my courageous and spontaneous self, and explore new and life giving experiences in the world. After my time in therapy, these new adventures became another level of healing and built my safety to be in the world and belong.
I am grateful for the challenges with my two daughters and their shut down parts, where we would clash, because with my girls, I knew I would never, ever give up, and it was through this love that I realised what love truly is: that there are always mis-attunements in life, but as long we both keep trying to re-attune and don’t shut down, even if it means sometimes we are not living our optimal self, at some point magic will happen and the constant rubbing will open the pearl and the re-attunement and connection will flow.
I would love to hear from you about your meaningful reflections or support you to find this ground.
11694962_10207746191788074_523636441747383892_n Anita Bentata
Author, Professional Speaker, Workshop Facilitator, Survivor
When Life is not a Fairytale
Getting out of the Woods
Author: The Wolf in a Suit : Fairytales and Truths about Relationship Abuse for women, community members and professionals www.thewolfinasuit.com