How to Befriend and Accept Yourself After Abuse

Befriending and Accepting Yourself After Abuse

Guest Blog by: Laura Moseley


YOU ARE NOT DAMAGED GOODS


There is NO ONE on this Earth that God does not love -- even your abuser, and yes, even you! You are NOT damaged goods, and you ARE worthy of His love. You are worthy of love, period! Healing and forgiving yourself after abuse can be a long, tedious process. However, you must befriend yourself and love yourself for what you offer. You might be thinking: But how???? What do I have to offer???


After surviving my final abuse incident in 2017, I honestly stayed in bed for two months and cried, only getting up to work daily, taking care of my children, and going to the grocery store once per week. If I didn’t leave the house, I wouldn’t come across my abuser or anyone else who would ask about it.


THE QUESTIONS


You know, the regular questions: What did you do to deserve that? Why didn’t you leave sooner? THOSE are not questions of concern; they are questions of nosiness and victim-blaming. I, at least, had the good sense to know that I did not need that in my life. I escaped with my life, so I was starting with that. I felt like a husk of what I used to be!


So, once I started being less sad, I launched a personal inventory of what I liked about myself, what I did not like, and what I wanted to explore and change. This is very much like the personal inventory that the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Steps outlines because, let’s face it: I was detoxing from my trauma bond that was established in abuse! Over twenty-three years of my identity was as a victim, ultimately!


I took a sheet of paper, turned it to a landscape orientation, and drew three columns: What I Like About Me, What I Don’t Like About Me, and Things I Want to Try. I knew I wouldn’t complete that list that day, so I carried it around with me in my purse to write on it as things came to mind.


Honestly, I carried it around and added entries to it in two weeks. I discovered that the list of things I liked about myself was much longer than the things I didn’t like about myself. I didn’t like many things from the abuse I discovered as I self-analyzed the list. My therapist was delighted that I brought this list, and we discussed it over a few sessions. Exploring these items would be key to my growth and survival!


WHAT DID I LIKE ABOUT MYSELF?


Some of the things that I liked about myself, and still do, were: “I am a good writer,” “I like to and want to help people,” and “I am a good public speaker.” Could I explore these things again? Could I write again? My Abuser didn’t let me write because that involved talking to people and free-thinking.


He shut that down for me after a year of part-time job as a contributing writer at the monthly arts newspaper in my town. I did contact them again after my abuse had ended, but my Ex had destroyed that bridge by threatening the editor. Darn it! How could I get back into writing? I was myself when I wrote! My brain fired, and my endorphins bubbled and collided!


The next step in a personal inventory is to write out how you would “fix” or “remedy” the things you do not like about yourself if they are fixable. Some of the things that I did not like about myself were: “I dwell too long on negative things,” “I make rash decisions when I am either angry or sad,” and “I try to fix everything.” Stopping that behavior altogether is always an option, but you also have to train your mind not to go back to that pathway of thinking.

GRATITUDE JOURNAL


My first exercise in writing was a Gratitude Journal, which helped turn negative thoughts or experiences into positive ones. No negative thoughts could be entered, only thoughts that I was genuinely thankful for and why I was grateful!



It helped me to listen to how God was shaping me and to give me hope with a more positive outlook. I placed a butterfly sticker on my Gratitude Journal to remind me that beautiful things don’t come without a necessary struggle! I liked this because it also helped me not to dwell on negative things. Sometimes I wrote about walking away from something, as a positive, instead of trying to “fix” it. I could feel myself growing and evolving! It was the first time in my adult life that I felt powerful!


I also looked at my list of things that I wanted to try, which included: “I want to start a blog,” “I want to meet new people,” and “I want to start a new hobby.” The blog part I honestly put on hold until 2019, but I did start going to business mixers to meet people. I started attending a new Toastmasters group to network with like-minded people who had NO idea of the gossip train that was my small town.


I STARTED NEW THINGS



I created a new Facebook account as my abusive Ex deactivated my old one. I started building a new support system, keeping the few precious people that had helped me and continued to help. I had to silently say “goodbye” to those who no longer served my needs or my spirit. I wished them well, but many were still loyal to my Ex.


I did all of this for my well-being but also to keep my Ex from spying on me, as there was an emergency protective order that I wasn’t going to assist him in violating! Healing also depended on me creating “safe zones” to be me, which was what I was doing!


EMBRACING MY NEW SELF


I have had to re-embrace myself and renew what I knew was always there after abuse: spunkiness, cleverness, and the ability to survive and thrive! All I heard from my Ex was negative things about myself, and the negative stuff is always easily believed. I was now involved in building the [harder to believe] positive things!




The steps I took in doing that worked well for me, helping me to re-discover myself and like what I had to offer and the opportunity to change what I did not.


I found an opportunity to write and become part of a book so that my words and my work could help others. My chapter in the book God Says: I am Battle-Scar Free shares all about it.


I love myself more than ever, embracing what is imperfect about me. Befriending yourself IS possible; you just have to believe that it is! YOU are still in there!


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