Many people who have been abused want to give to others the early happiness that they themselves missed out on. Some become wonderful parents, and in giving to their children, they recoup some of their own childhood losses. That’s a very healing choice to make. Others turn their suffering into compassion for others. They become therapists and help other survivors, or they take up other worthwhile causes. That’s also a fabulous way to heal the past. When I was growing up, as a kid, my best friend was my cat. As an adult, I have spent twelve years fostering homeless cats and kittens until they are adopted. I’m now working to bring awareness to the wretched way that many humans treat other animals, including the ones we raise to eat: the abominable way in which we crowd them into pens and cruelly transport and slaughter them.
Now, if you ask me what damage I still carry in my psyche from the abuse, I would say that I often find it easier to empathize with the suffering of other animals as a species, rather than the suffering of other humans as a species. Also, I don’t think it’s accidental that I work and live alone. I have a lot of friends but some part of me likes to have a little margin of separateness. I had a wonderful marriage to a very loving man – I left him before I understood the abuse in my background. I realized afterwards that my abuse figured very directly into the reasons why I left. That caused both of us a great deal of pain, and I still carry a lot of guilt about that. That’s a regret I have never been able to get rid of. So, am I damaged? Do I carry scars? Of course I do. Do I have strength as a result? I would say yes. The advice I would give people, which I don’t necessarily follow myself, is to get rid of these kinds of regrets. Forgive yourself and get over the guilt by finding some way of helping others or bettering your own circumstances."