In my previous blog, I shared that I was sexually abused as a child. I had buried the pain for years until I decided that I was sick and tired of being sick so I decided to take steps towards healing. Through counseling, supportive family and friends, I was able to address issues where I did not think healing was possible. Over the next couple of weeks, I will share the impact it had on me in certain areas of my life. One of those areas was self-abuse. I had no idea I was doing it. I was completely overwhelmed when I realized it, and I had to get to the root of the pain that was causing me to do.
Here is how part of the conversation went with my counselor and I during one of my sessions when it was revealed to me.
Counselor: Erika, do you love yourself?
Me: (Sigh) Yes, of course I love myself. Why would you even ask me that? I internally thought “that’s a silly question.”
Counselor: Let me ask you a question.
Counselor: If your son or family member made a mistake, what do you say to them?
Me: That’s ok. It happens. You can use that as a learning opportunity and move on. Everyone is going to make mistakes in life.
Counselor: What do you say to yourself internally when you make a mistake?
Me: You are so stupid or you deserve exactly what you get. You are so dumb!
Counselor: Would you say that to your son or someone in your family?
Me: No way! That is rude, hateful, and abusive. I would never treat anyone that way.
Right after I said that, tears started to roll down my face. I had so many thoughts racing through my mind. I remember being surprised because I thought it was “normal.” I thought people actually thought those things about themselves. I didn’t realize I was causing harm to myself until I used the word “abusive.”
While that moment seemed painful and I was completely overwhelmed, there was also a sense of relief because I was tired of the internal word war. Each session after that, we worked to get to the root of the issue. It all traced back to abuse. You see, as a child, I thought it was my fault. I thought it was something I did to deserve it or if I would have done something different, it would have never happened. As I became an adult, I continued with those same beliefs. If I do things right, it will not lead to trouble. In my mind, “doing things right” would lead to good consequences and “doing things wrong or making a mistake” would lead to trouble. My thought was if I believed that to be true and made a mistake then it was my fault.
Eventually, I discovered and accepted truth. I did nothing to cause it and it was never my fault. That was freeing and it allowed me to start the process of loving myself, extending myself to myself, and it opened the door for me to learn to love myself and accept who I was and am.
Healing is a journey so things don’t change overnight. I had to work at it, recognize when I’m doing it and remind myself of truth.
I am loved!
I am blessed!
There is a plan and purpose for my life.
Even though this happened to me, I did nothing to cause it.
I am worth it!
I made a mistake but I will learn from it.
This is part of my story and some of you may be able to relate to it. If you’ve experienced freedom from this like I have, I want you to know that I’m so proud of you and I know that you will agree the work that was needed to stop the abuse was worth it! For those of you that cannot understand or have experienced this or any type of self-abuse, we need you! We need you to stop and ask questions when you hear abusive words being spoken. If you are currently reading this and figuring out for the first time that you are causing yourself harm with your words or any type of physical harm, don’t be afraid to share how you feel with a trusted loved one or a licensed counselor. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel after sharing your thoughts with someone else. Healing begins when we no longer keep our struggles in our thoughts but share with someone that can help us.
I hope my story encourages someone to never lose hope and to know that healing is possible. I’m so thankful for those of you who support our blog, like our page, and share our stories with others. The statics are 1:4 girls and 1:6 boys so I guarantee your willingness to share is impacting your circle of family and friends. (Scales)
Scales, Tom. Statistics of Child Abuse. n.d. <http://www.naasca.org/2012-Resources/010812-StaisticsOfChildAbuse.htm>.