This is a heavily emotional piece for me to write. As I sit in my office across my laptop, tears well up my face. Damn! I thought I had healed from this. I have all the insight as to what drives my behaviour. I honestly took this one to my previous therapist. Yet, this one particular pain lingers and haunts me. Much of what I write is in retrospect, what I am or have gone through. This one is present-continuous. It feels like a chapter that’s nearing completion yet somehow embodies much of how I make meaning of my experiences and my way of being in this unstable world. Healing is so messy.

A quote by Darlene Ouimet reads: “Survivors of any and all abuse become very good at anticipating moods of others, looks, actions, all of it in an effort to survive”. Believing that if we can be agreeable, be complaint and loving, do things how they want, that we will be safe. This becomes our way of life”

I grew up in a highly polarised world. One parent was critical, controlling and punitive. The other, aloof at most, drunk and humourous at best. You can imagine the confusion, the struggle to know which parent to go to and where you needed to get comfort from. I was always preoccupied with understanding just where in the radar of their affection I was situated.

Being loved and embraced one moment and totally abhorred the next day made me good at anticipating people’s moods. On a good day, I would be left alone and would not get into trouble. I lived to stay out of trouble. On a bad day, I got unwarranted beatings or witnessed other people getting beaten. Life was a dog-eat-dog world. Life was a jungle, a grossly dark prison with familiar inmates.

When is the next beating coming from? What did I do? Will the slap be across the face or on just on the cheek when you’re not anticipating it? Will my head be banged against the wall like the last time? Will I survive the next blow or get a concussion? Did I do something to cause that frown on your face? What do those tight lips mean? Are you clenching your fist because you’re about to hit me. Was it me? Are you sure it was not me? Why am I having these nightmares of being locked up or being chased? What am I running from?

Oh gosh! Look at me forgetting the rule of the jungle: “I am big, you are small. I am right, you are wrong. If you dare stand up for yourself, I will find a way to make you pay.” These were questions I would have to ask and answer myself. You just never knew where you stood.

Years later, I remain fractured in my capacity to receive and give love. Expressions of affection to me are met with such suspicion. I constantly question and evaluate motives. All this in an effort to eliminate any intolerance of the frustration that I experience from not knowing where I stand. Being a loner makes it easy not to second-guess anyone. Sure, I survived abuse. It made me the top student in clinical training. I could read micro-expressions (My favourite series was “Lie to Me”). I am able to connect with both the victims and the offenders. I am able to help. Yet, I too need help.

Free but not so free.

I am as wretched as they come. I too am in need and not that of a therapist. I am in need of a Saviour. Jesus is the only expression of stability in love that I have ever experienced. The only consolation and sense of stability I can fathom, is an open bible.


Tell us: What are your thoughts about this essay?