We need to learn to stand before we walk, and walk before we run.
There are certain physical and psychological developments that occur when we are children, that happen naturally. Life’s experiences play a huge role in teaching us the things we need to learn in order to interact in the world. To feel safe and confident. To explore and take up space in the world and have a sense of confidence and belonging. So many things can go wrong at any point in our development that can have a huge impact later in life.
I am beginning to face something that is actually humiliating to admit. So much so that it has unconsciously caused me to avoid too many things in life. I am beginning to realize how big of an impact this has on my life even today. And it is also effecting my ability to feel safe in therapy. I have been feeling as though I would rather not do therapy than admit it or face it.
What I lack is the ability to say, “No!” or, “Stop!” or, “I need to slow down.” or “This hurts.” I just didn’t realize how huge of an issue it is for me. The few times I have been able to do this was wrought with a tremendous amount of anxiety afterward, not relief.
I have been conditioned since infancy that everyone else’s thoughts, feelings, and needs are all that matters. They are always more important than mine. Even if someone is hurting me, my instincts are to make them feel better. There are several things that happened to me when I was just a baby that may play a part in how deeply this effects me.
It isn’t just that I can’t say no or how I feel, it is that there is a tremendous amount of anxiety attached to it. So I can’t win. I either suffer silently, which has always been the safest bet, or suffer tremendous anxiety if I choose to try to exist. I was forced to choose to suffer silently for most of my life. It is all that I know.
I have been able to hide this so well. I have even denied it to myself. It is very painful to face.
Because I am calm and articulate, it is easy for others to miss as well. Unless they are a predator. It even confuses my husband at times. It has been hard for him to grasp. He witnesses how paralyzing it can be. I think it is hard to fathom what life is like without these basic fundamental tools to survive in life.
It is a crazy and horrible existence to have to hide because you lack the basic defenses; going through life never knowing at what point you could become paralyzed and unable to protect yourself from the most minor infractions.
People who tell those of us who have been victimized that we are strong and to not be afraid, have no idea the gravity of this issue for us. Who wants to admit that they are afraid? It is easier to just avoid people and circumstances than to face this tormenting monster that always hangs over us.
This is why I cringe inside when someone tells me that I am strong. It almost has the opposite effect. It makes me want to hide more rather than admit what I am admitting here.
I need, somehow, to learn these basic skills in order to continue with therapy. Otherwise I am left feeling as though I don’t have any control of or over my own life. I am beginning to understand how so many of the things that happened to me happened so easily.
This is embarrassing because these are things I should have learned as a child. When everyone either leaves you or does not want you, how do you learn anything other than the fact that what you want or need does not matter?
I don’t know how you learn these basic skills when all you know to do is hide the fact that you can’t do certain things. This has been a huge ongoing misunderstanding for those who see me as strong and capable. Every time a conversation comes up regarding my strength or courage, instead of being encouraged, I just shrink a little more inside of myself.
I can’t seem to get others to understand the gravity of this issue. So there has been no way of getting help. If anyone could truly grasp the reality of an existence like this, they would not be challenging or dismissing me so easily. It is actually quite heartbreaking.
It seems to be too hard for others to grasp. It is like one of those things that would be easier for people to assume you’re joking than to actually take it in and feel it. And because of this it is easier for me to just dismiss it myself.
I need to learn to stand before I can walk, and walk before I can run. Otherwise I am not fit to exist in this world. And hiding will remain my only option.