This means to hold in high regard or esteem, admiration given by others
Boundaries are all wrapped up in respect, respect for self first and then for others. After enduring CSA [childhood sexual abuse] at an early age, obviously I felt was something ‘off but couldn’t quite put a finger on what “it” is. I didn’t have the language to describe what I was feeling and noticing in my own body and psyche. So much of that has been blocked and locked up in my memory that only now am I starting to venture into this cache of not so nice memories.

I do recall, as I walked around the family home, feeling disconnected, not belonging, therefore, feeling unwanted and invisible. There was no respect there. My body wasn’t respected as being off limits to my first abuser. All of his excuses today for why don’t matter. It makes me ill to think that he has the gall to rationalize his sexual assault. And it makes me ill to think that some sibs have drank his Kool aid.
My emotional well being wasn’t respected either. Another memory – another brother thought it was funny to nickname me after a dog. I had to live with this ‘joke’ for years no matter how much I protested. Did my parents intervene? I don’t recollect that happened – if it did, obviously that wasn’t followed through on and no accountability was given. Another example of gaslighting – when I’d protest I was asked by this brother, ”What’s your problem? I am just joking!” How much more humiliation and shame did I have to carry? How much emotional abuse is a little girl supposed to swallow?

So how do I learn how to respect myself when I am not taught what respect looks like? I was taught obedience – Do as I say or you’ll get…. Is that respect? It doesn’t feel like it is, it feels like fear AND coercion instead.

Learning to respect myself, grasping that I deserve respectful treatment, after witnessing what respect looks like was a big thing for me. At first, being treated with respect was upsetting and triggering. I didn’t know what respect looked like nor felt like. It was odd, strange, unreal. Sad, isn’t it? I felt like an imposter, a poser, someone who was not worthy of esteem, respect, admiration. And now, I smile, because now I KNOW what respect looks like and feels like. It’s a beautiful thing, it still feels like a gift, something new that I need to open my heart to and let sink in. I still need to consciously work at allowing the respect to marinate my being sometimes – it is so easy to sluff off and not let it land on me in the right way. Spending decades wearing armour where love and respect and admiration and devotion were seen as missiles of pain and confusion rather than heaps of support and strength was something that I had to unlearn and relearn

Yes respecting self takes time and it’s well worth the work to get here.

Lisa Hilton, CTRC-A, founder of Hilton Coaching & Consulting. I am a trauma coach; I educate, consult, and am a published author. I work with adult survivors of Childhood Trauma and those suffering from Complex PTSD so they can Transform their Travesty into Triumph, one step at a time.

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