Healing

Healing is often a life long project when you’ve experienced trauma.  Particularly when the trauma started young and you were unable to leave the situation.  Children of abuse, any kind, who must stay in their homes for 18 or more years with the abuser have patterns so ingrained that avoiding abusive relationships can be close to impossible.  For those of us who believe in cellular memory, who know how abuse becomes implanted like a post-conception DNA mutation to our chromosomes, teasing that information back out can feel like vivisection.  It must be done slowly and carefully with a lot of support.  Meditation is one way to accomplish this without incurring further damage.

Meditation helps you to identify thoughts as thoughts, and as you stick with the practice, you begin have a pause between hearing and reacting.  As you become more skilled, you can start to identify which thoughts are really your own, and which are the tapes you’ve been hearing in your head for decades.  This is crucial because one of the legacies of  abuse is the abuser’s voice becoming entwined with your own.  We all know how the words used against us become lodged in our minds and sneak out before we can stop them.  (i.e. “you’re so stupid”, “you never do anything right”, “whoever told you it was okay to think?!” and many more damaging words  with profanity tagged on).  My children have even caught me mumbling these words to myself under my breath, and are sweet enough (at 14, 11, and 9) to say, “Mom, c’mon, that’s not true” or “Mom, you’ve always told us we need to say positive things about ourselves, not negative,” and etc.  While the goal of meditation is to be able to let go of ALL thoughts, for abuse survivors that pause between thinking and reacting has both the benefit of identifying which thoughts are authentically ours, and being able to let go of all our thoughts to dwell in “blue sky mind,” a state of peace.

Through meditation and mindfulness I’ve been able to work on two of the most devastating effects of abuse: self-loathing, and projection.  A therapist once told me, “Your self-loathing is so deep that I don’t know if we can even work together.”   Of course, I found another therapist, but her words made a deep impression.  They blamed me for something I had not created (although admittedly I reinforced it), and gave me yet another line to use against myself.  Working on self-loathing is one of the most difficult tasks we face when trying to heal from abuse.  We need to be especially gentle with ourselves, and as necessary, get help from a psychiatrist and/or psychologist (or other therapist) as we work to unravel the self-hatred that has become an endemic part of our personalities.  Each person has their own time frame for healing and that needs to be respected.  We who judge ourselves most harshly need to understand this most of all.

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~ by janetlandis on August 6, 2009.

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