January 15, 2011

Stockholm Syndrome, a Thank You

For the longest time, I didn't want to admit that I'd been emotionally abused as a 20-something. Mostly it was because I didn't want pity, and seeing that softening around someone's eyes that meant they were thinking "you poor dear" gives me hives. Nah. I'm not interested in playing the victim. If anything, it gives me perspective. Perhaps I haven't traveled as much as some, or been as poor as others, but I think that my emotional experiences in this life give me a pretty decent pool to drink from.

For years, I ran from the idea that I was damaged. I hid my pain. I hid myself. Yes, it was truly detrimental to me, even long after he and I finally parted ways. Even the suspicion I'd seen him in traffic gave me ice water for blood. To say I had a few issues to work through would be a bit of an understatement.

I finally told him that it was time for us to part ways forever in a letter. Yes, I know. A dear John. But, all things considered, it took monumental effort to do even that. I kept that letter and revisit it now and then when I'm feeling powerless, or that the world is having its way with me. I read it and am thankful for what I have been through, because it gave me strength and fortitude for later in life.

So, I suppose, in a way I'm thankful to have been through that mess. I wouldn't be the woman I am today if I hadn't needed to find those inner reserves. For the longest time, I deeply regretted that part of my life. However, it was exactly what I thought I wanted at that time in my life, and it's not something I can change. I can only acknowledge that it happened, and be thankful that it didn't poison me like it easily could have. I'm also not advocating abuse as ok. I'm not. What I'm saying is that I was able to turn my experience into a positive. It's made me strong, and it gives me perspective when it comes to others. I learned. I grew as a person. I gained depth. I can use this experience to help others in similar situations, and have actually. I'm not afraid of the emotional fireman's carry when it comes to helping people who are hurting and can't manage to walk away on their own.

So yes. In a way, I am thanking my abuser. He doesn't know it, but his treatment of me was the catalyst for the woman I became later in life. A woman I happen to like quite a bit.

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