Thursday, September 13, 2012

Loving Yourself Means Letting Go Of Negative Labels

Many of us were labeled as children. Family systems have a label for every member. Labels like Family Hero, Scapegoat, Peacemaker, Black Sheep. Some of those labels can be good and some of them not. Either way, you don't have to continue being that label unless you want to.

I was the Family Hero. The recognition that goes with being the family hero felt good but the pressure to be perfect and to take care of everyone to the exclusion of myself did not. Sometimes people still look to me to fix things. Sometimes I can but sometimes I can't. When I can't, that doesn't make me irresponsible or bad, like it felt when I was a child and even young adult. I have worked to let go of the perfectionism and its resulting pressure to be someone that I am not.

Many survivors are made into the Family Scapegoat and the dysfunctional family will do its best to keep that person stuck there because then they can blame everything that goes wrong with the family on that person. This is especially true if that survivor suddenly starts to tell the family secrets such as incest. Many survivors and their stories are discounted because, according to the family, that person has always been sick, or a liar,  just no good, or some other negative label to takes the focus away from the family system and its dysfunction.

As a survivor, you can make the decision for yourself to not be labeled any more. You can stop believing the family &/or the abusers who want you to stay labeled. Stop believing that you are a Scapegoat, Black Sheep, or even Family Hero. You are what you believe about yourself.

Part of learning to love yourself is to let go of all of the negative beliefs - your family's and your own. You can become who you want to be. You have survived the worst that life has to give. That makes you strong. Start out by forgiving yourself for believing the lies. Look at who you are without the labels. If you don't know who you are, explore. Find out what you like and don't like. Sit with your feelings and learn to recognise them without the drama that dysfunctional families often create. Life is a journey. Decide what direction you want to go in rather than the direction that your family is wanting you to go in. Realize that you can make decisions for yourself. You have the right to make choices on your own rather than being controlled by someone else's behavior.  You are a suvivor so act like one.

It is okay to be timid and shy and even unsure of yourself. Making choices and guiding your own life may be new to you. You are allowed to make mistakes and detours along the way. Mistakes are just lessons waiting to be learned. Mistakes don't make you a bad person. They show you what is important and what is not. Mistakes challenge you to look at life and yourself in a new way which is growth.

Being you shouldn't hurt. Most of the survivors that I have been blessed to meet are strong, caring, kind people because they know what it is like to be controlled and hurt by someone else. You can't wish away the hurt but you can become a better you because of it. Use your strength to grow healthier, to help other survivors, to be a better person than those people who want to hold you down. Move forward even it is is just one step at a time. Reach out when you are hurting. There are plenty of other survivors who care and will be there for you if you let them. No one has to deal with child sexual abuse alone. Sending love and blessings to each of you who read this today. Be a friend to yourself first. Love yourself. When you change yourself, you change the world.


Anonymous said...

I am new to your blog and so glad I came across it, following you now to. I am the scapegoat for everything which is wrong in my family. At the moment I am being told I am mentally fragile and require help because I have stood up against abuse and the rest of the family in particular one sibling would rather see me as a problem than deal with the abuser. It is a lonely place to be and I am trying to heal from all forms of abuse myself but some days are hard to keep hope. Today is one of those days where I feel no one understands or can help me but then I found your blog and I know I am not alone. Thank you.

Patricia Singleton said...

Behind the Smile, you are very welcome. Welcome to Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker. I am glad that my blog and words can offer you hope when you seem to need it. My sister was the scapegoat in my family. I saw the damage that was done to her by my parents. Letting go of the labels allows us to see ourselves in a different light whether others do or not.

DevonTexas said...

I've been seeking a place to be open about my issues dating back almost 50 years. Went through counselling in 1999-2002 and resolved much of it but a big flareup in the family has me on the outs with them again. I am "shunned" by them but I find some peace in that. I don't have to deal with their insanity and how it disrupts my serenity. But again, I am alone in my suffering. It's paradoxical. I want to write about my feelings. That helps me get past it and beyond the dark clouds.

Patricia Singleton said...

DevonTexas, welcome to my blog. Thank you for your comment here and on Twitter. Feel free to leave comments any time.

Have you done any journal writing? Over the years before I started blogging, I periodically wrote in a number of journals, more when I was actually doing the work of healing than I do now. I have had my blog for 5 years now so most of my words go into it instead of a journal.

I have also been blessed with a number of close friends who have been willing to listen to my rational and sometimes not so rational words as I work through issues.

Writing always makes me feel better or at least helps me to understand myself better. Seeing my words on paper gives me a different view than just hearing the words in my head. Writing can be very healing when we can be honest with ourselves. Honesty is the only thing that works for me. Otherwise, it is too easy to hide from my pain rather than addressing it.

DevonTexas said...

Thanks for the suggestions. I do have a place to go, I went there after this and got much of it off my chest for the time being. I have a blog but it's not the place I want to share this sort of thing. I'm sure you understand why.

Patricia Singleton said...

DevonTexas, you are very welcome. Glad you have a place that you can go to share your pain and your victories. Makes healing easier. I went to 12-Step meetings for almost 10 years and talked about incest and how my dad's alcoholism affected me. Those groups were such a blessing to me at a time when I really needed to be heard and valued. They loved me before I loved myself.

Sophie Lhoste said...

I think you are correct on every count. Thank you for your compassion, clarity and on-going support Patricia! <3

Patricia Singleton said...

Sophie, you are very welcome. I appreciate you words and your support too.