An Introduction to Healing Wounds of the Past

Rumi, a famous Persian philosopher from the 13th century, once aptly penned: “The wound is where the light enters you.” I wonder what kind of pain he experienced to understand wounds and healing so well. I want the light of understanding, wisdom, compassion, hope and change to come through this story to help heal me and others. I will be sharing some very painful and personal information about my life in some of my future posts.

I loved the man I married. From the observations of others and from my own early experiences (7 years of dating him) I know he loved me. But his health and emotional unrest caused him to go where I could not help him.

The truth is I was a victim of spousal abuse. Even writing it makes me cringe. I do not like to admit that I was a victim because “victim” sounds like I was weak and I do not like to sound weak. I am an intelligent woman. But I was weak and in denial. The truth is I am strong now because I survived and am healing. I have been healing from these wounds since my husband’s death in 2009.

I want to share some of my “lessons” in the future blogs for the following reasons:

1.) I want to understand the factors of my personality that facilitated the abuse. In other words: “What did I do wrong???” That sounds like self blame. NO! I did not deserve the way I was treated.

2.) I hope to help others be aware of potential abuse issues in their relationships, whether they are partners/spouses/boyfriends/girlfriends or even friends, whether male or female.

3.) I want to stop blaming myself for “allowing” this to happen to our relationship and our family.

4.) I want to stop analyzing memories, stashed subconsciously years ago, that still pop up. I want to finish healing so I can put the past behind me, along with the self doubt, pain, mistrust of my own decision making skills and mistrust of a potential future man in my life, if there is meant to be one.

5.) I hope my thoughts will help me understand better how our situation evolved from our early years.

After a 36 year long marriage my husband died of health problems August 5, 2009. (Actually in my mind a part of him died gradually over the years.) It is not my goal to speak ill of the dead. He was not a monster. He was sick with his own health (physical and other) problems. I saw his self control weaken, his tolerance to stress lessen along with his affection. The quality of our relationship declined along with that of his life.

I still loved the man I married and the good man that was there some of the time. But his problems are not the issue here. No matter what his problems were, no matter how severe or minuscule, no matter how frequent or infrequent, I did not deserve the abuse I received!

Being in denial I could always find excuses for my husband’s behavior.  I wanted everyone to know the good, intelligent side of him. In order to keep people from knowing of our problems I excused his behavior by taking the blame: “I forgot something” or failed to follow instructions or do something his way, (the right way)! Sometimes I would say, he was just under a lot of stress. Personally I denied and hid my wounds so well from everyone else that I even hid them from myself!

I was surprised to find later that not just my family and close friends knew something was amiss, but also some of my co-workers. My behavior betrayed my secrets. Some of those who loved me tried to make me aware that at times my husband wasn’t treating me as a loving husband should. But I dismissed them every time with the good things he had done and how smart and responsible he always was. I could always depend on him when I needed him. He honestly did pay the bills and left me with a great credit rating.

But no matter how I tried to be a good wife, his behavior evolved from name calling, to belittling, to controlling behavior, to physical threats and later to occasional violence. Listen to that out loud. “Occasional violence, as if to say, “It only happened occasionally!” That is wrong!! Violence is violence no matter how frequent or severe!! Sometimes I think if the violence had been more frequent or more severe I might not have been able to excuse it so easily or explain it away.

Being an optimist I seemed to cling to Scarlet O’Hara’s famous line, “After all, tomorrow is another day!”

So I persisted in my delusions that all was well. So why didn’t I see I was in trouble? I wanted the happy marriage that my parents had. I desperately wanted to continue the happy life I had growing up. I wanted everything to be like it was supposed to be! But it wasn’t! I had also developed a bit of Stockholm Syndrome, I think.

The turning point of this story came after several years of warnings from my friends. One unique and inspiring book”Women Who Run With Wolves” by Dr. Clarissa Estes PH.D,  helped me understand that women are not the weaker sex but are stronger than they are often allowed to believe. But the most crucial help came from my wise son (who knew what was happening before I did). Finally I realized that I did not deserve any of the abuse that created my daily walk on eggshells.

Some of the fault for our marital problems are mine to bear. I had my own problems that allowed the abuse to begin, to continue and to escalate until I woke up! But…… Listen to me! I am already trying to blame myself! NO! I AM responsible for my behavior, not his temper, not his anger,  not his belittling, not his abuse!

After his death I realized that I had shut out painful memories to keep my “happiness,” false though it was. I believe now that denial was my way of coping with a situation I could not deal with then. After all, why would anyone want to realize  how starved they were for attention, affection, affirmation, acceptance, respect, validation, dignity, value and love from their own husband?? “Someone who is ready to heal,” is the answer!

And so I will start at the beginning of my story in another blog soon to come.

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42 thoughts on “An Introduction to Healing Wounds of the Past

  1. Your post reminds me of a lesson I had to learn the hard way! You can only control your own actions and reactions not anyone else’s. By all means you are not responsible for your husband’s actions against you, he is! I couldn’t imagine suffering through that for 35 years! You have a strength far greater than you probably realize! Keep writing and continue to heal for yourself! Write what you feel whenever you feel like it. I understand not wanting to speak ill of the dead but if you really want to find inner peace you need to hash it all out in graphic detail. I never thought I could put into words exactly what happened to me detail for detail but I did! If you go back to some of my earlier posts I have one tilted My Story and another titled Not My Only Monster where I use extreme graphic detail of what happened to me. I am also in the works of my lasted post Becoming A Survivor where I talk about the differences between being a victim and being a survivor of abuse but regardless I’m just giving advice and you can do whatever is best for you.

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    1. I totally agree with you. Writing is very therapeutic. I will go into the beginning of the abuse later but it really didn’t start until about 8 years into the marriage.I worked nights as a nurse and he was in class during the day. So our relationship was pretty good the first 4 years that I remember. There is so much to go through and so much to learn from. I am a Christian and believe that God helped me through a lot of the pain. I had had a good family to grow up in and was loved deeply by them. The changes in my husband’s behavior were so gradual that I didn’t have a clue as to what was going to happen later. There were times I cried almost hysterically. I hurt so much from things his words and behavior. Thank you for your insights into the story. I think you are the one who is stronger. I will look at your posts soon. Take care of yourself and love yourself too. Hugs and Peace to you and your life.

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      1. I’m am not stronger than anyone else on here! I’m just a person trying to survive in this world until I make it to the next. I’m human and I’m flawed! There is a reason we are all here blogging together, because we all suffered something traumatic!

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          1. I would love to spend more time talking to you and getting to know you! If you go like my FB page Keeping Secrets: Speak Out Against Childhood Sexual Abuse I will send you a friend request to my personal FB page

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    1. Thank you, but I don’t feel amazing. It took me awhile to figure things out. My son, had to grow up in a harsh stressful home sometimes. I still 5 years later am wondering why I didn’t do something sooner. But with his illness and later stroke, I couldn’t leave him. I was stronger than he was in some ways but he had his own hell he was living through too. Thank you, mkamodell!! You made my day!

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      1. I was married. It was a up hill battle from the start. For me it was hard to let the marriage go. I made a promise. I am a better version of me for being married though.

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        1. I feel the same way. I am wounded but am very resilient and having a positive outlook on life. Being a Christian helped me have faith that things would work out in the end. For my life they did, for my son who is an adult now, it has taken a lot longer but he has a wonderful fiancee’ and a better attitude about himself now than ever before. So glad things are working out for you. I feel for those who are still in so much pain from their relationships. Even being a Christian involves time to heal. Thank you for your comments.

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        2. I learned a lot from our relationship, both bad and good. But I did learn that I am a strong woman especially after his major stroke, physical therapy and recovery, them three years later a surgery with complications, and lastly watching his body weaken with heart failure and then death. A counselor told me I had gone through a Tsunami. I was doing amazingly well! Boy was I surprised. But he was right.

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          1. Wow. I went to Texas to help me recover. I found my voice again. But i am not sure i will ever be the same. I suffer a lot of emotional scars. I am trying to get back on my feet again but its harder then i though

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            1. I am so sorry you are still suffering. Do you have family and friends to give moral support? I pray that you will be able to find a joy for living that can help you recover. It takes a lot of time depending on many factors. If you haven’t gotten help, there are agencies all over the country that help victims of domestic violence for free. Please get help if you feel you need it. Life is too precious to not get all the help we can so we can enjoy the good things of life.

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  2. I am happy that you have recognized the abuse for what it was, and that it has ended (for whatever reason). Speaking from experience you are also well on the way to completing what I feel is the next important step – realizing that it was him that was at fault, not you.

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    1. Thank you,Skyscapes. Along with poorly controlled diabetes for over 20 years, he had a stroke, recovered, then developed heart failure with leg swelling. The heart got so bad he collapsed at work, fought it for 6 days, then died in his sleep. I miss the man I married but am enjoying living my life so much now!!! Peace is key in my home now.

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  3. Your bravery in telling your story will no doubt help many others. It takes a lot of courage to talk openly about such a vulnerable peice of your life. Kudos. I look forward to reading more of your amazing words of wisdom.

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    1. Kristen, Thank you for your words of encouragement. I want to help others to see some of the signs of trouble, some of the clues in their own personalities that they are a perfect setup for abuse, not that abuse is their fault. We all should help each other when we can. That is my goal in almost everything I write or share. Thank you, so much for your kind comments.

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  4. You have the courage to be so candid here, Joy. I’m hoping those open wounds have healed a bit, and your words are allowing that light to enter more freely. Well done. Keep it going. We are all supporting you in this. 💕

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    1. Thank you. My biggest desire for writing and sharing my story is to hopefully prevent someone else from going through what I did. I am enjoying my life and my son has finally found a wonderful woman to marry in September. I am also the grandmother to my second, recently adopted son’s baby boy. Both sons have wonderful wives now . I couldn’t be happier!

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    1. Bernadette, thank you for your encouraging comment. I have worried about my son, until recently. He hated his father but also loved him. Finally he has met a wonderful woman who is helping him make a new life and forget the old. I would love to hear more of your story.Did you blog about it? If so where could I read it please. I am healing rapidly because of the love of my biological son and his friend and brother, whom I adopted as an adult. He was raised by abusive and negligent mother and horrible step father. But through his wife he has healed after 12 years of marriage and a beautiful baby boy. I am so proud of both of them as well as their wives (one is getting married next month.)
      I was fortunate to have had a wonderful loving family to grow up in and a strongly optimistic attitude about life. I also survived with denial too. Thank you again!

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      1. Joy, I have never written about it publicly. I spent several years in therapy dealing with my anger issues and have journaled about the abuse. I still get very emotional and angry about one parent physically abusing me and the other turning her head the other way. I, unfortunately have had a lot of sadness with my two younger sons which has made me realize that worse things could happen in my life. So, I just try to move past my childhood and be very, very grateful for having become a survivor .

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        1. That is good to hear. I think our first son is coping better with that anger now. He realizes that I probably had Stockholm syndrome and thought I could balance the bad times with good memories. But now I see and understand better and have beat myself up mentally for not seeing my husband’s anger at me as having an effect on my son. As my son became a teenager, his own self esteem was affected by my husband’s harsh criticism of him.
          If you ever want to talk about it please contact me through my joyful2bee@gmail.com. I would give you my phone number thete. I would be interested to hear your story.

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  5. I’m so incredibly impressed with your courage Joyful. I’ve had the feeling for a while that there was something you wanted to, you needed to, share. I felt like you were just waiting until the right time. God bless you as you boldly move towards emotional healing! I know that you’re courage will inspire others to face their demons (internal and external) with grace, courage, strength and determination! Pax…

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    1. Thank you so much, AGMA. My best friend, who had an even worse situation, tells me I am doing great. I am loving my life and the confidence I never dreamed that I had. I hope this and other blogs about my experience will help others. Thank you so much for your kind words. My goals in life, besides enjoying and loving people is to help where I can. You just gave me more encouragement than you know!! Hugs!!

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  6. Your courage makes my heart sing Joyful! I know that your frank and honest sharing of your life experiences and heart will help others walking a similar path. I’ve always had the feeling that you had something you wanted to share, something you needed to share, but the timing just wasn’t right. Until now. May God bless you as you heal and break the bonds of the past. Pax…

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  7. 4.) I want to stop analyzing memories, stashed subconsciously years ago, that still pop up. I want to finish healing so I can put the past behind me, along with the self doubt, pain, mistrust of my own decision making skills

    That touched me deep! You are amazing. Thanks for sharing. I can relate with blocking out memories. I am ready to heal to, i have been remembering for a year now, i am ready to properly pursue my healing process! ❤

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    1. Sorry, didn’t finish. Learn to see yourself as wonderful. We are all unique and your deciding that you had had enough pain was the hardest step. You deserve better!! You are going through a grieving process. You lost a big part of your teens, suffered all kinds of pain, trust, and confidence. It takes time to heal. Give yourself time. But start looking at the positive things you have now. And you are so much stronger than you realize. I didn’t know how strong and smart I was until after my husband died. If I can help let me know.

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  8. Joyful2bee…God bless you. I completely relate to every word you wrote, with tears and complete understanding. I also am a strong lady and it’s incredible how our minds and souls find ways to cope to the abuse. The justification, the forgiveness, the excuses, dodging of questions by loved ones all add to the stress. I feel like you Joyful2bee about giving back to help others. It’s been 7-8 years for you (? From his passing) in learning to heal? Was there a recovery time before you began from a heart place or did you just jump in, in the midst of healing? I will pray for you. 😊🙏

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    1. Susie, it’s words like yours that keep me blogging. Thank you. I actually began the healing after I read Women Who Run With Wolves before he died. The realization of the extent of his abuse came later when he put his hands around my throat and I fought back. I was slow but just realizing that I was not stupid and deserved better treatment than he was giving me finally took hold.The more I stood up for myself the faster I evolved. Finally I realized that I was the survivor and stronger person than he was in many ways. When I cared for him after his stroke and he recovered and went back to work, I think he realized how strong I was. The fact is I didn’t realize how strong I was until after he died seven years ago.
      I had to make decisions I never made before and made good choices by researching and asking advice from people who knew more. As a nurse I knew his poor health choices and habits. He even told me he would not live to be old with me. I thought about what needed to be done after his death and planned to prepare. I wasn’t prepared for the emotional loss of the man I had loved and lost gradually. I worked through it. I wanted to be happy. I made my life happy. Then when I had to retire from nursing I found other things to do to make my life count. Blogging is one of them. Thank you for the prayers. I will check out your blog too. Do you write about your experiences? Thank you again.

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      1. I am so looking forward to buying this book! I am at my office and will pick it up on the way home. I love reading blogs, but there is still something so wonderful about hunkering down and turning the pages, underlining a sentence or a paragraph, etc. My books are almost like notebooks in ways. You have been through so much. 38 years… i cannot imagine, but I can. What a heart you have! I know you are a very strong lady. I do not write about my experiences. I cannot. There is some block when it comes to getting from my brain to fingertips. I can wholeheartedly comprehend your post, written and unwritten but I cannot express any of it into words. Maybe it is a protective mechanism? I can write about how to heal a broken heart. It never really heals so I find ways to naturally and healthily heal what I can. You know the cycle, at times it is easier and other times it is at its worst, but the eggshells never go away. Thank you for following me. I am new to this blogging (but not writing, radio and TV) and I am sure I will make mistakes that I am completely unaware of. If you notice anything strange i do, please let me know. I am looking up to you sweet lady and hope to follow in your footsteps! Merry Christmas!!

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        1. Healing takes time. Seven years after his death, I still struggle to not be submissive to strong personalities, whether male or female. I just don’t want to make anyone mad or argue. But I believe I could if I needed to for another person or if my life were in danger. I also believe I could or would defend someone else being abused. Give yourself time. I like the motto, “Divide and conquer.” All of our problems, past, pain or suffering together is insurmountable. But if we deal with what we encounter a little at a time, we can grow as the “enemy or memories or pain ” become stronger. I believe in your own intuition and the wisdom you gained from your experiences. Tap into them. But just as important find a friend who has been through similar experiences. You can help her or him as they help you. Let me know when you feel better. I’ll be here as a friend.

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