Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Hard Exhausting Work of Recovery

Anyone who is either in this process of recovery from child abuse or has been down this road and come out the other side, will know what I mean when I say that it is hard work and there are days and weeks where it seems to take everything out of you. EVERYTHING. Where the things you are dealing with become so intense that there feels to be nothing left and you have exhausted yourself. You are wrung completely dry.

I’ve been doing this for close to 4 years and know the cycles.  It is somewhat like being in the labor of childbirth, but it goes on for years.  You have these intense contractions that keep getting stronger and stronger until you feel you cannot take it anymore, you wonder if you are going to live through this, and then it kind of eases up a bit, giving you just enough time to catch your breath.

Of course, all this is going on in the realm of emotion and memory, and it does often make its way into the realm of physical pain, when the body memories come to the surface and get released.  And sometimes there is a great sense of relief after going through a period of this, after you have come through it you feel a little lighter for a spell.  Some of the weight of all those burdens have been lifted from you and you do actually feel lighter.

Then the next round comes.  People who go through this liken it to peeling the onion.  You go through one layer and then find there is still another layer under that.  You just keep peeling that damn onion. But the tears are real, they are not a reaction to an onion, they are tears of all the pain that has been buried in each layer of your soul.  And you have to feel the pain in order to release the tears, that is the excruciating part.  The tears are the relief part. 
Sometimes I am feeling the pain and shedding the tears and haven’t even been given the slightest insight into what is going on in this layer.  It can be so intense and all I know is I can feel it and the tears are releasing something in me, but the insight, the knowledge has not been given to me as to what I have just uncovered.  Sometimes I am given a little insight, but there is this pressing going on inside, like I know this is just the tip of yet another iceberg.  This is where we have the analogy of the relief valve.  Taking a little pressure off it, a little at a time, so that when you do have the insight, or the full insight, it is not so overwhelming as to set you back.  Your mind’s way of only giving you what you can handle.

When I go through these kinds kinds of stages, the relief valve stage, I know enough now to know that what is coming is not something I really want to deal with.  It’s not something I want to know.  It’s going to be one of those things that is going to make me want to turn around and go back, go back to being numb and staying numb.

Courage.  These are times when I just pray for courage.


  1. Carla, you describe the process so well. I have started my own new layer of the onion with a layer of grief to be released but I don't have a clue as to what I am grieving this time.

    I have working with my inner children over the past year who have the memories but the adult me doesn't have them this time. You would think that the 6 years of memories from age 11-17 would be enough but they apparently aren't. Now I have to grieve what I don't even remember. Sometimes I get angry and frustrated with this work but I know that doing the work is the only way out of the pain.

    I have to go through the feelings to be able to release them. So I keep going and going and going. I hate that rabbit in that commercial because sometimes that it what this journey of healing feels like - going and going with no end in sight.

  2. Thank you Patricia, for your comment. It is especially hard in this kind of stage when we are having the feelings and doing the grieving and not knowing exactly what is still inside. I have clues, like flashbacks and impressions, but they are vague, or more vague than sometimes I want. And yet, as I said above, sometimes I don't think I want to really know the details, the intensity is frightening enough.

    And really, a lot of us carry deep wounds from times in our lives when we were just too young to be able to make sense of what was happening, it's possible that all we knew was it was very painful or terrifying for us, whether physically or emotionally. And maybe that is all we will know. But doing the grieving is still necessary, because it's in there and has to come out.

    Hang in there! We have to get to the end of it, I know there is an end to it somewhere. :)

  3. It certainly isn't easy at all facing our demons and telling them to leave especially when they've become "part of the family" in more ways than one, lol. You're inspirational! This was such a great read. Thank you =)

  4. Awe, Chele! So happy to see you here! And thank you for your encouragement, means a great deal to me. And yes, many of these old wounds have become "part of the family", they are finally getting the air and the tender care they deserve after all these years. Once healed, well, it will be a whole different way of living for me! ;) I'm counting the days...