Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Survivors And Backwards Progress

This post by a child sex abuse survivor reminded me of myself at times when I didn't understand why I wasn't where I wanted to be despite being exhausted from the effort.

I wrote this comment:

I don't know if it will help, but many of the things you label as bad or negative, like shutting off your emotions, likely were positive in that they helped you survive or endure.

Negative thoughts like seeing danger everywhere can be used as self protection as well. I remember tightening my grip on the steering wheel and imagining losing control of the car every time I crossed a bridge. This was a shock after growing up taking it for granted that all cars stay in their lanes and make it safely to their destination.

When you've been harmed and those around you see no danger, you may feel crazy, but it is quite rational under the circumstances. If anyone is delusional it is those who can't see the dangers around them. The key is to knowing when delusion is helpful and not harmful.

Rather than scolding yourself for the bad things you've done to cope, celebrate them and if they are no longer needed let them go with no harsh feelings.

When the danger is present, we often shut off parts of ourselves and focus on getting through. It's when we are in a physically and emotionally safe place and with physically and emotionally safe people when those parts of us can begin to pop up and see if they get the all clear.

"Can I come out and expose my wounds so they can begin to heal?"

Survivors are told repeatedly to forgive rapists and sexual abusers, but rarely are we instructed to first give ourselves the gift of forgiveness.

Addendum to my original comment:

Many times when these ugly wounds are exposed, people assume that getting you to suppress your pain always helps you. They may say somthing like, "I don't want to see you hurting." The problem is that some times the only way to resolve pain is to work your way through it like an identity thief sifts though your garbage trying to gather all the key pieces of information.

Doing this often provides the hidden information needed to understand what seemed irrational or crazy.

For me at least, I had trouble when others tried to control my behavior even when I knew they truly loved me and wanted to help me.

There were many times when my parents must have felt like they were living with a ticking bomb and not a daughter. If I had known how to tell them what happened to me or if they had known how to figure out the true cause for my out-of-the-blue behavior, it might have taken far fewer years for me to get where I am now.

The key to this process is to strive to be respectful of yourself and others and to learn to accept only respectful treatment from others. This can be difficult in areas where respectful interaction is new or so rusty it might as well be new.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:41 PM   0 comments links to this post

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