Getting over it: just three words that can hurt so much. Why? Why does it hurt me when you say this to me? Mostly it is because it indicates that you do not understand my pain. I think that I just feel even more alone when it is obvious that people in my life have no idea why I can’t just “get over it”.
A few days ago someone close to me said that “at some point you just have to get over it and move on”. This is not the first time I have had this sentiment mentioned to me and I am sure it will not be the last. A few years ago I would have been very hurt and angry by someone making this suggestion to me. It would have offended me greatly and I would probably have cried more tears. It was a bit of a surprise to realize that these words did not have the power to hurt me as they once had. I think it is because I don’t have any expectations for others behavior or words towards me as I once did. For a long time it was really upsetting to be told to ‘get over it’ when this was something I could not achieve. I would think “do you believe that I don’t want to feel any differently? Do you think that if I could I would never think about these past events again? Do you really believe that the answer is so simple as just ‘moving on’?”
My time in therapy has helped me realize that others who have not experienced sexual abuse just cannot imagine the horror that it was and therefore cannot understand that to say ‘get over it and move on’ is not a choice. This type of hurt, pain and damage requires a specialist just a surely as a serious medical issue does. But it is of course easier for others to empathize with those who have physical pain and illness. Most of us have experienced physical pain and/or illness to some extent. Our experience is what enables us to empathize with those who are seriously ill. We have enough personal understanding to feel sympathy for an illness greater than we have experienced. But because most people have not experienced a “little” sexual abuse they cannot image the pain of it. Sexual abuse is like having brain surgery – either you know what that is like or you don’t and there is no middle ground.
I do not know if it is possible to ‘get over’ sexual abuse. I think that the people who say this to me and others have a thought of the event and its consequences being done, completed, and of no more effect. In some way, because the abuse changed who I was, the child who the event happened to is gone and this damaged person is left behind to struggle through.
I think when you suffer abuse you cannot ‘get over’ the abuse, but I think it is possible to ‘get through’ it. This may seem like a subtle difference or just semantic but what happened to me is always going to be a part of what made me who I am. Through therapy I have been able to work through things, to see truths and to let go of lies and pain. But no amount of time or talk will ever change what occurred or cause me to have amnesia about the details. Even after 5 years of therapy there are still times when certain memories rear up and a darkness envelopes me for a time. The good news is that over time these incidents are fewer and less intense and generally last a few days then I begin to feel better. I have hope now when none existed before.
The way I see it forgetting the bad thing happened, never speaking of it or how I feel about it is not a healthy solution. This seems to me to be what you expect of me when you tell me to “get over it”. I have no problems “getting over it” when you hurt my feelings. I can let it go and I will not spend anymore time or thought on the situation because it is now a moot point. This is not possible with abuse, at least I have not found it to be possible. By the same token I am not saying that I should wallow in pain and fear nor should I dwell unnecessarily on the bad memories. This too would not be healthy. What I cannot understand is why you are taking this position when I am working so hard at healing the hurt. I am actively seeking help through on going therapy and I work at it. I am doing all that I know to do to hopefully one day be ready to speak to others with the confidence that only an emotionally healthy person can.
If your “get over it” is just code for “isn’t it time to stop going to therapy” then I will be disappointing you once again. I have worked too hard for too many hours and cried too many tears to stop now. I have more work to do and if you don’t wish to be a part of the healing that is fine, but don’t stand in my way either. I don’t back down to others wishes anymore. I think for myself now. I take responsibility for my life and all of my decisions now. There is no one to blame any more. If my life is not what I would like it to be it will not be because of some ghost from my past.
I, through my Lord, am making decisions based on truth and I have no reason to stop now. Reading back over this blog makes me realize that I am feeling some strong emotions about this subject. This will likely be a conversation with Ruth.
Oh well, more work to be done…God Bless.