Seeing Past the Pain of Verbal Abuse
Facing verbal abuse can be traumatic for anyone, especially when it continues for years, like in my experience. After existing in a world that includes regular abusive treatment, it can be difficult to see past your own painful situation.
I Couldn't See Past My Pain Amid the Abuse
When I was deep in the throes of abuse, I found that it took all my energy and mental capacity to get through each day and exist. I had no extra strength to focus on much else outside my situation. Unfortunately, this cycle kept me deep into that situation without looking outward.
Because I spent my days in a fight, flight, or freeze mode, it was almost impossible to focus my energy elsewhere.1 This situation made it harder to learn new things while I attended school, complete tasks at work that were necessary, or cultivate friendships.
Everything seemed harder, and I felt like I would never be one of the lucky ones to find happiness. Unfortunately, that was true for years after I was away from abuse. I couldn't shift my mindset and carried those negative thoughts with me for years. My mental state harmed my life just as much as the abuse did in the past. I was stuck until I could start looking past the pain of what happened to me and start looking forward.
How I Shifted My Focus to See Past the Pain
Therapy, supportive family and friends, and self-exploration have given me the tools I needed to start shifting my focus from my past pain to new beginnings. It isn't as easy as flipping a light switch, however. I still fall into old habits and dwell on things from the past, but those instances are becoming less frequent.
Part of shifting my focus went to pouring all my energy into my children. I did everything I could for them. I took them to swimming lessons. I made sure they were in after-school activities they enjoyed. We went on camping trips and had picnics in the park. Focusing on my kids was a way for me to avoid dealing with the anger and hurt I felt as a victim of verbal abuse.
Beginning to Heal from the Abuse
Although being a mother was everything I had always wanted, I still felt unhappy and unsettled. As much as I enjoy spending time with my kids and doing things with them, they cannot make me happy. That is something I need to do on my own. I had to start focusing outside my negative experiences to find peace in my world.
Once I began to enjoy things, it became easier to move past the hurt and heal. It's not that I was trying to forget or dismiss what happened to me. Instead, I finally reached a point in my life where I didn't want to wallow in that situation any longer. It brought me no joy.
I also learned that no one is responsible for keeping me happy or making me feel better. Although my partner does a terrific job of this, I don't depend on him for my happiness.
And part of my healing made me realize that I cannot make someone happy. All those years of my abusers being angry with me for not measuring up or their skewed perception of me is not my fault. Their feelings are their own and out of my control.
So, with ongoing therapy and valuable tools, I am beginning to heal and find the peace I've been looking for my entire life.
- Harvard Health. (2020, July 6). Understanding the stress response. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response
Wozny, C. (2022, November 17). Seeing Past the Pain of Verbal Abuse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, October 2 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2022/11/seeing-past-the-pain-of-verbal-abuse