WHY IT’S SO HARD TO WALK AWAY FROM AN ABUSER

In case you’re wondering, this isn’t going to be one of those pieces where an empath meets a narcissist.

It’s going to be little messier—not so neat.

It’s also going to go a little deeper, not only into the psyche of the abuser, but also into the psyche of the one who can’t walk away. It’s going to involve looking deep into our shadow side, and the workings of our psyche, which is always pushing us towards health.

Before we get to how our psyche does that, however, we need to understand trauma: Every single one of us who finds ourselves entangled in an abusive or damaging relationship is actually trying to heal trauma.

I know, it might sound backwards, but when we are in an abusive relationship, our psyche somehow thinks that we can heal ourselves.

The word trauma has dramatic connotations. We tend to think it refers to someone who’s experienced a serious train crash or the violent and unexpected death of a loved one. But in actual fact trauma is anything that makes up feel that things are unsafe or unpredictable. And the most significant trauma happens to us in childhood, when we don’t have the resources that grown-ups have to deal with it.

There are two major types of trauma a child can experience. The two major wounds, if you like, that set us on the path towards a search for healing.

These are Intrusion and Abandonment.

And they don’t have to be real, or literal. They need only be experienced or perceived to be real. They simply have to make a child feel unsafe. So, sometimes we’re talking about actual abuse—sexual, physical, emotional, psychological—and sometimes we’re talking about a sensitive child who didn’t understand that teasing wasn’t meant seriously. With abandonment, we might be talking about neglect or a parent leaving or dying, but we might also be talking about a parent having appeared to stop thinking about the child, maybe because of the birth of a new baby, a parent becoming depressed or going into the hospital.

Clearly, some of these are way more deeply traumatizing than others, but we’re talking trauma nevertheless.

So, how does our psyche try to help us heal our trauma? It uses the most effective way ever! It makes us repeat the experience! (Incidentally, if it resonates with you, for “psyche” you can read “soul.”)

For many reasons, we’re drawn like magnets towards people who will recreate for us the exact same circumstances that caused our original trauma. The most obvious reason is so that we can experience a different outcome this time, by discovering that we can think and behave differently, and so bring about a better outcome. In other words, we find a way to love instead of hate.

When we do that, we’ve done the healing our psyche made us set out to do.

However, that bit usually comes last. On the way to that place, we’re likely to have to face not only our own trauma, but also the demons that our experience of that trauma placed alongside it. And we get to face them, always, by being brought face to face with someone who will mirror them back to us, because they have them too.

And they have them too, because they’ve known them, just like us.

It’s a bit like having a twin. It feels so good at first! We’re seen and known in a way we never thought possible. And this person gets it so clearly, seems to understand exactly where we’ve been, because they’ve had parallel experiences. It’s bliss! Effortless freedom!

But then it starts to go horribly wrong. This person isn’t just mirroring the good bits anymore, they’re mirroring all the other stuff too—the stuff we’ve tried to be in denial about, the bits of us that horrify us.

But that also draws us in further. There’s a part of us that’s drawn to the drama of being free to act out the demons that appal us with someone who’ll let us do that, and who’ll act them out back.

And so they start to hurt us, abuse us—often in the exact same ways that we’ve probably hurt others. And so the drama that’s meant to lead to healing unfolds. Messily. Dirtily.

Suddenly, we’re into the Abuser/Abused Dynamic, sometimes known as The Drama Triangle: Victim/Rescuer/Abuser. Round and round we go, exchanging and interchanging roles. And instead of walking away, like everyone who loves us keeps telling us to, we forgive and excuse again and again. We can’t seem to let go.

We know and recognize these wounds and we feel compelled to protect and forgive. To rescue.

But here’s the thing. Here’s the crucial thing!

See, the whole thing is just a play staged for our benefit. This is our story. And we’re our own victim, rescuer and abuser. It’s all a mirror, an illusion, one mighty holographic mirror into the human psyche. And its primary purpose is to help us find our way back to the unconditional love we actually are. We’ve met our nemesis so that we can break free and soar to our zenith. Everything is exactly as it should be, and we’re doing exactly what we came here to do: tasting the depths and heights of being fully human. And we’re doing it so well!

And actually, so is our twin! They’re playing their part to perfection too, exactly as they’d agreed. Wow, what a play, and how well it’s been staged!

See, we only get caught up in that Drama Triangle when we forget who we really are, and what’s really going on here. We only believe that our abuser needs rescuing if we believe the story that something terrible is happening. That this other person really is helpless and in need of our salvation. And also, only if we’ve forgotten who we really are and why we’re here.

And if we cling to the part of us that is hurt and twisted by pain, rather than freeing it to heal.

Once we remember that we’re actually taking part, mutually and voluntarily, in a play that—if we will only let it—will lead to healing and compassion, we’re able to look at what’s happening with fresh eyes. We realize that this other soul is on a journey too, of their own making and choosing. And that we have agreed to be co-creators for a time, for a reason, but that for each of us to fully live our purpose, we now have to let go. At least for now. In this life time. We have to walk away.

We talk so often about encountering mirrors, we refer to synchronicities, but we often tend to think on a small scale. But it’s happening on a larger scale, too, all the time. And in that knowledge, if we allow it, lies our freedom and our permission to walk away. Being fully human is their gift to us, not just ours to them. And the drama that’s been played out will have encapsulated the themes we chose to explore in this lifetime. And if we want to resolve them, the drama must end. We don’t have to make it neat; it can stay messy. After all, we have eternity.

And, knowing that, we can—and must—walk away.

@ Janny Juddly 2016

HOW TO ACCEPT THE APOLOGY WE NEVER GOT

“Get over it!” People say.

“It was a long time ago,” they point out. “They probably won’t even remember. The only person still suffering is you.”

“You’ve got to let it go.

“Forgive and move on.”

“This is eating you up,” they say. “You just have to let it go!”

And we don’t disagree with any of this, but the trouble is, we don’t know how.

It’s so easy for others to say, isn’t it? They don’t know, they don’t feel it, they don’t have the constant reminders. They don’t live with the sense of injustice or hurt or outrage. They don’t know the damage, the destruction and disruption. They don’t get how it dominates our lives.

Or just maybe they do.

See, there are some things that have happened to us, each and every one of us, for which we crave “I’m sorry!” And often—mostly, actually—we’re just not going to get one. Ever.

And so, even if a sorry might have meant we could maybe start to let it go, that just isn’t going to be an option. So what do we do with that? How do we go forward? What does it take to be free?

How do we accept the apology we never got?

Below are the six steps that I, as a spiritually awakening human being who happens to have a psychotherapist in her pocket, have found to bring permanent release—if we do the work.

What I also know, without any doubt, is that forgiving does take work. But it’s totally possible, so here goes:

1. Release:

We have to start by allowing ourselves our full emotional response to what happened. No holds barred. This is a frightening thought for many of us. We dread that we’ll start and we won’t be able to stop. We fear it’ll make it feel worse, not better. And it will, just for a while. But we’re cleansing and releasing, we’re letting it all out instead of holding it all in as we’ve done for years.

So cry, shout, swear, accuse—all in the privacy of your own space. Let someone else help you if that feels right. It can help to have another validate everything you’re feeling. It’s soothing and strengthening, and can make the process deeper. Don’t be afraid to say the things you always wanted to say. This is your moment. Own it!

2. Understand why they did what they did:

This is the bit we resist. Some of us reading those words will already be on alert, resistant, saying, “Why should I?!”

If you’re hearing that, that’s why you need to do this. You want to be free, remember?

So why did it happen? Why did this person, or those people, behave that way? What part did their history and what they’d known play in it all? What did they have going on? What journey were they on?

And this is about our understanding of why. We don’t need their answers. We’re finding our own truth here. That’s all we need.

Even, if it’s appropriate and we think honesty and fairness demands it, what part might we have played? Be thorough, be ruthlessly honest here.

Go there, do the work. You’ll find some relief starting to happen as it all becomes a little more balanced.

3. Give up the hope:

Okay, now the work gets deeper. This step isn’t easy, but we can do it if we’ve done the previous steps thoroughly. Here’s what we have to do next: we have to give up the hope.

That means, the hope of how it should have been, how we’d have wished it to be, how they ought to have been, how they should have treated us. How they ought to have loved us properly, known better.

This gets in the way of our accepting the apology we’re never going to get more than maybe anything else. We’re so invested in how it ought to have been that we can’t accept how it was.

So we have to give up the game of hoping that it could have been different that we’ve been conning ourselves with for years. It was as it was. It is where it is. No amount of hoping will change it. So give up the hope.

4. Appreciate how you’ve grown from it:

Our task now is to focus on how what we’re wanting to forgive has benefited us. In a really balanced and measured way. How is the person we are now, the things we value and rate, at least partly a result of what we went through? No bitterness allowed. We’re past that if we’ve gone through the previous steps thoroughly.

Allow some appreciation, some gratitude even. For your growth, your learning, your development. See what’s come out of it. You’re wiser. You know stuff. You see stuff. You understand stuff. Good stuff. Celebrate that.

5. See all that’s happened from your higher perspective:

None of this was random. None of it was accidental. We’re powerful beings of light and love, here to have a meaningful and purposeful and complete experience of what it is to be human. And always, the purpose is to lead us back to compassion and unconditional love.

The bravest of us come for the toughest experiences. Because we’re up for it, because we want the adventure of it, the challenge, and because we know that our journey benefits the journey of every other soul on the planet and beyond.

That’s because we’re not just spiritual beings, but also energetic and vibrational beings. We’re energy, and energy always reaches out, touches, affects, changes and leaves its imprint.

If we could see how our transformation, through this process that leads to accepting the apology we never got, is already sending ripples of light and love out into the universe, we wouldn’t be able to stop grinning.

Try it! That’s what you’re doing right now, just by reading this and allowing the possibility of a different way.

6. Accept the apology:

What apology? There hasn’t been one, has there? Oh, but there has. Because if you came with a purpose, then so did the person or people you’ve been struggling to forgive.

Here’s the crux of it, the piece of the jigsaw that’s been missing. See, none of us could’ve had the experience we came for without the willing co-operation of everyone else who incarnated alongside us in order to make it happen. There are no accidents here. Nothing was ever going wrong here.

Once we can see that the person who never apologised was part of our own spiritual journey, just as have been part of theirs, the apology—if we still need it—becomes almost incidental. We all showed up as promised, we all did what we’d said we’d do, we all played the roles, the game, had the adventure.

And one day, in a space beyond time and place, we’ll all sit around laughing and chatting together about how it went and what we learned. And apologies will be willingly given for hurts along the way.

This has to have all been worth it.

Doesn’t it?

Janny Juddly 2016

The Therapist in my Pocket