So, it's been awhile...like usual. I think if I avoid it that maybe it will just go away. Yeah freaking right.
I had a really awesome counseling session today though, and I really wanted to get my thoughts out.
I have been reading the book The Right to Innocence: Healing the Trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse, and I recently got to a chapter entitled Releasing your Anger. That is where I stopped for awhile, because I am angry... very angry. I'm literally angry at just about every person in my life for one thing or another... but let's be honest, I've mostly just been angry at myself. I've been angry that I can't stick to a healthier diet or make the necessary changes that I need. I've been angry at myself that I can't lose weight, that I am always late to work, that I am not a better mom, that I don't clean like I should, or cook like I should, or always follow through like I should. I'm just angry... all the time... and I don't want to be anymore.
The downside to being so angry at yourself, is that often times it becomes displaced anger. I'm angry at myself for waking up late, so I displace that onto my two year old who is feeding off my anxiety and having a hard time getting her shoes on and out the door. I am angry at myself for eating that burger and fries, so I displace my anger onto my husband for simply wanting me to be healthy. I am angry at myself for not being as efficient as I would like at work, so I displace my anger onto a coworker for not being as stressed as I am.
Silly. I know this.
What's awesome about this particular chapter in this book is that it validates the anger, because as long as it's directed at the right person, it can be very therapeutic. The author makes mention that many times an abuse victim will be overweight as an outward sign of an inward struggle. We don't love ourselves on the inside. We feel unworthy and dirty, so oftentimes, as in my case, an abuse victim will pack on a few extra pounds as A) a barrier or a defense, and B) to reflect how we feel about ourselves on the inside.
After describing this tendency,* the author gives the reader an exercise to complete. (I haven't done it, but I will be this weekend hopefully) In this exercise you are supposed to sit in a quiet and calming place. The abuse victim is to then focus on all of the people that he/she is angry at... parents, siblings, friends, children, spouses, etc... while thinking about whether or not the anger is appropriately placed, which in most cases, it is not. Unless those people deliberately put you in harm's way, or were the abusers, there is no need for anger at them.
The next step to the exercise is to then visualize the anger and self loathing you have towards yourself....to visualize the yuckiness and unworthiness and guilt and shame that is built up inside you. You then visualize reaching down inside of you to gather all of the gunk out and then make a throwing motion towards your visualized abuser. While it sounds a bit silly, she says to actually pretend to throw it at your abuser so that your body feels you throwing it away.
In going over this exercise/visualization with my counselor, he recommended very strongly that I complete it soon. Even though I was just a little girl, I have carried a burden of guilt around with me my entire life since the abuse happened. I have blamed myself, even though I would never blame any other little girl or boy for what happened to them... but I have blamed myself...
As I was crying quietly in his office, my counselor asked me why I thought that HE thought this was an important exercise for me... and it clicked. I said, "...because this is not MY burden to bear. this is not my mistake. this is not my guilt. this is not my shame. this is not my sin. this abuse...it is not mine to carry... it is his, and i have been carrying it for him for 21 years... and I am tired."
I told him that I didn't want to carry it anymore, because I didn't want to feel like that anymore. I told him that I know I have a beauty and a brightness inside of me. THAT is what I want to carry around and identify with. Throughout the course of my life, you can see how I feel about myself through my eyes. There are times when my eyes are dark, and there are times when my eyes are bright. I want them to be bright more often than not.
At the very end of my session today, my counselor said he wanted me to keep what I said as my mission statement to "Be Beautiful and Be Bright" every day. Whether that means that I don't yell at my daughter, or that I put on make up, or that I wake up on time, or that I go to the gym, it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is to do something that shows light, and not darkness.
Be Beautiful. Be Bright.
*This tendency to pack on pounds is only one of the many struggles abuse victims find themselves in. They also can often develop bulimia, anorexia, self mutilation, alcohol or drug abuse, and many other self desctructive behaviors... all with the purpose of self medicating or as an indicator of self loathing.