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_Survivors_
A safe space to share stories and ask questions
Thought stirring question of the week 
28th-Feb-2006 07:00 pm
Bear
Of the many threads that connect survivors, one is a definite feeling of loss. Whether it's loss of the belief in safety, loss of our happiness, loss even of our hope or childhood - we know a thing or two about loss. It's not an uncommon thing for Survivors to know exactly what it is they've lost, but have no idea of how to regain it.

So often we fall into the trap of trying to get back to exactly where we were before the trauma - or for those abused in our childhood, to achieve that "normal" ideal we're always told about. Most people encounter this in the "Aren't you over that yet?" attitude we can be met with. You *cannot* achieve the exact state you were in pre-trauma. Trauma changes your world, but it does not have to destroy it, or you. We are survivors, and we can acknowledge the change in our world, mourn the loss, and re-find the feelings of love, safety, and happiness that get knocked to the side.

So this week's question is focused on mourning our losses, so that we can rediscover all those good feelings we all strive so hard towards:

- What is it that you lost? Did you lose safety? trust? happiness? love? all of the above?
- How do you think you could mourn that? How would you acknowledge that which you lost without feeling hopeless? (Don't worry this is *not* an easy question to answer!!!)

Bonus Question:
- If you have found a way that worked for you to mourn your losses, how did you do it? Was there anything that you found particularly helpful in your mourning?

As always, you're not expected to have all the answers - or even any of the answers. If you are particularly stuck, check back in here and see how other people got through it. This is a resource for all of you, and a place to get extra help when you're stuck :)


What I lost: trust. my childhood. feeling safe. two unborn children. my right to feel angry or sad or lonely.
How I mourned it: I cried, a lot. I made gravestones for my two unborn children, and gave them names and birthdays. I still sometimes cry for myself - having gone through so much, so young, and having lost that ability to be carefree. I stood up and said "I deserve to be angry, even if it doesn't feel like I should". I gave myself time to mourn what I'd lost... it felt much like mourning a loved one that died. I knew I could find happiness again afterwards, even if it took a lot of time... so I just kept at it.

Bonus question: If anything, what was most helpful in mourning was letting myself *feel* the sadness I had. Knowing I had a right to my feelings, and a right to mourn... that was the most helpful. Beyond that point, I felt much more like a Survivor, felt the strength I'd gained, and was able to recognize what I could do to bring that love and happiness and safety back into my life. Though life will never be perfect or without pain, I'm glad to say that I have good days more than bad days, and though I certainly encountered a lot of trouble getting through to this point, it was well worth it. I guess I have hope to offer, and the advice of "you have a right to mourn, to feel everything that you feel"
Comments 
28th-Feb-2006 06:28 pm (UTC)
What I lost: the man that I really felt was my dad (my dad changed radically into the monster that I had to run from), my adolescence, trust, years of happiness, the ability to feel safe where I live (far from him, 800 miles), being able to feel not guilty when I need something.

- How do you think you could mourn that? How would you acknowledge that which you lost without feeling hopeless?

I don't know. :( For either question.
28th-Feb-2006 06:39 pm (UTC)
It's *incredibly* tough to mourn that. When we lose that trustable parent... we lose our trust in everything, we lose that natural feeling of love and security at home... we lose so much.

It's *definitely* both okay and normal that you don't know how to mourn that. Hopefully someone here will strike a chord with your heart and you can find a way to start, or a point of view that might help you out. ::big hugs:: Mourning this is incredibly hard, and even being able to identify what you lost is a *huge* step, hun
28th-Feb-2006 06:47 pm (UTC)
I lost the ability to make people earn my trust. I did lose an amount of trust, but I have a bad habit of also trusting people too soon, usually because I feel obligated to them for one thing or another. I lost the ability to stick up for myself when I don't want something. I lost a lot of physical stuff when it comes to sex.

I am slowly working on this, one step at a time. I keep messing up, which also means I keep learning.
28th-Feb-2006 06:51 pm (UTC)
Every time we make mistakes, we learn - don't let the mistakes and snafus of life get you down. This is a tough journey, with lots of things to learn along the way. It's good that you're dedicated to your journey - it's not easy, but well worth all the frustration and mistakes we can make along the way.

A very wise woman once told me "Each mistake gets me one step closer to success" and though it's sometimes hard to see, it's true. ::hugs::
28th-Feb-2006 07:48 pm (UTC)
i lost any chance at any semblence of a happy, safe childhood. i lost the chance to know what it is to trust anyone, even myself. i lost the chance to know what it is to have a family. i lost the ability to love (though i'm regaining that, slowly) and the ability to feel worthy of being loved. i never had these things in the first place, so i didn't lose them really. i just learned later that other people had them and only then realized what i had lost.

all i can do is look at the facts and say, "yes. i lost this. this was taken from me." that is acknowledgement and it's at least something. a few years ago i couldn't have even done that. to mourn it...i think i'm doing that every day. raising my daughter and seeing how much joy she has and how completely and utterly she trusts her daddy and myself...it's healing to know i've broken a cycle and to know that she is helping me heal. i am learning to love through her, even though i still shut down sometimes -- the feeling is so powerful and scary at times, but to feel it at all is such an improvement. some of it i simply must accept -- i will never have a mother or father and nothing will ever change that. but i am learning to be a mother and that is validating and healing in its own way. i'm mourning my losses by continuing to live and grow and reinvent myself.

28th-Feb-2006 07:57 pm (UTC)
::big, big hugs:: This was an incredibly tough question, and you hit it right on the head: we can't change what happened, but we can make our life something we love, and make the world a place with more love in it.

the words "glad" or "happy" can't begin to describe how I feel that you're learning from your daughter about love and healing - and healing the pain you went through as you watch her grow and learn. I've heard so many things about the healing that can come from becoming a parent, and you give me even more hope that such things are true and possible.

::big hugs:: So proud that you tackled this question - it was damn hard. (my inner cheerleader is shaking the heck out of her pom-poms)
28th-Feb-2006 08:04 pm (UTC)
I lost the right to have parents, I lost the right to be loved, I learnt I was dirty, unwanted except for the unacceptable, I lost the innocence of a child,I lost the right to cry,I learnt to fragement and never let anyone see my pain, I was 'mother' to all at age 9, now I am, in others eyes, 'superwoman', who doesn't need anyones help. I spent my life looking for a mother and a shoulder. Alone, I delivered and held my daughter as she died: alone, I signed for her autopsy and cremation, and for three weeks I was alone in a hospital bed crying. Alone, I finished raising my 3 children to the best of my ability after the only man I ever trusted left me for another man,
I have only begun to mourn...I think 'Doors' was a first step. I have also mourned my 1st daughter, Cora, and had her babtized in a special service and each January 20th, I light a candle and pray for her.
I have a lot to learn from the others here, I know how to give but not to receive.
28th-Feb-2006 08:21 pm (UTC)
::big hugs:: That's quite a lot to have lost - and I'm glad that we're able to be here for you while you're making such a journey.

This was a hard question to jump in on, thank you so much for sharing. ::more hugs::
1st-Mar-2006 04:53 am (UTC)
It seems to be a popular answer, but I'm going to say it anyway.

I lost my dad; I still struggle with the juxtaposition of the man who taught me to fish and to ride a bike (and tried to teach me to hit a softball, but I'm not particularly athletic) with the shadow in the night.

I lost trust; I still have a hard time believing that people close to me don't want to hurt me.
1st-Mar-2006 06:26 am (UTC)
You have a right to answer honestly, even if others have said your answer before, hun :)

What you say about your father resonates with me, and is something that a lot of survivors I know feel. Our brains aren't sure what to do with the good parts that our abusers had, *especially* when it's a parent.

It feels like honoring the good parts of our abusers is betraying ourselves - and it's a hard balance to find. I know what helped me was to accept that there were parts of my father that I liked, though it didn't mean by *any* stretch of the imagination that I liked who he was as a person.

He had some shining moments as a father, but his bad parts definitely outweighed the good. Even big mean nasty monsters can sometimes do things that are good (or as a friend of mine would say "Even dragons are cute sometimes!")

Being able to identify what you've lost is a huge step. Congratulations, hun ::huggles::
1st-Mar-2006 06:16 am (UTC)
I lost myself. I lost a definition of "me" that wasn't in terms of her, and other things went with that, like the belief that in a conflict I could be right, that it was okay to want or feel, that I could matter more to me than someone else. There are times when I feel like I gave up everthing behind my shields but pain.

I lost trust, perspective, love and rationality. I lost my father when he chose her, but I never had a mother. I suppose I lost innocence, magic and belief, but it's hard to think of that because it was so long ago. I lost the concept of safe, and the belief I could, or should, protect myself. In the end I lost the desire to fight back and learned instead to endure.

How do I mourn for things I barely know I could have had?

The first step I've taken, which is about as far as I've gotten, is giving up the fantasy that it's my fault. That I either nobley gave these things up, or that it's really better this way, or that I was incapable of having them in the first place. I "lost" them when they were taken from me capreciously, carelessly, thoughtlessly by someone who cared only about herself. That doesn't help the "helpless" part, though. There is nothing noble about it, it's just sad.
1st-Mar-2006 06:31 am (UTC)
This was a really hard question, and I'm proud that you just tackled it.

Identifying what you've lost, and beyond that being able to take a step is a big thing. I know it looks small (especially when you've had someone belittling your accomplishments for most of your life), but it's a really big thing.

It's okay not to know where to step from here - you've got yourself aimed directly in the right direction ::hugs::
1st-Mar-2006 10:41 am (UTC) - Lost
I lost my childhood. Through therapy, I have come to understand that while I don't remember anything prior to the age of 13 or so, most other people DO. So some event happened right around then; I have a good idea of what it is, but all this "figuring out" has been very recent.
I lost my health: talking to my Dad I have been told this week that I was at a normal weight until I suddenly started ballooning in weight, gaining roughly 150 pounds in 18 months, by his estimate and doctor's records. I now have type 2 diabetes and various heart health problems as a result of this.
I lost the ability to have a normal relationship with people: after things went to heck in college my senior year, I had to fight for the feeling that I had the right to say no to anyone; especially as it certainly appeared that no one around me believed me when I said what happened.
I lost a lot of faith in the idea of sisterhood at the time as well - most of the people that I had believed I was friends with not only elected to disbelieve me, but also started some pretty nasty rumors about me, started sending me some pretty bad hate-mail, only some of which was from my ex's new girlfriend.
I wound up with the belief that only men liked me, and that they only liked me for one reason. I still fight that feeling today. I came to regard interpersonal relations as a kind of exchange: I have sex with you, and you will talk to me and be nice to me for a few minutes.

What has helped me through a lot of this has been talking to people who were really old friends from back then, people who remember stuff, but had no idea of what was really happening,had no idea that the rumors that they spread would hurt me so badly, that the mean, nasty letters was anything more than an entertaining way for them to spend an hour. I had kept every note, every nasty comment, every foul event in a book. I burned it. I hunted down the people who wrote some of those things and confronted them. I recieved some apologies from people who didn't realize that something like that would hurt someone so badly. I collected apologies from other people for the lies they told of me, but those lies remain and will always poison my life. For a lot of people, the only point of knowlege regarding me is FROM those hateful, untrue rumors. Coming to accept that has been very difficult.

Most recently, in coping with the abuse I have recieved at the hands of my husband, I have had to deal with trying to sleep after he drugged me and molested me while I slept. I have sought therapy. I have spoken with friends and with family about my fears and concerns. With a few exceptions, people have been supportive without being pitying. I sleep lightly and rarely.

The process of divorcing, though long, has also been helpful. For so long as I am still married (ugh!) I have also had to remain celibate, and for someone who only believed that people liked me while having sex with them, the number of people who are friends with me has been startling.

Some days, all I can do is focus on my studies, focus on my work, focus on my kid. Some days, all I can do is accept and recognise that in many ways I am constantly being affected by the actions, words, and deeds of those around me. Taking a class in psychology has been very helpful with this.
2nd-Mar-2006 07:24 am (UTC) - Re: Lost
It sounds like you have done an amazing job recovering from all those things you lost. I know what it's like to think sex is the only way people will even be nice to you, and that is an incredibly difficult thing to overcome, and it sounds like you've made huge progress - an impressive feat of courage and determination.

Being able to stand up and say no, confronting the people who ignorantly spread rumours about you, divorcing a husband who did not treat you as you deserve to be treated - just wow. I'm honored to be together with you in this group. ::hugs::

You know there's a lot of work left, and address it one step at a time - huzzah for all you have done and continue to do!
1st-Mar-2006 08:10 pm (UTC)
I lost my trust in people. Being bullied and ostracized in elementary school during the day, only to go home at night to, more often than not, listen to my parents fight, with my mother confiding in me as though I were an equal but discounting and belittling any contributions I made, anything I asked for help with and opened up to her with. The abuse I suffered at the hands of The Asshole later on, in college, merely reinforced this, as did the behavior of a couple of "friends" who proved in the end to not be friends at all.

I have also lost any feeling of total safety in my own home. I never felt totally safe at home, not even as a child when I would check behind every door as a latchkey kid, and then worry that someone might break in as I slept in my bed at night, even with others in the house. Being stalked in college (not by The Asshole, but by someone else) finally destroyed the illusion of one’s home being inviolate.

I lost my trust in authority. No-one was willing to help me when I was a child, they allowed the other children to bully me, they minimized how I felt about the abuse, with the exception of my father who overreacted. The cops did nothing to help me when I was being stalked, I have seen them drag their feet in installing a restraining order for someone else, I have heard too many tales of them harrassing people for no reason, and nothing was done despite clear evidence when a psycho went after my family because of a work-related incident a few years ago. I have been fired from two jobs because of the manipulative deceitfulness of one boss, and the refusal of the second boss to do anything about the office bully.

Yes, I’m angry. I don’t mourn, but I don’t forget either.
2nd-Mar-2006 07:39 am (UTC)
And it's both perfectly normal and healthy to be angry - you've got a lot of good reasons to be! Not mourning is also okay... it can take a long time before we're ready for it. I thought I was ready for it a long time ago, but it wasn't until I let myself feel the anger about it that it was possible.

You've been able to answer a really tough question - knowing what you've lost, and even being able to see that some parts of your world are forever changed, is a monumental thing. I, too, lost that feeling of safety at home forever, too. In my current living situation I feel as safe as is possible, but I keep my sword next to my bed at night - and do my nightly lock checks before bedtime :P I'm sure you can understand.

You're able to say without question that you know who is to blame for what happened to you - and though I know it can seem simple, that's also a huge thing. You don't seem to have any guilt (not that you should but a lot of people do for a while) and that's another impressive feat.

You've done an amazing job with everything ::hugs::
2nd-Mar-2006 03:35 pm (UTC)
My problems are all one big tangle. Because the guy that attacked me was someone I knew, and figured out where I was working, I had to leave that job (Well, I got fired, as they weren't going to let me have one night off so I could at least get a restraining order, and I worked graveyard alone, in a convenience store in the middle of nowhere, and was forbidden to lock doors or anything, and was too scared to come in before I at least tried to get that much. I begged. It was just one more bit of humiliation. The judge decided the guy didn't look like a monster, so I was full of it, to boot...). Losing that job put me in the position of being in a very serious accident on the way home from an interview for another job that was to be the stop gap measure before I could start training for the career that I was then too physically disabled to ever work in. I was seriously mistreated in the hospital, because I wasn't as pretty as the other girl in my room, and was, due to being out of work, and not having coverage, and the person who hit me being underinsured, and pretty much judgement proof, in that state, though the lawyer could have at least put a lien on her property, but couldn't be bothered, an aid case. After three years of living in a hellishly bad relationship, I had to go home to my stepfather, who'd been emotionally abusing me since I was thirteen, and he came in the door.

Fifteen years later, I'm still there, as I've never quite managed to financially make up for being disabled right out of college, though it's not as bad as it was. I've had to take what I can, and often, that involves some very abusive employers. Any time things get extra bad, I have to deal with my stepfather telling me what a waste of flesh I am. He's at least better than he used to be. He saves it now for when I lose a job. Never mind that that usually involves mass layoffs, or such. I never quit, and I've never been fired for actual cause. I still had to deal with him telling me I'm not worth what I think, and all the usual negative messages when I got the highest paying job I'd ever had, and thought things were finally going to work out, worked twelve hour days on eight hour pay, only to find out that the guy just wanted someone good to clean up a mess, and train a half price moron to do the work. (Good luck to him..it won't get done that way. I turned out to be the 14th person in that position in like..five years.) Still, it hurts, and what hurts worst is that I've always been trying to do the right thing, I do things I hate for a living, because that's what makes it now.

I've had to let go of an awful lot of crap. It was killing me. I've gotten very little real therapy over the years (No $$, and the free place skeeved me...I skeeve easy since all this happens. Get a little OCD, and a bit of PTSD, though that's mostly over.), and had to come to grips with an awful lot on my own. I've had to mourn losing who I was both mentally AND physically, and the latter was actually harder. I will go right back out, and get a better position at that same high pay...as soon as I'm done taking a couple more weeks off to actually try to do something I've dreamed of doing for most of my life..writing professionally (It pays jack, but I'm actually getting my work out). If the step has one word to say, I've got plenty of answers, because, though I didn't talk back for almost twenty years, I damn sure do now. I'm not a burden. I live on savings. He doesn't get to say jack on that. Now I'm going to go call the person who helped me put him, and much of this in perspective, and we're going to have a lovely talk, and a good laugh. Sometimes, it helps to not be alone when you've got to face things.

-Dira-
2nd-Mar-2006 04:34 pm (UTC)
::big hugs:: Sounds like you've done really well despite a lot of obstacles thrown in your way. It's really hard to have jobs treat you that way (I've had my share of similar jobs and bosses), especially when who you need to look to for support treat you as though you are worthless.

You are a beautiful being, and strong - and there's a reason why you've gotten through all of this.

And indeed, it's good not to be alone when you need to face things... it's wonderful having you in this community for that very reason - you've been a lot of places and can help all of us stick it through :)

Thank you for sharing!
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