Healing Childhood Trauma
For me, one of the steps in healing childhood trauma and abuse is understanding what truth means. One of the many things I have learned from my therapist is that our truth is fluid. We can and do change our truth.
The fluidity of truth depends on new experiences, which makes sense to me. As we learn further information, we can change our truth. The fluidity of our truth was so groundbreaking for me, perhaps because I wasn’t allowed to have new truths growing up in an abusive environment.
Mm. Now that rings true to me. If I had a new truth one day, it could conflict with my abuser’s truth for me. As the scapegoat, it was my role to carry the guilt and shame of the dysfunctional family unit.
Not only is truth fluid, I think people have two types of truths. One is what I call the sunshine truth. Sunshine truth is the one that people present to the outside world. It is the one we feel comfortable with. It is who we think we are. An example of this for me is that I am an introvert. I can sit for hours reading.
The other truth is the hard truth. Hard truths are the ones we know about ourselves but don’t like. There could be several reasons we don’t like the hard truth. Maybe we are embarrassed, feel shame, or feel guilt around that truth. For example, I am an adult survivor of childhood abuse and trauma.
I think we are all like this, have these two truths. Not everyone is all sunshine and rainbows all the time. On the other side, not every person I encounter needs to know the hard truth side of me.
Although as I write this, I think that perhaps that is not entirely true. Much of my writing stems from spending a lot of time in my hard truth space.
The Danger of the Two Truths
For most people, having these two truths is okay. It isn’t a bad thing at all. However, there are people that this can be dangerous. I am thinking of people with narcissistic personality disorders, like my parents.
My parents’ two truths were so opposite that they were harmful to themselves and those around them. And they could hide their hard truth from others by going whole sunshine truth in public. Yet, the horrors of abuse behind closed doors contradicted how they were in public.
It was very confusing to see that switch flip between raging abusive anger at home to the doting parents, pillars of the community parents in public. And it made it impossible for me to get help. Or to escape.
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Hard Truth Does Not Equal Acceptance
Learning a hard truth does not equal acceptance of that truth. Not all hard truths are ones that we can change. I can’t change that I was abused and traumatized as a child. I can’t change anything that I have done in the past.
I can be verbally abusive (I learned from the best, after all). That is a hard truth that I learned recently. I have two choices. I can ignore that hard truth because, ugh, who wants to admit that? Or I can look at that behavior and say to myself, “No, I am not going to do that. How do I change that?”
I now know I am doing something I don’t like. The power that knowledge provides me is epic. I can change that behavior. I can change how I show up for myself and others.
I Learned Abuse
Children learn and emulate what they see every day. They incorporate that into their very being and carry it into the world. I saw abuse every day, all day.
I learned how to be abusive.
I watched the manipulation. I saw how words twisted and warped the human mind. I had front-row seats to a raging war of abuse. That was who I was supposed to become because that is what I saw.
Healing Not Me Childhood Trauma
I remember watching the fights between my parents—the screaming, the violence, the chaos, all happening around me. And you know what I recall thinking? There has to be a better way. So I became the “not me” child.
It was the way I reminded myself that it didn’t have to be me when I had a chance and a choice to do things differently. So when I would see their war raging, I would tell myself, “not me.” It was a way to separate myself from what was happening. And to encourage me to continue finding another way even amid the darkness.
I find myself bringing “not me” into my present day because I can be abusive. I have behaviors I am not even aware of that are buried deep within my brain. And I must remember, “not me” because I have a choice.
Choose Healing Childhood Trauma
For me, healing from childhood abuse and trauma means the opportunity to learn, do better, and be better than what I learned. Unfortunately, my parents taught me how to be abusive. They did not teach me how to be a functional human being.
I have been trying to figure that out throughout my life.
And that means seeing myself, hard truths and all, and learning from them. True growth occurs when I look deep within myself and face the hard truth of being an abuser. Facing that hard truth is difficult and highly uncomfortable for me. And equally difficult is choosing a different path.
Choosing a different path is learning another way.
Learning new ways of being is fraught with missteps. I do not always get it right. But I am choosing to try.
What do you choose?