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I am living in my “dream house” and it has just been put up for sale. It is my 7th dream house. A client of mine asked me how I could be leaving my dream house. I told her the truth; dream houses and dreams don’t always fit together. My current home and location don’t fit my new dream; I have outgrown both.
Every time I move into a new home, it becomes my dream house. It is perfect for right then and reflects my style, taste and needs. I feel safe and comfortable. Inside the confines of the colorful walls I grow, learn and develop into a new version of myself. But after a time, a new dream emerges and I feel compelled to follow. I start designing the inside of my new dream home.
My dream home is my bubble for a time, but as I gather momentum, I need to abandon my current enclosure and move to a new one. I always feel a mix of fear and excitement as I extend my hand outside my safety zone.
I think abuse survivors, when healing, operate in the very same way. Moving past abuse comes in stages. A survivor finds a “home” that feels safe and tucks in for a while. Inside that protective bubble, the survivor can explore their world and examine their feelings inside that protective fortress. Staying within those confines until they are outgrown is the healthiest way of moving ahead.
Many well wishers try to push a survivor out of their current safe place into wide open spaces too soon; well before the survivor feels fully grown into their current state. The result is fear, a sense of being overwhelmed and controlled by others. It would be the same as my dream house being burned to the ground before I have dreamed my new home, where it will be and what I will be doing. I would feel lost and confused. I need to control my life, where I will live and what activities I will be performing in order to feel safe and secure.
I recently had a client “freak out” at her family. They were trying to push her in a direction that they thought best. But she wasn’t ready; she had not outgrown her current state and that sent her into a panic. Her family was outraged by her angry behavior towards them and she felt a tremendous sense of guilt for being “bitchy” to the very people who were trying to help.
Upon closer examination, that scenario is the absolute definition of healing. My client was taking back her power and resisting being pushed around by others. She wasn’t being “bitchy”, she was being assertive. She was acting as a survivor; she was completely in charge of herself and had a keen sense of how fast she could move from one level to another. To blindly be pushed would be evidence of still residing in the world of a victim. To adamantly shove back showed strength and intimate knowledge of herself and her needs.
Interesting, that once her family respected her pace, she began to grow like a weed! She safely constructed her new “home” as she felt herself outgrow her existing one. I’m guessing that with time and patience, she will be packing boxes often.
About Stacey Lannert
Stacey is free. In January 2009, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt commuted her sentence of life without parole. She is currently speaking out about sexual abuse and sharing her message of love, healing and forgiveness.