If you’ve been following Monday’s blogs, you will have learned lots about various forms of child abuse. Part of my purpose in sharing this painful, stark information is to provide easy to read information about this disturbing topic. But no dialogue can be one sided. So I’ve decided to make Wednesdays the Day of Outcomes. It will offer simple, short thoughts on the results in adults from childhood abuse and/or how to overcome these issues and challenges. None of us has all of these beliefs all of the time, but they often persist in some variation for years.
- I am responsible for everyone else’s emotional state. Happy, sad, grouchy or euphoric, others’ moods always develop in response to something I’ve said or done. Even if I can’t figure out the connection, your mood is my fault.
- It is selfish to want things for myself, whether it’s time, things, accomplishments or values. In the same vein, I must never speak up for myself. I must always put others first because they are more deserving of me. Or because kindness is a virtue. Or self-sacrificing is always rewarded later.
- I must be perfect in appearance, work ethic, housekeeping, blogging…anything and everything. Anything less than perfection means I’m a failure. Fear of failure always accompanies this belief so we seldom try new things. Anyone have trouble blogging the first few times or refusing to blog because they didn’t know how? How about dance lessons? Mountain climbing? Yoga? (Ever wonder about the roots of eating disorders?)
- There is nothing worse than appearing stupid. Therefore I must be an expert on all topics. Alternately, if I know I am stupid, I can flaunt and accept that judgement as a reason not to try new things. Or to push myself.
- The past is the perfect predictor of the future. What was will always be and there’s noopportunity to change.
- I am not enough. No matter what I do or how hard I try, I am never enough. Put in your own descriptor of enough: pretty, rich, smart, honest…etc etc. It doesn’t matter the criteria, I’m never enough. (Know anyone with more education than any individual needs?)
- Along with not being enough, I can’t trust myself. I’m not smart enough or experienced enough or cool enough or…whatever enough to be able to trust myself.
- It is wrong, rude and/or selfish to ask directly for what I want. I could never put my loved ones in a situation where they’d have to show how they feel about me by saying “No” in response to a request. Besides, if they love me, they’ll know what I want. Along with this, I will usually use an associate (a loved one is common) as an accomplice, getting them to deliver the information of what I want to do, when others are involved.
- Since I was victimized, it is clear there is something wrong with me, i.e., I am unlovable even by myself. Anyone who says they love me is lying and is waiting for a chance to hurt me. I will vigilantly watch them to protect myself. (Also related to an inability to trust myself to find a caring, kind partner.)
Not every abused adult has all of these all of the times, but they do show up regularly, in different intensities. Do you see little snippets of yourself? Of course you do. These are part of the human condition for most of us. But those who were abused as children are emotionally handicapped by these beliefs – their lives and experiences limited.