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Posts Tagged ‘not normal’

On my blog entry entitled Awakening to My Anxiety Issues, a reader posted the following comment:

I have at times had people tell me I come off as anxious or intense. It really pisses me off when someone tells me that because I am not aware of feeling anxious at the time, and although I know what intensity looks like when I see it in others, I do not feel like I am coming off as intense when people say this to me. It is like I am trying to figure out how not to appear anxious or intense, even if I am on the inside. ~ Elaine

Elaine’s entire comment really resonated with me, but I want to focus specifically on this part of the comment for this blog entry. As I read her comment, I just nodded my head in agreement because I feel like that a lot of the time.

At my core, I am an intense person (as you probably picked up on based on the content of this blog!). I can joke around and have fun at times, but that is not my baseline. I am an intense person because I have endured intense things, and healing from those intense traumas is equally intense.

Like Elaine, I have found myself in uncomfortable situations when I “freaked out” other people by my intensity, and I was completely unaware of being intense in the moment. One example was with a couple of close friends. We were talking about our parenting when our children were babies. I thought I was just sharing how much more uptight I used to be about making sure my child got enough vegetable, etc., versus now. Apparently my sharing was far too intense for either of them. One friend got up and said she needed a few minutes to breathe. I looked at the other, truly puzzled. She said that I got way too intense there. The message I take away from these incidents is that it is not okay for me to be myself.

Like Elaine, I can recognize intensity in others but not in myself. When I see someone who is more intense than I am, I think to myself, “You really need to breathe, dear.” Quite frankly, most people are more laid back than I am, so whenever I view someone else as intense, I know that they are really tightly wound.

I don’t like having to pretend that I am not who I am. I am an intense person. I try to match my behavior to the situation, but I always want to be me. For example, out of respect for the members of my Sunday School class, I will refrain from using foul language. I am still myself: I am just being respectful of who I am with. However, when it comes to friendships, I need my friends to be able to accept “me,” and who I am is intense at times. In fairness, both of the friends in my example have been there for me through intense stuff. I apparently just caught them off guard in this situation.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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On my blog entry entitled Enemas, Tubes, and Object Insertion as Part of Child Abuse, a reader posted the following comment:

I still struggle horribly with this daily. I didn’t even remember until about three years ago, and that was only because it had become part of my self-injury, which I have done since I was about six years old–I am 39 now. My heart breaks everytime I think about it or talk about it. And everytime I go to bed, THAT is what is I have nightmares about! I want it to stop, to just go away, but it doesn’t, and it feels like it never will! I hurt so much inside–to the point where I don’t want to do this anymore! It wasn’t just the enemas and the tubes, it was objects, and bleach and soap–the list could go on, but I can’t say anymore. My mother was the main person that actually did those things, but my dad was there, and most of the time, he had his way with me, after she was done. And this just wasn’t a once in a while thing–it was several times a day–every day! What am I suppose to do with this? How am I suppose to be ‘normal’ when I feel like I am gross, dirty, freak? ~ Theresa

Theresa is specifically talking about enemas and tubes, but every person reading this blog can insert his or her own “I just can’t get past this” form of abuse – mother-daughter sexual abuse, animal rape, sibling abuse, vaginal rape – and it doesn’t even have to be sexual abuse – being forced to kill an animal, seeing a pet killed, watching a sibling beaten by proxy, locked in a closet, being beaten, tied up, etc.

Any form of child abuse is “that bad,” but those of us who endured ongoing child abuse sometimes categorize the forms of abuse in hierarchies, such as finding enemas or animal rapes being “worse” than vaginal rape or being locked in a closet. Each child abuse survivor will have a different “this was the worst” form of abuse, even those who have been through the same things. For example, my “worst” was vaginal rape while my sister’s “worst” was animal rape. We both endured the same abuses (including mother-daughter sexual abuse), but each of us found a different form of abuse to label as “the worst” form that we would never “get over.”

The truth is that all forms of abuse are traumatizing, and all forms of abuse are “that bad.” Even if you had never endured your “worst form,”you would still be this “messed up”– you just would have identified another form of abuse as “the worst” and used it to minimize the impact of the other forms of abuse you suffered. This is a coping mechanism used by abused children. If the other forms of abuse are not “that bad,” then they are survivable.

You will use the same process to heal all forms of abuse that you suffered, from those you have minimized to those that continually haunt you. The process is this:

  1. Acknowledge that the abuse happened: Stop repressing it.
  2. Face the abuse: Allow yourself to remember and tell someone about it (such as your therapist). You don’t have to relive it, but you need to connect back to the memory enough to say, “This happened to me.” I found posting my story on Isurvive was very helpful.
  3. Express your feelings: Give your feelings a voice. Cry, punch pillows, etc. Break the silence you have held for all of these years.
  4. Comfort yourself: Tell yourself it is okay to feel whatever you are feeling and reassure yourself that it was not your fault. Let your adult self comfort the wounded child inside.
  5. Be compassionate with yourself: Choose to stop fueling your shame with name-calling such as “gross dirty freak.” Instead, flood your mind with compassionate thoughts – It was not my fault. I love myself. Visualize yourself holding and comforting your wounded inner child. Tell yourself that nothing anyone did to you could change your value.
  6. Build on what you already know: If you have already healed any level of trauma, use what worked and apply it to this. I did this with the animal rape memories. I couldn’t look anyone in the eye, just like when I first recovered the mother-daughter sexual abuse memories. So, I used the same tools. I told myself that nothing – even this – had the power to change who I am.

I am not saying that this is fast or easy, but it really is that “simple.” You have the power to break free from the shame, but you must have the courage to challenge the beliefs you have held about yourself for most of your life.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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