Thursday, July 25, 2013


I discovered something very moving today at the swimming pool. I was speaking to the lifeguard about how the lane next to the wall is always free and if I get to the pool late in the session has already started that Lane usually isn't free but becomes free the minute I get in the pool.  I discovered that this is because the other swimmers make sure that no one swims in that lane when I am there. even if the non-regular users are there they are told to leave that lane free for me.

I have to say that I was truly touched by the kindness of people whom I don't even know. And all they know of me is that I have a physical condition and that I have a need for some reason to swim next to the wall which they wouldn't know about. The reason being is that sometimes my body goes into complete spasm and I will be able to grab hold of the wall more quickly than the lifeguard seeing me struggle.

Anyhow I really was very moved to find miss out and I had been wondering to such a long time why I was always free in that lane. Personally, I would never ask anybody to vacate that lane if they were swimming in it when I arrived.

One of the things that has been bothering me and please please do not take this the wrong way. You're very kind letters to me really lift me up and it keeps me writing about the personal struggles of an abuse survivor on a day-to-day basis.

Abuse never goes away. I cannot really think of a suitable analogy for it. I had thought it would be a bit like losing a limb which would cause daily challenges. However, except in rare circumstances limbs that are not there do not cause pain. Perhaps having the lower portion of each arm amputated would be closer as an analogy because I believe that would cause pain and difficulty 24 seven. However I have no wish to insult any amputees and so I am still stuck with not really having an analogy.

I have just had one of those DUH! moments.  A really good analogy  is my disease. It is permanent and it will never go away. I have to face it every single day and on every single day it causes me challenges and pain. The only difference between it and the abuse survival is that the abuse survival improves over time. It never ends but it does get better and it does not cause me 24 seven pain like my physical problems do.

It is hard to explain how abuse survival affects me every single day but it does. It may wish me not to go out but to stay safe in my house with all of the blinds drawn. It may make me feel uncertain of my friends and it most certainly makes me uncertain of the motives of people who become friendly towards me. It can make me worry that I had inadvertently upset somebody. In the past it would enable me to obsess upon whether I was like to not. In those days not being liked was very dangerous in my mind because it meant you were very likely to harm me. This is one of the recoveries because I no longer believe this. And there are people that I do not like which was quite a revelation to me. I don't treat them as if I don't like them. I do not let other people dictate how I behave. I am a warm and friendly person  and I try not to let the behaviour of others toward me alter that. At the same time I'm no doormat.

So what is it that has been bothering me about the lovely emails that I get? Quite simply it is this: the letters are really beautiful letters to receive and may make me feel very good and I would not wish for them to discontinue. However at the same time I also do not want people thinking that I have it made, that I have the answers, that I am wonderfully happy and content  and sane! No, this could not be further from the truth. Yes I am happy generally speaking. Yes I have a very good life. Yes I have a very loving husband. Yes I have my dogs and I have a wonderful home and security. But none of these things wipe out the abuse and its effects. I have worked very hard to get here and I have to continue to work hard to stay here. There is no goal and if there were a goal I certainly have not reached it.

I am an abuse survivor. If you are an abuse survivor then you are no different to me and I am no different to you. We are both abuse survivors. We both experience the same horrors in the same agonies and we both find each day a challenge. I guess this is what I wanted to say. But I very much appreciate the wonderfully kind emails I get but I also felt the need to point out that I am no hero I am just abuse survivor the same as you are.


joannamauselina said...

Actually, limbs that have been amputated frequently do cause pain long after they are gone. This is phantom pain. The person can really still feel the limb. My theory is that the proximal nerves are still there sending signals. I have never read this explanation, but it makes sense to me. In any case, the phantom pain fits in with your analogy.

valerieB Canada said...

Maybe "hero" isn't the right word, but I really do admire you, learn from you, and respect you. You make me think about things outside of my own experience, which is very good.

Anonymous said...

I wish I lived closed as I am a retired swimming instructor. You should be very proud of yourself. Abuse comes in many forms, I know.

I enjoy your blog so much.

Joan C.

Georgina said...

Brilliant post Colin - I think only the most dense of minds could not read the vulnerability in your words. No matter what physical safety surrounds us, and no matter who we have in our lives that is utterly dependable and loving, that fall from trust and innocence that abuse causes with its ugliest of shoves, means that trust is forever precarious - "now you see me now you don't". Thank Goodness there are those loving soul's that recognise other loving souls and hang on in there with us!