Abusive dynamics can result in us feeling a sense of smallness in ourselves. When I look back at those lived experiences, the various Me’s in those dynamics (childhood and adulthood) were small in different ways- sometimes it was literal (trying to make myself physically small), sometimes it was energetic (energetically trying to make myself small/invisible). Sometimes it was both. In those experiences there was an abuser- someone who inflicted the violence (emotional, psychological, physical, and/or sexual) – and there was a me, the abused, who was violated.
On one level, it’s clear who is the victim, and who is the perpetrator. To a child mind it’s not so clear. Of course, I blamed myself. Of course, I thought it was me. This is a trauma response. As an adult in an abusive relationship, the thought patterning was similar. It had carried over.
An abuser can be seen as one the most horrifying people on the planet. Understandable. *And.* Where does that leave one but being continuously afraid of this person. Yes, for good reason, *and*, where does that leave me as the survivor? It left me constantly in their shadow.
Clearly, this is no way to live one’s life.
Let’s be clear- my adult abuser was truly awful. Those of you who know my story, which includes his ethos with regards to girls and women, might even call him evil. So, what I’m saying does not dispute that.
*And.* Living in the shadow of my abuser- where *they* continue to be centered, and I continued to feel small- was an impossible way to live my life.
It’s the mind fuckery of an abuser to put themselves in the center of people’s lives. Once out of that abusive context it is essential for the well-being of the survivor to flip that dynamic- where the survivor becomes the center of their own lives, rather than their abuser still at the center.
It takes time. And in my case a really strong network of somatically wise professionals.
Part of the journey as a survivor is untangling the stories we had to weave to survive through those times. It’s a multi-faceted journey. It’s complex and includes somatic, physiological, psychological and neural learnings and unlearning’s. Layer by layer, clarity slowly happens.
Our child self-belief patterns, that then became inhabited our adult self, start to get unwoven. We start to discern that the me who was violated is not the current me anymore.
As the self-loathing shifts, and the self-love and compassion shifts, our relationship to the abuser starts to organically change. The abuser is still the abuser, but it matters less and less, as if it is more of a historical fact than a life sentence. They are no longer centered and begin to lose the power over us they once had. The energetic cords start to fray.
A practice which I created, simple consensual inquiry, has also been really important for me with regards to when that small me starts to show up. Inquiring into what holds those abusive patterned tendrils in place has released so much fear with regards to my abusers. I am not a fan of the word forgiveness because of how culture has misappropriated that word- but I will say that I no longer am held hostage by those old events or people, and when I imagine them the power they once had over me is gone. They are no longer even considered my enemy, and instead more as a character in the story of my life.
Did I say this takes time? It also takes a lot of commitment to engaging in practices and ways of being that will help you re-write your belief patterns and re-wire your nervous system. My commitment to well-being has become the center of my life- such that there is very little room for my abuser to occupy anymore. And when that energy starts to show up I have the support I need. My daily practices offer me increased opportunity to live into my wholeness and are centered as a way of life- with clients, students, peers, teachers, lovers, family, friends and even strangers.
This is my story. Yours may be different, and justifiably so. We all reclaim ourselves and our lives differently, in our own ways, on a timeline that can’t be compared to another’s. Truth be told, there was a day when I never thought I’d be Here, because the then consumed me. Be gentle with yourself and find your people and your practices that support you. What you fill your life with will fill your life.