Archive for recovery from abuse
I was dying my whole life; I just didn’t know it until I started living.
The fog that I grew up with was almost completely transparent. I didn’t know that I didn’t know. I lived in a false normal and growing up like that was the way it was. It was my truth and my “real”. I didn’t know that there was any other way. I didn’t know that I didn’t know there was indeed another way; most of my life, my reality and my truth were dysfunctional. The adults, the reality all malfunctioned.
And therefore so did I.
That is what living in a dysfunctional family was like for me. Those were the effects of psychological abuse emotional abuse and trauma. That is the effect of being groomed and being trained in silence, compliance, obedience and obligation. That is what happens when a child is taught that their value as an individual is not the same as the value of others. There are consequences and negative results when we are raised in a false normal.
Psychological abuse is at the root of all forms of abuse. It is part of the grooming process. Emotional abuse and neglect makes a statement to a child. Abuse in any form makes a statement about human value. It teaches things that to the child that no child should be taught. It teaches the WRONG thing.
Sexual and physical abuse leave a child living in fear every day of their lives. It doesn’t make “sense”; abuse is incomprehensible and as a child I had to try to understand. Trying to understand something that is incomprehensible as a child is impossible. So, I “tried” to understand “them” for the rest of my life and as I was slowly dying I didn’t realize that my life was being extinguished by the very people who Read More→
“Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is YOU who will get you where you want to go, no one else.” Les Brown
There is a critical fact that I had to DRILL into my brain in order to get the full benefit of the process of emotional healing.
EMOTIONAL HEALING DEPENDS ON ME
My emotional healing would not have been accelerated if my mother or father suddenly admitted their part in all the dysfunction that I grew up with. It would have been wonderful and today it might mean that we could restore our relationship and heal the damage there, but it would not be the source of my emotional healing. It would not be the necessary fuel.
Emotional healing would not have happened more rapidly if my parents sincerely apologized to me for the damage that they contributed to in my childhood. It might have helped a bit but it would not be where the healing comes from.
My emotional healing would not have happened faster if Read More→
When I talk about the fog, I am talking about the state of confusion that has been created by the adults in my life which began when I was a child. The confusion was created in order to keep me from figuring out that what was going on in my life, was not normal. I was taught false definitions of love, false definitions of being cared for and being kept safe. I was taught that I was not as important as others. I was taught that I was wrong about my feelings. I was discredited in so many ways so that if I ever did figure out that I was not actually wrong, the emotionally abusive adults in my life could remind everyone that I had always been a bit “off”. And I didn’t correct anyone because from a young age I had begun to believe that I was the one that was a bit “off”. The fog hides the blatantly obvious truth.
In this state of confusion and with all these false definitions of love and respect, I had trouble seeing the truth. I had trouble realizing that a mother, who dress a 6 year old child up in her little black lace teddies to “dance for a visiting man), and a father who doesn’t do anything to stop it, are a little bit abnormal. A mother who sticks her tongue in a 9 year old daughter’s mouth, to show her the way men will kiss her, is not behaving in a normal way. I had trouble realizing that a loving mother would not take all the joy out of every single accomplishment that I had ever achieved. I had trouble comprehending that when a father shows absolutely NO interest in a child’s life or in that same adult child’s life, that is a strong indication that said father just doesn’t care. When someone doesn’t show in any way that they care, they don’t care. Continue…… Read More→
All abuse, weather it is emotional and psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse or spiritual abuse, is abuse and that these articles that I write on Emerging from Broken apply to ALL kinds of abuse. I intentionally make a connection between depression, dissociation, multiple personality, eating disorders, addictions and other mental health struggles and abuse. It is my experience that my difficulties and struggles were birthed in how I learned my value or rather my lack of it. The following article is not just about mother daughter dysfunctional relationship. It is about ALL dysfunctional relationship. How it starts in childhood, how it goes from there. How it ends up in coping methods that although necessary for survival, become self destructive.
The subject of not wanting the abuser to leave me and wondering why they did is SO complicated! For me, one of the things it has to do with is compliance and how much of my life that I spent trying harder for them. The deeper that I look at the roots of my belief system, the more that I can figure out where things got off the track. First of all there are the tons and tons of mixed and conflicting messages that we get both from right sources and wrong sources. They all kind of go into the same pot and they mesh with each other. Remember the story of how when my mother declared that it was my fault that her boyfriend came in my room in the night to sexually assault me because I had a crush on him. Well because my self esteem was already so damaged that I believed her, I added that self blame to everything that ever happened to me before that event. Then there were a few things in my past where I was not such a perfect child, like the time I faked the nightmare for attention, and when a child is a mere child, it doesn’t take much for things to get really mixed up in the memory, the mind and then in the belief system. The grid that we try to process things through, gets damaged.
I had to look at the “foundational foundation” to start with. That is the belief that we need and depend on whoever our caregivers are for our very lives, protection, security, the things that children need to grow into healthy adults. And when something happens that alters those basic needs, we have a problem. We get this split belief about love somewhere along the way and we start to believe that love is something that it isn’t. My mother taught me my value, she taught me the version of LOVE that she believed, but it isn’t real love. So I think that what she is doing is love, and I used to say “I know she loves me, I know she is doing her best”.. but today I know differently. She doesn’t love me at all. She uses me to make her feel better about herself. But it doesn’t work and it isn’t good enough and it hurts me every time. Where is the love in that? Part of my recovery was realizing what love is and what it is not.
When I told my mother that I was not willing to have a relationship on her terms, she finally asked me what “my terms” were. I told her that from now on she could no longer say that I had a crush on her boyfriend when I was just a kid and that was why he came in my room in the night. AND I told her that I was sick of having to prove to her husband that I liked him. I guess my terms were too high.
She was silent. She did not respond to any of the “terms” I stated. Then she told ME to think about our talk and get back to her and I said no mom, you can think about it and get back to me. I could write a whole other blog post about how everything was always up to me but that particular time I had given her MY terms, what the heck was I supposed to think about? That was the last time that we spoke.
And the message that I got from her withdrawal was that I was not worth her trying for. If I was going to draw boundaries and demand equal value then forget it. She said NO. The message was that I was only good for kicking around. If she had to respect me, then she didn’t want to be bothered with me at all. And that message meant to me that I am NOT worth it. After all the years of loyalty and compliance. After keeping my mouth shut about her boyfriends ~ I wasn’t worth her effort. I had never stood up to her all those years. I didn’t dump HER. I put up with all of the degrading in front of the whole world. I stood silent when she told men they could sleep with me because I was on the pill even though I was only a teenager! I didn’t even tell the family therapist (we had to go because my brother got arrested) what was really going on in our home or how she treated me. I let her take me to bars as a man magnet when I was 17 and I never said a word; I followed HER one sided definition of love and loyalty and I kept thinking that one day it would pay off ~ AND she dumped ME! It was incomprehensible! This was just the most unbelievable “thing” for me to try and comprehend. I was such a GOOD VICTIM and it was all for NOTHING? Because when it came right down to it, I was not worth her effort.
And it feels like rejection, because IT IS REJECTION.
As the months went by I felt more and more shock and disbelief as these truths sunk in. But something else was happening. I realized that I didn’t miss the abuse. I didn’t miss having to constantly do damage control and make sure SHE was okay. I didn’t miss having the joy sucked out of every single exciting moment in my life. I didn’t miss the put downs, the insults, the sexual innuendos or the family problems that she caused with her gossip and trouble making. I didn’t miss the anxiety.
And I started to grow. I started to come out of the fog in a much bigger way; I had so much more clarity about the truth and realized how many lies about myself that I had accepted.
This whole story does not just apply to parents; I had a couple of boyfriends who fit this same pattern. Oh and a few friends too. And employers…………. well you get the picture.
Please share your journey, struggles or victories or whatever you need to share for your recovery.
Exposing Truth one snapshot (or two) at a time
Founder of Emerging from Broken
Related Posts: The little girl who Cried Wolf ~ Belief system development
I had this idea, well a belief actually, that my parents didn’t actually know that they were doing anything wrong with the way that they emotionally abused me. My father was extremely neglectful. He wasn’t interested in me or in my life. My mother constantly criticized me and humiliated me and stated in so many ways that I or my thoughts were not valid. I made excuses for them as a way to cope with it. Emotional and psychological abuse is a tough thing to set straight in the belief system because for one thing, it isn’t legally liable, but I had to put the blame for emotional abuse where it belonged, the same as I did for physical and sexual abuse which WAS legally liable. All abuse has its origin in psychological abuse first.
At the very base of the lie, is the lie that abusers don’t really know what they are doing. In order to survive, we create this “lie” to comfort ourselves; assuring ourselves that our abusers don’t realize that they are doing damage. (like they don’t know any better) We can convince ourselves as adults that our parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and close family friends, (or ANYONE for that matter) don’t remember what they did. (as though they were in some trance while they were doing it) We question our memories. We doubt ourselves. We doubt that what we remember happened at all or that at least it didn’t happen the WAY we remember. But where do those doubts come from in the first place? Do they come from the fact that we were invalidated before we had those doubts? Even if we were invalidated about something other than the abuse itself? I think so)
So here is what I was thinking; If they didn’t know that they were doing something wrong, then why OR how do we get so good at not telling? Why did I have this “feeling” which was really knowledge, that it would be disloyal and even dangerous to tell?
If serial killers didn’t know what they were doing, if they were really “out of their minds” and didn’t really know right from wrong the way that I was sure my abusers were, then why did they go to such great lengths to cover up the crime? Why wear gloves? Why dispose of the body and the weapon? If they don’t know right from wrong, then there would be no secrecy.
And why teach children to keep the secret? Why blame the children? Why do abusers go to such lengths to brainwash children into believing that without them they will die? Why convince the child that there is nothing wrong with what is going on? That it is for their own good, or that it is deserved punishment, also for their own betterment. Why convince children that they are to blame, and then tell them ~ convince them (in so many ways, not always with words) not to tell?
Have you seen an adult beat a kid black, blue and bloody in public? Not often I bet. Do adults molest or rape children right out in public, at the shopping mall for instance? If they don’t know it is wrong, then why don’t they do it in public? Why the big cover up?
I was in my forties when I told my mother that she could no longer “remind me” that it was my fault that her boyfriend came into my room when I was barely 14 years old. If my mother didn’t know it was wrong to accuse me of deliberately attracting him into my bedroom, then why didn’t she accuse me of that publically?
And why didn’t I tell her a long time ago to stop throwing that LIE in my face? ( answer: because of the power she had over me and because I believed that if she rejected me I would die)
One lie is built on a second lie and the layers go on and on ~ they become thick; the truth becomes cloudy, murky, masked ~ harder and harder to find, harder to remember, harder to acknowledge. It was vital for me to start looking at the lies, and realize~ acknowledge TO MYSELF~ that they were LIES.
Please share your thoughts, feelings, and your truth.
Busting through the fog, one layer at a time;
P.S. Note: If your family decides to believe you (about abuse) then they have to make some choices. They have to make some new decisions and even take some action. If they don’t want to make those choices, then the choice they make is NOT to believe you. That is about them, not about you. Being believed does not change anything about the truth of what happened. Never forget that.
When people didn’t believe me, I doubted myself even more. Sticking to my guns and standing firm on my boundary is the only way that I can prove that I BELIEVE ME. ~ Darlene Ouimet
Related posts ~ Unfriending my Abuser by Patty Hite
Today I am thankful that I came out of the fog of victim mentality. I am grateful that I don’t live in the dysfunction that was my entire life for so many years. In honor of the American Thanksgiving, I am posting a story of a not so great family holiday incident which took place during the process of “emerging from broken;”
Several years ago now, when my husband Jimmy and I were going through the process of repairing the damage done in our marriage (which was after I had gone through my process of emerging from broken), we started to see the dysfunction in our relationships with our parents and extended family.
When we embrace ourselves as valid and worthy people, there are bound to be changes that take place within the family dynamic. Our families were no exception. Busting through the fog is not something that happens overnight, but as we started to stand up for our individual rights, over time we began to notice that Jim’s father was fighting back quite a bit.
The problems started to become more obvious to us when “grandpa” (Jimmy’s father) wanted our daughter to help him put a new roof on a shop, but he made it clear that he would pay her at the end of the job, and he would pay her what he thought that she was worth. As I said, Jim and I were coming out of the “fog” but we knew what his father’s idea of “what she was worth” was. It would end up being pretty much nothing. He kept bringing it up, this business of not paying her until later until finally I asked him for clarification. He got mad. Eventually he asked what minimum wage was, and when we told him he got upset and said that he had more time than money. Our daughter didn’t get asked to help with the roof again. The thing is that she would have done it just because but HE kept bringing up this whole money thing as though he would DECIDE her worth, and it was really De-Valuing to our daughter. Jim was having memories and realizations of his own about the lack of value his father had constantly put on him.
Then came the day when his parents demanded Jimmy help them with something when he was in the middle of some important farm work of his own. He finally said that he couldn’t do it because he had to get back to his own work, and his father was stunned… How dare he put his OWN work first? The truth is that Jimmy had never put his own work first before. AND he was constantly reminded by his father of how inefficient that he was as a worker, and that was a spin he lived in all his life ~ finally Jim said no to something his father wanted and things started to get tense.
It was because of the whole one sidedness of the relationship that we really began to realize that Jim’s father never once regarded anything that Jim (or I ) did as important. That he was only interested in his own agenda. We were in our forties with three children of our own but we were being controlled by his parents.
Then came the Christmas Eve that his parents came over to tell us off and attempt to put us back in our places. They tried to make us submit to them, to bow down to them as we had always done in the past. In front of our children, they reprimanded us, told Jim that his business was a disaster, that he had made a mess of things and that it was my fault because I was a bully who had dictated how the farm should be run and had been allowed to make all the financial and business decisions even though in reality, nothing was a mess at all, and the reason we were in marriage counseling was because I was not ever included in any of the decisions about the business OR about how we spent money.
We were really stunned and at some point during this lecture from Jim’s father, we fell back under the spell of his control and abuse. We got told off. I was stunned realizing that something really bad just happened although I wasn’t really sure what the heck it was. Even though we tried to put up a fight and stand up for ourselves, the fog surrounded us again.
And then his father was happy again. He got his authority back because we submitted to him. His order was restored. He was in charge again, he was on the throne. And we all went into the living room and opened Christmas presents. I felt like I was dreaming. It all seemed so horribly wrong and yet it was so familiar. I watched my husband relax as though the whole world was restored back to order. And in so many ways, it was. Familiar, safe, comfortable; according to the way that we live under the reign of an abuser Jim was safe, as long as his father was not upset with him. It was as though Jimmy believed that his father could still decide whether or not Jimmy lived or died.
After all the present opening and gift giving was done, and everyone was” oh so happy” we revisited the plans for the Christmas family get together (which had been planned but had never been confirmed because Jim and I were not being compliant) and we were told “No” they were going home. They informed us that they were going to let us “think” about what they said to us and then they left. It took us a few hours to realize that we had just been punished, but it didn’t take us long to realize that this is the way that it had always been. We started to remember all the other punishments. We had to do exactly what Jim’s Dad wanted, we had to submit to his authority, we had to be who he wanted us to be and do things the way he said we should or we would pay the consequences.
No equality or equal value, no respect. His definition of love (obedience and compliance) did not apply to him. It was all about power and control. His control.
And we were great victims; we were always compliant and even PERFECT victims
but when we said no more……
They said goodbye.
But that was their loss. You may think that this story doesn’t have a happy ending, but think about it. What did we lose? What did we gain? We don’t have to live in that nightmare anymore.
Today I am grateful and extremely thankful for the fact that no one dictates what I do and don’t do. No one tells me who I am or who I should be. I am grateful for my freedom and wholeness, emotional recocery and for the fact that I no longer struggle with depression or dissociative identity disorder. I am grateful that we live in the truth. I am grateful that my husband wants to live in the truth with me, and that in our marriage I have equal value, respect and our children know the real definition of love. I am grateful that I got my life and my voice back. I am grateful that I got my identity back and that the fog is gone. I am grateful for each one of you.
Happy Thanksgiving! Please feel free to share.
With love and gratitude ~
Darlene Ouimet with thanks to my husband Jimmy B for contribution to this post.
Related post; The beginning of Emotional Recovery
Inspired by the comments in my last blog post “If love is the answer, what is love?” I had this bright idea to write a blog post about what I was raised to believe “love is” and I kept hearing that bible verse going through my head… you know the one, “love is patient; love is kind” my kids had to memorize it in grade three I think…….. so I looked it up.
And my brain was flooded by so many abuse memories and SELF abuse memories that I felt breathless and a little sick to my stomach. Originally for this post I was going to write a list of what love is not, but it was nothing like this list at all. This verse is a foundational teaching, not just in Christian circles, but in many circles. This has been recited as poetry. This verse has been a standard guideline in the world and many don’t even realize that it has a biblical foundation. As with many other teachings, I made it MY guideline and used it to beat myself up with. It became the whip of “not good enough; no wonder I am not loved”. I am not angry with the Bible or with God. That was not the source of the deception. I am angry that I was taught this standard that NO ONE of significance in my childhood ever modeled for me and yet somehow I was supposed to grow up and “know this”. I even expected it of myself.
Here is the verse:
“1st Corinthians 13: 4-7 Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud it is not rude it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
I used to love this verse when I was in the fog of compliance and obedience. Did I ever really understand it then? I certainly never thought about it the way that I am thinking about it today. I didn’t apply it to myself in the way that I suspect it was meant to be applied to me. Here is how I “read it” to myself back then; The translations are how I “FELT” about the definition. How it translated to me. How I used it to keep myself down, right where “they” wanted me to be.
Love is patient, love is kind: Translation: I must be patient, I must be kind. I must accept all mistreatment, disrespect and abuse and I must treat all abusers with love and kindness to prove that I am “good enough and worthy” (to be loved by THEM)
Love does not envy ~ Translation: I should be grateful just for the fact that I am allowed to take up space on this earth and NEVER wish that I had anything good that someone else might have.
Love does not boast, it is not proud~ Translation: How dare I think that I have anything to boast about. Nothing that I have comes from me, I cannot accomplish anything, I cannot have any ideas on my own, I have nothing to contribute in this world. I am hopeless.
Love is not rude~ Translation: NEVER speak up against mistreatment or in defence of myself for that would expose someone else and paint them in a bad light and no one but me is ever wrong
Love is not self seeking~ Translation: Love is not for ME. I should not seek to be loved but only to love. I can make such a great difference in someone else’s life if I love them so always try to love them with no expectations of love in return no matter HOW they treat me.
Love is not easily angered ~ Translation ~ I have no right to be angry. I deserved all the bad things that happened to me. No one is really wrong except me. Anger is a sin. Anger is wrong. Anger is NEVER justified. Something is wrong with me if I am angry and because I don’t want to accept mistreatment.
Love keeps no record of wrongs ~Translation: Forget immediately the harm done to me by everyone else and NEVER bring it up again, never speak of it or reveal it or bring attention to it. If I ever do reveal those secrets, I am no better than the one who did it. Also see the forgiveness rant that I wrote a few weeks ago.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth ~ Translation: I did not really know the difference between evil and truth. No one really taught me the truth. Many taught me evil disguised as truth.
Love always protects ~ Translation: Love protects “them”. And I should protect “them” too. Love is one sided and I should not ever expect it (or “them”) to protect me because as I said above, love is not for me.
Love always trusts ~ Translation: Trust should have its own whole blog post. I tried and tried to trust people that didn’t love me by their own definition of love! I felt guilty because I didn’t trust.
Love always hopes: Translation. Love and hope? I hoped that one day I would be good enough to deserve to be loved. I hoped to be saved by prince charming. To be honest, I am not sure about this one. I hoped for love from people who by their own actions, didn’t care about me.
Love always perseveres: Translation: Keep trying harder to be worthy of love. Keep trying even with the people that treat you like garbage. Just keep trying because then you MIGHT be worthy one day. (and think about this: who did we seek love from? Even romantic love? So often we sought love from someone who (like our abusers) was not capable or emotionally unavailable)
It never occurred to me that by this definition of love NO ONE ever loved ME nor was I ever encouraged to love myself, in fact quite the opposite. (And since today I know that unless there is self love, there is no love then not being taught the true definition of love is a problem.) What did occur to me is that I was not loving THEM and therefore proving to myself and to the world that I was not good enough, I WAS the one to blame, I was BAD.
Everyone is welcome to contribute your feelings and thoughts about this topic.
Stay tuned as I continue in my next post with how I learned to love myself by finding out the truth about how I arrived at NOT loving myself.
Bright blessings wrapped in real TRUTH
When I decided to tell the Chris Story ~ the story about how Prince Charming was a Murder Suspect, I intended to write one post. I intended to keep the focus about my belief system, and highlight the fact that I missed and or ignored the red flags because of learned unworthiness issues resulting from child abuse and child sexual abuse and invalidation. That was the first post.
But the commenter’s and private e-mailers wanted more. They wanted to know what kinds of red flags exactly. I could see the benefit of sharing more of the details and highlighting the actual red flags, and for sharing a bit about my rational for disregarding the danger signs. So that was the second post.
As I write this post, I have not yet published the second post “Dangerous Men, Red Flags, Victim Mentality”. When I finished writing that post and did my final read on it, I felt stupid. I thought I was really lame for missing so many of those blatant red flags. And worse than that, the way that second post reads I didn’t really miss them; I just ignored them. I considered not publishing the post. I felt insecure. I felt “dumb”. I felt like no one else would have EVER been so stupid as to stay with that guy knowing everything that I knew. This is exactly the type of thinking that kept me in the cycle of abuse and in victim mindset, covering up for the things I think are MY fault instead of exposing HIM and telling my truth.
I questioned myself, “what the heck was wrong with me back then?? How could I have let that stuff go? How could I have gotten into that relationship and then left myself, in that situation? What was so great about “that guy” that I didn’t dump him? What the heck did I think was going to happen?
And I heard the thoughts behind the thoughts ~ “I didn’t think, I didn’t care, I didn’t know; he could have changed, he had been damaged and he needed me, what if I was wrong about him? What if he killed me if I tried to dump him? What if he was the best that I could ever do? What if I dumped him and found myself alone for the rest of my life……. Sometimes he was sweet, sometimes he was tender. He was charming. He looked like a movie star… he called me “baby”.
And the even deeper thoughts~ playing detective was exciting. It was a way of proving to myself that I really DID have a brain. Being afraid of him was thrilling. Getting away with knowing that he didn’t know that I knew…. (When danger has been a part of a sexual abuse history, sometimes danger is a turn on; danger is familiar. And in this particular story I find it interesting to note that I was NOT at all sexually attracted to this guy, so the thrill of danger had more to do with validation.)
Sometimes I tell myself that I am just making excuses for myself. (which also comes from upbringing) During that time with Chris I had dissociative identity disorder. Since I have recovered from DID, I look back and see it differently now then I used to. One of the things that I did that is common for anyone who dissociates, (not just dissociative identity with multiple personality) is that I “separated incidents”. I did not put all the incidents and red flag events concerning Chris, in my mind at the same time. In a way I put them through separate filters. I believed that each one was separate and had nothing to do with the other one. I disconnected each red flag from the prior red flag. Think of it this way; each event or red flag had its own sealed envelope. In my mind, none of the red flags were related. That was how I learned to cope with child sexual abuse. I broke off from myself, and left my body. And I learned an intricate system of coping; disconnecting and separating related events, too scary to look at, too scary to stop, too powerless to stand up for myself. That is how I learned to deal with life; by separating incidents and by disconnecting. And so ~ there I was, all grown up in a dangerous relationship with a dangerous man, disconnected and ignoring all the red flags.
(And it is by reconnecting first with myself and then with the events that I discounted and ignored and eventually blamed myself for, that I became whole again.)
The desire to make excuses for myself has its roots in the same belief system that I write about all the time. As a child I believed that I could change, and if I changed then I would be loved. So I felt insecure about telling the story because I grew up being told (Not always in words) that I was wrong; that I had a faulty memory and that I was the real problem. I was trained to keep the secret; don’t bring any shame on the family and I was told (not always in words) to find a way to cope with it myself. I was also pretty young when I believed if there was a problem that I caused it, made it up or exaggerated it or misunderstood it and I learned that the best coping method of all was to disconnect myself from it.
But I have learned that I am not the problem. I am not the one that made things up or twisted the truth around, (other than in my own mind in order to cope with it); I did not exaggerate, and if anything I diminish the stories; I do not have to keep any secrets; I am NOT wrong and there is nothing wrong with my memory. So I published that post. And I am publishing this one too!
Thanks to everyone who has shared these posts on facebook or other sites and to everyone who has participated in conversations here and on the Emerging from Broken facebook page.
Please feel free to add your thoughts, feelings and stories.
Keep striving to move forward!
When we are not heard as children, then naturally we learn that we are not important enough to be heard. Every action has a reaction. Having no voice ~ not being heard~ naturally results in having lower self esteem. Trying to accept that I had no voice which equals having no value is not a very healthy place to be mentally but as a child I had no choice in how I arrived at those conclusions.
Believing that I didn’t count and actually accepting that I was not heard lead me to many unhappy places and resulted in many depressions, low self esteem, relationship struggle and trust issues. I made choices based on what I believed about myself as a result of accepting that I did not have equal value to others.
When I was in my early twenties, I met a really charming and extremely good looking young man who I would say I had a “red flag” feeling about right from the start. I ignored it. He was working with the security team in the major hospital that I worked in. He told me that he was a city police officer who had been laid off due to cutbacks. Everyone knew about the cutbacks so I had no problem believing that. I started to date him.
I was pretty messed up about the guy that I had just broken up with because I found out he was cheating on me and I used my pain over that relationship as an excuse to ignore the red flags that I was getting over this new one. And this handsome man said he was a cop… which for some unknown reason in my mind made some sort of difference when it came to trust. By the time I thought about escaping this relationship, I needed police assistance. My beautiful boyfriend wasn’t a cop or anything else he pretended to be. He was a compulsive liar and a murder suspect.
So what on earth made me ignore those red flags that I got from the very beginning?
It is a natural progression to go from believing that I am not worth being heard, to going on to have self doubts such as not believing in my own feelings and not listening to myself; no one else was listening to me either. Can the majority be wrong? Eventually I started to ignore my own feelings… telling myself that my feelings are wrong. And pretty soon I was also ignoring danger signals, because I must be wrong about those too. Although I had trust issues in general, not trusting myself is an entirely different problem then not trusting others. Survivors are groomed not to trust themselves.
I was taught in the cycle of abuse to discount my own feelings. Then I was taught to discount myself and my value. Then I naturally accepted that I didn’t deserve a love relationship that was mutually beneficial, fulfilling or even safe. Remember that this was a coping method. We are not at fault for accepting that we are not valued. I accepted it as a way of surviving. I was just trying to make sense of my life. It is much easier for a child to decide that he or she is “wrong” than it is for a child to decide that the “all powerful” adults are wrong. If we decide that the adults are wrong, where does that leave us? (Abandoned, rejected and even more alone then we already are. When we blame ourselves, we convince ourselves that we have a chance, ie: I can be better.)
If you combine the facts that I had learned to discount myself and my feelings and I had learned to ignore all my intuition with the fact that I learned to accept the false definition of love, it is understandable that I ignored the red flags that I got when I met an attractive man who just happened to be a compulsive liar and a murder suspect. I was flattered that he was interested in me. At the same time I had learned to be thrilled by danger. (abuse grooms you for that too) I only wanted to see that he seemed to be this dream come true kind of guy, very attentive, soft spoken, a real knight in shining armor and prince charming type and I believe that he would sooth my aching heart and he was “the one” who would take me away from all this. (and that was exactly what he had in mind too except that it involved my death) It wasn’t long before he was telling me all his hurts and problems I went from the “treasure” to the emotional hostage, but it was too late. I thought I could love him enough to take his hurt away and then I would be the “treasure again. Isn’t that what I had been trying to do with the people in my life that had taught me that I was unworthy?
On this journey to emotional healing, I had to undo all of the past false belief systems and coping methods and survival modes, in order to get my life and myself back. I had to learn NOT to discount danger signs and my own feelings, intuition and emotions.
Today I don’t ignore those red flags because I successfully re wired my belief system. I don’t believe that I deserve less than anyone else. I am no longer attracted to danger therefore I no longer discount my intuition. I don’t believe that I am the answer to someone else’s pain, OR that they are the answer to mine.
The follow up to this post with the actual story is here: Dangerous Men, Red Flags, Victim Mentality.
I welcome your comments and contributions as always,
related post ~ Emotional Healing and the will to go forward