September 30, 2011 / Safety, Youth

A Look at Healing

by

The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and not necessarily those of The New Agenda.

      “I want to live where soul meets body and let the sun wrap its arms around me, and bathe my skin in water cool and cleansing, and feel what it’s like to be new.”—Death Cab for Cutie

Life after abuse is possible. Though it has been said that time heals all wounds, that has not been my experience. However accepting myself along with the vicissitudes that emerge from living life completely helps me to feel whole and, in many respects, new.

Wounds leave their indelible marks on our bodies, our psyche, our soul. Some are visible—ridged reminders felt in our touch. Other scars elude the observer. Invisible to the naked eye, they are felt at a visceral level from the inside out.

For me, healed, was not a destination. I never expected to one day feel as if I were the way I was before—to wish that would be the equivalent of denying my past. My own recovery has been ongoing, more of a verb than a noun. In a state of healing, one has the ability to feel complete, despite the scars.

Throughout my journey forgiveness has played an enormous role in my achieving a sense of wholeness—forgiving first myself, and later my abuser for who he was, liberated me to end my victimhood.

Before forgiveness I stood on the back of my past abuse as if a martyr: What I had been through no one could understand– All my life choices that dead ended were the fault of my abuser—I could never trust another man because of the abuse I had suffered—the list of defenses was long. I had become a master at self-deception and the stories I told myself were perpetuating pain, anguish, blame and resulted in self-sabotage.

Love begins inside. Until the time where I could truly feel love for the woman I had emerged as, I remained emotionally arrested in a state of perceived worthlessness.

Even the smallest fissure allows light in. Much like an internal beacon, the radiance that drew me out of the darkness that enveloped me began as a twinkle, a nearly imperceptible ray of brightness at the base of my core.

The further I walked from blame and shame the closer I was to home—home within myself, in my own skin, standing on my own feet, wrapped in the love for the woman I saw reflected back at me.

And when the cloak of darkness slips over my shoulders from time to time—I breathe in—how do I best honor what I am feeling?

Feel it, be with it. Let go of self-deprecation, have patience, dignity—breathe out.

Honoring my myriad emotions helps me to continue the warm embrace I have for the woman I am. The pain leaves me and slowly is replaced with renewed sense of worthiness—what a gift.

“New questions skip through my bloodstream like a pebble on still water. Do we really “get over” wrongs that have been done to us? How do we know we are healed? The diameter of the rings created by the stone grows wider in my blood lake. I can almost see the ripple beneath my skin. Maybe “healed” isn’t the objective. What if it is “healing”—as in ongoing, like the ocean in a constant ebb and flow? The rolling of the waves begins to settle over me, giving way to a more lucid view of the past that has shaped me. It is as if introspection serves as a ceremonial ablution and through that ritual the chokehold of shame is rinsed clean and makes room for me to see that I am not a victim. I am a survivor but there is more. I need to thrive, share, prevent. I can no longer stay quiet in this world, I have a voice and I feel it reverberate off my internal walls, making its slow climb upward until its melody can be heard all around.”—

An Excerpt from Tornado Warning

From the back cover of Tornado Warning:

“At 17 she unwittingly fell in love with an abusive man, Tornado Warning is the true, honest portrait of how he whittled Elin down—with words, hands, and weapons—from confident teen to the shadow of a woman.

Interwoven with her real-life journal, she reflects on how this relationship affected her since, and how she is working to protect her teenagers from succumbing to a similar experience. Provocative and healing, Tornado Warning is a must read for parents, women, and anyone who has suffered at the hands of a loved one.”

Tornado Warning is a Mom’s Choice Awards® Gold Recipient.

Author’s Note:

It has been nothing short of a privilege to bring my story out to the world by writing a book. I am often asked how I found the courage to share such a personal story. The answer is: My silence wasn’t serving anyone.

There is no way to sugar coat what I experienced, nor do I believe it should be. I can only hope that in the telling, people will come to realize that abuse does not discriminate. One of the many ways we can serve young people is to truly understand the issues which affect them, teen dating violence being one of those issues. Everyone deserves to live a life free from abuse.

Every person has a story to share, and no, not all stories are hard, I believe that by raising our voices we serve the greater good of humankind and contribute to our children’s futures.

Check out Elin Waldal’s site here.

Follow her on Twitter @ElinWaldal.

Connect with her on Facebook.

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