As I set about on my recovery from childhood incest, the most important thing for me regarded what I could control. This came down to me. I can’t control other people but I can control how I think, feel and behave towards others and myself. No matter what another person does or says to me, I’m still responsible for how I react/respond.
Over the years there have been many healing opportunities as I learned on the deepest level what I believed about myself. Some of these opportunities were put on me by others and some I took upon myself. As someone groomed to accept the blame and shame of other’s actions, it was very easy for me to take on responsibility for how others treated me and many more years to acquire the skill of discernment of what was actually my need for healing and what was someone else’s.
I went into the recovery with the hope that if I could heal everything I would never again be subjected to the ignorant behavior of others. This has yet to happen but I do cope better when it does. I can separate what I can control from what I can’t. I can’t control how the other person behaves but I can control if I attack myself for it or look for what still needs to be healed within me. Other times I acknowledge I am in a situation because the other person has something to learn. I am only there to teach.
The effects of the abuse are hidden in many different ways and it takes time to uncover them all. Life is kind that way. If I had tried to take all of the effects of the abuse on at once, it would have been too much. Life has been kind enough to present me with positive and negative circumstances from which I can grow. The negative tend to show where I took on someone else’s stuff as a character defect within myself. The positive tend to show the next step I have the opportunity to grow towards. Either way, I get to see myself in a new and clearer light.
For me, I’m taking the words of apology from Pope Francis into my soul to heal the areas that never heard an apology from the people in my life who have dismissed my pain in the past. At this time in my life, I don’t need to discern whether they are heartfelt words or not. I can take them at face value. I may never hear the words from the people who could offer a deep level of comfort for me. But the words are out there so I am taking them in.
Other survivors might feel the need to fight the legitimacy of the apology. They are at a different place in their healing. I trust they are getting what they need for the whole of their recovery. I can only support other survivors in walking the current step on their path to wholeness.
I have found what needs to be healed is ever changing and will be presented to me when I am ready. There are good times and bad times. But there is always more to learn.