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.
I thought this part of the book was particularly interesting:
Honey, you’re a survivor. No shame in that. Your daddy hurt you something fierce. Life hurt you. Lies are one of the easiest places for survivors to run. They give you a sense of safety, a place where you have to depend only on yourself…Lies are a little fortress; inside them you can feel safe and powerful. ~ The Shack page 189
What kinds of lies to we tell ourselves? A big one is that we were responsible for the abuse. The reason for this is that, if we are responsible for the abuse, then we have the power to stop it. Facing the truth – that there was absolutely nothing that we could do to stop the abuse – was too painful a truth to face.
Another lie is that we cannot be loved. Yes, we can be, but the risk is scary. When we open up our hearts to other people, we risk being rejected. Rather than risk the pain of rejection, we lie to ourselves about being unlovable. The truth is that we are able to love and be loved – we are just too scared to try.
The inability to trust is another lie that we tell ourselves. We say that we have been so hurt that we cannot trust. This is a lie – we can trust, but it is, again, a big risk that is scary to take. So, rather than risk being betrayed, we give up the opportunity to trust another person. This is a choice we make, but we lie to ourselves, saying that we have no power over this part of our lives when we really do.
Another lie is that our lives are limited by being survivors of child abuse. Yes, it can feel this way (and I often do feel this way), but the truth is that only we have the power to limit our lives. Limiting your life is a choice that you make.
Being a child abuse survivor is a great excuse to disengage from life. We tell ourselves that we are “freaks” and that we have nothing to offer the world. This could not be farther from the truth. I have never encountered so much deep loving and caring as I have from fellow child abuse survivors. We have so much to give the world, but we hold back because we believe the lies that we have nothing to offer.
Recognizing these lies for what they are and pushing past them to the truth is a daunting task. While I have made some progress, I still have a long way to go. I have several areas in my life in which I am dissatisfied, but I hide behind the lies of being unable to change them because I am a child abuse survivor. The truth is that I choose every relationship in my adult life, and I choose to allow certain things to be the way that they are.
It is much easier for me to play the “child abuse survivor” card and get a free pass out of dealing with a thorny issue than to admit that I am scared. However, admitting that I am scared is the truth, and it is only through facing the truth that I can heal the areas of my life that bother me.
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt