Author Topic: PHYSICAL ABUSE. What we choose to do with our experiences define our future!  (Read 20720 times)

Positive Change

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What I would like to share here is very personal but I feel it will help. Even if it helps one person I am elated as I would than have spared that person the "pain" I went through.

It sounds almost cliché to start with the following but as a means to begin on a topic most people avoid I shall for the sake of shock value!

Yes I was abused physically in my early twenties. It was my first relationship and I was in love. So I thought! Well... I was at that point and it was a choice. It did not start off as abusive of course. In fact, it started off rather like a romantic comedy of sorts. Everything was rosy as a relationship could be.

The point where it turned sour was when reality set in. Age difference (i was younger by 7 years), monetary dependency (I was the one earning the $), and insecurity (I was after all in my prime while my other half was finding it hard to get jobs as a 30+ year old model) and social pressure (yes we are two gay men).

Three years into the relationship, things started to get "difficult" as he was beginning to get jealous and controlling of our finances (both of which, in my mind he has absolute no business to be worried about to begin with as I was as monogamous as tree trunk). In was not until the start of the 4th year things started to get emotionally abusive and he was beginning to get angersome more frequently. I often gave in to his whims and fancies as I felt guilty and wanted to protect his ego. Now I know that fueled the anger even more.

Things came to a head when an explosive argument took place based on a silly argument on how much I spent on sometime mundane. We were at the landing of the stairs in our townhouse when without warning he slapped me full across the face using the back of his hand. This was in mid argument. There was pin drop silence. I could feel the tears streaming down my face. I was in fear as this has never happened to me before. I stood there trembling but regain composure and shouted out to him saying "how dare you... not even my parents have even hit me!"

His retort was "dont be a baby, it was just a light tap". Well... that should have sounded alarm bells but it did not as I was in love and I wanted to hear what I wanted to hear. As in all abusive relationships, soon after the abuse it often ends with "heartfelt" apologies, sometimes gifts and everything goes back to "normal" at least for a few days!

This went on for a whole year before I snapped out of it. Yes.... I was a stubborn old bat! I did not want to believe it was real and that I believed he would change. But worst of all, I actually did think it was MY fault that I was abused. Classic but true!

To cut a long story short, the final crux came when it almost caused the life of either of us. Lucky for the intervention of a friend, that moment was never tested. However, 20+ years down the line, the memories are still very vivid and the reason for me sharing this is because we all have choices in life and how we decide and move on from those moments defines our future I feel. I still have physical and even emotional scars from that experience but these scars often remind me of what could have been.

I may not be the same person I was when I was in my early twenties but going through what I did then made me stronger. Perhaps part of me still is healing after all this while but it is moments like this when I put pen on paper (in this case keyboard on virtual space) is that I know I have come a long way...

It took me awhile to recover from that experience.... I lost many "friends" whom I realise where never friends to begin with and gained a handful of true friends of whom I have been in constant touch with since.

Hence to recap, I could have easily done something I would have regretted for the rest of this lifetime and where I stand now would have been very different. And now standing here with my spiritual practice and my Guru as my guide I know what I have gone through was not in vain and that our experiences in life do define our future... its is a matter of how we choose to benefit from these experiences that makes us stronger!

triesa

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Dear Positive Change,

Thank you for sharing your very private story with us here at virtual space. I guess everyone of us here have had some kind of or even many romantic love stories that turned sour and sometimes to pain bitter ending.

Talking about abuse, besides physical abuse, mental abuse is even worse. And you are absolutely right in that you have made a choice to move on and that whatever experience you had will only make you a wiser and stronger person.

Life is really a journey of events and experiences, and it is up to us how we use these experiences to define our future in the positive way as well as with the hope benefitting others.

Again, I admire your courage and may you always be close to your Guru and be blessed always......

Big Uncle

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Yes, thank you positive change. Deep within many of us, we have a deep insecurity about ourselves and sometimes, when we are young, inexperienced and perhaps not confident of ourselves, we allow people to dominate us and hold us on emotional ransom. We allow them to use us and sometimes physically abuse us. The answer to why do we allow that to happen to us lies deep within us - that deep insecurity.

I guess it is more pronounced if you are of alternative sexuality where there is a stigma attached to our feelings or liking towards men. This insecurity is in all of us, including High Lamas and very powerful people. The reason why they became High Lamas and powerful and influential people is not that they don't have insecurities, they work towards overcoming their insecurities. Hence, I love movies and heroes who are like me, full of insecurities, problems and dilemmas. I watch their characters fall, make mistakes and eventually triumph, not out of brute strength or force but out of falling, standing up, falling again and finally finding that inner strength to make it.

Hence, some of the most celebrated Tibetan saints I admire is Milarepa, who is not the typical 'goody-goody' saint. He murdered hundreds of people and sought vengeance. However, when he met his Guru, Marpa, he was purified with years of toiling and building towers. I admire him not just for his eventual enlightenment but for his utter perseverance, the times he gave up, the times he wanted to run but eventually didn't. I relate to that very much. Thank you for your story.

DSFriend

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I heard a teaching sometime back about letting go and understanding the non-self. The lama presented a hypothetical situation, in that let's say we suddenly loose selected memory, how will we feel then. Our reality of who we are perhaps would be different?

This is not a far fetched hypothetical situation, just look back to the experiences we have had be it good or bad. Through time,...even tragic experiences looses its power because our memory of it may not have been so vivid compared to the very moment when it happened. In this teaching, i learnt that whatever we chooses to hear, to remember and project realities to will determine who we are and how we grow or not. Some memories may get distorted in a more negative way through time and we re-live it again and again.. doesn't it sound like we are creating our own hell?

What if we woke up one day and do not remember who we are? we will have a very different reality..but we still have this mind. Therefore, nurturing and infusing the mind with dharma is very important instead of replaying our old memories and not knowing what to do with them. Dharma gives us much to guide our thoughts, what to hold on to and what and how to let go off.

We are all on this journey until we rid off all negativities.. the experience may be different, but dear Positive Change, i can certainly relate to the sufferings and traumas.

best wishes

shugdentruth

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Dear Positive change,

Thank you very much for your sharing. You have highlighted to me that bad can be good if we look at it positively. I was at a seminar once, they made the crowd scream 'I LOVE PROBLEMS'. I thought they were crazy. But now, it makes sense to me. If we learn to overcome our problems positively, it is a life experience that may be worth a lot some day.


WoselTenzin

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i learnt that whatever we chooses to hear, to remember and project realities to will determine who we are and how we grow or not. Some memories may get distorted in a more negative way through time and we re-live it again and again.. doesn't it sound like we are creating our own hell?

What if we woke up one day and do not remember who we are? we will have a very different reality..but we still have this mind. Therefore, nurturing and infusing the mind with dharma is very important instead of replaying our old memories and not knowing what to do with them. Dharma gives us much to guide our thoughts, what to hold on to and what and how to let go off.


What we focus our mind on will determine who we are and our inner growth.  It's really our choice.  Therefore, I think it's best that certain events in our life that has affected us negatively we confront and acknowledge it.  Thereafter, don't focus on it and move on with our lives.

Get out of the habit of re-living old memories especially those that are negative. Doing so will only be reinforcing our unhappiness and after a while like what DS Friend said, whatever that happened get distorted in a more negative way and thus creating our own hell.

Instead, infuse our mind with positive thoughts and Dharma and make a conscious effort to let go of whatever that has caused our unhappiness.  At the end of the day, the truth is there is really nothing to hold on to.  Everything is impermanent.   


 

dsiluvu

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whatever we chooses to hear, to remember and project realities to will determine who we are and how we grow or not. Some memories may get distorted in a more negative way through time and we re-live it again and again.. doesn't it sound like we are creating our own hell?

What if we woke up one day and do not remember who we are? we will have a very different reality..but we still have this mind. Therefore, nurturing and infusing the mind with dharma is very important instead of replaying our old memories and not knowing what to do with them. Dharma gives us much to guide our thoughts, what to hold on to and what and how to let go off.

We are all on this journey until we rid off all negativities.. the experience may be different, but dear Positive Change, i can certainly relate to the sufferings and traumas.

best wishes

I like what you aid DSfriend... this is so true how we create our own living hell daily through our mind. And yes if there was one part of our memory wiped away, we could be acting differently again. Letting past experiences go may not be easy, but it is our choice at the end of the day to let go and move on.

What is letting go and moving on? It doesn't mean you do not remember or blocked the past experience, it is that you accepted your karma for experiencing that and you do not base your future actions and thoughts through that experience?

Learn from experiences but do not be a victim of it!

I think we often play the victim card because we don't realise how much power we have within us to change it all around... yes we can empower ourselves that is what Buddha's teachings is all about. We have the potential to become a Buddha is what Buddha says, so we need to start focusing on improving now and not so much the past. We are after all the authors of our life :) 

Klein

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Dear Positive Change,

Thank you for sharing with us your past experience. We go through our daily lives experiencing things we like and don't like. We have a choice of either reacting to these experiences or we don't. I totally agree with you that "what we choose to do with our experiences define our future".

Isn't this what karma is all about? Everything we do defines our future. As Buddhist practitioners, we also consider our future lives because the choices we currently make will define our future lives as well.

With dharma knowledge and practice, we learn to make better choices for a better future.

negra orquida

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Dear Positive Change,

It must have taken a lot of courage to reopen that part of your history again... and I am very happy to hear that you have grown stronger after that.  May I know if you had already met with the Dharma at the time or was it after?

There are so many many real life stories of how people do things which are irreversible and they live with the consequences for the rest of their lives... in that moment of anger, jealousy, hatred... they destroyed the future.  Grandmothers killing their grandchildren, fathers raping their daughters, a lover killing the third wheel, student goes on shooting rampage and kill 10 strangers... the horror list goes on.  Many of these people have deep rooted psychological problems which are attributable to their upbringing / bad childhood... I recently watched a youtube video called Top 10 Most Evil Children in History.  It was rather scary! But my heart bled most for one of them in particular... Mary Flora Bell.  Wiki her and you would know what I mean...

Fortunately there are also many people who managed to put their troubled/unhappy childhood behind and went on to achieve success in their adult lives and inspire others e.g. Oprah Winfrey.

We can't teach the world on karma... we can't make everyone be patient in the face of anger... but what we can do is to educate our children on this right from day 1 and WALK the TALK.  Like what the late Whitney Houston sang “I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside.”

Positive Change

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Quote
It must have taken a lot of courage to reopen that part of your history again... and I am very happy to hear that you have grown stronger after that.  May I know if you had already met with the Dharma at the time or was it after?

Dear Negra Orquida... This was way before I met the Dharma. If I knew what I know then, I do not think I would have endured a whole year. Then again we are "suckers" for pain sometimes and because I cannot really "see" myself in that situation but merely hypothesize, I think I would have"left" the situation far too quickly to actually learn my lesson.

In a strange way, with what I have been through, if given the chance to "change" my life, I really would not change anything because what I have learnt is invaluable and it has propelled me towards the Dharma but I of course I did not have a name for it yet! Sometimes the past is hard to recall but if it helps us grow and move forward in the now, it is important to "relive" that.

hope rainbow

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Positive Change.
Thanks for this sharing, it can't be easy to share such intimate things with people on an internet forum that you do not know personally. It shows that a Dharma community, even on a forum gives the opportunity for us to speak with trust, be understood with compassion and replied to with care.

Your story is a story of disappointments and anger.

Your friend was disappointed at himself obviously and your "success" made him feel worse, he identified you as a cause participating to his feeling of disappointment and his mind got entangled in this thoughts that, perhaps, if he'd hurt you, his feeling of disappointment would be lessened.
That friend did hit you because he was unhappy, because he thought that hurting you would attenuate his feeling of unhappiness, would calm down is mind poisoned by anger.

This never works.

You, on the other side, were unhappy also at seeing your friend unhappy, you maybe did not understand all the reasons why he was unhappy, and when you got hit by him, you saw him succeed at extending his insecurity, his disappointment and FEAR onto you. Suddenly you had to taste his anger physically. And it made you cry. Why? because when someone we expect love from is willingly engaging in actions to hurt us, physically or mentally, we feel un-loved, we feel abandoned, we feel lonely, we feel destroyed, we feel betrayed, but because we love the person, we feel un-worthy, and we think that maybe the fault was mine and we develop guilt.

As a result, we try to fix the problem from a totally wrong understanding of its causes. And it never works.

I am glad that you met the Dharma, for it presents us with solutions that are more long-term, more extensive and more profound than psychology, and I say this without a mind of putting down psychology.
Anger, disappointment ans guilt are also emotions that can be dealt with with the help of a psychologist or psychoanalyst, but to broaden their understanding and therefore broaden up the healing, our best therapist remains Buddha Shakyamuni.

kurava

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Dear PC,
It's very brave of you to share openly your traumatic experience and it is a sign that you are able to free yourself from that negative experience.

Not forgiving, reliving the bad experience over and over again even though we may be physically separated from the person means that we allow ourselves to be continuously tormented mentally and emotionally by the person or the experience of it.

It may be hard to forgive because we feel we had been wronged and if we forgive the wrong doer we are making life “easy “ for him … It's not fair !

Well, look at it another way. We are the one that will suffer by not letting the experience go. By forgiving the wrong doer, we are in essence telling him : “ You don't matter to me any more, you can't hurt me anymore. I will not be controlled by you in any way and I will not be hurt by you or the memory of you. I AM FREE NOW.”

From Buddhist view point - understanding that the wrong doer acted out of the 3 poisons and he had also suffered from the acts, we forgive and this ability of letting go arises out of compassion. You may even remain as friends but this time you are stronger because you have realized something that can conquer all negative emotions.

Positive Change

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Dear PC,
It's very brave of you to share openly your traumatic experience and it is a sign that you are able to free yourself from that negative experience.

Not forgiving, reliving the bad experience over and over again even though we may be physically separated from the person means that we allow ourselves to be continuously tormented mentally and emotionally by the person or the experience of it.

It may be hard to forgive because we feel we had been wronged and if we forgive the wrong doer we are making life “easy “ for him … It's not fair !

Well, look at it another way. We are the one that will suffer by not letting the experience go. By forgiving the wrong doer, we are in essence telling him : “ You don't matter to me any more, you can't hurt me anymore. I will not be controlled by you in any way and I will not be hurt by you or the memory of you. I AM FREE NOW.”

From Buddhist view point - understanding that the wrong doer acted out of the 3 poisons and he had also suffered from the acts, we forgive and this ability of letting go arises out of compassion. You may even remain as friends but this time you are stronger because you have realized something that can conquer all negative emotions.

Thank you Kurava... However may I correct you by saying, we forgive not because that person doesn't matter to us anymore... I feel we forgive because he or she matters and we want them to be FREE as much as we want to be FREE. We are after all masters of our own emotions and we cannot put the blame on another for making us feel the way we do. Sure they may be the catalyst to how we feel but at the end of the day, it is WE who feel, not THEM.

SO to forgive for me is actually CARING enough to realise putting the blame on another is WRONG and we should LET GO. I am glad that with a Dharma perspective, my actions of the past I can see a little more clearly and learn from the past. Letting go for me is moving on but not forgetting because if we forget, we are back to square one and have not learnt a thing!

Positive Change

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Positive Change.
Thanks for this sharing, it can't be easy to share such intimate things with people on an internet forum that you do not know personally. It shows that a Dharma community, even on a forum gives the opportunity for us to speak with trust, be understood with compassion and replied to with care.

Your story is a story of disappointments and anger.

Your friend was disappointed at himself obviously and your "success" made him feel worse, he identified you as a cause participating to his feeling of disappointment and his mind got entangled in this thoughts that, perhaps, if he'd hurt you, his feeling of disappointment would be lessened.
That friend did hit you because he was unhappy, because he thought that hurting you would attenuate his feeling of unhappiness, would calm down is mind poisoned by anger.

This never works.

You, on the other side, were unhappy also at seeing your friend unhappy, you maybe did not understand all the reasons why he was unhappy, and when you got hit by him, you saw him succeed at extending his insecurity, his disappointment and FEAR onto you. Suddenly you had to taste his anger physically. And it made you cry. Why? because when someone we expect love from is willingly engaging in actions to hurt us, physically or mentally, we feel un-loved, we feel abandoned, we feel lonely, we feel destroyed, we feel betrayed, but because we love the person, we feel un-worthy, and we think that maybe the fault was mine and we develop guilt.

As a result, we try to fix the problem from a totally wrong understanding of its causes. And it never works.

I am glad that you met the Dharma, for it presents us with solutions that are more long-term, more extensive and more profound than psychology, and I say this without a mind of putting down psychology.
Anger, disappointment ans guilt are also emotions that can be dealt with with the help of a psychologist or psychoanalyst, but to broaden their understanding and therefore broaden up the healing, our best therapist remains Buddha Shakyamuni.

Thank you Hope Rainbow for sharing your thoughts. The emotions and thought processes I went through while in that relationship indeed was as you described. Some more so than others. However what I have learnt through the years is how to "deal" with it on a daily basis.

YES... you heard me right. I still "deal" with it daily but it by no means brings me down these days but it actually uplifts me because I have a reference point of how it was and how it is now. It is always good to keep a check on where we are and how we feel and thus how far we have "progressed".

As I mentioned in my post above, letting go is about moving on and NOT forgetting. If we forget, we choose to hide or compartmentalize the issue and hence we lose the very essence of what we have learnt. Most psychologist or psychoanalyst would agree that the root of most people's problems are HIDING and trying to FORGET the pain and hurt. Hence people spend a fortune having these specialist REMIND us so we can MOVE ON. It is strange how the human mind works and how self preservation is so apparent in modern day society it has become a very selfish and scary state of mind!

pgdharma

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Thank you, Positive Change, for sharing  this private and emotional experience with us. Even though the imprints are still there yet you have the courage to let go of that pain and moved on. Sometimes it is this type of painful negative experience that wakes us up and makes us a wiser and stronger person. In fact, I think it is an invaluable lesson in life. You did not let the bad experience dragged you down instead it has propelled you towards the Dharma. Everything we do now defines our future. It is important to have dharma knowledge so that we can learn to make better choices for a better future.  I am glad you have found a Guru to guide you in your spiritual practice. :)