One of the most difficult things that a survivor of domestic abuse can do is learn to bloom. After being a stay at home mom in a dark and dismal home . . . living day in and day out believing I was worth little . . . it has been difficult to learn to function in this world . . . to find my niche . . . to discover who I am . . . to press forward even though I had come to believe that I was incapable of making decisions on my own. I believe that all survivors know exactly what I am talking about.
Some of us are blooming for the first time in life. Others of us are trying to re-discover the old version of ourselves — the version that was happy, bubbly and self-assured before we married. Some of us are scared . . . scared that all he/she/they said about us is true. And that we cannot “make it” in this world. That we are ineligible, inexpert, insufficient.
And then, to top it off, we discover that there is a whole new wave of people who help us for a time, or perhaps act as rescuers in our lives, and we find that even this group seems to want to shave off the new shoots of growth that are coming up into our lives. They are second-wave locusts. They may sound like this:
“I was there for you when you had no one!”
“I remember when you were just a confused abused girl . . . ” (often reminding the former victim of where she once was, which sometimes disables her from moving on . . .)
“You need me right now. You aren’t healed enough . .. well enough . . . stable enough . .. (etc.)”
I had a lot of rescuers (it took an army . . . ahem). Many of them are, by nature, trauma specialists. Some of them helped me and then moved into healthy relationships with me. Others helped me and then tried to keep me in my place — as a victim. Listen . . . they actually work to try to keep me their victim — a trophy?
“I rescued her!”
These folks forget that it is Christ who is the Great Rescuer. He is actually the One behind it all. Perhaps those gifted in rescuing could be encouraged to learn the art of mutuality. At some point, equality must reign or the former victim (now victorious) loses heart. A child has an entirely different relationship to his father when he becomes a grown man.
” A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Luke 6:40
Or perhaps a rescuer could see that his or her involvement should be temporary. A rescuer who continues to invade a former victim’s life with counsel is like the first-response paramedic who follows the trauma victim into surgery . . . recovery and then rehabilitation. There is something to the roles we play in other’s lives.
At the same time, I often forget that I am no longer a victim . . . that I do not need to have people telling me what to do with my life. I believe I was so used to being pushed down . . . that I almost encouraged co-dependent relationships. I would not make a decision without getting everyone’s input. And people recognized this and then they crossed the boundaries even more because, hey! The door is wide open!
Learning to close that door has been a challenge. One realization helped: I do not and did not need to feel beholden to my rescuers. This is a mistake. It is a more mild form of slavery. Good intentions turned bad.
I wish someone had told me that there would be a second set of people who would see my vulnerabilities and would try to hold me down. It is a whole new challenge for me. An entirely different fight to struggle to become Megan.
But, I am determined.