I’m great at building walls.
I’ve become very good at keeping everybody at arms length.
I feel very alone.
I’m learning to include people in my life again.
Abuse victims/survivors have many steps to healing. Sometimes those steps include trusting too easily, which leads to being hurt. Then, they swing the other way to not trust anyone at all. I want to believe in the good in people, that everyone has good in them, that there are reasons behind everyone’s actions. I want to believe that everyone is redeemable. What I want is not reality.
For many years, I saw the positive side of everybody. I found a justification for the worst behaviors. Even when my brother-in-law killed Lily, I wanted to believe that he had “snapped”, that it was a moment of insanity…. and maybe it was. I’ll never know what happened that night. What I know is that it was evil, wrong and unjustifiable. His last act has defined who he was… and how do their children merge that into the dad they knew?
This is the hardest part of abuse – the abuser is not always bad. They are loved. They can be kind and generous. They can be great providers and parents on occasion. They have many redeeming and lovable qualities.
This is the problem many who leave abusive relationships run into. People see the good things abusers do. People want to believe the best of others, especially their friends and family members.
When I left my marriage, many people sided with my abuser. They turned against me for not staying longer, for not giving him another chance. They believed his lies about who I was and what I’d done. I believed in their friendships and stayed in their lives longer than was healthy for me because I didn’t realize the danger of toxic friendships, of the necessity of having your friends be loyal to you, that people cannot support both the abuser and his victim.
I was hurt, badly, by those I thought were my friends and it caused me to turn away. I didn’t know who to trust, so I trusted no one.
Isolation doesn’t stop when you leave the abusive relationship. The abusers often goes on a smear campaign to ruin your reputation, to destroy your friendships in a desperate bid to make you feel so alone you’ll take them back. Sometimes the isolation becomes worse after you leave. This an be amplified if you are a part of a non-supportive church family. My old church family stood behind him, encouraging me to try to make my marriage work no matter what. Suddenly my support system was not only taken away from me, but also turned against me.
That’s the swing. I went from trusting those who said they were my friend to questioning everyone’s word. To trusting no one.
I’ve learned to wait and watch. I’m learning to trust again. My community is growing and I’m starting to feel less alone, less isolated.
We need people in our lives. We need to trust those people more. Choose carefully who is in your life, without refusing access to everyone.
It’s a process. It’s a journey. Don’t give up on yourself and don’t give up on others.