When I think back to the time I was with my abusers, I no longer recognize who I was. The images of myself from that time conjure up a hint of shame. I’ve talked with my counselor about these images, and she asked me “what would have happened if you weren’t who you were then?”
I thought about that question for a while. What would have happened? Different scenarios played out in my head. Even as a child. What would have happened?
“I would have died.”
“That’s right. What you see as flaws is what kept you alive.”
Wow. The shame dissipated. If I had allowed my mother to beat me, without fighting back, I very well could have been killed. The look of rage in her eyes was the same that my ex-husband had. If I didn’t fight and scream, call names and run away, her rage could have ended me. The same held true for the times the rage took over in my ex-husband’s eyes.
What is interesting is, I also knew when fighting back would have caused more problems. When my dad’s rage let loose, even as a four-year-old, I knew I had to stand still and be quiet and let him finish. Fighting back with him would have resulted in my death. I was much too little and fragile to withstand the brunt of his anger. I knew allowing him to hurt me would eventually calm him down, and he would stop before he killed me. I knew there was no winning with him. I learned how to read energy, and how to survive.
When the memories of my old self haunt me, I let them swirl around in my head as I give gratitude for the life lessons I learned. The gut feeling never fails me, it is only when I don’t listen to the signals.
Maybe I said things I shouldn’t have. Maybe I did things I wished I hadn’t. But I am alive. I withstood the brute force and mind games. I understand how people operate, and I know who I should be leery of.
It is the times that I give people too much credit, or feel sorry for them that I get into trouble. I want to think people think and feel like me, but often that is not the case. I try to see the good in people, and look to their past to understand why they do the things they do, and it is then that I put myself in unsafe situations.
If you have regret about your past actions, ask yourself the same question, “What would have happened if you didn’t behave that way?” I bet you might not have been here to answer that question. We are all doing our best to survive. We are survivors. We did what we had to do to get to where we are now. Take the lesson, and move forward.