A Lifetime to Heal

A Lifetime to Heal

A Story by barleygirl
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true story from my life . . .

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As some may recall, I’ve posted snippets about my abusive childhood of regular rape and other violence. Whenever I tell my story, some ask me to share how I survived and I’ll try to do that now. There are a million different ways to be a survivor and I’ll focus on the pertinent parts of my own journey.

The central requirement is to be patient with oneself and the healing journey. It can take years (and even one’s entire life) to finally find a fairly balanced space, after a childhood of regular abuse or chronic neglect. If someone tells you to hurry up and heal already . . . not a good companion on such a journey.

I hate it when some people insist on saying “survivor” instead of “victim” as if this puts the proper face on a bad situation. As a person who’s been naturally strong and writing openly about my childhood abuse, I often get private confessionals in reply. This lifetime of experience is why I can confidently recommend that we try to reach each abused person where they are, instead of trying to move people to some “better” place where we think they should be. Nobody likes being treated like a broken mess that needs to be fixed (even when that’s true).

I’m honored when people tell me I’m well balanced for someone kicked around quite a bit as a kid. The number one reason I had a successful healing journey is because I talked about my childhood obsessively to certain amazing angels in my young adulthood who listened to me drone on and on about the same pain over and over . . . FOR YEARS! I blush when I think back to what a whiner I was. I’ll never know why people listened to me cry all-nighters as I poured out my anguish, but I’m absolutely sure each one saved my life many times over.

Some get tired of reading postings here at the café from those writers who are perpetually down. I also have to brace myself to absorb this pain and not reply reflexively with some shallow “fix it” advice. But remember, simple listening means everything to the victim trying to flush a river of pain.

As an abused person, don’t pour out your vulnerabilities to people who don’t want to hear it . . . that’s heaping on more self-abuse. There are always those in this world who will take time to listen. Believe that you deserve someone (or a community) to help, by hearing your pain. As you believe, so shall you experience in life. Sometimes it feels like an embarrassing flow of muck, but eventually wounds are cleansed so one’s deepest depths can heal.

As a kid I was more like dad (the abuser) than anyone in our large family. Others in the family scorned me somewhat because my toughness and outspokenness (to them) felt a lot like dad’s overbearing and spirit-crushing vibe. I was the only one brash enough to stand up to dad and I often got a man-sized fist in the face as a price for speaking my truth. Others hated me for poking the bear as they tried to smooth things over with meaningless placating platitudes.

To heal from my abusive childhood, the first thing to do was to stop hating dad for all the pain he inflicted. Learning to accept dad and his failings was the first step for me to stop my own chronic self-loathing. It took most of my life, but I finally learned to own parts of me “just like dad” and cherish these naturally strong traits as the very tools that helped me survive. Self-loathing is a natural outcome of abuse, leading to self-abuse and suicide ideation. One way to break this never-ending struggle is to find and maintain self-love. Everything in life goes better upon a foundation of self-love.

There are other reasons to stop hating dad . . . many aspects of his life philosophy naturally resonate with me. I don’t want to reject his positive influences while I angrily reject his total being. I don’t want to throw away the good parts of my childhood as I fume over the abuse.

Dad was the original health food nut before anyone gave a hang about the nutritional emptiness of spongy white bread and bright pink processed meats loaded with preservatives. I had the weirdest looking sandwiches in school. Growing up on a farm, a sandwich was made with thick slabs of freshly butchered meat, slow-roasted. I bit into my roughly-hewn slices of brown bread full of crunchy bits self-consciously. Most of my life I’ve been cooking and living naturally, like dad. How could I not embrace this part of him and myself?

Some family members rejected our healthful beginnings and went on to suffer from common ailments brought on by self-abusive consumption habits. Others in the family despised our overly strict upbringing, so they let their kids rule the roost when it was time to be parents. I don’t regret our strict upbringing. My strong work ethic and discipline helped balance out my lifelong brokenness, making for a fairly plentiful life even while I was out of control in some ways along some stretches.

This brings me to important healing actions taken unintentionally. I threw myself into everything in life, mainly to drown out the whining pain in my mind. The more busy I was, the less I was grinding on how worthless I felt. I worked beyond a regular work week while attending college night classes for fifteen years through my twenties and early thirties. In my free time I did hiking, backpacking, and bicycling adventures almost every weekend. Lots of times I did not feel like doing ANYTHING. But I always told myself: once I get started, this will feel good. And it did feel good. Once I got myself moving, I forgot my constant sorrow.

There were some drawbacks, of course. I missed out on many things in life due to my inability to sit still and my tendency to be fiercely independent. But everything in life is a trade-off. Don’t use a magnifying glass when examining one’s healing journey. Look from afar for those thriving spots of lushness and be glad! The areas we focus on will be the spots that flourish.




© 2018 barleygirl



Author's Note

barleygirl
Photo of me on the farm where I was born, three years old in 1959,
showing early signs of loving fur friends *smile*

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This is great advice from one who knows. A hard-won kind of knowledge, I'd say. So many similarities-- although my dad would "eat anything he could catch" (his words), he constantly read health magazines, took all kinds of vitamins, and preached about how bad modern food was. I love that picture of the little you with cat.

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

3 Months Ago

The mountain of vitamin pills that would be waiting at the breakfast table . . . and to think I swal.. read more



Reviews

I admire how you can be so open about your experiences.

"I also have to brace myself to absorb this pain and not reply reflexively with some shallow “fix it” advice."

I liked this so much. I agree, I struggle with this as well because there are these snippets of advice that may be right or wrong, but that person has to see that for themselves because they have to find their own sense of empowerment and ability to move forward, however long that takes.

"As you believe, so shall you experience in life." This inspires me very much.

I really like that you include growing to love what you have inherited from your dad. Reading that makes me want to love the parts I have inherited from my mother who often neglected me. What has helped me to survive throughout the years is my sense of adventure I get from her and the love of being around people. Thank you that this piece of writing has helped me in my own journey for self love.

" I don’t want to throw away the good parts of my childhood as I fume over the abuse."

I struggle to remember this even though I arrived at this conclusion awhile ago. Sometimes it's hard to see the good in the bad when the bad hurt so much and wasn't fair.

I can go on and on, but I appreciate you and hope you continue to be strong and bold in your writing and life.



Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

3 Months Ago

This beautiful eloquent share means the world to me. I love what you're saying about learning to lov.. read more
Difficult to say excellent or well written about this. I know some of what you speak having been a beaten child myself. I think we didn't know there was anything different. This was life.
I wholeheartedly agree with all your very pertinent advice. Especially the don't whine to others piece.
I think this is good work, educational and very well written. But most of all it should be written. Thank you Margie.


Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

3 Months Ago

Thanks for the encouragement, as I piece together my series of essays as each lesson occurs to me. I.. read more
You poor girl. I know what you went through as I suffered as a school child who was regularly abused by an Art teacher who would run his hands under my shorts when sat at a desk and fondle my penis. I dreaded his lessons and told my Father about this teacher's fondness for my penis. He unfortunately never did anything about this and dismissed it as a figment of my imagination and used to clip me round the ear for my troubles.

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

3 Months Ago

This is a deep & meaningful share. I appreciate that you have healed to the point where you do not h.. read more
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i can relate to every word of this. my mother used to ritualistically whip me and my brother with an old leather belt in a house of hording amidst bursts of anger. she tried to control every aspect of our lives. i know what you speak of. priceless pic. A+ for just being able to speak about it ...

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

3 Months Ago

Thank you for being brave & transparent, too! I had no idea about this & now it may give me some bac.. read more
As a victim of systemic chronic abuse by both parents, three brothers my peers and my teachers this poem completely resonated for me and I absolutely loved it! I am 53 and I’m trying to heal myself but I’m still extremely broken and I too am a lot like my father who was a co-conspirator in the abuse. His top three things to say about me in front of others were number one that I was too flat chested 2) that I have no common sense 3) that I was useless.

Mothers top three things
1) you’ll never amount to anything
2) you don’t have good hair like your cousins
3) stop crying I’ll give you something to cry about.

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

3 Months Ago

As my little life snippets go on, I will get to the part where being chronically dismissed as a piec.. read more
Kaia Lynn Kale

3 Months Ago

I consider you a friend thank you Margie🌹
Thank you for sharing these personal snippets from your life and advice. It always makes me think more openly about others wants and needs, sometimes as a straightforward person it is hard to understand why things that are very clear to me arent to others. I have many lessons to learn from you. You should think about writing a book.

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I am in love with that pic. 😊😊😊
You always inspire us ma'am thanks for sharing.

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

3 Months Ago

Thank you for stopping by & sharing your sweet self with me! (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie
Indeed agreed to your words...I feel whatever awful situations we pass in our life, few times later if we see them....we may laugh on our own foolishness...am picturing myself a little bit in your shoes....and at the last when you say, there's no need to magnify the life of whom you admire but just look at the parts of their life where they stumbled and triumphed....this inspires magnificently....A huge hug and infinity respect to you! ((Smile))

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

3 Months Ago

I feel very honored by your thoughtful review, especially the part about not magnifying the struggle.. read more
Tahsin.Z🍁

3 Months Ago

And am happy to make you feel that! Love and Hugs...blessings upon you❤
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Gee
You're a top notch woman with a big and beautiful heart and I tip my hat your way. You have my utmost respect as both a human being and a writer :))

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

3 Months Ago

Thanks so much for this loving salute! I also very much enjoy our back-and-forths here, plus reading.. read more
Gee

3 Months Ago

My pleasure :))

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Added on August 22, 2018
Last Updated on August 22, 2018

Author

barleygirl
barleygirl

Central Coast, CA



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Just loving life & sharing my blessings. more..

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