Layers of the Onion

There are times, many of them in fact, when I think that you (my readers and friends) surely do not want to hear me talk about abuse and its after affects any more.  It must weary you as much as it does me at times, and yet since it is my life right now, it is hard for me to distance myself from it.  I do have short mental vacations (oh, that sounds awful!).  You know I mean short breaks from the pain, not breaks from sanity. 

It happens though, that often when I have been feeling that way for awhile someone will send me an e-mail and tell me that they appreciate my blog.  They might tell me that it has helped them or that it has helped them understand someone they love.  Those e-mails are what keep me blogging.  I am a Pollyanna at heart…and though that term is generally used in a negative tone, being Pollyanna is really not a bad thing.  It simply means that in each situation I try to find something good.  It means that even though I am going through a hard time right now, perhaps I can use this pain to help someone else.  If so, then my pain has served a good purpose. 

Someone once said, “Life is like an onion.  You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.”  Healing from abuse is the same, only I would say most of it involves weeping. It is not all bad though.  There are interesting discoveries that you make about yourself along the way, and little glimpses of something better…something of a life beyond the pain.  I would like to share with you a glimpse of both.  Here are some descriptions of “layers of the onion” from my journal.

One day in July I wrote:

Sometimes I am amazed at how much pain a person can have. Emotional pain – and still keep putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. Or rather moving. I am not certain that I am moving forward. I am simply moving. and not really certain how I manage that.

I also wonder why it is that the times you need to reach out the most are the times you least trust yourself to do so. I have such an ache in my heart tonight. I want to cry out to all my friends, “I’m hurting. Please do something.” I want someone to tell me this pain won’t last forever. Tell me I can do this – ease my pain – ease my burden. But I don’t dare reach out tonight. I’m certain I would regret it later – be embarrassed by the raw-ness of my own pain. How can I need someone so much and be so afraid to reach out at the same time?

One of the worst things about this pain is that most people don’t understand. If I were mourning a death, people could understand and relate to that. But this? This is hard to explain even to myself.

Pain is blind. It does not see a future or a past. There is nothing beyond the moment and the blinding pain.

When will it end? How could it end? Even if I dared reach out to someone, what could they say that would help? Nothing. Maybe though it is not what they say or don’t say that helps, simply that I wouldn’t have to be alone with the pain anymore.

Pain does not make a very good companion. It is jealous not wanting to share you. Putting blinders on you so you think of nothing else.

Pain wants you only for itself and then it seeks to destroy you.

Pain is like a cat playing with a mouse. It does not share. It does not lose.

On another day after a good therapy session I wrote:

I share things with my therapist that I can’t tell anyone else.  He understands and tells me it is not crazy; its a normal reaction to abuse.  He never seems a bit surprised as if he was expecting this – a normal part of the journey.  As we talk and even laugh occasionally I feel something almost foreign.  I feel safe.
        – Safe-
It amazes me how wonderful and even magical it feels.  The only other time I remember feeling safe is sometimes with Richard (my husband), but even that only happens occasionally.
I want safety to be grass, and I want to roll around in it, like a horse in a green pasture.
I want it to be a blanket I could wrap myself in.
   -a pool that I could dive into.

All this pondering, wondering about the glorious feeling of being safe – it makes me realize how much I am always on guard -hypervigilant- How exhausting!

The safe feeling is fading away now, but I’m glad I captured it while it was here.  Like a snapshot so that I can remember later.

     Safe – what a lovely thing.


I have many “layers of the onion” yet to go, but I dream of a day when feeling safe will happen more and the blinding pain will be less and less. 

I wish for “safety” for you as well as you peel off the layers of your life’s onion.  May there be someone there when you weep that will help you feel safe.


  1. Beautifully said, Leslie. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. May each step begin to free you. May the pain begin to loosen it's icy grip, as you continue to move forward.

  2. I'm so impressed that you are on this journey. While it may not seem like an optional one, many people choose not to take it. It is life affirming that you have the courage to go forward in the face of pain, fear, and the wondering if it will all be worthwhile. You will come out the other side. This I know.I hold you in my thoughts and prayers, dear Leslie.Love, a.

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