For survivors, the past is a landscape of memories and feelings we want to avoid. Though there are moments of nostalgia scattered through those days, we have to tread lightly so we don’t consciously bump into reminders of our childhood sexual abuse. Avoiding tears is one way we keep those experiences at bay.
Back then, crying made us feel weak and made no difference. Our emotional and physical pain could be flowing across our cheeks, but that didn’t stop the trauma. Eyes could fill as utter powerlessness held us captive and our abuser looked the other way. Fist-clenching, stomping, stormy anger was often found on wet pillows.
When we were caught in the web of our abuse, tears escaped while we tightly wrapped our arms around ourselves, knowing we were on our own. Now they can be something quite different. They can be partners in our healing.
Where ever we are on this empowering journey, tears are an ally. Every time we ‘feel like crying’, we have discovered a piece of our experience ready to be released. Holding the tears might numb our awareness, but following the feelings to insights will help us build a future where our abuse is no longer guiding our choices and responses.
Many of us have held the tears for so long, we think they will never stop if we open the gate, but holding them in is a forever ache. Letting them come can be measured in minutes and hours. Letting them flow freely can wash away the emotion that was trapped in our abuse.
Our tears are a tool in our healing journeys. By finding the best time and place to let them flow, we are following the trail back to who we are beyond the storms of our abuse. In time, tears of release will turn into tears of joy.
Notes along the way… Jeanne McElvaney
Inspired by Spirit Unbroken: Abby's Story
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