How To Fill The Bottomless Pit Of Hopelessness

by Annie Kaszina on October 12, 2007


This
week a friend of mine called to tell me that she was feeling quite
strange. I pricked up my ears and
listened, concerned in case the difficulties she faces in her life had
multiplied.

B.
is a long term friend of mine, someone I knew years before I found out that I
was living in an abusive relationship, years before I understood what her
submissiveness was actually about. I
was a mouthy abused woman, she was a remarkably retiring, undemanding one. I thought that being vocal meant I was
strong and was, initially, horrified to realize that we both bore the same
label.

Our
paths divided for a while and then joined up again. By then I was already engaged in domestic violence research and
recovery. B. became embroiled in another
relationship that turned out to be abusive.

I
supported her as best I could, but being supportive as a friend is very
different to being supportive as a coach. For years she did not want to hear my insight that her relationship was
abusive and draining. She loved her
partner and was heavily invested in the relationship.

I
bit my tongue, listened and confined myself to offering an opinion as and when
it was asked for. I was careful not to
go beyond my remit, the word abuse remained off limits for years.

Eventually
she brought it up, I confirmed her realization and she left. By the time she left I had given up even
hoping that she would, for fear of my hope putting uncomfortable pressure on
her. 

Still,
she was very stuck in her victim mind-set. She remained in that place, so agonizing for friends and family, of
vacillation; should she go back to him? Would he change? Was she giving up the
best man she would ever have? She
couldn’t move on. She could rarely
think clearly for very long, rarely hold to any course of action for more than
a day. She was like a beautiful butterfly, stuck on a pin, too weary even to
flutter her wings.

I
did what I could as a friend to support her, coached her when she would let me
and felt saddened and frustrated that I could not do more to move her on.

And
then this phone call. Out of the blue,
apparently, she had taken a number of major steps to safeguard her future. She had done several things she had
previously felt incapable of doing. She
had applied for jobs, tackled her finances, started designing her future. She had even spoken to her ex-partner far
more assertively than ever before. No
wonder ‘things’ felt ‘strange’.

She
had also made a major mental shift from expecting her life to be hard, to truly
believing that things would work out. She didn’t know how she had done it, but she could maintain it. Her life still presents significant
difficulties, yet she feels happy and positive. Maybe not all the time, but still most of the time.

I
should say that she had, over the years, read relevant books, and worked
through various things that I had suggested to her, including my own
teleclasses. Nothing seemed to
stick. But here’s the thing: it had.

Emotional
abuse leaves you feeling like a bottomless pit. You attempt to fill that pit with whatever wisdom, support and
information you can garner. And the pit
still seems bottomless. Everything
seems to disappear into it. Until one
day you reach critical mass. 

Suddenly
you become aware that the pit is a pit no more. It is full enough to be solid ground. It will support your feet, it is fertile enough to grow on it
what you will; fruit, plants, vegetables, flowers, trees.

A
mentor of mine has the motto: “Never give up. Never, ever give up.” It is a good motto for abused women. 

Never
give up on your recovery
. Keep on
doing what you can, when you can and trust that it will suffice; you will get
there. And so you will. Only the timescale is a little uncertain. 

Once
you know the outcome is assured, you can be relaxed about the timescale. Trust is a more useful approach than is
worry. (In fact, each person takes the time they need to internalize their
healing influences.) So it is ok to stop berating yourself about the
time it is taking you. Instead commend
yourself for the courage you show in taking even small steps. Acknowledge that
it takes great courage even to continue in the face of apparent hopelessness.

And
remember you can never know that your plight is hopeless. That is just a guess on your part. In fact, you are far more likely to surprise
yourself just as B. did.

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