This is a guest post from one of our readers, Michelle A. Mallon, MSW, LSW.
The true strength of a person is measured in forgiveness. It is so easy to endure hardship at the hands of another and never be able to move on from it or worse, move on from it forever broken, vowing never to trust again. The desire to take that horrendous experience and use it to try and “protect” ourselves can overpower the gentle temperament of compassion, love, patience and kindness that gave us the power and strength to trust so deeply in the first place. The anger we might feel at ourselves for allowing our own eyes to deceive us is unfair at best, a lifelong prison at worst. We cannot always know or understand the dark reasons why our heroes fall from grace, why those we look up to fail us so miserably. In fact, they themselves may not know either. Perhaps, they too were victims of misguided trust that went horribly wrong and their response, their choice in how to understand this pain was to allow the experience to change them forever- in ways that left them scarred and broken. I will not make that choice. I still remember the bright-eyed, compassionate, strong, young woman who once inhabited this body. She is still in here, somewhere, searching for the way back to the place she knows she should be. I will not give up on her, though at times I had believed she had given up her fight. I see now that she had not given up. She had merely stopped for a moment to rest. During that pause, she would reflect on how much this very journey has given her the tools she will need to love more deeply, trust more completely and understand more fully when she reaches her destination. When she arrives, she will embrace the world around her with open arms and say:
“There is no man so horrible, so wretched, who possesses the power to convince me that my life is better lived in anger, fear, resentment and darkness–at least not without my consent. And because I can see what that choice has done to him, I will choose the path he was not strong enough to choose for himself. Perhaps someday he too will see that he is strong enough to make that same choice. Maybe he too will find that the fighter in him has never given up. His inner fighter had just stopped for a longer pause because he had waited so long to stop to rest. In fact, he was so close to his destination but assumed because his journey had been so long that he might never reach it. Once he opens his eyes he will how close he is and will finally gather up the strength he needs for the last leg of his journey. Perhaps… But that is his battle, not mine.”
-Michelle A. Mallon, MSW, LSW
Michelle Mallon earned her Master’s degree in Social Work in 1999 from Ohio State University. She worked as a medical social worker at St. Ann’s Hospital, primarily on the Palliative Care Unit, for 14 years and has taught (and continues to teach) in the Computer Science & Engineering Department at the Ohio State University for 16 years. Her understanding of therapist abuse came after she was emotionally abused by a psychologist to whom she had taken her two young children for counseling. The therapist lured her in and referred the children out. She endured nearly two years of extensive predatory grooming followed by horrific emotional abuse. She recalls that the last time she ever saw this therapist (in June 2012) he was yelling and cursing at her and throwing things in his office.
One of the most painful and challenging parts of this journey to recovering her life has been overcoming the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that developed as a direct result of the abuse. It has not been an easy process, but she is finally reclaiming her identity, passion and enthusiasm for all of the thing she held so dear prior to the abusive relationship. Now, she devotes much of her time to reaching out to other victims of emotional abuse, not only victims of therapist abuse, to help them in finding the currently hidden path to recovering from such insidious emotional abuse. Her interests include malignant Narcissistic abuse and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder related to this type of abuse. One of the most important books she has read in her own journey to healing has been “Stalking the Soul: Emotional Abuse and the Erosion Of Identity” by Marie-France Hirigoyen.
Michelle says, “Without the detailed explanation of the intentional and manipulative aspects of the abuse that I was able to come to recognize from reading this book, I would still be reliving the events over and over again trying to understand what I missed that could have prevented the destruction of a malignant relationship that I had been deceptively led to believe was a supportive, helpful one. This book held the keys to open the prison door behind which this abusive therapist had locked me.”