I took the following notes during a therapy session.
Blaming ourselves or others is a form of self-sabotage. Abuse survivors can become addicted to self-sabotage. Someone who self-sabotages sacrifices themselves routinely. Self-sabotagers operate under this premise: if I give you what you need; you will give me what I need. This is untrue. It is a false belief. The reality is that I have very little control over others. Therefore I cannot control, nor always predict, who is going to treat me with reciprocal kindness.
As a self-sabotaging abuse-survivor, I resemble all of it. A typical bad day for me is one wherein I cannot identify why I am so annoyed, or why I feel that familiar ugly churning inside. What is it that I need right now?
I don’t always know. It often comes to me later on. Much later. Usually after an episode where I have self-sabotaged and blamed someone for not meeting my still-unidentified needs. Or blamed myself for trusting the wrong people.
There are several static needs I have identified. Companionship. Being listened to. In the beginning I needed a safe place to tell my story and to process the emotional fallout from trauma. Places where people weren’t going to say things to me like, “But were you actually raped?” (an actual response I got from someone). Not going to be sharing heartfelt things with that person again. Or; am I? Is that what it’s about? I meet your needs and you meet mine. If you don’t; then get out of here?
If you are interested in what a survivor of sexual assault needs: here are a few tips from a survivor. Unless you have actually been sexually offended yourself; don’t compare whatever hard thing you’ve gone through to a sexual offense. Just don’t. And don’t ask people if ‘they were really raped’ … Leave the categorizing of the offense to the police reports and therapist appointments. In my opinion, next to murder, there is nothing more violating or devastating to the human soul and spirit than a sexual offense. Just recognize that. Let that truth sink in and honor the hardness of it. Then ask them what specifically they need from you; and if they are ok.
It’s a stinky cycle to expect that others will help you if you are willing to help them. Believing that if you share your heart; they will share theirs back. Believing that if you give intimately of yourself; they will trust you enough to reciprocate. Why do people, like me, who have trust issues and know well what other humans are capable of doing; still trust others so freely with our very inmost thoughts and feelings? The prophet Isaiah warns of trusting others. A proverb urges us to trust God with our heart; and lean not on our own understanding.
The reality is that children who are sexually offended by one person are often repeatedly offended throughout their lifetimes. This is my story as well. The trust wasn’t just broken once. It was repeatedly broken. If left to my own broken tools, I would continue to give out trust without discernment and with the expectation that it would be returned; only to have my heart broken repeatedly.
So I’m learning to recognize what my needs are and to try and verbalize them plainly instead of playing those old expectation-games with my precious heart. For the most part, I do this with God, and have Him meet those needs. I am using new tools I’ve learned in therapy as well as old gifts, like writing and creating, which He’s given me, to calm myself. As the psalmist writes–to soothe myself like a weaned child, no longer crying out for its mother (or brother or sister or husband or child). Yet, also no longer protecting myself and ‘refusing to cry’; but crying when and where I need to cry.
In part, that is why this blog exists; and under an anonymous blogger identity. Because I wanted to, and needed to, share my story and process my emotions without expecting anyone to share back. It’s a way for me to meet my own needs in that area. It’s a way for me to practice sharing for the sake of sharing. Gifts, by nature, are given without expectations or else they aren’t gifts; they are bribes. I want to give of my heart and my love of writing without such strings (or google ads making a few bucks from it).
And so I am going forward under a new premise: it’s about sharing when and what I need to share. Crying, openly or privately, when I need to cry. I do not expect anyone to understand, cry along, change, or share back. Yet at the same time I am trusting that many others will understand. If they respond to me, it will be out of their own kindness or truth or a gifting of their own.
In the meantime I want to be kind for the sake of being kind. I want to be open for the sake of being open. I want to trust for the sake of trust.
None of us is worthy of any of it. Yet; we all are capable of it, too.
Someone once asked me why I write. Simplest answer? Because I can.
So then…Why am I kind? Why do I trust? Why am I so open? Because I can be.