It makes sense if you think about it, that a child victim of any kind of abuse or a child, who has been devalued in any way, is likely to have a lower self esteem and self image. So if we go into adulthood with a lower sense of self, really believing that we are not as valuable as others, then it stands to reason that we will continue to accept the devaluing behavior that we have become accustomed to as children.
That is one of my most foundational messages of recovery from trauma and depressions and other mental health issues.
Realizing that our belief system is skewed in the first place, that we are not starting from a “fair” place when we are supposed to become mature independent adults, is an important truth to realize if we are to make a new beginning.
One of the most important discoveries that I have made is that so many of my problems as an adult had their foundation in the fact that I had been invalidated and discounted for so much of my life. Because I had been invalidated (and also defined) by other people from such a young age, it stands to reason that I believed validation would come from others. In other words, I thought that validation would come from somewhere else or from someone else because invalidation came from somewhere else. (Not from me)
A close relative of this problem is that we constantly hear statements indicating that we “should” be able to move on, and that our “issues” are the problem when in fact the ABUSE we suffered was really the problem that CAUSED the issues. There is a huge difference between these two things.
The key was actually in self validation. I was angry at myself because I could not seem to make my life work. I had trouble coping, I was messed up. I had to realize that it wasn’t my fault.
The pathway to freedom for me began when I validated myself. This was a process that can be looked at in stages.
A) I was mistreated. Abused, Devalued.
B) My belief system developed in an unhealthy way and it was therefore formed full of lies.
C) I had to identify those lies
D) I realized that I was not to blame for those lies or for the mistreatment.
E) I had no choice in accepting the childhood abuse because I was a child.
F) I also had to realize that I had carried my childhood acceptance of abuse with me into adulthood.
G) I came to understand that I HAD to develop coping methods (what others often called my issues) as a child in order to survive.
H) In realizing those lies and then validating myself I was able to understand why I needed all those coping methods.
I had been trying to skip the step of realizing that there were reasons for the way that I was and for why I had trouble and needed coping methods. I believed that I was a failure.
So the key was to go back and figure out where I was invalidated, AND what I came to believe about myself because of it and validate
A) first the abuse,
B) that it was wrong and I didn’t “deserve” it
C) that it was not my fault
D) that I was in fact valuable and worthy
This enabled me to make a beginning when it came to validating myself. It is important to validate ourselves because as I said earlier, we have not been validated by others in the ways that we needed to be validated and we have to stop thinking that others are going to finally give us the “stamp of approval” that we long to have.
We need to approve of ourselves, but we can’t because we never learned how and because we are stuck with never having been helped with dealing with the abuse, mistreatment or the way that were not valued in the first place. We have also been told all our lives (usually not in direct words) that we are the ones at fault because we can’t move on. I am referring to statements such as “are you still going on about that??” or “when are you going to move on?” or “that happened years ago”. SO WHAT? When something didn’t get dealt with properly, it didn’t get dealt with properly! It has nothing to do with how much time went by, but we accept those statements as the truth. Somehow we believe that the defect is ours. That we “should” be able to move on and very often we don’t even know that our depressions or other mental health struggles had to do with abuse, emotional disregard, and the way way we were not valued in the first place!
The abuse has been so downplayed that often we can’t even validate it ourselves! For many, when they finally do tell, they are heaped with more guilt and shame or blamed for it in the first place. Some mothers will take the focus off the event and change the focus to HER feelings instead. Statements such as “how do you think I feel?” or “I can’t listen to this” are designed to throw us off and to once again make us think of someone else’s feelings before our own. They are invalidating statements.
As with every other process, there is always more than one major issue that is in the way. We have been so accustomed to being the one to try harder that many of us myself included, got lost in a sea of making excuses for the people who devalued us in the first place ~ which makes it even easier to stay stuck in self blame. ***YES the people that discounted me had huge issues of their own, but SO WHAT? That didn’t change what happened to me. I am not suggesting that we have to stay in a place of placing blame on others; I am just saying that I had to stay there long enough to be able to validate myself.
I had to believe that I was worthy and valid before I could stop expecting someone else to tell me that I was.
Please share your own experience, struggles or victories with me and the other readers.
Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time;
Inspired by comments from posts; “How do I recover from emotional and other abuse?”