August 8, 2016

Will Anyone Ever Understand

Is there any worse feeling than thinking that no one understands what you've been through or what you're feeling?

I used to feel so alone, even when I would take the risk of sharing my feelings with a friend; I still felt that no one understood the pain I was going through.  Instead, I often felt that the only thing I was getting from friends was sympathy.  I had no sense or feeling of comfort that anyone understood what it felt like to live with the emotional and mental scars that I had.

For a long time I stood firm in my decision to stop telling people anything about my abusive family because I didn't like the sympathy.  The main reason I tried talking to friends was because I was hoping they could help in some way with my healing process.  Unfortunately, I was often left feeling even more lost and alone.

I also didn’t like the feelings of guilt and shame after I talked to friends about my past.  I often felt guilty because mother always told me it was a sin to ever speak ill of her, even though I wasn’t really talking bad about her, I was just telling stories of what she had done to me.

I felt shame because I wasn’t contributing anything positive to the lives of my friends.  I wasn’t making them happy or helping them in any way.  I felt ashamed that I was this damaged person weighing them down with my pain.  I felt ashamed and disappointed in myself that I felt the need to open up and release some of my pain.  I was ashamed of myself because I had a distorted idea that opening up to people equated to being weak.

Things changed when I met a co-worker who I noticed seemed to have a shadow of sadness in her eyes.  The company I worked for had a break room and slowly over time I made friends with her.

I remember one day during our lunch break I noticed some bruises on her arm and she confided in me that her boyfriend would sometimes hit her.  Because she confided in me about her boyfriend, I decided to make her feel more comfortable and shared a few stories about my own past of being abused.

For the first time I felt someone understood and I could tell that she felt more comfortable opening up to me.  At the time I didn't know what kind of advise to give her, except that she should never allow anyone to touch her, and that she didn't deserve what her boyfriend was doing to her.

We met regularly in the break room for lunch and afternoon breaks.  I was often saddened when she told me that she would forgive her boyfriend because he pleaded for her forgiveness.  The only thing I could tell her at the time was that if he was truly sorry, he would stop.

A few months later I left the company for a better paying job, and while we exchanged phone numbers, we never stayed in touch because her boyfriend didn't like her to have friends.  I don't know what happened to her, but I pray that she escaped and found a better way of life.

As I traveled through my healing journey, I learned that it didn’t matter if a person didn’t have a history of being abused; they were still capable of listening and understanding. 

I learned that understanding meant that someone could understand that I was in pain, and not that they necessarily understood what the pain felt like, and give encouraging words or advise.  I had to accept that I was isolating myself by blocking people out of my life just because I felt that they didn’t or couldn’t understand my pain.

I learned that the most important attribute I had to seek in friends and people I shared stories of my life with was their attitude.

There were people who I shared my abused history with that were also abused, who clearly understood what I had lived through.  However, they had very negative attitudes which offered nothing to my healing process, and instead, often left me more depressed.

There were people who were abused and not abused that had very positive attitudes that not only gave me tremendous hope for my own future, but helped with my healing process.

We must never be afraid or ashamed to talk about the abuse we lived through, or are living through.  What we must fear are the negative people who will understand but offer nothing to help us to heal or grow.  We must fear allowing negative people latch onto us because we do understand their pain but seek to drain us for a constant supply of sympathy.

It’s essential to seek people with positive attitudes, whether they’ve been abused or not, because they are the people who will understand and help us to grow and see the potential of our lives.

When you feel that no one understands, or can never understand, you are creating a negative situation by pushing people away from you and blocking positive people from coming into your life that will listen and understand and give you encouragement and guidance.

The world is full of people who will understand, or who will try to understand and help.  The healing journey is so much easier when you allow people into your life to listen, understand and help to encourage you and give their positive guidance to healing. 

Being open and seeking the shoulder of humanity to lean on does not make us weak.  It takes a very strong person to reach out and seek a better life.

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