It has been awhile since I have shared anything on this Blog. So here I am, wanting to share some personal updates as well as a link.
The first major update is that I have relocated and am now living alone, for the first time in my life. When I first moved out of my parents' home as a teenager, it was directly into a big shambling communal home with a large number of friends. My experiences since then have all been with communal living, except for one brief foray of living with an old partner in a one-bedroom suite together. I have never lived all by myself.
After leaving my abusive partner, I was in immediate need of asserting my space as my own. Putting up literal and figurative walls and fences to keep myself safe as I processed. This was a natural reaction to enduring several years of having all of my boundaries about space being intimately violated by my abusive partner. However, due to the trauma as well as financial limitations, moving wasn't an option. So I kept my bedroom in a lovely home I shared with a few roommates. When the landlord of this house decided he wanted to sell the home and decided to evict us, the opportunity to try a brand new lifestyle showed itself. I started looking into the financial feasibility of getting a bachelor suite. (Those of you who do not reside in the same city as me may not know that living expenses are absolutely ludicrous here!) Well, long story short, it turns out I'm able to financially make it work, and I am now typing this from my very own cozy little home. I am still adjusting to such a drastic change in lifestyles.
The major difference I have noticed, so far, is the feeling of safety I have here. The house I lived in before this was a space I had shared with my abusive partner at one time; I am now living in a location he doesn't even know. He's never been in this space, he's never seen it. There is something extremely refreshing and liberating about that. It is mine in a way nothing ever could be when I was with him. Yes, I kept a separate bedroom when we were partners, but that never seemed to stop him from violating my space. He did not respect my physical autonomy on any level, so my bedroom rarely felt safe except for times when he was out of town. In my new home, my guard is down. I'm able to process on a different level, as there is nothing of his in this space, as well as no intimate memories of him stored in this space. My old house, there were still many memories that I could not hide from. The couch, or the garden - flashbacks could come just from looking at these things. I am experiencing a level of autonomy I forgot I had access to while we were together.
My new home is a tangible and physical representation of an important personal boundary. No abuse has taken place within these walls, and I strive to keep it that way. I have become remarkably attached to my privacy and solitude in this space, and I recognize how these things are being reclaimed by me. Privacy and solitude are not things I had easy access to while living with an abuser.
My next update is that I'm back in school, and am planning on enrolling in a diploma program for the fall semester. This blog has been kept specifically about my experiences of abuse and healing from it, and I want to keep it that way. So what does my entering a diploma program have to do with healing from abuse, you ask? Well, it has a lot to do with it.
When I was with my former partner over the course of two and a half years, it seemed that every other month I was dropping out of something. I cut back my volunteer hours and stopped engaging in hobbies and activities I enjoyed. So much of my time was demanded by him, and even when I was not physically in the presence of my partner, I was so exhausted from the emotional gymnastics that his abuse caused, I had no energy for anyone or anything else.
This summer, I started going to college. Since then, I've been taking classes and am learning a lot. As I said, I'm going to be entering a diploma program shortly! The truth is that this never could have happened while I was with my abusive partner. I simply didn't have the energy to do it, and I certainly did not have his support.
In an appointment with my naturopath today, she pointed out to me how much I have blossomed since leaving my abuser. It was great to have her mirror back to me the improvements that have occurred in my life, and the ways in which we can both see evidence of my healing. It is rewarding to look back and see how far I've come, especially on "bad" days - days when I am feeling triggered or experiencing flashbacks.
Lastly, I am soon to start attending a program offered at my local Women's Sexual Assault Centre. It is a group program based on healing from abuse, in which I and other womonfolk will be learning healing techniques to help aid us in our journey towards wellness. I've been on the waiting list for this group and I am muchly looking forward to it. I am hoping it will offer some core practices to help, especially on those bad days.
I'm glad to be writing this and reviewing the strength and growth I have experienced, as well as observing how far I have yet to go. Here's hoping you can also reflect on these things, and give yourself credit for how far you have come.
I'll leave you with three important links. First is to a page which outlines the basic facts surrounding emotional abuse as offered by HEAL (Healing Emotionally Abused Lives). I find it succinct and easy to read, with a lot of important descriptions and information of what emotional abuse is. Next is a link to a page about Building Healthy Boundaries, something I touched on earlier in this entry which I am trying to do for myself. Lastly is a page called The Survivor's Handbook offered by Women's Aid. This page has great sections on "Gaining Confidence" and "Moving On", as well as links to many other resources. They're out there, so use them! We're worth it.