Friday, August 6, 2010

Heal Thyself

"Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds..."

 The above quote is from Mr. Robert Nesta Marley, many of us have repeated those lyrics hundreds of times over but have we really taken to heart the true meaning? This week's blog is about the mental slavery many of us having been victims of abuse at one time or another. It is about the mental blockage that we had when it came to defending ourselves from our abusers and simply saying ENOUGH. I will explore what has us stay shackled and then what was the driving force that had us leap to freedom.

In the past week I have spoken to five different people from varying economic, gender, social, and racial backgrounds and what I discovered is that abuse does not just have one face. Abuse can happen to anyone despite your circumstances. Many of these individuals said that they felt so stupid for allowing themselves to stay in an abusive situation. When I asked if a friend or family member were in a similar situation, how they'd react, they all said they would strongly advise them to get out and they themselves would want to retaliate on the abuser, yet still none of them spoke up for themselves while their abuse was occurring. The abuse that they described varied from physical, to verbal, to emotional and even psychological, it was damning to their individual psyches and they had just lost their way to a more dominant force. My question was, why? Why did you stay?

The most reoccurring answer was LOVE or what they thought was love, not realizing that love had long gone and turned into FEAR. They stayed because it wasn't always bad. They stayed because at some point, almost always in the beginning the love was the sweetest. The person that they thought they knew was Mr. Right or Ms. Right and it was so good and so right that there was nothing that this person could do that would have them have one bad thought about them...even if they were forewarned. So, what went wrong? Based on my conversations it would always start subtly, being called a name other than your own that you felt uncomfortable with, or being spoken to with a harshness that was uncalled for, or maybe a slight slap on the face or a lie that didn't need to be told. They all said that they noticed but they chalked it up to the fact that everyone gets mad periodically and truthfully they probably did something to make their partners mad anyway, so it was cool, they understood. One time turned into thirty times and thirty times turned into years of abuse that each of these individuals said that it was probably their fault because they were either too clumsy, too stupid, not quick enough, not quiet enough, not strong enough, just NOT ENOUGH. They really adopted the story I am not enough and although this situation is bad, its not too bad, it could be worse and he/she isn't always mean, so its cool. Furthermore the biggest lie they'd tell themselves is that they would never find anyone who would be with them again, so it's better to be with an abuser than to be alone. This probably doesn't sound crazy to any of you reading this, because either you or someone you know has walked down this road.

Okay, so what's next? What starts to happen is that the light you once had is now barely flickering. The people closest to you noticed a while ago but because you put up a serious front or you became extremely defensive they just left the situation alone. However, now they see that something is up and they no longer just ask what is wrong they DEMAND to know and they will not leave you alone until you answer. Due to your heightened state of trauma, you still put up a front, but it is easily pulled down when your loved one asks "Does h/she hit you?" "How has your relationship been?" "You look off." Usually this is the point where the tears begin to fall and the words just start pouring out of your mouth about your personal hell and the experience is cathartic for you because you have been silent up until now. This doesn't mean that you are home free. You still feel bad because the support you are getting is enormous and you knew it would be like this but you thought they'd judge you and leave you alone. If you've always had a strong base, you know they would never leave you alone, and that is the reality for all of the people I spoke with.

The follow up to this is that they did finally get enough strength to and courage to face their abuser. More often than not the abusers would be apologetic and a couple of the people fell into the same cycle. However in the end the biggest accomplishment was leaving because they knew the relationship was toxic and there was nothing left for them there. With the help of family and friends, they escaped. Good for them, right? Yes, but the battle is never won unless the survivors have thrown away their old way of relating to themselves as weak, abused and unlovable and really get reacquainted with themselves as whole, complete and powerful individuals. Unfortunately because many people have ran away from doing work on themselves they repeat the cycle of abuse time and again. Others find comfort in flings that last for a short time with no attachment, others attach themselves to  every nice guy/girl who comes along then ultimately finds flaws in them and the list can go on with destructive behavior forever. No one can heal you, unless you heal you!

Take the time while you are single to work on you. Meditate and envision the life you want for yourself. Take long walks alone and talk to yourself if you have to and make peace with yourself. Journal or write poetry and dedicate them to yourself so you can bring that self love back into your life. Take a yoga class and concentrate on your body and your breathing. Eat food that will bring life and healthiness to your body and just find your center and your balance, for you, so that you can really say that you know yourself and you know what you want, Get comfortable with being alone, and being happy with the being that you are, create friendships that are simply just friendships and get to know peoples' stories and also share your own. Heal thyself by knowing thyself. You are the author, publisher and editor of your life. Sure your abuser had to no right to treat you that way, but you allowed it. No one has a right to disrespect you, but you can only feel disrespected if you allow it. Do you get my drift? You are in charge of your life and your body. Are you beautiful, strong, courageous and bold? Can you really say those things about yourself?  At the end of the day, its just you and your body, heart and soul. You get to say who you be. Only you...



  1. What’s interesting, to me, about this piece is “LOVE” being the common factor for tolerance in a abusive relationship. “I love him/ her so the mistreatment is a part the relationship. NO! a loving relationship doesn’t belittles any party in the relationship, yes arguments happen, yes tempers get flared but no one is emotionally, physically or mentally abused…. Love doesn’t dot this! GREAT WRITE!

  2. Thank you Jason. I think they thought that's what love had to offer but it was clearly fear that had them stuck because love would not do do anything to harm. Thanks for your input.

  3. thank you for this :)