Did you experience emotional child abuse when you were growing up? Do you carry scars from that which affect you today? Do you worry that you are not “normal” because of what you witnessed or experienced?
As children, we often internalize guilt for what goes on around us, not knowing how to stop nor prevent bad things. We grow up believing that we are somehow deficient, defective, because we experienced horrible events. We feel damaged, wounded.
As we become adults, we may try to feel normal, to act normally. We may even bury the past and try to forget it ever happened, at least the worst parts.
Unfortunately, burying the past does not help us to heal. Pretending bad things never happened does not make us feel “normal” even when we try to get on with our lives. What CAN we do?
I didn’t realize how much my past affected my present until I found myself divorced with three children. Growing up, my father had multiple personalities and I’d compartmentalized “Good Dad” from “Bad Dad.” Only when divorcing did I recognize that my ex-husband also had multiple personalities and I hadn’t known it. I’d dealt with negative clues by explaining them away and forgetting about them. This was how I’d coped as a child, the way my father did, by not acknowledging the bad.
It was only when divorcing that I began to see how much my past was affecting my present. I’d always thought I could be free of the past by marrying a wonderful man and having a beautiful family. I never thought the past would reach out and be part of my future!
The good news was, I finally recognized how horrible the past was. My eyes opened to see the pattern of compartmentalization that started in childhood and continued into adulthood. This was the first step to healing and recovery from childhood emotional abuse: RECOGNIZING it!
The journey towards healing began at that point. Not until I clearly saw and accepted that what happened while I grew up was abuse, and that I was wounded, was I ready to begin the process of recovery.
At first, this scared me. I went through a period of years where I felt defective, scarred, second-class. Relating with others seemed impossible. I didn’t think anyone could understand what my life was like. It didn’t help that I jumped immediately into a difficult second marriage. Yet that was part of the healing, too, as I continued learning about myself and about abuse and recovery.
Where are YOU in your journey of recovery? Have you accepted that what happened to you while you were a child and youth was abuse? Do you recognize false patterns you may have adopted as survival mechanisms when you were but a child?
We’ll continue to explore the journey to healing, wholeness, and fulfillment in further posts. Meanwhile, if you would like personalized assistance on your journey, please contact me. I would love to chat with you about where you are and how I may support your healing.