50 Shades of Abuse

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When I was a child, I was taught that sex was about power. More importantly, I was taught that sex was about a power differential. My needs, wants and concerns were of no interest to my abuser. And “no” was never an acceptable response to my abuser’s desires. I internalized that message. I grew up expecting sex and relationships to be unhealthy. And I unknowingly searched that out. Abuse was familiar. It was what I knew.

The worst part wasn’t the abusive relationship. It was the internal belief systems that each relationship confirmed. I was convinced that the power differential was critical to an intimate relationship. And I was unable to be in a healthy relationship because of that. I even considered healthy relationships to be boring or unfulfilling. I saw them as fake. I thought there was no way people could genuinely care about each other. I thought the only passion that could exist in a relationship was abusive. Continue reading

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Fight Flight or Freeze

Wolf in Sheeps Clothing

Adults who have not recovered from complex childhood trauma usually relate to others in one of two ways. They either relate to others as a victim by underestimating their power in a situation or they seek out power over others. I wish I could say that each person chooses one or the other. It would be easy to spot the victims and the bullies if that was the case. Unfortunately, it is usually a combination. While they probably have a favorite style, they may fall somewhere on the continuum between a full-fledged bully and powerless victim. And it may be inconsistent within each relationship.

Before my recovery work, my personal choice was that of the victim, but I have bullied. And honestly, I still have to work hard every day to avoid playing these roles. I write often about my struggles with my internal oppressor and how living as a victim is dysfunctional at best. However, the inner bully is just as important to address. Continue reading