If I hadn't been born with a heavy dose of piss and vinegar, I'd have given up long ago. Several people have tried to break me, destroy me, discredit me. The specter of that possibility - someone exploding back into my life and pulling the thin veil off my secrets - tortured me for far too long. The only antidote is to grit your teeth, accept reality, and be honest about who you really are. The only cure for internalized shame is to air out your dirty laundry once and for all so you can get back to life the way it was supposed to be lived. After you've radically accepted your experiences, your strengths, your flaws, then - and only then - you will be free to value the person you have become in spite of all the pain. You will be able to stand tall in your own shoes and devil-may-care if the world values you as much as you do yourself.
When someone hurts you when you're small, tells you to keep it a secret or else...there's no one to blame, there's no validation of your pain, there's no healing. Perhaps the greatest tragedy of child abuse is that the disgust and the shame of it grows into that person inextricably, often saddling them with a heaping pile of steaming guilt that was never theirs to begin with. What happened can't be that bad, because you have to live with it. So you minimize the abuse and instead believe it is you that is bad. I'm bad, I deserve nothing, anything nice that happens to me is a fluke, a gift, or a mistake. My internal monologue had this sentence on constant repeat, a looped excuse for my self-hatred and self-doubt.
For the longest time I thought the only way to fix myself was to see myself "clearly" as the sinner and screw-up I was, and hope that there was forgiveness enough for a 7 year old girl who did nasty things like I did. I took the pain, shame, disgust, betrayal and evil and drew it into myself, held it so close to my heart that it grafted itself in. I thought I could think away the pain. Just will it, do it, one thought at a time. I sang the Pink song loud on karaoke nights, willing myself to change, to change those words and those thoughts that pinned me down and kept the blood running fresh from old, old wounds.
You're so mean when you talk
To yourself - you are wrong
Change the voices in your head
Make them like you instead
Look how we all made it
Filled with so much hatred
Such a tired game
So cool in lying and we tried, tried, tried
But we tried too hard, it's a waste of my time
Done looking for the critics, cause they're everywhere
They don't like my jeans, they don't get my hair
Estrange ourselves and we do it all the time
Why do we do that?
Why do I do that?
You can't will those thoughts away any more than you can will the abuse away. If you keep all that despair and blame inside, afraid to expose your naked flesh to the world, no one will ever be able to tell you it was wrong and that it wasn't your fault. The first step to changing your thoughts is to invite someone into them. Then, armed with their more objective interpretation of the twisted jumble of events, you can begin to forgive yourself. Even without forgiveness, though, change is possible. You can choose to act as if you deserve love and respect long before you truly believe it.
If you are extremely miserable and you would like to feel better you may have to change your behavior despite whatever argument is going on in your head. If you could treat yourself with kindness and compassion, be understanding, and acknowledge your deepest fears and hurts- at least to yourself- why wouldn’t you? If this made your life easier, more livable, and more hopeful- why wouldn’t you do it? Arguing about deserve-ability certainly isn’t doing anything for you. In order to feel differently you have to act and behave as if self-compassion and kindness matters. You may have to tolerate some guilt, set some limits on your time, or even say no to the demands of others. The point is that you should get started on acting and behaving in ways that are worthy or deserving of you. Over time, your attitudes may change right along with your behavior. And in addition to feeling better because you are behaving as if you have more self-respect, you will have more resources for coping when other people put you in demeaning situations, take advantage or you, or assume that you are willing to be treated poorly. (Renee Hoekstra, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy counselor)It's a magical thing, being compassionate to yourself. You can go back and love yourself when you were least lovable, when you were covered with tears and filth and confusion. Every one of those childhood moments when you felt unimportant, unnoticed or unloved? You can look back on that now, close your eyes and feel what it felt like to be that child. And you can notice. You can validate that experience, acknowledge that it hurt you. You can tell that little one the significance of that moment, how it bent you and strengthened you all at once. You can tell her that because of her - not in spite of her - your life has been amazing.
Do you believe you are worthy of your own compassion and love?