A big part of my healing from child sexual abuse was about shifting my thinking about myself and how I viewed the world. It was extremely difficult because I had been brainwashed as a young child to believe that I was only allowed to act and think in a certain way. I am going to describe two cycles of behavior.
When my stress became too great for me to handle at the beginning of my therapy, often I would revert back and view the world as if I were still living at home. This is what I thought and felt.
“I have a lot to share and as long as I am nice about it, people won’t hurt or abandon me. When I do try and express myself and get put down or verbally attacked, I feel I can’t protect myself.” At that point, I would usually withdraw and my deep loneliness would be tapped into. Another part of me would get overprotective and start analyzing everything. My inner child would feel pain and anger. And then I would start punishing myself by eating too much and depriving myself of what was good for me, thus continuing the behavior I used when growing up.
After a lot of therapy, I began to understand that there was a different way to deal with my problems. This is an example of my new way of thinking. “I am a human being who, despite the horrible circumstances with my family, has not abused others, always want to learn and grow, likes to have a good time, has strong morals and integrity, and am not afraid of hard work, am empathetic to others, has suffered terribly and paid a heavy price. I have also exhibited the classic symptoms of someone who was tortured. I am going to focus very strongly on staying in the present, enjoying life, and changing the old, self-defeating patterns into new, nurturing ones.”
By shifting my thinking, it gave me strength and confidence to continue to evolve into the healthy person I am today.