Photo by Clément Philippe on Unsplash
The confrontations life deals us begin at an early age; often rendering it virtually inevitable to escape difficult, cruel, or sometimes even abusive situations. What may begin as child play could quickly shift into a skirmish, escalating into a shouting match or worse, a physical confrontation. As parents we can’t always protect our children from these kinds of mishaps but that may not necessarily be an unhealthy thing.
Life is frequently unfair and learning to navigate these inopportune moments helps build character in several ways. By standing up for ourselves or others, it teaches us about fairness as well as empathy and compassion. Being aware of abhorrent behavior also sets an example for us how not to interact in future conditions.
At times, however, circumstances go too far and become traumatic events which generate lasting emotional wounds and scars. These events are not always intentional, but the damage left behind can influence a young life for decades ahead. Are there incidents of trauma or injury from our past which can never be healed? Is it possible there are some abuses that are destined to haunt us for the rest of our lives?
Every abusive situation is an awful occurrence. It doesn’t need to be an unspeakably horrific deed to cause emotional damage. A common denominator with nearly all these circumstances is they leave behind a heavy dose of shame. It is extremely common –especially with children – for abusive situations to include demands or threats forcing victims to remain silent. It is also true that we easily accept false notions we did something to deserve the irrational or harsh treatments. Thoughts of embarrassment, confusion, or turmoil all lead to overwhelming feelings of shame.
There is no amount of abuse one has to endure before emotional damage begins. There is no length of time which must pass before the emotional scar begins to weigh heavily upon the soul. You should never believe because others suffered more than you, it does not qualify you for any less need for help.
Some of the worst consequences left behind in abusive situations are the haunting recollections of those events. Continually, they play over in our mind’s eye and we relentlessly ask ourselves unanswerable questions. Why me? What did I do to deserve it? Or perhaps we become angry for not defending ourselves, succumbing to the manipulation, or a number of other “should-haves” which only add to the confusion, frustration, and ultimately, shame.
What we may not be aware of is these recollections can subsequently add to the emotional injury or rip at the mental scabs making any semblance of healing much more difficult or possibly out of reach. This is precisely why we must do everything in our power to initiate our own journey of emotional healing.
It’s not enough to simply attempt to dismiss those painful memories every time they venture into our thoughts. If our remedy is to replace them with something less distressful, the underlying hurt lingers. The confusion, agony, and shame remain and obstruct the healing process. Time does not heal these wounds; it only causes them to feel less significant.
Having these memories run through our head is a common occurrence. However, most of the time they linger in our thoughts, it is likely to our detriment. Even if we are successful at drowning them out with positive thoughts, they still remain. Sometimes we focus on work or a hobby and although that effort helps us become better at whatever is the recipient of our focus, the healing is more superficial rather than getting to the heart of the matter.
Unfortunately, some try to silence haunting memories with excessive amounts of food or worse, alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. These are temporary at best, but also have the propensity to lead to additional destructive outcomes. If we do not concentrate our efforts towards healing, some aspect of that damage will endure and remain a source of future torment.
Unfortunately, some try to silence haunting memories with food or worse, alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. These are temporary at best, but also have the propensity to lead to additional destructive outcomes. If we do not concentrate our efforts towards healing, some aspect of that damage will endure and remain a source of future torment.
The most damaging action we do to ourselves is allow those vile incidents to shackle us and possibly define us. If we succumb to the notion we are unworthy because of those incidents, or justify behaviors such as alcoholism or drug abuse because of our past, we have essentially abused ourselves for the second time from those past troubles.
Anyone abusing others is thoughtless and despicable, and it’s not fair most of them never get their just desserts. I will never forget an incident from my life when someone wrongly tried to manipulate me by making me feel shameful for what I did. At one point, I became so angry I wished he could have come back from the dead so I could have punched him in the mouth.
Believe it or not, the anger was part of my healing. I did not stay angry. I no longer feel this way. I did not allow his poor judgement to be an excuse not to succeed or to lose confidence in myself. In fact, I now get my revenge on him every time I use this story to help others heal, which has happened countless times!
If you want to retaliate against past abuse, make it a springboard to success and become a better individual because of it. Use it as inspiration to be more empathetic, compassionate, and caring toward those around you. Let it be the spark igniting your fire and the more revenge you seek in this way, the better this world becomes.
It is vital we seek ways to heal. Otherwise, we may be stuck in a perpetual cycle of victimization and some of that victimizing will ultimately and unknowingly, be self-inflicted.
If you have sought ways to heal but have been frustrated, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. If you want to know more about how to forge ahead from your past traumas, I am here to help. My goal is to guide others on their journeys of emotional healing. Send me a direct message or email me at email@example.com.
My thanks to Clément Philippe on Unsplash for the wonderful picture and I look forward to your comments.