When I can

When I can March 20, 2012

People assume that healing from abuse is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint – it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff.


Doctor Who quotes aside, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “It’s been years. Why don’t you just let it go?”

Image by Allie Brosh
Image by Allie Brosh

I can’t always get a hold of it, for one. Pain is like a greased pig–I can’t even get a grip on it in the first place most of the time, much less “let it go.” It’s not that I’m bitter and hardened, clutching my pain to my chest like a prized possession. It’s more like I’m running around in circles trying to catch it–to find the source–so I can tackle it and throw it out for good.

But that ain’t easy, folks.

So, go easy on us–we the abuse survivors. Don’t ask us to heal on your schedule, and don’t ask us to cope in ways that you see as acceptable. What concern is it of yours what path we take toward healing? What concern is it of yours how quickly we are able to move along this path?

Your pressure is an added burden to an already overwhelming load.

Your “Get-over-it-already!”s cut deeply and make us question ourselves.

“Why? Why can’t I get over it? What’s wrong with me? Am I not good enough? Not strong enough?”

Your “Get-over-it-already!”s bring back the words of our abusers.

You would not chastise a person with a broken arm. You would not ask why his/her bone is not healing more quickly.

Why do you ask such questions of my broken soul?

I will let go when I can.

I will let go when I can

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  • micky

    So true! Some things just take time… or an eternity. Sometimes we learn to live with the pain.

    BTW, I found your blog through Rachel Held Evans’. I am enjoying the reading.


  • Whit

    This is good. I’m glad you can put it into words so clearly. It shows that you are healing, and that is enough. I found you from Rachel’s blog, too.

  • It’s funny how people want to deny that pain is part of life. When we are suffering, we make people uncomfortable. There’s no un-trite way to say this but…Jesus is never uncomfortable with our crying. He will gently and patiently guide us through the maze of suffering and lead us out the other side when we are ready. Here’s to your healing, Sarah.

    Deborah from Ireland

  • I know what you mean. I mean, I’ve never been sexually abused, but I do still struggle to heal from bullying, even after ten years. (Not to make too direct of a comparison, of course.) It’s a process.

  • Kim


    Thank you so much for writing this. I have personally found that peoples’ response to abuse can cause more unnecessary suffering…so often the abuse is minimized or the abuse survivor is seen as somehow partially responsible. Then the survivor has to cope with others judging her emotional response and healing process.

    Thank you for your honesty…I really enjoy your blog.

  • Being a victim and a person who tries to “help” victims, I do have some level of understanding of both perspectives. When you say, “What concern is it of yours what path I take to healing?” that is a little bit unfair to those who are traveling the path with you. It IS their concern if they love you; they just might not be communicating that love very well or in a way that fully comprehends where you are coming from.

    Also, sometimes those who are in pain can be crazy mean by accident. PTSD is hard to navigate from both sides of the disorder (harder from the sufferer, of course).

  • “It’s more like I’m running around in circles trying to catch it–to find the source–so I can tackle it and throw it out for good.” Oh my gosh, YES! That is such a good picture of what it’s like! Amen, sister! To all of what you said!

  • I keep coming back to this. It’s honestly the thing that helps me calm down the most in the face of shame, panic, anger, and despair. Thank you.

  • I was rencently referenced back to this post.

    It’s beautiful.