The Pause Button (A Personal Story)


The idea of recovery from a past experience scares many of us. The idea of having to confront the pain of the past and to relive it is enough to make many become issue avoiders. But the truth is that recovery, while not easy, is necessary to get you on the right path again. Stephanie candidly shares her experience and understanding about ways she went through recovery. I know that she is spot on in her ideas, because I had to go through many of the same recovery techniques myself. ~Alan Eisenberg


As a survivor of Domestic Violence, I am no stranger to bullying. When we are bullied by anyone it is hurtful and leaves scars that time does not easily erase. When we are bullied by a partner or loved one the impact is incredibly severe. I think when we hear the term Domestic Violence we think of black eyes and broken bones. The physical. What we don’t think about as often, unless you’ve lived it, are the invisible bruises left by words hurled at their victims.

The world of the victim, the world I inhabited for quite some time, is ripe with a never-ending list of bullying tactics used by the abuser to assert control and manipulate their partner. This can include, but is not limited to, the destruction of objects, threats, name calling, and directly or indirectly harming animals and children. And honestly it’s difficult to pick one aspect that is the most painful. But it’s the words… the words that last.

Record playerThese words replay in the survivor’s mind long after they leave. In flashbacks, moments of sadness and stress, and in a seemingly average moment to remind you what you should think of yourself (according to that person). It’s a record player of destruction that is very difficult to turn off and it plays for years on repeat. The key for me has been finding the pause button.

I don’t think recounting the words are particularly helpful to me or to you. And it doesn’t take much imagination to come up with a playlist of typical abusive terms and statements. I’m betting that if you’re reading this right now you have heard quite a few yourself. It’s not easy to forget, is it? And eventually that common thought becomes one you swear you created yourself. The crucial thing is to remember that you didn’t. The monster was not of your making and those words are not yours to own.

Pulling hair outSo what has helped me press the pause button? It has taken an arsenal of my creation. Venting to trusted friends that add positive reinforcement to that record in my head. Friends that remind me what I’m replaying is nothing but lies said by someone with nothing but bad intentions. Writing has of course helped and I can’t recommend that enough. You don’t have to be talented, just get it out. Write down everything they said, how it made you feel, and burn it. When the words start to come back, stop, breathe, remind yourself who said them. Go do something distracting like blasting music you love or hugging a pet. Exercise. Anything. Just get out of your head and stop the record.

I know, it all sounds like generic advice and you’re probably thinking “But I’ve tried all of that and it doesn’t work”. The thing is it didn’t work for me either. Not for quite a while. It took practice and more practice and more time. And eventually it stuck… a permanent pause button that I can access. That’s not to say that the record doesn’t ever play. It does. I just know how to play something else now. And you, dear reader, will find with practice your pause button getting stronger. I know this because you are stronger than you think and stronger than your abuser ever dared to imagine. You are the strongest person you know or you wouldn’t be here right now, reading this.

Something else that has helped me tremendously in calming the flashbacks, the memories, and my mind in general is yoga. I can’t recommend it enough for anyone recovering from trauma, from bullying, that suffers from any form of PTSD. And when I began I was out of shape, completely inflexible, and completely annoyed at even the thought of yoga. But I tried a free video and was hooked. Hatha yoga is perfect for beginners and has a lot of calm, soothing moves that are centered around meditation. This practice of slowing the mind and body helped me in healing tremendously. pause buttonIt put me back in my body and helped me truly care about how I was treating myself by not putting emphasis on self-care. It continues to help reduce tension, improve my sleep, and soothe my anxiety.

I can’t tell you how many times the record played over the years or how often I wished it would stop. But I can tell you that it gets better if you work at it. That pause button is there, you just have to find it.

If you are currently involved in an abusive relationship of any kind, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call them at 1-800-799-7233.

~Stephanie March (writer and advocate)


Alan Eisenberg’s new book about the long-term effects of bullying and his personal experiences, “A Ladder In The Dark”, is now available through Amazon and other fine book retail outlets.

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