Incest Survivors Letting Go of Absolutes, Not All Men Are Bad
To continue your incest recovery, let go of your hate.
Back when I was a teenager, I was raging against the world and men in particular. I had to go through a phase of hating all things male, whether it was human or not. Seriously… I laugh a little now, looking back, but it is a stage of recovery. I did learn that it is very unhealthy to get STUCK in this place.
Hate is a powerful tool. It kept me strong and alive during abuse that many people would not have survived. In the later years of my incest recovery, it became a very powerful trap. It was hard to get free from it, but eventually the healing and growth I had been experiencing stopped. On top of the fact that I had stopped making progress in therapy, I began having horrible physical manifestations of the hate making me sick. Headaches… stomach problems… rage outbursts. Wow, it was like hitting a brick wall that hit back. You cannot hate with all of your being and forgive, or love, or have joy in your heart… because your heart is being consumed with hate. You must let it go!
So, how do incest survivors let go of something which – in my case – had been such a powerful ally for so many years. How do you keep hate from consuming you completely? The best way is to let it go figuratively, physically, and even through ceremony. I broke free from the hate, but it took conscious effort, and I had to choose between love and hate. Not to love my abuser. No, not that at all… but to love in general. I wanted to love and to be loved, but hating felt safer.
Don’t Hate … Ventilate©
Incest survivors have to ultimately choose love.
- I vented my feelings and emotions through talking, writing, art.
- I vented through hard physical activity. Running. And hitting a punching bag is so very satisfying when you feel rage and need to release it. Hitting something safe like pillows or punching bags is a satisfying release.
- I vented by tearing up old phones books, which is satisfying too. I would talk out-loud about things and tear up pages, which felt good, but the ceremony is an even more satisfying release.
- I vented through my hopes for justice and vengeance, and had fantasies of my father being arrested and sent to prison. I had so much pent up inside, I had to use every healthy outlet that I could find to release the seemingly bottomless pit of rage within me.
- I vented through ceremony, where I would write things down that I hated about what had happened to me… and how I hated my father. Then I would light a candle and set each piece of paper on fire. When it turned into ash, I would then take the ash to the wind to completely disperse it into nothingness. I would let it go completely, for each thing that had been written was burned into nothingness.
Having grown up on hatred, this new “Love” thing can feel vulnerable and weak to you. But, in order to love you have to let down walls, which can make a person feel very vulnerable. Love has strength of its own… very different from the strength that I got from hate. Hate drained me, but l felt stronger. Love filled me up inside, and I felt stronger without feeling drained.
Hate and rage are intertwined. I had to scream, and yell, and cry, and beat my fists into pillows and punching bags. I had to release the rage inside of me without hurting myself or anyone else. I had to rage against the horrible wrongs that had been done to me. I had to get it out of me and slowly – as I physically released the pent up anger and rage – something began to be uncovered, and it was the pain. After releasing years of bottled up anger and rage, the tears began to flow. I began to feel lighter inside.
More pain began to be uncovered, and then I began having those moments when you think you will be lost forever in a sea of your own tears. To be lost forever… in the grief of what was taken from you – sobbing and broken and spent – it is here that love steps in and begins the miracle of healing you. I really thought at one point in time that I was going to lose myself completely in the grief, and never be able to get out of it. I asked a counselor if that was possible. I don’t remember what he said well enough to quote him, but I do remember being reassured. I went through a phase of crying that I thought would never end. I have cried so many tears.
Ultimately, you have to choose what world you want to live in. Not all men abuse, not all woman abuse. Mass labels are not beneficial to your recovery. Some men are bad, some woman are bad. Some people are abusive. Most people are not. But when you walk through this and really come out the other side you will be transformed and you might end up feeling uneasy in your skin for a little while. Sometimes during incest recovery –as you heal and growth occurs – you can feel awkward and exposed (like, where did all that armor go that I was carrying?) and you may feel naked even. It can be very tempting right at those moments to stack back on some old armor. But don’t, because you just walked through fire for this level of freedom. Don’t undo the good works that you just accomplished. You will get your feet back under you and move forward in your new skin.
This is something that you will have to walk through, but you don't have to walk through this alone. Write, draw, be creative… expressing your feelings. Talk with your counselor. There are no funny stories or secrets to share on this. Hate with all your heart and soul for a little while, and then Let It Go! Do not get stuck here.
It is not fair to others to punish them for crimes they did not commit. It is not fair to yourself to always believe everyone is going to hurt you, or cheat on you, or whatever baggage you are carrying around. So, by setting the baggage down and working through this phase, you open your heart up for better emotions. When you stop punishing others, you also stop punishing yourself. Remember that your perceptions affect what you believe, and how you see yourself… others… and the world. So if you perceive every man is going to hurt you, then you can see how easy it is for that to become a self-fulfilling prophesy, so to speak.
Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, you will rise up again whole and renewed!