We all have that inner child part that is waiting to be rescued. It doesn’t require something awful to happen in our childhoods. At some point in our childhoods, we were not treated fairly and our needs were not met. This is natural. Children are born with needs that are hard for adults to meet. And so, deep inside, there is a part that waits for those needs to be met by others.
This insatiable and global desire for a hero to rescue us manifests everywhere. We see it in our movies and books about super heroes of all shapes and sizes. We see it in those co-dependent relationships which never seem to meet our expectations. And we see it in the anti-trafficking movement. Continue reading →
I think all the time. I have always been overly cognitive. Inhabiting my body was not safe when I was a child. I invented a much nicer world in my head and it helped me through some horrible situations. But constant thinking is a recipe for disaster. It is easy to take small things and turn them in to big things. That’s how the brain works. It stays in charge that way.
The problem with the “brain on trauma” is the creation of problems that do not exist. The brain will take those old separated emotions and create a problem to accompany them. Then, the brain will create all sorts of approaches to resolve the non-existent problem. This overactive brain of mine has led to heavy anxiety levels and an exhaustion that reflects running a marathon a day. Continue reading →
How many people in your life would qualify as the “A-word”? You know those people who are nasty and manipulative and selfish, the people who are only interested in what’s in it for them. And I label them as abusers. (What word were you thinking of?) They aren’t necessarily punching you or sexually assaulting you, but their behavior is abusive on the emotional and mental levels.
Sometimes I wonder if trauma survivors are more prone to come across abusers. I wonder if there is a sign on my back that says, “I was horribly mistreated by my parents so that makes me more likely to succumb to your nasty bullying behavior.” (That message may be a little long.) And while I could spend hours, even days, feeling victimized all over again, I know I have to look at this from a different perspective. It is not possible to change the abusers. It is not possible to avoid the abusers entirely. While I am proud to say I have learned to set better boundaries, the abusers will always be around. I have to understand how I am reacting to them internally. My reaction must change. Nothing else can. Continue reading →
As I look at my aspirations for the coming year, I must stop and examine my sense of worth. Is my sense of worth the key to my future manifestations? Are my lofty goals at the mercy of my beliefs about what I deserve? I am starting to believe that the only thing standing in the way of my dreams is me. If I believe I am not worthy of my goals, they will never happen. And as an adult, I have the ability to adjust my own feelings of worthiness, so that I can reach my full potential. I have the ability to say “yes” to my dreams.
But there’s a problem. My sense of worth is marred down by years of messages about my unworthiness. I certainly wasn’t born this way. I see that in my own children. They think they should be able to do anything. They think they should have anything they want. They think they could be anything. It is only the adults (specifically the parents at first) who tell them otherwise. Continue reading →
Relationships are hard for everyone, but especially for survivors of child abuse. Before I started my recovery work, I spent years in relationships that were obviously abusive and damaging to my emotional wellness, but I was too blinded by my own trauma to see it. My family had always taught me that survival depended on having a man in my life. In my family, women kept abusive men around because of this belief. It was critically important for this to be ingrained in each family member as early as possible. There could be no understanding of their individual power. They must believe they could not survive without a partner or the abuse might not be tolerated.
So, I spent many years in codependent relationships that perpetuated my belief systems born from an abusive childhood. I am not worthy of love. I am not meant to be happy. I must do whatever my partner wants so that he will remain happy and not leave me. I cannot say no. I cannot react to his emotionally and verbally abusive comments because that might be dangerous. It was not until my children were born that I realized something needed to change. As I have written before, it was their birth that gave me the motivation to examine my past. Continue reading →
You have probably heard about the Rolling Stone article discussing the prevalence and denial of sexual violence at the University of Virginia. Or maybe you haven’t heard because unlike me, you are not an alumnus of that University and do not follow hundreds of Facebook pages devoted to sexual violence. Needless to say, I have been inundated with the article and comments from others. And my reaction has been strong.
My strong reaction is not because I am opposed to violence. It is not because UVA is my alma mater and I am concerned about its future as a school. It is not because this happens at every school with almost the same response from administration. My reaction is much more personal.
You’ve been through so much and I am not sure how you coped. Your strength inspires me with every memory I recover. I know you are the reason we are alive today. And I thank you for all you did to keep going. Sometimes, others ask me how I lived through it and I don’t know the answer. You carried that burden. And to some extent, you still do.
Unfortunately, some of those approaches you used to stay alive might be setting us back these days. The dissociation, the isolation and the anxiety were perfect coping strategies in an environment of prolonged and inescapable trauma. But we aren’t there anymore. We live in a different world, a more benign world. Sure, there are still plenty of people who need an attitude adjustment (or much more). And the days when the kids just don’t care about boundaries can be a little rough. But in the current reality, there is safety, the kind you never knew as a child. Continue reading →