Mourning the Person I Used to Be in Abuse Recovery

December 30, 2021 Cheryl Wozny

When you are the victim of abuse, it can be hard to move away from old emotions and habits when dealing with stressful situations. However, after going through years of therapy, I've come to realize that I am not the same person I was only a few years ago. Of course, people evolve and change, which is a normal progression in life, but mourning who I used to be is an integral step to my healing.

Mourning My Past Self

Looking back now, I see how angry and defensive I was whenever I felt scared or attacked. I have always had a strong voice, but it was a typical misdirected coping mechanism rather than a helpful asset. However, this trait I developed and gave me the courage to stand up and help others who did not have their own drive to help themselves in vulnerable situations. 

I have always told myself that I was strong because I had to be, but lately, that past persona is not serving me well any longer. It is no longer necessary to jump to anger or into defense mode. These actions put others on edge. There is no specific need for me to always be on guard for threats anymore. By continuing to act as I have in the past, I remain stuck in a constant state of fight or flight, exhausting my mental, emotional, and physical health. 

My Present Self

I am slowly learning how to develop new habits and coping skills to train my brain to react in other ways. Unfortunately, breaking a 40-year-old habit is challenging, and there are still days where I fall back into past behaviors. Although it can be disheartening when these situations happen, I remember that they are becoming fewer as time goes on, and change is an ongoing process. 

My new present self is still a work in progress. I must be forgiving of myself and know that I am not perfect. I will still make mistakes, and by learning from my actions, I will grow and become better than before. My present life does not need me to be defensive and on guard 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Of course, there are circumstances where I will have to use these skills I have perfected over the last 40 years, but they do not need to be present at all times. I am thankful that I have the tools necessary to deal with stressful situations, but knowing when to put them away is critical in living my present life, allowing me to relax and enjoy my friends and family. 

There Is Hope

I hope that if you are like me and have fine-tuned your action skills through abuse, you can learn when to use them and when to put them aside for a healthy lifestyle. Once you leave abuse, we do not need to be on high alert 100 percent of the time. Instead, there is the possibility of a calm, safe environment for everyone to experience. 

I also realized that it is okay to mourn the person I used to be. That persona served me well in the past when I needed it most. It helped me through one of the most difficult times in my life and got me to where I am today. But thankfully, I am slowly learning how to be a less defensive person and remain more calm, even when facing stressful situations. 

APA Reference
Wozny, C. (2021, December 30). Mourning the Person I Used to Be in Abuse Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 25 from

Author: Cheryl Wozny

Cheryl Wozny is a freelance writer and published author of several books, including mental health resources for children titled, Why Is My Mommy So Sad? and Why is My Daddy So Sick? Writing has become her way of healing and helping others. Find Cheryl on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and her blog

Lizanne Corbit
January, 4 2022 at 6:36 pm

This is a beautiful read. "It's okay to mourn the person I use to be" - what an incredible sentiment, and something many of us could probably benefit from hearing. We grow, and we evolve, and we shed layers or versions of ourselves, and with that comes grief. This is all a very real part of the process, but sometimes we need that outside voice saying it's okay to do so.

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