What the Abusers Don’t Want
When we go through trauma in childhood, our interpretation can take one of two extremes. It can all seem so random. It can make us feel like the most unlucky people on the planet. How could so many bad things happen to one child? In most cases, we “figure out” that it was all our fault. On the other extreme, it can seem like dark magic. We can believe that others were given powers to use against us. These powers are not beatable based on our life experience and capabilities. Once again, we “figure out” that it was all our fault.
In reality and as usual, the answer is somewhere in the middle. Those bad things didn’t happen to us because something was wrong with us. And those bad things didn’t happen because our abusers were all powerful and we were not. The circumstances that landed us in that situation were not our fault, but they were certainly planned. And while our abusers were not all powerful, they were more powerful than a child, and what they said to us was certainly planned.
I am not suggesting that they consciously wrote out a project plan outlining all the details of how to traumatize us for life. Most of the planning happens on an unconscious level with abusers. They access their own unconscious trauma and use those same tactics on us. And those tactics use an uncanny understanding of child development to brainwash us in to believing it was all our fault. They also convince us that there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. Nobody is going to help us.
So we grow up with these beliefs that we attract abuse and there is nothing we can do about it. Great! How are we supposed to live a decent life like that? After trying many approaches to beat our past and establish real connection, we often give up. And what does giving up look like? Isolation. And guess what. This was planned too. Our abusers wanted nothing more than to keep us isolated in childhood and adulthood. If we don’t have community, we can’t heal. If we can’t heal, we can’t speak up. How perfect for them.
We choose isolation for a reason. We have learned that human connection is scary so we employ defense mechanisms to keep isolated. How do we keep ourselves separated (both physically and mentally) from the rest of the human race? Here are some of my personal strategies:
- The superiority complex. I am really good at convincing myself that I am better than others. I reject them first so that I won’t have to be rejected by them.
- My trauma is different. I can’t possibly relate to others because my trauma is so much worse. And this also works in reverse. I can’t possibly relate to others because my trauma isn’t as bad as theirs.
- The inferiority complex. They won’t like me anyway. I am not good enough because I am a single mother, I don’t work in a corporate job, I had a messed up childhood, insert reason here.
- There is nothing to talk about. I don’t want to talk about my past and I hate surface conversations about the weather, so that leaves me with nothing to say.
- My inner parts won’t cooperate. I will go to that party and start connecting with someone and my mean girl will get scared and wreck havoc. So why bother?
- General exhaustion. I am just too tired from this recovery work to go anywhere and meet anyone.
I have realized that one of the most important healing modalities when it comes to trauma is community. But I have also realized finding a community might be the hardest thing we can do. When I built the Beating Trauma Facebook page and website, I would never have guessed the amazing interaction happening today. When I talk with my clients, we have often discussed the need for groups of survivors in recovery. And this is why I have created the Survivor’s Guide for Life Program. This program has amazing resources for navigating life as a trauma survivor. But the best part will be the interaction between the survivors and the support they provide each other.
Don’t get me wrong, I know it isn’t perfect. A virtual group doesn’t take in to account the need for face-to-face interaction, but it is a good start. And for those who are still finding their community, this is an excellent first step out of isolation. So I hope you will join me as we explore healing together in this amazing program. I look forward to building this community with you.