It's Not Your Fault You Were Abused
It's Not Your Fault That You Were Abused
Are you carrying a silent burden? A memory you wish to forget? I have a few. Some were acts of stupidity that resulted in personal embarrassment. Once though, I almost died. Climbing a small mountain in Palo Duro Canyon I found myself on a ledge, looked down and froze. I panicked. I had no confidence in the next step. Somehow, I lifted my foot and slowly made my way back to safety. The distance I needed to travel was less than six feet but it felt like a mile. This happened almost 35 years ago and to this day I can break into a cold sweat just thinking about that moment.
These aren’t memories that I wish to deny, but they are memories that cause mental discomfort. I have no one to blame but myself because I put myself into these situations. It's all over now and I've managed to become more prudent yet I still carry the memories (especially the little mountain climb) as if they happened yesterday. But today, I suffer no loss of pride or ego. Why is that? Somehow, I've learned to ignore self-inflicted wounds. But what about the pain of trauma inflicted by others?
Trauma can burn a hole in your mind. The hole can be covered up with experiences to the point that it's not noticeable to others, but you know where it is. And you avoid that hole. You build your life around it. It's as if you build a house on top of unstable soil. Instead of building on a solid foundation, you pretend the hole does not exist and move ahead without dealing with the hole. And you know what you have done is defer your problem to the future or you let it affect your life in such a way that you possibly deny yourself pleasure or invite stress because you won’t or can’t fill it up permanently.
But what if the hole in your mind was dug by someone else? What if they dug the hole when you were unable to stop them? Maybe they dug it and you didn't even know it was wrong. Maybe you believed having a hole in your mind was normal because someone you felt had your best interests at heart was doing the digging.
There is a sign next to this particular hole with one word on it: Abuse. The word on this sign tends to be overused but there are those who need other words to describe their pain because the words hole and abuse cannot begin to describe their trauma. The problem is that society tends to be unforgiving about mental issues because to the naked eye, there is no evidence of a true problem. The human mind is so complex yet we simpletons tend to believe it can be managed very easily. Just do it they say. Just think your way through the problem and it will be all better.
To me the problem is that the mind does not heal itself like the rest of our body. A cut heals itself. But a severe injury such as a broken bone requires the help of a doctor. We all know this to be true and would consider someone foolish if they did not seek medical attention. Yet when the mind is injured some people think poorly of those who seek the help of counselors or psychiatrists.
Why is that?
Everyone understands a broken bone but competency and having your act together is seen as the most important thing in life and our ability to day in and day out function under stress is the expectation. It’s been so commoditized that we are tough on ourselves and on others. We struggle through the day with high blood pressure or possibly drinking problems and soldier on instead of calling a mental doctor and just having a chat. This third party can help because they can let you know that you are not alone in your irrational feelings of fear that occasionally creep into your mind.
But, what about that hole in your mind that someone else dug? Why is it a problem? Maybe it was dug long ago and the shovel has been put away. Do you pick up the shovel and keep digging? Why don’t you somehow fill it up instead? Do you feel unworthy or incapable; that it is a fait accompli? Do you think you somehow are tainted? Do you feel you need to be forgiven? You don’t need to be forgiven because you have done nothing wrong. You were abused. You were taken advantage of. But you retain the right to be happy. The right to a good life. The right to dream and to achieve. But are you not allowing yourself what everyone else seems to take for themselves? They are no better than you.
Yes, it happened to you. Yes, it was terrible, and that person probably deserves bad things for what they did to you. But this isn’t a conversation about forgiving them because I don't have the right or the insight to tell you to forgive them. That is up to you. Instead, it is a conversation about healing yourself and looking into the mirror and saying, “I’m a human being and whatever someone did to me long ago doesn’t matter anymore.”
Maybe you carry this with you because your abuser made you feel as if you deserved it. You didn’t. Maybe you were a child at the time, and they were an adult. All children cry, scream, act selfish and make mistakes. You were no different than any other child, but your abuser was different than normal adults. They had an illness or an inferiority complex so profound that they could only make themselves feel better by abusing someone who was helpless. You were helpless. But it wasn’t your fault.
And if you were an adult when you were abused then you must realize that some people can become very powerful in our lives because we give them the power to shape our own self-image. Or maybe you were trapped because you needed to remain in the situation because you had children or needed that job. In this situation, the forces of hard living overwhelmed you and you were forced to endure what you did not deserve.
So today is the day you say, “I deserve happiness because I did not deserve the abuse.”
You have to demand this of yourself. The hole must be filled up with the knowledge of your helplessness in the face of the abuser and with the true belief in your worthiness as a human being to exist in a happy state as others appear to be. You can do this because there is no reason not to believe in yourself. If the one who should have loved you the most didn’t love you then accept this fact and understand that you are lovable. It was their sickness that infected your mind. THEIR SICKNESS; NOT YOURS.
Don’t expect rejection from others because of what happened to you. I’ve fallen into this trap before and have to remind myself that not everyone is an abuser. But if you carry this with you then everyone will be an abuser in your mind and you will fulfill a destiny that you have created. Stop looking for the approval of others. They are not God. They are merely human beings just like you and even though they may appear to have their act together, they don’t. Everyone is flawed. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by people; especially because of what happened to you. That is not you. That is only what happened to you.
DON’T LET IT BECOME YOU. And don't make others believe your hole is normal. It's not their burden. Don't dig a hole in their mind. Ask them to help fill yours up.