Breaking Free! You know that brand new skin that shows up after the scab comes off? The skin that is tender still, is pink, and hasn’t been exposed to light and life?
Well, this is how I feel right now. I feel fresh, yet tender. During these last couple of months, I have been shedding some “scabs”; I’ve been processing and detoxing from limiting beliefs and feelings that have held me captive for most of my existence.
Last week was the most remarkable. I finally could allow the love and concern of a certain friend to seep in and soak into my heart. This heart of mine has been yearning for acceptance, respect, and support for so long. It’s learning to trust. In the past when this “offering” was presented, I could not see it; I could not trust it; I could not believe it was true. So, the awkwardness of the wounded parts took over.
Sometimes they dismissed the words, ignored them or responded with cheekiness or sarcasm – all because we (they and I) didn’t know what love and respect looked and felt like. Even today, being treated nicely can disarm me. When this happens, sometimes I shed tears, not understanding why being shown kindness feels scary. Being shown love, care, and respect is supposed to be a good thing, right? Clearly, parts of me have been deeply wounded and haven’t trusted love and acceptance.
I never felt I belonged…… anywhere. It’s awful, sheer agony, growing up in a large family and not feeling that I belong. Even in my marriage, even as a mother…. Doubt and insecurities were all I know. Growing up I was reminded when I made mistakes, I felt the sting of the punishment on the backs of my legs for days; I felt the shame of never being good enough, the shame of being a girl who had no idea how to navigate a world that was scary, unsafe, while learning how to judge and criticize, and about emotional constipation.
Somehow this was my fault and the heaviness of shame, and all its choking power consumed my life. It was with me wherever I went. It showed up in sleep overs, in girlfriend secret-sharing, every time I looked in the mirror, and even in the kindness of others – I just didn’t know how to behave and receive goodness with grace. I was told to not think too much of myself, to not let a compliment make me have a swelled head. I pictured myself walking around with an enlarged head, sticking out like a sore thumb, being a target for further ridicule and shaming speech—feeling even more awkward and targeted.
I learned to hold myself back, to keep myself small. I learned to doubt my thoughts and dreams. I doubted me to the core. There is no way the nice things people said about me could be true. They don’t know the real me!
Really, how sad is that – that a little girl had to learn how to armor up and lie to herself about her worth because her world was so unsafe!
This past week, this wounded part of me was able to come up to the surface with kindness and gentleness, revealing its scabs. It was ready and able to sluff off the old and crusty. The pink and tender parts of me are now here. While scary and unsure, this gives me hope and energy and underscores a deeply hidden belief that I am worthy. I could say last evening to my husband that for the first time I felt like I belonged “here”. Previously I felt I belonged to me, as reclaiming myself is another layer to trauma recovery. Yesterday this is different – a new, more unshakable feeling.
I am still in uncharted waters as I write this, but it feels good enough (safe enough) and I’m willing to be courageous enough to move forward. To have hope regarding my trauma recovery is a blessing. My faith has something to do with this, for sure. Yet this new feeling is more than that.
Being able to taste the freedom that comes with losing the shackles that collude with child abuse and emotional neglect is amazing! As each layer of lies is shed the more authentic I become. This is liberating. I can see now that I am respected and it feels good to be here in this place, finally. Soon I will be a published author. I can’t wait!
As I heal, I have the courage to establish and maintain healthy boundaries and no longer have the capacity to hold space for those who disrespect me. To me, disrespect manifests as name calling, character mislabeling, a refusal to listen to what I have to say, as judgement, as close mindedness, as willful ignorance, and an unwillingness to prove you are safe and trustworthy.
Inner peace and safety are more important to me than ever before.
Lisa Hilton is an Advanced Certified Trauma Recovery Coach, supporting adult survivors of childhood trauma transform their travesty into triumph. Feel free to contact her when you’re ready to take the next step in your own childhood trauma recovery.