Have you ever gone on a ride at the fair? I am talking about one of those scary ones like the roller coaster that flips upside down. I get this fear inside my belly, this wonderful horrible and yet irresistible fear. The fear is there because I am afraid the ride will crash, that when the roller coaster goes upside down the cart will just fly off and fall to the ground… but then I tell myself that this ride runs hundreds of times a day, thousands of times a week and it hasn’t crashed and I reassure myself that my fear is not real. So I take the risk…
Have you ever gone to a natural hot springs for a dip? I have been to several of them. In the winter, the steam rises into the chilly air; sometimes there is snow around the outside of the pool area. If there are people lounging and relaxing in the pool, I automatically trust that the steamy water is not going to burn me. If I dip my foot in the water, and it feels too hot, I know that it is just because my foot is cold. If the water WAS too hot, all those other people would not be in the water, so I just quickly get in, and suffer the few minutes that the water “feels” too hot.
But what would happen if the water was too hot? What if I got all the way in and I started to burn and scream… because it really was scalding hot. Continued….. I would ask myself why I just blindly trusted that I could go in that water. (Even though I know that I trusted the water temperature because other people were already in there)
What I am getting at is that I blindly trust that the ride is going to be safe, and that the water isn’t going to burn me based on the fact that others are in it and they say it is fine. They seem safe so I trust therefore I will also be safe.
Abuse works on a similar principle. When we are children, we have no choice but to trust our caregivers. They tell us it is fine. Even when they do things that are not fine, they lie and tell us that we are okay. Eventually our definition of okay is wrong. We tell ourselves that we are okay, not knowing what okay is. We want to trust the adults in our lives. Not to trust them is even scarier then what we are living in. We learn a false normal.
The fear that I had about going against the adults in my life was trained into me. I was taught not to stand up to them in any way. I was taught not to ever challenge their views, and to blindly accept that they were right. (or else) In my young mind I believed that it was too dangerous to stand up to them. I had this very familiar scary feeling like I had about the roller coaster, but I had learned to ignore that feeling. Think about it. These are your parents, teachers, aunts and uncles and grandparents; they are ADULTS. Just the size and strength of them alone is daunting to a chid. The fear was real then and I carried it with me into my adulthood. It was not a choice, it was a solid belief.
There were physical AND emotional fears. Rejection hurts. I had had lots of it and was far too intimately acquainted with it to it to want any more of it in my life. I would do almost anything to avoid the sting of rejection. My fears of rejection were a big part of the problem when it came to my emotional healing. But what I learned about rejection is that had to realize that I had been rejected my whole life. If I didn’t matter then, what difference would it make if I still didn’t matter? This was one of these weird things that I just had to take a closer look at in order for my fear of rejection to lose the power it had over me.
What I had to realize through the process of emotional healing is that they can’t do to me NOW what they could have done to me then, if and when I draw my boundaries now. I am not so powerless anymore. I can actually keep myself safe now and I have educated myself about all forms of abuse. I know that when they tell me it is alright if they treat me like nothing, that they are wrong. I am no longer defined by them as “nothing.” I know that they are wrong to treat me as less important than they are. I know they are lying when they say it is all in my mind. I am not crazy. I know I have a brain of my own. I am not stupid. I know that I am not lying about what happened to me in the past. I know that I was not taken care of, and I know that I no longer need them to protect me or stand up for me. I can do that for myself now.
I had to learn to trust a different source; one that actually offered some hope and real solution towards my emotional healing.
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