Are you carrying a silent burden? A memory you wish to forget? I have a few. Some were acts of stupidity that resulted in personal embarrassment. Back in college there was this girl that I liked. She had a new stereo bought for her by her Dad and she asked me if I could help her hook it up. My roommate asked if I needed help and I said no because I was afraid she would like him better than me if he put the stereo together. Look at how my shallowness was imputed onto her. Anyway, I put it together and I spliced the speaker wires together in a way that eventually shorted out both speakers. It was a humiliating experience. And because I was broke all I could do was apologize and slink away in shame.
Once though, I almost died. Climbing a small mountain in Palo Duro Canyon I found myself on a ledge, looked down and froze. I panicked. I had no confidence in the next step. Somehow, I lifted my foot and slowly made my way back to safety. The distance I needed to travel was less than six feet but it felt like a mile. This happened almost 27 years ago and to this day I can break into a cold sweat just thinking about that moment.
These aren’t memories that I wish to deny, but they are memories that cause mental discomfort. I have no one to blame except myself because I put myself into these situations. It's all over now and I've managed to become more prudent yet I still carry the memories (especially the little mountain climb) as if they happened yesterday.
Today, I suffer no loss of pride or ego. Why is that? Somehow I'm able to ignore self-inflicted wounds yet others carry around the pain of trauma inflicted by others.
Trauma can burn a hole into your mind. The hole can be covered up with experiences to the point that it's not noticeable to others, but you know where it is. And you avoid that hole. You build your life around it. It's as if you build a house on top of unstable soil. Instead of building on a solid foundation, you pretend the hole does not exist and move ahead without dealing with the hole. And you know what you have done is defer your problem to the future or you let it affect your life in such a way that you possibly deny yourself pleasure or invite stress because you cannot look into the hole and determine how to fill it permanently.
But what if the hole in your mind was dug by someone else? What if they dug the hole when you were unable to stop them? Maybe they dug the hole and you didn't even know that a hole didn't belong there. Maybe you felt that having a hole in your mind was normal because someone you felt had your best interests at heart was doing the digging.
There is a sign next to this particular hole with one word on it: Abuse. The word on this sign tends to be overused but there are those who need other words to describe their pain because the words hole and abuse cannot begin to describe their trauma. The problem is that society tends to be unforgiving about mental issues because to the naked eye, there is no evidence of a true problem. The human mind is so complex yet we simpletons tend to believe it can be managed very easily. Just do it they say. Just think your way through the problem and its all better.
To me the problem is that the mind does not heal itself like the rest of our body. A cut heals itself. But a severe injury such as a broken bone requires the help of a doctor. We all know this to be true and would consider someone foolish if they did not seek medical attention. Yet when the mind is injured we make fun of people who seek the help of counselors or psychiatrists.
Why is that?
Maybe it’s because we all know we could use help. Yet competency and having your act together is seen as the most important thing in life at times and our ability to day in and day out function under stress is the expectation. It’s been so commoditized that we are tough on ourselves and on others. We struggle through the day with high blood pressure or possibly drinking problems and soldier on instead of calling a mental doctor and just having a chat. This third party can help because they can let you know that you are not alone in your irrational feelings of fear that occasionally creep into your mind.
But, what about that hole in your mind that someone else dug? Why is it a problem? Maybe it was dug long ago and the shovel has been put away. Do you pick up the shovel and keep digging? Why do you refuse to fill it up? Do you feel unworthy? Do you think you somehow are tainted? Do you feel you need to be forgiven? You don’t need to be forgiven because you have done nothing wrong. You were abused. You were taken advantage of. But you retain the right to be happy. The right to a good life. The right to dream and to achieve. But are you not allowing yourself what everyone else seems to take for themselves? They are no better than you.
Yes, it happened to you. Yes, it was terrible and that person deserves bad things for what they did to you. But, this isn’t a conversation about forgiving them because I don't have the right or the insight to tell you to forgive them. That is up to you. But, it is a conversation about healing yourself and looking into the mirror and saying “I’m a human being and whatever someone did to me long ago doesn’t matter.”
Maybe you carry this with you because your abuser made you feel as if you deserved it. You didn’t. You were a child. They were an adult. All children cry, scream, act selfish and make mistakes. You were no different than any other child, but your abuser was different than normal adults. They had an illness or an inferiority complex so profound that they could only make themselves feel better by abusing someone who was helpless. You were helpless. But, it wasn’t your fault and today you should stand up and say “I deserve happiness because I did nothing wrong.”
You have to demand this of yourself. The hole must be filled up with the knowledge of your helplessness in the face of the abuser and with the true belief in your worthiness as a human being to exist in a happy state as others appear to be. You can do this because there is no reason to not believe in yourself. If the one who should have loved you the most didn’t love you then accept this fact and understand that you are lovable. It was their sickness that infected your mind. THEIR SICKNESS; NOT YOURS.
Don’t expect rejection from others because of what happened to you. Not everyone is an abuser. But if you carry this with you then everyone will be an abuser in your mind and you will fulfill a destiny that you have created. Stop looking for the approval of others. They are not God. They are merely human beings just like you and even though they may appear to have their act together, they don’t. Everyone is flawed. So don’t let yourself be intimidated by people; especially because of what happened to you. That is not you. That is only what happened to you.
DON’T LET IT BECOME YOU. And don't make others believe your hole is normal. It's not their burden. Don't dig a hole in their mind. Ask them to help fill yours up.