Archive for March 19th, 2009

Time to get back to The Shack. I took a break to address some other issues, but now that I have almost finished reading the book, I have many more topics to discuss.

For those who are new to my blog, I have been reading the book The Shack by William Paul Young. I have been focusing upon different words of wisdom in the book that can be applied to survivors of child abuse. See my first post for more information about the book.

Today, I would like to focus upon this quote:

As Mack made his way down the trail toward the lake, he suddenly realized that something was missing. His constant companion, The Great Sadness, was gone … Its absence felt odd, perhaps even uncomfortable. For the past years it had defined for him what was normal, but now, unexpectedly, it had vanished … He wondered who he would be now that he was letting all of that go–to walk into each day without the guilt and despair that had sucked the colors of life out of everything. ~ The Shack page 172

A couple of years ago, a friend called me on my “dependence” upon the label of child abuse survivor. She told me that, although I had been abused as a child, a child abuse survivor did not define who I am. By choosing to identify myself with this label, I was boxing myself in and limiting the potential of who I could be.

If I identify myself a child abuse survivor, then I set limits on my own potential. The human spirit has no limits, so why do I want to limit myself? She pointed out that I was forcing myself to live in a closet while I had mansion at my disposal. Only I could choose to step out of the closet and claim what is rightfully mine – A fulfilling life that is not limited by anything.

Since that conversation, I have wrestled with who I am and what I can be. On the one hand, I agree that I do not want to limit myself. I don’t want to use being a child abuse survivor as an excuse for refusing to engage in life or invest in relationships. However, there is also no denying that my symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are very real and do not just “go away” just because I want them to.

So, in many ways, I feel like Mack in this quote from the book, wondering who I am and who I can be when I remove the limitations of my history of child abuse.

I have also wrestled with not wanting to lose my connection with other child abuse survivors. I never felt like I fit in anywhere until I found Isurvive, a message board for child abuse survivors. I didn’t want to give up that connection and feeling of belonging.

So, for a couple of years now, I have been wrestling with where I fit in. I want to honor my reality without limiting my future. The balance between the two is not always easy.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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