Trigger Warning for mention of abuse (no details given)
I am currently halfway through a 12 week long women’s support group. It has taken a long time, but I am finally in a place that is safe and secure enough that I can try and process some of the abuse I suffered in the past, both physical and emotional.
This week, the facilitator of the group spoke a little bit about hope, hope for the future, hope for recovery. She explained how pretty much all abuse victims have this little (or not so little) part of them that is stuck at the age at which the abuse took place, whether that was during childhood or later on. And how, invariably, thinking about your abuser will send you back to that place, when you were younger and more vulnerable. But one of the most important steps of recovery is to nurture a sense of hope, to keep telling that scared little kid inside of you that there is still hope, and that things will get better.
I liked this idea of nurturing a seed of hope within myself. So I took it, and made it my own. I decided, right there in the meeting, that I would get a bear and call her Hope. Not just any bear, but a Build-a-Bear, so that I could pick out a nice, cheerful, hopeful design, and put a little heart inside it full of hope for the future. She even comes with a birth certificate with her name on it, just in case I ever need the extra reminder.
So, today, the ever-supportive Alex took me to Build-a-Bear in Oxford, and bought me a beautiful little bear, and I named her Hope.
She will be the symbol of my recovery. Next time I’m lying awake at 3am, unable to sleep, with thoughts of dark things from my past swirling around in my head, I will reach for Hope, and she will remind me that things will get better. Because things have to get better. And when the time comes when I am finally ready to speak out and stand up to my abusers, I will look at Hope, and I will be reminded of how far I have come, and how strong I really am, even if I still feel like a frightened child.