Sunday, May 31, 2009

"It's not what we need to learn, but unlearn." Bill Crosby

When I was a kid, I learned to read people. I became really good at detecting other people's feelings and needs, especially those people who were hurting me. I thought if I could figure out what was going on inside them, I could somehow keep myself from getting hurt. I got so good at knowing when they were happy, what they wanted and even when they were about to blow. There was a problem though. I didn't always get it right. Sometimes I did, but sometimes it just made me crazy. I was constantly on edge, constantly afraid, constantly trying to decipher what was going on inside the other person.

I became whatever people needed. But in doing that, somewhere along the way, I lost myself. I never knew what I wanted, or liked, or needed. I had this weird detachment from myself, almost as if I was separate from me. The sensation of not being present in my skin was like hanging onto a thin thread that I felt could break at any moment.

When someone asked me something as simple as what color I liked, or what food I wanted to eat, I went into a panic. Every decision became life and death. I agnonized over the craziest things. Once I stood in the store for hours trying to decide if I liked one color over the other. A friend was with me and he tried to help me figure out which I liked. Finally, frustrated, I asked him to make the choice. I did that all the time and then beat myself up for being so stupid.

I had been taught to not trust myself. As a kid, I was never allowed to make any choices. - not about what I ate, what I wore, what I wanted or what I did. When my father was hungry or tired and I wasn't, he cursed me, calling me vile names, - telling me I was so stupid and didn't know what I needed. He knew better. If he asked me to pick out something in the store and I did, he put it back screaming it was dumb and he wouldn't spend his hard earned money on something so useless. Whatever I wore, he told me to change to what he wanted me to put on. Everything I learned told me -not to trust me.

Over and over and over he and my mother called me names - stupid, idiot, garbage, worthless, deserving nothing. I believed them.

When I began to heal from all the abuse, I realized I had learned so many things I needed to unlearn. Learning to trust myself was huge. I felt like I was in a war. Many times I fought with myself - throwing up, cutting and biting my arms - desperately wanting to make my own choices, but falling back into extreme panic - accepting the lies I had been taught - believing I was stupid and had no idea what I needed or wanted.

I needed to come home to my body. I needed to learn to live in my skin. It was terrifying. Somehow though, God helped me. He was my achor in healing. He gave me what I needed to fight. His presence, His gentleness gave me what I needed to come home to myself.


Terri Tiffany said...

Again I am sweetly surprised by your writing and how God saved you from a wreched life.

Debbie Thorkildsen said...

Next time you can't decide which colour to buy, you could treat yourself and buy both colours. Only problem then would be which one to wear first. Haha. Have fun with your choices. Only you can choose what you really like.

Anonymous said...

I understand what you're saying, while I did not have to deal with what you have, I had a mother who suffered from severe depression, and I had to be very well behaved, never stepped out of line.

While you can lose who you are, without personal like and dislike, you will have learned a gread deal of pure empathy.

And as you find yourself, this talent will remain with you.

Polar Bear said...

Yes, the effects of abuse is horrible. I know what it feels like not to be able to trust yourself and being always on edge, trying to detect any imminent danger.

I'm glad you found solace and comfort in God.

Naomijane said...

hey Sarah..u r a tough lady..i must say..but as like diamond has to face such a lot of transition from coal to diamond in life the more difficult circumstances better the chances of coming out as a winner..cheers to your spirit..