Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Protecting Ourselves From Hurt

From "Opening our Hearts, Transforming our Losses," Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., 2007, page 60:

"If we lived with violence in our homes, we may have learned that the best way to protect ourselves was by hiding or withdrawing. As adults, we may believe we have to hide certain parts of ourselves in order to be accepted or loved."

As a child, I definitely hide who I was. The biggest part of me that got hidden was the child. By the time I was 11 years old, I didn't behave like a child. My children taught me what it meant to be a child---playing games, throwing temper tantrums, laughing out loud for the shear delight of laughing, crying when they were hurt, hating mom when they didn't get their way and saying "I hate you." I wasn't allowed to do any of those things when I was a child. I probably had toys but I don't remember playing with them if I did. By the time I was 11, possibly before that, I had the responsibilities of an adult in my family. Even today, I can do super-responsible really good.

Part of my forgiveness work has been to feel the sadness and loss for the childhood that I wasn't allowed to have. As an adult, I have had to learn how to play. I have learned to not feel ashamed and guilty when I play.

I wasn't allowed to say "No" when I was a child. That is one of the reasons that the incest happened. I didn't know that I had the right to say no when an adult abused me. I find that those feelings from my childhood are still playing a part in my life when I am not being focused.

Recently I allowed pressure from my husband to cause me to say yes to a job opportunity that I wasn't interested in, did not seek out, and didn't want. For two weeks, my blood pressure would not stay in the normal range as I struggled with my feelings about this job that I had said yes to. The job was offered by a friend who cares about us. That made more pressure that I put on myself. I am not saying that my friend or my husband either one put this pressure on me. I did it all by myself by not following my own gut feelings and saying no. A few days ago, I talked with my husband and then emailed our friend that I was changing my mind about the job. (I emailed because I am better with the written word than the spoken word in expressing my real thoughts.) For days before I finally figured out all of my feelings, I was getting messages from my guides about happiness in the work place.

As a child, I was forced to hide my feelings. I even went so far as to hide them from myself. In Al-Anon and Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings, I learned to feel. Even today, I sometimes take awhile to figure out exactly what it is that I am feeling. I have learned that when I am feeling angry, I have to look beneath the anger to see what I am afraid of. Being angry is safer than being afraid for me, maybe for most people.

As a child, I hide my body behind dull, neutral colors of clothing. As I have often said, I worked at fading into the background, not wanting to call attention to myself. I didn't want to call attention to myself because the incest made me ashamed of you knowing the real, unclean me that I hid. I didn't want your attention because it might be sexual which I didn't know how to handle. The paradox is that I craved your attention and love. I felt so unloved, so unclean and I was afraid you would see that uncleanness. I was afraid that you would think I was a tramp. I was afraid of your judgments because I was making those same judgments against myself. I was afraid that you would mirror those same thoughts back to me.

I wanted to be a boy because, I thought boys didn't get sexually abused. I know different now but as a child I didn't. As a child, I was a tomboy, wanting to hide the female in me. I played outside; I climbed trees; I ran everywhere; I wrestled; I played baseball and volleyball all in an attempt to separate myself from the incest and my feelings of rage and hurt. I believed if I wasn't a girl, I wouldn't be hurt. In recovery, I finally made my peace with being a female and have worked on balancing my male and female parts. Today, I love being a woman. I also enjoy my male half.

As the above quote says I have worked on accepting and loving all of my parts and bringing them out of the shadows to make myself whole again. The accepting had to begin with me, inside myself, saying, "I love You." That are no bad parts of me. They have all served me in some way to make me into who I am today---a person that I am very proud of. I love the strong, caring woman that I am today.

Related Articles:
Biography---Part 1 ---

Being Honest With Myself ---

Keeper Of My Creativity ---

Labeling Myself vs. Experiencing What Is. ---

Incest May Be A Part Of My Life Series---Introduction ---


Lautrec said...


Your story has inspired me to be bolder in my own writing. I am amazed at your courage to speak the truth about what you have been through.

Congratulations on your forgiveness of yourself and on coming out of hiding. Thank you and bless you.

Patricia Singleton said...

Lautrec, I am glad that I inspired you to be bolder in your writing. Your comment has made my day. Thank you. You can be just as courageous in your own life. Doesn't it feel good to bless someone else? The words "Bless you" aren't just for when someone sneezes. I need to use those words more. Bless you, Lautrec. Have a glorious day.

Patricia Singleton said...

Lautrec, I just read a few of your blog articles. I enjoy your style of writing very much. Learning to not judge others is rewarding work. We also need to not judge ourselves so harshly. Self-forgiveness is just as important as forgiveness of others, maybe more so. Louise Hay's book "You Can Heal Your Life" is a great book to help with your spiritual journey. A dear friend introduced me to the book a few years ago.