One of the difficulties we have in ‘becoming whole’ is that others hold pieces of our story.
As children, we do not have the capacity to understand the full context in which our abuse occurs. As we get older, and start to question who and what we are, we sometimes feel we are not ‘whole’ – that we are not normal, and there are parts of us missing.
It was not until I wanted to heal, (as opposed to just trying to get through each day), that I discovered other people often held the key to real understanding.
Over the years, I had received snippets of information from relatives, friends of my parents, people who were children when I was, but I had never consciously put these pieces into the jig-saw that was my life as a child. It was only when I had made a conscious decision to become ‘whole’ that these pieces of ‘me’ fell into place.
My perspective was that of a child. The perspective of others was the background and context.
Going through the darkest years, at times it really did feel like someone had upended a box of jig-saw pieces, scattering them everywhere. For quite a while I did not have the energy or the inclination to sift through them and start putting the pieces together.
Once I started, however, I noticed subtle changes in me even after placing only a few pieces. Suddenly things were starting to make sense. Things like why my family was the way it was, how others could not see the monster I could see, why my cries for help went unnoticed, and why I always felt so confused and angry. All of this understanding relied on the information others had given me.
No longer was I trying to make sense of my life purely from a child’s perspective, with a child’s limited understanding.
Although that statement might, at first, seem strange, the truth is, I was trying to comprehend what had happened, but the only knowledge of it I had was through the eyes of a child. Even as an adult, the only experience of it I knew was my own. Because I was a child living through it, I did not have all the details, all of the context, or all of the broader understanding that comes with age.
The years of painstakingly seeking out, and sorting through, all of the pieces of the puzzle were hard (a HUGE understatement), but I did, eventually, get through it.
Actively seeking the pieces of me held by other people, left me open to hurt, embarrassment, and shame. At times it felt as though I was once again a child experiencing abuse – and in a sense I was. I found I had to revisit what had happened to me time and time and time again to make sense of the new information – to see what was happening through the eyes of the person supplying this ‘new’ information.
There are still pieces that are missing. There are still things I can’t make sense of. There are still questions I need answered.
The difference now, however, is that the hardest work has been done, and new pieces of information no longer push me to the brink of oblivion.
A large percentage of the puzzle is together. There is now room on the table for the rest of the pieces to lie separate from each other, instead of piled in a heap with no breathing room. I already have a good sense of the background and context, so the correct placement of the new pieces occurs more quickly than before, and I don’t need to revisit and relive what happened in order to make sense of it all (well, not as much anyway).
These days, I can function reasonably similarly to a ‘normal’ person. I can look at the sky and enjoy it’s blueness and not be triggered by it. I can smile. I can laugh, and really mean it. I can do most of the things I want to without feeling like I need to have someone else’s permission.
Yes, there is still work to be done, but it is no longer vital to my survival like it used to be. There is no longer real risk of harm to myself if I can’t get the pieces together. There is enough of the puzzle completed to be able to stand back and see the bigger picture.
Who holds the pieces of you?