(This blog was originally written by me for LifeSurfer)
“We terrorize ourselves with fears of reliving childhood traumas, but if we survived our childhoods – a time of fewer options and resources- we are surely likely to prevail as adults”
Alan Robert Neal
On November 7th, 2006, my ex-partner abused me so much that due to the abuse and stress it caused, my children were born 7 weeks prematurely.
For a few years after that, each year I would feel the same mix of emotions I felt on November 7th , 2006: sad because I realized that the idea of a happy family without violence with this man was just a fairy tale all along, disappointment because I felt like less of a woman because I didn’t carry the children full-term, disappointment because I had a C-section instead of birth in a natural way, anxiety about the well-being of the boys , fear for my abusive ex-partner, fear for what the future held, and, of course, the fears woman regularly experience when they become a mom (of twins). I felt so much shame towards my sons because I had brought them into a situation with an abusive father.
I felt also relieved because I knew that despite some setbacks and things I have to think about regarding the health of my children, they are mostly fine. And the emotional trauma they got due to the court order that they had to see their biological father whereafter he abused them, will pass in time I am sure. Sadly the physical trauma of one of my children will never go away.
“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and thinkers, but most of all; surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.”
The emotions belonging to November 7th were strong but slowly fade with time because I created new memories and emotions tied to it: those of love, commitment, and family.
I/we turned the dreading of November 7th into something we look forward to, replacing energy feeding emotion to energy giving emotion. The beautiful moments we have created outweigh the bad moments of November 7th, 2006.
As I started practicing compassion for myself, came to know myself better, and discovered who I was, I learned why I had made some of the decisions I’ve made, began to understand some of the processes within abusers and the persons being abused, and I started to heal.
I knew that if I knew then what I know now I would have made different decisions. I know that my children and I are stronger than the decision to give them an abusive father. They are the beautiful result of a bad decision I made for them in the past, and I know that they will be fine in the end. I owned what I had done partly because I knew why I had done it, and acknowledged and accepted my naivety, lack of wisdom, and inexperience at that time. Finally, I could forgive myself. I became free.
No, forgiveness did not magically erase the hurt that had been caused but it allowed me to move on and transform the pain. People evolve through challenges. Through our challenges, we are able to receive wisdom – and I am very grateful for the wisdom I have gained from my challenges. I can apply this wisdom along my path, and give it to other people too, but most of all practice compassion because of it.
By transforming the pain, I could be of assistance to others and with that to be of service to me. It’s a perfect cycle. I became a fluent LifeSurfer – high or low waves, I am standing on my board and gliding gracefully through the waves of life, and I have transformed from a survivor to a SurThriver: creating a life I love by doing what makes me feel happy due and despite what I’ve been through.