I often hear survivors voice these worries:
Will I ever by normal? My life has been pretty good for years now. I exercise, eat right, take good care of myself, and yet sometimes I still get depressed and feel overcome by shame. All the externals are in place. It’s my internal life that often doesn’t’ feel good. I have my memories and have accepted what happened to me. I’ve had good therapy for the old wounds. But I still don’t feel great all the time.
I understand this worry. I’ve certainly felt all of the above at times. At this stage of my life, I have a really wonderful world and most of the time I feel good about myself, who I am and what I’ve contributed to the world. The best answer I can come up with is, “You’ll never NOT have been abused.”
You’ll never be the same as someone who grew up with loving, protective adults. No doubt you missed out on attaching securely to your parents. You won’t have learned to trust appropriately yoin your parents’ arms. You’ll have to teach yourself to choose good people and avoid predators. (See Guidelines For Healing in Confessions of a Trauma Therapist. There you’ll learn ways of making up for what you didn’t get as a child.) You can learn what you missed first time round, but you have to work at it.
Personally, I wouldn’t change my own history of childhood trauma. I’ve had to work harder than other people at making my life good. Looking back from my perspective of 74 years, I can honestly say I wouldn’t change a thing! My struggle to make my life good has led me to wonderful challenges and accomplishments.
Because I was disabled by fear I took up yoga. I threw myself into my practice because if I did yoga every day I could find an oasis of calm. I could count on an hour of inner peace. My desperate need for calm finally led me to becoming a yoga teacher. Being successful changed how I felt about myself.
When I gathered up my courage in my middle years to return to university and prepare myself for a career as a therapist, I was terrified. I’m so glad I stuck it out. The work I ended up excelling at – helping those wounded by childhood trauma – gave me a fascinating and worthwhile life path. I couldn’t imagine doing anything more fulfilling and fascinating.
It was my pain that motivated me to make my life worthwhile. If I could, would I change my past? I don’t think so. My life is much more interesting than most of the people I see around me whose early lives were safe and secure.