Archive for Survival
R.E.S.P.E.C.T. find out what it means to YOU………
A lot of my emotional healing grew out of realizing the truth about some of the concepts that I had been taught wrong. The people who were in a position of power in my life taught me a lot of false definitions of words like love, respect, relationship, trust, forgiveness and a few others. Growing up from so young with the false definitions I had been taught caused me to automatically accept them as the truth.
Yesterday on my previous post “how to recognize when your best interest are not being considered” when referring to her mother a commenter wrote “I am sure she thinks she deserves to be respected…” and it got me thinking about how much learning the truth about definitions of certain key words and concepts helped me in my process of overcoming depression, trauma and low self-esteem.
When I refer to a person in a position of power I am not just referring to our teachers, the police, or judges or government. I am also referring to “our elders” and our families. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were all in a positions of power in my life. My in-laws were in a position of power in my marriage and in our lives. All these people were in that power position because they were “the adults” and I was a child. In my childhood that meant that they were right and I was wrong. In my adulthood, this belief didn’t change because they never let it. In both cases (as a child and as an adult) this is called a dysfunctional relationship because the elders decide and communicate that not everyone in the relationship has equal value.
It was a huge part of my survival mode to go along with these false teachings and when I became an adult I still believed the false truth that Read More→
Today I was thinking about how many emails I get from people who sincerely want to find validation. Unfortunately most of them want validation from the people who invalidated them in the first place. I am always thinking about ways to communicate WHY hurt people seem to think that if the people who invalidated in the first place would finally validate, then life would be so much better. It is the way our belief systems have been fed and formed that is at the root of this dilemma. And there are MANY hidden false truths back there that govern the confusion we are dealing with.
It occurs to me that the people in my own life who invalidated me had this kind of “if you don’t comply ~ Good-bye” attitude towards me. In realizing that truth I remembered that my mother always said “if you don’t like it, lump it.” I don’t remember if I ever wondered what the hell that meant but I always took it to mean that if I didn’t like it, too dang bad. And that means the exact same thing as “if you don’t comply, good-bye”. When I got older she started to say Read More→
It wasn’t that bad. What happened to me wasn’t “that bad” and I told myself that for YEARS. When I was in my early twenties and struggling with trying to quit the coping methods of alcohol and drug use, some of my memories of child sexual abuse were coming up and I was trying really hard to get rid of them without resorting to alcohol or drugs. At that point in my life I had never told anyone (outside of family but they didn’t validate the abuse OR me) what had happened to me.
One day I was having coffee with a friend of mine who I had met in a 12 step program. In an attempt to mentor me and validate an issue that I was struggling with he told me that from as young as he can remember his parents sandwiched him in between themselves while they had sex. He told me that he can never remember a time growing up when he didn’t have sex with both his parents. He told me that by the time he was 5 he liked it and by the time he was a young teenager, he loved it. He didn’t know it wasn’t “normal”. It was his normal. And now he was struggling to learn what the truth about “normal” actually was and to overcome the damage that had occurred in his life. He was having all kind of relationship problems as a result of child sexual abuse.
Although I felt extreme compassion for him, I didn’t hear any of what he was trying to communicate to me. He was trying to communicate that it wasn’t his fault and that his body reacted to being sexually stimulated. He had been sexualized from a very young age. All I heard was how horrible his childhood was and how horrific the child sexual abuse that he endured was. And the biggest thing I “heard” was that what had happened to me did not compare with Read More→
I was fifteen or sixteen when I worked in that Real Estate office as a receptionist on the weekends. I answered the phones, and typed offers for the salesmen. My mother’s disgusting boyfriend got me the job. That should have been the first red flag.
There was this one chubby salesman named Ron who gave me the creeps. He was about 40 years old. He was just a little too friendly. He would come up behind me and put his hand on my shoulder. He tried to rub my back. I was terrified of him and didn’t even understand why. It was one of those feelings that today I have come to realize was my intuition. It was my “radar” warning me about a predator. That man had really bad motives when it came to me.
One day he came up to my desk and showed me some porn pictures. At first he was on the other side of the reception desk. He handed them to me; I took one look at them and handed them back without speaking. They looked like snapshots and they were mostly of naked people having oral sex. Those snapshots were pretty graphic. He came around to my side of the desk and at first I tried to look away, but he told me to look at the pictures. Something about him scared me and so I did as I was told and looked at the pictures. He slowly flipped through them, and I looked at them one by one. I was horrified and terrified, but I didn’t turn away. I thought if I was strong, if I showed no reaction, that he would lose interest in me. I thought that if I just pretended that it wasn’t bothering me, he would not ask me to Read More→
Sometimes facing the pain seemed so overwhelming that I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to face what I had to face in order to get on with my life. I didn’t want to feel anything. I had survived by shutting down my feelings and by shutting down my needs. I didn’t want to feel or be aware; it was much too frightening.
This was the spin; the vicious cycle.
But I must have wanted to live. There was a tiny spark in me that didn’t go out. There was a tiny flame that belonged to me and a determined little flame it was. That spark was determined to live. The “how to go about doing that” was the problem. I wanted to be free but there were certain chains that had to be broken. Certain things held me back and because those chains formed when I was so young, I didn’t realize they were even there. They were familiar; they were part of me. I thought they helped me, and even thought they were “saving me”. I was afraid to break them and emerge into the sunlight. That was the spin that I was caught in. I had lived in “survivor mode” for so long that it was all I knew.
Survivor mode is the shut down place; not feeling, not needing, not facing the truth. Survivor mode is the only way to get through any kind of childhood trauma. But as an adult it was in my way. It became one of the road blocks to freedom.
Victim mentality believes that being compliant will keep me safe. Being compliant means Read More→
On the blog post about the feelings of loneliness in recovery a commenter wrote about “going blank” when she is asked how she ‘feels’ or what she “thinks” about something. This is something that used to happen to me as well and it is another one of those pretty common reactions that people have. The reaction of going blank or freezing at the question of “how do you feel” has an origin; it comes from somewhere and like all reactions it was something that I learned to do in order to deal with people. Freezing or going blank for me became a coping method and a way to survive but there is a reason that my mind learned to shut off and react Read More→
“When a child has been in a dysfunctional family system, that child grows up with some dysfunctional thinking. It can’t be helped. The dysfunctional ways of thinking in my family system got passed on to me. Dysfunction and mistreatment, psychological abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse all contributed to the survival methods that I had to adopt in order to stay alive”. ~Darlene Ouimet
I have this “to do” list. I tell myself that I am going to get “this much done” each day. I have it all mapped out. But I don’t stick to the plan. I get distracted, I want to chat on the phone, I want to read a book, I want to spend more time on facebook talking to all my peeps and updating the Emerging from Broken facebook page. I want to catch up on Twitter. I tell myself that all these activities are part of the greater goals that I have to spread this message. But the truth is that I am not Read More→
The belief system that I am constantly speaking of does not form all at once or form completely from one event. This is where it gets complicated. Other events factor into it, some of them normal healthy childhood events that may have familiar feelings attached to them, and it is really easy to lump them all together.
When a child is devalued, abused, or discounted, it is a matter of necessity, (survival) to build an understanding or comprehension, and that comprehension becomes like a filter that we look through. Child sexual abuse, being put down, called a liar, made fun of and ignored, and being physically harmed all became part of my history and the way that I processed that history became part of this “grid or filter” that I viewed all events through.
Being ignored on the playground at school brought up familiar feelings of rejection. My mind searched through my history for a reason that I had been rejected, and quickly related it to the feelings surrounding a trauma event. (Continued….) Read More→
I remember when I was talking about my first memory of being sexually abused. As I was speaking out loud about the details, being prompted for other tiny details and trying to remember even the thoughts I had about the trauma, I suddenly realized that I thought I could have stopped it. That ONE single belief caused a whole spiral of other problems for me and developed a very strong set of lies in my belief system. Because I thought I could have stopped the sexual abuse from happening, I also took responsibility for it happening. That led me to believe that I was a bad person. None of these thoughts were conscious. They happened as a result of that first subconscious belief that I could have stopped an adult from sexually assaulting me. Because I thought I could have stopped it, but I didn’t stop it, I was filled with guilt and shame. Guilt and shame that wasn’t mine, but guilt and shame that I thought was mine.
Here is the breakdown: Read More→