The Journey of Abuse and Power: The Middle

I woke up this morning and remembered sitting in a group therapy session that I was forced to go to at 14 after my second suicide attempt. The details surrounding that time are still fuzzy, but this moment comes through crystal clear. We sat in a circle of strangers on the first day and were asked to introduce ourselves. Hi, my name is, and I am from… I can still feel the panic that washed over me when I realized I was sitting across from my abuser’s older sister, a girl from my town who I hadn’t seen since my parents confronted hers.

When the therapist found out we were from the same place, she asked in front of everyone –

“Do you know each other?”

“Sort of,” I responded.

It was, looking back, an opportunity to face and work through what I’d been holding since the age of 9. The root of so much of my rage and hopelessness. At this point I guess you could say I’d begun the healing process in that I’d said it out loud. I told my parents and maybe one or two friends that I’d been molested. I wasn’t ready for what came next, though. Just because we begin doesn’t mean we are ready or willing to move swiftly through our trauma and come out the other side. Sometimes we don’t have the tools to continue the grueling process of unpacking.

Many of us are terrified to dig that deep and ask difficult and sometimes earth-shattering questions about ourselves and experiences. We begin, we pause, we stop dead in our tracks at times and turn around – we numb out and go back to what we’re “comfortable” with – avoidance, denial, self-hatred. There the truth was staring me in the face, in human form and I still chose to look the other way. I wouldn’t get to my middle, my “next step” in the healing process for another 15 years.

One of the most difficult things to do after or in the midst of abuse is take the first step out. The first step after we’ve spoken the words and intellectually started to come to terms with the “facts.” There we are standing at the edge of freedom but where’s the map? We need guidance, support, vast amounts of inner strength to exist in the middle phase. Hear me when I say this, you are strong enough. You are soft enough. There is a way out.  

Where do I stand? 

It is really hard, I’m not going to lie to you but we have to stop running if we want to break the cycle. Only you can commit to coming home to yourself. We move around hard stuff all the time but if we want to heal we have to move through it. OK, so here we are in this truth, now what? Ask yourself and feel for the answer – don’t think. Can I stand on my own right now? Do I have to? What does my gut say? We all need help and it is OK to ask for it. That doesn’t mean this part is easy, in fact every time a new client reaches out for guidance I make sure to tell them how brave they are. This is where most people are afraid to find themselves, smack in the middle of their suffering – vulnerable. Embrace the vulnerability with your whole being because that’s where freedom lives. No matter your situation, it is never hopeless and you are not alone. If you search you can find guidance that suits you. Take a baby step and email or call someone you feel drawn to who is a professional therapist, healer, energy / body worker. Trust yourself here.

What has this done to my body?

Recently, I’ve asked all of my clients to send a list of their physical ailments — everything from the common and reoccurring head cold to cancer, asthma…the list goes on. Two women who are up to their eyeballs in serious trauma responded. “I don’t have any.” To which I responded, “Um, yes you do.” It is mind-blowing and all too common to see how deeply we dissociate from our own bodies. In rare cases we have to, to survive, but this is not a sustainable way to live. We are not taught to connect with our bodies in a loving way and women especially are bombarded constantly with messaging that creates a toxic inner dialogue.

Close your eyes right now and breathe into your feet. Yes, your feet. Think about how often you feel what you’re standing on, the legs that hold you up. What do you feed the stomach that digests energetic information for you? Where does your breath live? Are you someone who can breathe down into your belly or does it feel stuck in your throat? This is not about judgment or shame, this is about getting real with what our bodies are trying to communicate. I recommend a great book by Louise Hay called “You Can Heal Your Life.” It empowers us to stand in the undeniable truth that we can undo a lot of our hurt. Start to treat yourself with a little more love than you did yesterday. The middle isn’t about an overnight extreme overhaul. It’s not about crash diets, fucking celery juice (don’t get me started) — the middle is about baby stepping our way to feeling whole.

What do I need? 

Abuse stays with us long after the abuser has gone. The energetic imprint has been made and, until we sit with that and find a way to release it, it has nowhere to go. It just continues to circulate within us. Mind, body and spirit need to be tended to and all require different healing modalities. Sometimes I get on a spin bike because I am filled with rage or heartsick and that is what my body is telling me I need. On the days that I feel like I’m dragging and can’t lift a finger, I do not dare get on that bike. I rest, I meditate, I lie on my yoga mat in stillness and cry. I ask myself how can I nurture my mind, body and spirit? What do I need in this moment to feel safe and held? This is the only way through – we must move it OUT!

Above all, hold yourself with love whenever you can for as long as you can.

Nina Endrst