The biggest abuses in society happen when people cannot communicate or connect
Recently I started working with a new client, an incredibly powerful, magnificent being in so many ways. Yet they/them cannot see it yet. As a child when they were at their most suggestive to outside influences, they were systematically abused by a relative over a number of years. Victims of this kind of sexual abuse have said that it never stops shaping you.
Part of the challenge is that many professionals only treat the symptoms that are revealed later in life not the deeper causes. In 2018, the World Health Organisation formally recognised the existence of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), a condition from which it is thought many survivors of childhood abuse suffer. This emerged out of an inquiry led by psychologist Bryony Farrant. She explained that it differs from other forms of PTSD in that sufferers tend to have “a completely pervasive and rigid negative belief about themselves”. Understandably such individuals can struggle with managing their feelings, trusting others, and with feelings of shame and inadequacy holding them back in school or working life.
A common coping strategy
When the pain of daily life becomes intense, it is natural to indulge in a form of escapism. There is a belief that if the external environment changes then the pain will diminish also. Such escapism can take many forms. Many years ago I had a strong urge to volunteer in Africa and believed that losing myself in service to others would alleviate the pain and mess in my own life.
Another common fantasy is to say if only I could go back to those halcyon days when life appeared to be much easier. Time can filter out what life was really like and present a rose-tinted version of reality. The truth is that you face challenges at every stage of life.
The role of memory
Memory is powerful and yet extremely subjective. We know from NLP that we generalise, distort and delete elements of our experience so that the past fits our interpretation of it. As Conway said in 2000 data that is reconstructed from memory is a retrospective subjective interpretation of personal experiences. In other words the deep wounds that you experience as a child can then inform your narrative for years. As a survivor of abuse there is often a desperate longing to be loved that can lay you open to predators as an adult because they pick up your neediness and pray on it..
Why escapism is not a good strategy?
If you have a belief that all will be well in a set period of time because your current job will end, how can you be present with what is? You are wishing your life away.
Escapism is the opposite of mindful awareness and living in the moment. And I get that for some the present is too terrifying to contemplate. At the root of the anxiety is often fear of your own existence. Here’s the truth wherever you run to your self will be waiting.
What does work
The only way to change your story is to recognise that you have the POTENTial to write a new story. I say that because it is my story too – I was abused as a child – and it has taken a lot of work to come to a place of acceptance. What has helped is an understanding of the research, as shared in a previous post, that you have to carry out a practice of forgiveness 20 times to heal the limbic brain from one episode of invalidation!
Reading that may sound exhausting. That’s why I invite clients to work with colour as a way of accessing a larger truth. Air, one of the essences, reminds you that so much of what we experience in the 3D reality is an illusion. What we are programmed to believe about reality takes form from the metaphysical world into this physical reality and becomes part of your experience.
Instead you are called to surrender to your breath and connect to your heart. In that way you can go beyond 3D reality and experience unconditional love. In this energy you sense that you matter and you come into awareness. Over time you may come to see that your wound is your gift. It can provide a well spring of compassion for self and others.
The first practical step to take is being able to share your story. And in recognition of the damage that child sex abuse can cause, the Truth project is a government funded initiative in the UK, that invites you to share your story. You have until 2021 to take up this invitation. Also know that I am here and always happy to listen.