This almost decade long journey of self discovery and the tiring process of learning how to forgive those who had harmed me has not been easy. Not easy for me and really not easy for those around me.
Your going to read this a lot in my blogs- “Hurting people hurt people.” Thank you Celebrate Recovery.
In my opinion, Joyce Meyer, (my most favorite women ever in ministry) describes this kind (my kind) of brokenness best.
Those who have struggled through life because of the mental trauma childhood sexual abuse brings, we often struggle with having a bit of a broken personality.
As a child and well up into adulthood I believed that anything and everything that ever went wrong was my fault. I believe this thinking started after I had tried to tell an adult about the “things” that were happening to me. Instead of concern, she responded with calling me a liar and to shut my mouth. I never told anyone again … until many years later. I didn’t understand it then, but that feeling of everything being my fault all the time was rooted in the guilt from that time. You see after that was said to me, the abuse continued and then I KNEW what was happening was wrong. But I didn’t stop it. I never even tried. I don’t even know why. Maybe I was afraid. Maybe I just couldn’t comprehend. I really don’t know.
But this guilt and shame allowed me to take everything that happened to me to a new level of personal. If the kids at school were mean to me, I thought it was because of something I was. That’s why bulimia was such an easy thing for me to fall prey to as a tween. They usually made fun of my weight so I got to believe that maybe if I were thinner, they would like me more. If my hair was blonder they might like me more, if I got rid of my glasses I might get a boyfriend.
You get the picture.
So with all that being said, you can bet I didn’t handle my relationships correctly either. I tolerated half hearted friendships where I was only good for them when there was no other option. I observed my parents relationship and longed for my father to take some interest in our family and all the things my mother had to offer.
But instead all I saw was his interest in a cute waitress that might have been serving us at the time or his 90 hour work weeks.
So as time went on, my personality changed. You can say it broke. The More and more people began to disappoint me the more I became angry. So I became one to hurt people too. Regardless of desperately wanting and needing healthy friendships and family relations, navigating my emotions was almost impossible for me as I got into my teens. I was turning more inward with my struggle with body image. Bulimia was a constant friend in helping me control. I would also smoke and put out the cigarettes in my wrist so the burn would mask my feelings of hopelessness.
I never handled conflict well.
It’s textbook really.
I didn’t have control when all the abuse took place, so I learned how to survive by trying to control everything that came my way.We all know that the only one we have complete control over is ourselves. And as Dr Phil would ask.. “How’s that working for ya?” To which I then could reply … well Phil, my fright, fight, and flight knee jerk reactions are getting pretty old. Really old after age 30. People got really tired of me. I was getting really tired of me and I knew this wasn’t who I wanted to be.
I didn’t know how or even why then. All I knew was, back me in a corner and I’m going to do anything I have to, to survive.
So if that meant saying the absolute most terrible thing to hurt you because you hurt me, I did. If that meant writing you out of my life for good if I felt you might never understand, I did. I just couldn’t open my heart one more time and have it trampled on again because of my vulnerability. No more was I going to allow people to hurt me.
But I did allow one person to hurt me most.
I took myself out of life before I even tried. Even though I was a wife and a mom I slowly started to become cynical and depressed. I didn’t understand it then but every single person, place, or thing that we invest our love and time in is a big risk. Fear can have a way of slithering its hooks into our minds and hearts while stealing any possible joy from us when we have been hurt. Fear reminds us of the past like a broken record.
Fear says it may not work out. But reality says… Yes, it may not… But it just may! Nothing and no one except God himself is a SURE thing. When your talking relationships, failure and disappointment are not if’s, they are WHEN.
What I have realized now is my fear allowed me to behave like all that I hated. It was an endless cycle of self hate. I’d go into a friendship thinking super positively, but the minute something would change, my trigger receptors would start my train of self sabotage. The lies I would tell myself would eventually fester and destroy. Sometimes the person was toxic and these instincts were good to have. But a unfortunate majority never saw it (me) coming.
It has taken me years to see into my own reflection and my own self construed destruction. But regardless of my journey , my past is not an excuse for any bad behavior I had.
I had lost many friends and the possibility of friends because of my severe trust issues. Even recently this has been a challenge for me. But I continue to keep working on myself by being open and honest with those who still remain in my life.
To actually believe that not everyone has an underlining plan to destroy. That some definitely do but not everyone sucks. And sometimes I suck as a person too. A lot. The thing is I know me. I know my heart. It’s trusting others that’s the daily fight.
We all can be selfish at times.
We all get mad or angry.
We all have gossiped.
We all have said or done things in anger or sadness we have regretted.
Yes I know.
We all have.
I have too.
Up until the last few years, I had looked at most relationships pretty black and white. If trust was ever questioned or if an argument ensued I would pretty much write the person off.
Sounds wrong, immature, and drastic but if I felt threatened, that’s how I handled it. I just moved on.
The problem was I realized I moved on from EVERYONE. I had virtually no friends and family because I couldn’t figure out a way to wait and see what could happen if we tried to see it through.
There’s nothing like loneliness in the midst of recovery to make a person look hard in the mirror at what part she played in this.
Now there’s a “teeny” victim in me that wants to stamp her feet and scream and cry and say this isn’t fair. I’m the one who is screwed up because of sick people.
I’m the one having to heal, and put my own pieces back together and NOW I have to humbly own all the damage I did to others because I didn’t know how to be because they don’t understand me!!!?!?
Yes boo hoo.
And with my pity party dress on I can say that Life can suck.
But after my tantrum, I realized how I had to own my wrongs to move forward.
It’s all I could do. I’m the only one who can control me.
It’s been really hard.
But when I owned up to the wrongs I had done to others, look it dead in the face and humbly asked to be forgiven. Be forgiven by God and by them. In doing this it forced me to come to terms with why I did it to begin with.
My coming to terms with why had been leading me to acceptance of it all.
Which now is moving even into forgiveness of those who had hurt me and forgiveness of myself for not knowing better.
I’m still going to struggle.
History will sometimes repeat itself in reactions or behaviors – because I’m still not there yet.
I know better today, so I’ll do better today.
I have said I’m sorry to those who’ll hear it from me and leave the acceptance of my apology to them to make.
I cannot control whether or not they choose to hear my heart or not.
God knows my plan to do right and better for myself and for him. He says I am forgiven and I believe him.
Other peoples resentments toward me I’m no longer owning.