Healing with Compassion
I discovered something that has been of tremendous value in my recovery from abusive relationships. This key word has taken me from feeling like a victim to feeling empowered. It has taken me from feeling that awful sense of anger and hatred to feeling the love again. The word is compassion!
Of course compassion is more than a word. It is an emotional experience. We experience compassion for our fellow humans. It is an experience of walking in the others shoes, of having understanding for their experience and opening our hearts to make space for their experience of life, even if we don’t agree with it.
I have come to understand that everyone’s actions toward us have to do with his/her own state of being. If we have been in an abusive relationship our abuser has most likely come from abuse. He is doing to me what was done to him out of some internal subconscious programming.
This doesn’t excuse his behavior or make it O.K. and I still need to leave the relationship if he is unwilling to look closely at himself and change his behavior. This is still his responsibility! My responsibility comes in caring for myself and recognizing abusive behavior in myself and others.
It is my responsibility to see where I am carrying on the abuse of my past by being abusive towards others. It is also my responsibility to surround myself with people who are able and capable of loving and caring for me. This is how I love and care for myself.
When I left my last abusive relationship I was very angry. I was angry at how I had been treated and angry at myself for allowing it to continue for as long as I did. I was angry that he devalued me and talked negatively about me. I was angry that he made me the scapegoat and held me to blame for the failure of our relationship.
The anger continued for several months as I went through my process of sorting everything out in my heart and in my mind. I had to deal with the reality that a man I loved had been ripped from my life without any closure.
Someone I had lived with for many years had become the enemy. It wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to talk it out, to come to some type of mutual understanding and acceptance of what was. I wanted to be able to say “hey, I love you even if it isn’t working out between us!”
I wanted to hear him tell me he still loved me and thought I had value even if our relationship as we knew it was ending. But everything that had transpired in the ugliness of the break-up said “you are worthless! You have no value in my eyes! I hate you for what you have done to me! I want to hurt you and punish you for what you have done!
I took these awful feelings with me and was deeply saddened and hurt by what had transpired. I came to realize what I had seen in the end was merely a magnification of what had been going on all along.
Although I suffered in the relationship I had to come to the understanding that it really wasn’t about me and my worth and value. It was about how he perceived himself due to his past abuse. Deep down he had such feelings of worthlessness created from his childhood abuse and he stuffed them so far into his psyche he didn’t even realize they were there.
Basically he was out of touch with his own feelings of worthlessness so he projected his repressed emotions onto me. Because of my own abusive history I was quick to own the worthlessness.
There was a common belief that all my relationships fail because there is something wrong with me. My life mission was to discover and realize there was nothing wrong with me. I was a caring, loving, sensitive being who truly wanted the best for people. But my sensitivity drew me into relationships with men whom were needy on some level.
My compassion for his wounded inner child brought out the maternal, nurturing part of me, the part that still hadn’t fully learned to nurture my own wounded child.
Compassion can heal us but can also get us into trouble. Ted Bundy, the famous serial killer lured his victims into his deadly web by creating circumstances that appealed to women’s compassionate nature. He would feign having a broken arm or leg or something that would make a woman want to assist him.
Abusive men do the same thing. They often expose their fragile sensitive sides and share their stories of their own victim hood in order to appeal to the compassionate nature of the woman they are pursuing.
They will often create images of their previous mate having been the abusive one causing the new prospect to feel sorry for him for what he was gone through. She becomes his ally and the ex-mate the enemy. Suddenly the woman who was truly abused has two enemies.
In my experience what really helped me to heal was the awareness that my ex-mate was really a wounded soul and was behaving from his own wounded ness. I came to see that his actions were projections of his own pain.
I also realized he was completely unaware of what he was doing. He was acting subconsciously and most likely believed he was the victim, once again. He believed he was the victim because he had been a victim for so long as a child that this was his natural state of being.
He had mistrust in people and their basic goodness. He had learned to be suspicious of people who claimed to love or care about him. When he felt rejected or hurt by the one he believed he loved, all his old wounds that had never healed were brought to the surface. This caused him to feel he was being hurt and victimized all over again and he retaliated in abusive behavior to protect himself. In a sense he was pushing away the people close to him believing they were his abusers.
My experience of abuse and inner wounded ness has given me a greater sense of compassion for others. I now have compassion for my ex-mate even though I still have not spoken to him. I know in my heart that he loved me the best he could given his experiences in life.
I know any perceived abuse coming from him was really coming from his retaliating wounded child. I cannot allow him into my life in any way, shape or form as long as he continues to project his demons onto me, but from a distance I can still love him and care about him, include him in my prayers and wish the best for him.
This is what heals me! Through compassion I was able to find my way back to the love even if the love I now had for him existed only in my heart. Having love in my heart and compassion for him has replaced the feelings of anger that threatened to destroy me.
Some people carry their anger for a lifetime, giving the other the power to destroy their lives. Our lives belong to us and it’s up to us to take the responsibility and heal. Through love and compassion we set ourselves free to live as we deserve!
Kaleah is a singer/songwriter, intuitive counselor and writer living in Sedona, Arizona.