Archive for May 25th, 2009

On my blog entry entitled Healing from Child Abuse: Ongoing Process of Endless Growth, a reader posted the following comment:

Hey… could you talk more about this idea of “pushing through the barrier” and “getting it over with”… I’m really feeling stuck in therapy lately. We’ve hit some rough territory and every session we’re doing the same “I’m too freaked out to go forward” thing. ~ Else

Every survivor of child abuse battles conflicting agendas. One agenda is a healthy one – we want to heal from the pain of the past so we can embrace a brighter future. The other agenda is one of survival and self-protection. We resist healing because of our fear. Put another way, we need to learn how to feed the right wolf.

Here is an example of what I am talking about. I reached a place in a friendship where I was beginning to trust my friend, and I decided to tell her that she was becoming a good friend. Just the thought of saying those words threw me into a panic. I had panic attacks, diarrhea, hyperventilated, and trembled all morning long. Whenever I thought about not saying those words, all of those symptoms went away. I chose to say the words, anyhow. After a period of extreme stress, I broke through all sorts of invisible barriers inside of myself.

Because of my courage to push through the anxiety, I freed myself up to open my heart to friendships and let someone else in. Since then, I have opened my heart up to even healthier friendships. My life is much better and richer because I had the courage to push through the anxiety years ago.

I had very good reasons for the anxiety and fear. I had loved my mother, and she betrayed me. The same story held true with many other people in my life. I had a long list of people who had betrayed me, so I had good reasons to cover my heart in ice. Nevertheless, I longed for emotional intimacy with another person. In order to achieve this, I had to risk letting another person in. It took an enormous amount of courage to do this.

The same holds true with any barriers that you are facing. You have two “wolves” at war inside of yourself. Each time you choose to give in to the fear, you are feeding the wrong wolf. If you want to heal, you must feed the right wolf. You must choose to take risks and face your fears head-on.

The most important thing to remember is that self-love and self-acceptance is your natural state. It feels unnatural because of the abuse, so you have disconnected from your natural state of being. Whenever you choose self-love, self-acceptance, and health, that path is going to win. Your unhealthy side knows this, so it will fight back even harder. However, if you choose to feed the right wolf despite the backlash, you will come out of the other side of the battle as a healthier you.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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