I’ve come to think of recovery as a three stage process—from victim, to survivor, and finally to Beyond Survivor™.
As a survivor, you will have gained a sense of empowerment by no longer see yourself as the victim. You will have done amazing work to reach a place where you are able to acknowledge the abuse and both accept and exist with the knowledge of the abuse.
However, there are three signs that this recognition, understanding, and sense of empowerment is not enough and instead you are ready to let go of the past and move on with your life!
1: YOU NO LONGER WANT TO BE DEFINED BY THE ABUSE
You want to be able to live your life without the past constantly interfering or influencing your present.
You are ready to engage in facing and owning what happened. And I want to be sure to distinguish something here. Owning what happened doesn’t mean being responsible. It means letting this experience be a part of who you are. Just like I’m a redhead, and I have blue eyes, and I love to dance. I was also abused as a child. It’s not a badge of honor and it’s also not a badge of shame. It’s just a part of my experience.
2: YOU NO LONGER WANT TO SPEND HOURS AND HOURS REFLECTING ON THE PAST
You are ready to be active, take action.
You are ready to do something about the effects of the abuse. Simply compensating and just getting by is no longer acceptable. Nor is just understanding or reflecting on the past enough.
Instead you will be willing to actively challenge the patterns of thought and behavior that you have identified during the survivor stage that have been holding you back.
3: YOU ARE READY TO LEARN HOW TO LET GO OF THE PAST AND FINALLY FEEL NORMAL
You need specific tools and skills so that you can heal and live an abundant, powerful life no longer mired in past experiences.
You are no longer satisfied with just surviving your life but instead want to break free from the pain of abuse and move on toward feeling ‘normal’, which simply means that you know who you are, feel confident, and are able to navigate life’s bumps in the road with ease and clarity.
I often call this the “enough is enough” phase because you really are clear that it’s time for your life to be about something other than recovery.
For me, this was the work I did through my late 20s in order to reach the place where I am today: full of joy, able to have healthy connected relationships, enjoying my life, full of energy and purpose.
Once you have reached this place where you are ready to get off the roller coaster, you want to avoid any type of support (whether that be a counselor, support group, book) that has you repeating and reiterating the past over and over. This is actually detrimental to your recovery at some point because you begin to reinforce old patterns on a neurological level rather than heal or transform them.
Ultimately, you are ready to get complete about the abuse, let it go so the past is no longer impacting your present, and take responsibility for the choices you make in life from this point forward so that you become the author of your life.