Today’s blog is written for many reasons, some personal and some professional. It may form part of a new book I am currently writing and researching.
Everyone, at some time in their lives, sometimes many times, will suffer loss. In order to recover from this, there needs to be a grieving process. Without that, the grief and pain associated with the loss will become a heavy burden and the bereft will eventually internalize the grief and do themselves harm.
Loss can be; for people, animals, your expectations and assumptions, sense of identity and peace of mind, your job and for anything important in your life.
Death is something we will all know about, all have lost loved ones to. The same sadly for animals, pets. The loss of expectation is harder to define but this is along with assumptions. At different points in our lives, we expect the future to be a certain way, we assume that our expectations will be met. When they are not, we suffer loss.We can also suffer confusion at this point.
Our sense of identity is a tricky one, we can lose this through losing being part of a couple, when our husband or wife dies or leaves us. When we lose our job, our career or something we are known for, that makes us who we are, to everyone who knows us. The loss of a position or title, can bring grief.
Another loss that can’t be seen but that we can have taken away from us; through illness, any of the things mentioned above; or taken from us by others, is our peace of mind. We can suffer this when others steal it from us, by their actions, to harm,hurt us or simply to cause trouble. I have suffered this a great deal of late. Losing your peace of mind in this way is loss by theft. Not a natural loss like death, but the intentional taking/stealing from us, through no fault of our own, but a loss never the less.It requires processing and grieving.
In my Professional life, I work with Loss a great deal. Bereavement is the most common sadly and the work involves allowing the client to show every emotion they feel at their losing someone close. Emotions that their family may not understand or know how to handle. One of the strongest emotions is Anger. Anger at the death, anger that the deceased has left them, anger and helplessness at them not being able to stop this from happening. A husband or wife can also suffer in this way when a marriage fails. In each case, in the beginning, the grief can be all-consuming. They may be in shock and it may not be the right time for the grief to be worked through. But once the pain has lessened enough for the client to focus on something else, life becomes less scary and eventually at the client’s pace, acceptance arrives and with that, hope. Hope for the future. Every client who comes to me for this reason, asks how long will it take? I always say, grief will take as long as it takes. I always allow the client to work at their own pace, it can’t be hurried. Does it ever really go? I don’t think it does, we just change our lives to accommodate the grief and carry it with us, with good memories to help us move forward.
When a partner leaves you, the loss is similar to losing them to death.Some say losing someone who is still living, is harder, because in death you can’t be with the one you still love but if they are still ‘out there’ still living a life that does not include you, it is harder to bear. The effect and the way you are affected is, although in a different way, the same for most losses that now affect your future.Your assumptions are dashed and your expectations shaken, your future will now look foreign to you, not the way you planned. Your identity will have changed and that takes a lot of accepting, the same way as the loss by death. Sometimes it is hard for someone to grieve for but grieve they must. After identifying the loss or losses and working with them, then looking ahead when the client is able, we work on a new future, something they hadn’t planned on but can begin to do so now. Make and set small goals and achievable aims. Use positives from their past and happier times to help look ahead.Eventually the new with become the real and the present.
Some of us suffer more grief and loss than others. Survivors of child sexual abuse suffer in a way that people at first didn’t understand. We lose our self-respect and self-esteem at an early age, when the abuse first starts. If, like me, the abuse begins pre verbal,the self-esteem and self-worth have never been present.As a victim of abuse,we lose our sense of safety, of being loved and protected. We lose our sense of self. Sometimes, as with me, we live on the periphery of our family and the ‘family’ is a dysfunctional one, making life much harder.We miss out as we grow, long after the abuse ends. There is no magical ‘first kiss’, nor the important ‘first time’, no ability for some of us to live a normal life in most senses of the word. The fear and the apprehension of what’s to come, stays with us. We are frightened of noises, suddenness, we learn far too early not to trust. There is no innocence in us or life around us. Whilst the abuse is happening of course, we are not aware of our losses. We either believe that what is happening is normal or that we deserve it. Our childhoods are stolen in the wickedest cruelest manner. We don’t however suffer the loss of assumptions or expectations because we don’t assume or expect anything, so we can’t lose that.
These losses are felt much later, at the time we are able to move on , get away or break free from the abuser and the people showing us this lack of care and inflicting the abuse. If we are strong enough at whatever time in our lives this happens, to tell of our childhoods and try to gain self-esteem, self-confidence etc. this is the time the losses come to light.
When I first wrote I DID TELL I DID and told my story, it was the first time I had begun to think, of the things I didn’t have, that most children, hopefully have, as their norm. I didn’t have the love of a mother, a safe, caring environment, to grow up in. A stable family and home life. I didn’t have my first kiss, the first time, the firsts of anything sexual. All the sexual introductions I had were carried out in fear, terror and pain. So huge losses. I wasn’t able to make lasting relationships, I understand now, how I had failed marriages , I don’t accept all the blame in my second marriage but my past certainly didn’t help. In my first marriage, making love once in 2 years because of my panic and inability to have sex, resulted in the only positive in my life up until that point, my daughter Melissa.
These losses brought about my inability to cope, the flashbacks, the panic attacks, brought depression and anxiety and led me ultimately down the slippery slope of dependency on GP prescribed medication, which had begun to enable me to cope with the abuse. I still suffer from symptoms of PTSD to this day but can control them. I don’t sleep well and don’t have good health but have become stronger. Using this strength, I went to college and then university gaining a Masters in Counselling and am now able to help others. I have become the person I wish I had known when I was in need. I have written my autobiography and NOBODY TOLD ME, the true story of the dependency. All of that took a great deal of strength , revisiting the horrors that were my childhood in order to do this, showed up the losses victims like me suffer. I DID TELL I DID is something I am very proud of, even if I was made to do it twice!
The personal losses I have had, as in most people’s lives, been many. Most of them through death, but others through my own doing, my own mistakes. I never want or expect sympathy because life has now given me so much. I find myself in a better place than I have ever been in my life. I have a man who loves , adores and cares for me in a way I have never known. I have a wonderful daughter in Lucy, my half-brother Steve and his family, and friends I have had, for most of my life.I live in a beautiful house with my ponies, dogs and cats and have amazing views from every window. I have readers who have shown such loyalty and friendship that I feel humbled. The people I have in my life now have made the losses of the past, feel better.
I accept that we lose in life, I accept that we will and have all been touched by death . The issue I have is the loss of peace of mind thrust upon some of us through the cruelty of others. Life is short, time is precious and I don’t have as much left ahead of me as I have had behind me. In the past 4 years, I have lost my best friend, my ‘surrogate’ mum. My eldest sister and other friends and family to death. I have lost my wonderful horse and many ponies and they are all missed. I have grieved and for some are still grieving. I have suffered the loss of a grandchild who never made it to this place we call home, thus losing our expectations of a different kind of life.All natural if unkind acts of life. I accept those and will take the memories with me.
The other losses, stolen from me have all been written about in earlier blogs. I am not going to repeat them suffice to say I have come to terms with most of them. But some, I intend to put right.
So grief comes to all of us. Sometimes clients will be in session and the worst aspect of their loss will be the inability to say goodbye. We talk about how they would like to do this If it is their job, their position etc that they have lost, they often write all of their feelings down, mostly feelings of anger or injustice. I then get them to read out loud, what they have written, and then destroy the letter. Or do the ’empty chair’ technique and vent their anger and pain and feel better after wards. If the loss is for a loved one to whom they didn’t say goodbye, we can have a symbolic farewell, maybe balloons from a beach, from the Welsh hills or somewhere that means something to them, let them go and release the pain. It works. This is something I will be doing very soon. For my friend, my sister and our baby, and also for my family, still living, stolen from me.
The other thing not mentioned about loss, is what it can teach you. What loss can give us when we recover.Strength, courage, fortitude, the ability to gain our own self-worth and confidence because the grieving process has given us something back.
So today, if like me you have had a lot of pain and hurt, stand tall. The fact that you have survived, especially my friends on here who have suffered CSA, shows how strong you have become.Take anything you can from your own story. Tell others, remind yourself that loss through theft, such as childhood being the biggest; peace of mind, friends or family, was none of your responsibility. The rest of your life is.
Use all the happy memories given to you and shared, by the loved ones you have lost. They may not be here now but you are and they live on in your memories and your heart.Take yourself by the hand, look after your inner child, your’ little me’ and cherish her or him. Walk tall in the knowledge that this was all done to you, not by you and enjoy the rest of this beautiful life.
Thank you for reading.xx