It would be nice to think getting to a point where I could forgive myself would be the end of a story. Perhaps there would be a twinge now and then, but life should be great.
What I have been learning is, yes, life is great. There are moments when the life fairly glows. Most of my moments are with other people. Most especially the young children I am blessed to care for. It is such a gift, to hear the pure joy in a two-year-old’s giggle.
However, there are still times when my thinking falls backwards. Times when a trigger causes me to fall back into what I think of as the deep groves in my brain. Those groves are the automatic thoughts and actions that come so easily. Especially when formed by trauma. Formed, and then reinforced constantly when the original trauma is triggered.
Many survivors that I have spoken to have faced this. The hardest thing in the world is to not fall into that grove. The second hardest thing is to fall in, but then reverse yourself.
But that grove has its appeal, especially at the beginning of the healing journey. It is an appeal that is hard to acknowledge. Let alone admit. Familiar feels so much safer.
I spent so much of my life trying to attach myself to an anchor. Someone who would keep me safe. A tether to life when I didn’t know how to survive on my own. My first anchor was my father.
Of course, he was also the reason I needed an anchor to begin with. He was my archetype. I forged my idea of love in the fire of his abuse. I couldn’t let go of him until two things happened.
First, I moved to live with him straight out of high school. I was full of fantasies of a white knight. Surely, he would provide the love and safety I so desperately needed. Of course, he didn’t.
Second, I met a person I could transfer that anchor, dependency, onto.
Only I didn’t have the ability to choose someone truly worthy of the role (if there is such a thing). My second anchor was my best friend in high school. He ran hot and cold. His love and need were nearly as intense as my own. We would pull in so close to each other, only to swing wildly apart.
Sadly, but probably predictably, when he finally left for good, I fell apart. So, I grabbed onto the first person I could find. The man who would become my husband. But that is another story.
As for the grooves, that is just one. It is my “I cannot survive on my own” groove. It is deep and deceptive. Every time I meet a new person, Every time I cross into unfamiliar territory in an established relationship, my mind wants me to grab a death hold on them. The groove tells me I need someone.
It also lowers my expectations. In that groove, I feel the old feelings. The feelings that my biggest considerations in life are, “does this person want/need me?”
If I am not very careful, I can end up on chasing someone I might not even want. With practice, I hardly ever fall into that groove anymore. I can stop, evaluate, and test against reality. I can take care of myself. An idea that used to make me so mad.
I knew every child deserves someone to love them unconditionally, to take care of them. I didn’t get that. Now, it is such an unhealthy need. Grownups shouldn’t be enmeshed. So, I step back. I let my inner self cry a bit, and I move away.
Yes, this is a groove I feel competent at maneuvering around. I realize it at the first stumble.
You have your own grooves. Anything that causes you to act against your best interest, usually automatically, might be a groove. Everyone has them. Not all are bad. Though anything that circumvents my rational self usually is.
Grooves are worth paying attention to.