So there I was, five years of recovery behind me, a feeling of triumph over evil, my sadistic abuser a thing of the past. After six months of post recovery work I felt jubilant. I was the happiest person I knew. I was single but lonely, stable but still a bit rocky, had forgiven so many for so much but still plagued from time to time by memories I’d just as soon not have to relive and free to now be all that I wanted to be, the chains of my abuse broken. No more did I fear setting boundaries. Now that I had the tools, I found setting them challenging. If someone asked me a question I did not want to answer and considered none of their business, where in the past I had blurted out without thinking, words I usually regretted, I could now say, “why do you want to know?” or “I’ll get back to you,” or I’m sorry that’s a private matter.” These were new and powerful tools I had never before given myself permission to use. Saying “no” now came easy as I reveled in what I had gained by wearing a sweatshirt for several final months with my abuser that proclaimed, “What part of NO do you not understand?” as I watched his face turn from power to confusion and fear. I wore that sweatshirt till it became threadbare at the cuffs and retired it to my container of jubilance along with my 12 step work, the REPAIR program I worked so avidly, the several John Bradshaw tapes, “Healing the Shame that Binds You” that I wore out with repeated listenings and the cries of rage I had laid at my father’s feet as I listed all his wrongs and the damage it had inflicted on me and mine while standing over his grave for four hours my face wet with tears, my soul drenched with anger.
Now what? Of course, I was going to make only wise decisions. There would be no more abusive men, no more alcoholics and no bed hopping to satisfy cravings my father had instilled with his repeated rapes. Some of that happened. I was never again with an abuser or an alcoholic. If I saw a relationship heading in a direction I didn’t think was right for me I ended it no matter how painful it was to the one I had been with. No more did I drink to excess, no more wild partying, no more playing Scarlett O’Hara at the BBQ (as a former roommate referred me to). I took long vacations where I hiked mountain trails, visited friends in other states driving by myself and staying in motels by myself with no discomfort. I took guitar lessons and brought my guitar with wherever I traveled in my car enjoying the alone times with just me and my music. I enjoyed life at every turn.
Did I have problems? Yup, who doesn’t. Did I handle all of them with wisdom and finesse? Nope. I had plenty of “whoops” moments. But now I had the skill to back out of them. Now I didn’t beat myself up for the error of my ways. In time I discovered that after going through recovery, depending on your addiction and the depth of your abuse, it can often take 3 to 5 years to completely rid yourself of old and unhealthy behavior patterns. That gave me permission to step back and take a different direction. It empowered me to think ahead before I headed towards something that may or may not be in my best interests.
It paid off. Eight years after my recovery ended, I married my first healthy male. Did we have problems? Sure did. But we both stuck with it, kept working on differences and challenges and today after almost nineteen years of marriage we are happy; life is stable. Since I was eight years old my life had never been stable and since my father first raped me when I was thirteen my life has been traumatic and painful. I had wandered in the darkness, groping for a light, always suicidal, hoping and praying that someone would rescue me. Someone did. ME!