It’s Perfectly Normal to Dread Seeing Abusers Again

…And not only is it normal, but that terror validates your impression that you’ve been abused.  Why would you be terrified if you had not been abused?

Vanci describes very well–and the commenters back her up (my own comment is at the bottom there)–that it’s perfectly normal to dread seeing your abusers again:

I used to be terrified of running into my Former Family Members.  Seriously, I’d be in the grocery store and see someone who looked like one of them and I’d turn on a dime to head a different direction.

I reacted to even the thought of running into them viscerally.  Nausea, headache, cold chills, hot flashes, muscle weakness, shakes; basically all of the terror reactions rolled up nice and neat into a gut bomb and dropped on me.

Then I had a couple of close calls, fast moving brushes of the shoulder type of deals.  I’d get out of the public place I was and slide in my car and then think, “Hey, wasn’t that….?”

I wasn’t given time to react until after the fact in those situations, and I noticed that I did feel the horror reaction, but to a lesser extent.

Then I realized one day that GCYB and my nephew were right behind me in line at the convenience store of all places and I just didn’t give a crap.  You can read about that here.

I saw the progression of my evolving reaction and interpretation of these events as a plus, a sign of healing, and I was grateful for that.

To feel nothing, to detach, is really the only option I have when it comes to these people.  There won’t ever be any relationships there, and my acceptance of that fact as a matter of small steps has been crucial to my journey to get well.

But this was different.  It felt a bit like the brass ring.  My ‘reaction’ wasn’t really that at all.  I didn’t get nauseous or scared.  I didn’t have to ponder or contemplate what I should do.  I didn’t have to run away….

But my point is this.  I used to be terrified of them.  Then I was scared.  Then I was sort of indifferent.

And now, as I was reminded earlier today of my favorite Kurt Vonnegut line ever, “You (they) can take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut!  You (they) can take a flying fuck at the MOOOOOOOON!”  —Standing Ground (With Tired Feet)

I tensed in anticipation of that familiar gut-dropping, guilt ridden constriction of my chest.  In the past when I’ve suffered these brief interactions with the NFOO that come as part and parcel of living in the same small town that they do, I’ve been immediately terrified.

A lifetime of being the scapegoat, the reason for the problem, the cause of all harm does not, after all, disappear in four brief years of LC followed by NC.  I was waiting for that terror for a split second  before I realized that it didn’t come….

I thought for a brief moment of what I would say if GCYB initiated a conversation.  And realized that I would say nothing at all.

I mean, really, who is this person to me?  He’s a user and a fraud who claimed to love me but immediately blamed me for all the NFOO’s problems as soon as NM was cut off from her access to me as her primary source of narc supply. —Who’s the Brave One?

The best part is reading, at the end there, that you can eventually get to the point of not caring anymore.  That you won’t be frightened of running into your abusers, for the rest of your life.

It was easier the last time I saw my bullies at church.  I set boundaries, posted on my blog for them to read, which they actually respected for once.

And things went–fine.  Even when they were just inches from me, things went fine, and I could chat and laugh with my fellow parishioners and friends.  I was in a good mood.  It was amazing.  So it can happen.

Also see:

Seeing Abuser is Rough for Abuse Victims, Especially When Abusers & Enablers Blame the Victim: Annie’s Mailbox

Fighting the Darkness: Seeing the abuser again

Needing to Feel Safe: Going to same church as abusers

Fighting the Darkness: Mutual Friends