Double Edged Sword For Survivors

Dear Me,
Never regret the past because what happened in the past has made you who you are today.

Never regret the past. I picked this picture with this specific saying because it is a two-edged sword for survivors of abuse. When someone is traumatized as a child, it is hard to work through that with no regrets about your past. Children are born innocent, expecting the adults in their life to be safe and nurturing. When this is not the case and children are the result of abusive adults, we tend to regret a lot of things about our past.

Perhaps this is why it is hard for children to speak up. Or perhaps why it takes so long for children to speak up about what they endured. As a child, we blame ourselves. A childs’ brain is not able to comprehend fully everything endured. For many, when they did speak up they weren’t believed so why keep saying anything in the future? Children are silenced for so many reasons.

We have the children who trusted the wrong people. We have the children who learned they were nothing. We have the children who were manipulated, belittled, and bullied everyday. We have the children who never did anything right. So how do we not regret the past? And how does this shape us into the people we are today?

In happens in two main ways. First, you have the ones who will take a negative approach to life. Addictions, drugs, alcohol, negative coping skills, etc. all become a way of life. Perhaps they enter one abusive relationship after another. Self-worth and self-esteem are two things never achieved in their life. Then there is the second approach where the person decides right off the bat they are changing who they were. They develop a healthy self-worth, healthy coping skills, and work on healing themselves before engaging in a relationship. They are opposite of who they were.

We combined the two which is common for a lot of survivors. We took the first approach and spiraled; mostly on the inside where we were only hurting ourselves because that is what we thought was deserved. We did not know anything except abuse and negative relationships. We had no self-esteem. We did not even try to work at getting better, healthier.

Then we hit rock bottom. We felt there was nothing left to live for, except we had a son that we love so much. And then we had a second son. And our perspective changed. We wanted better for our kids than we had for ourselves. By this time, our oldest was having a hard time with coping skills and anger.

A survivor, a fighter, and a healthy individual are all things we now recognize we are. We also recognize we are worthy of these things. An advocate for others is what we are working towards.

Do we regret the past? Yes and no. We regret being abused, losing trust in adults, not being believed, and being taught we were unloved. At the same time, those same things helped to get us to where we are today. We have realized the end result would not have been the same had we not endured our past, yet we regret going through it. A double-edged sword for survivors…

A. G. Ballard

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