Am I a machine?
Maybe one that's in need of a major overhaul.
That's not really a good way to look at the way that I treat myself. Because I'm a lot more complex than any machine ever made.
In the years following the sexual abuse, I continued under, certain circumstances especially, to treat myself as if I were able to just shrug things off.
Sort of like I had no feelings. Like the way the abuser treated me. Like an object or a machine, to be turned on and off at it's owners pleasure.
I developed a hard veneer that I used to cover up all the hurt, confusion and sadness I felt inside.
I guess that would be like the box surrounding the inner workings of my computer--the shape and construction have almost nothing in common with what is inside.
It's easy for me to want a quick fix for problems related to sexual abuse. It has been very helpful to me to read over and over again that issues related to child sexual abuse are best referred to professionals with training specific to the area.
If I were having car troubles, I sure wouldn't try to remove the transmission and scope it out--especially while cruising at 70 mph down the highway. That could get a little dicey--and me, sitting at home alone trying to diagnose and treat something as major as CSA is pretty dicey too.
OK, OK, I know that some of us have a fair amount of experience with psychology and therapy and car repairs and stuff like that, but
Do you know of any doctors that remove their own appendix while going out to down to dinner?
I guess my point is that I actually can treat myself worse than I treat my machines. I expect some sort of super invincibility from my self that is totally unreasonable.
I wanna think that if I can just ignore the problem, it will go away. Yeah like that loud thumping coming from under the hood of my car.
I ignored it and the noise went away...when my engine blew up and quit running.
Seriously, there's not doubt in my mind that the SA had a dehumanizing effect on me.
I expected that I should be able to recover from the trauma of being raped by just ignoring it, for example.
Human beings, as a rule, can't do that. Maybe I figured that if I could then I wasn't human.
I like the concept presented in the Male Survivors; 12 Step Recovery Book. The guy outlines 6 Life Areas in which we are most affected by the sexual abuse. Then he suggests assembling a team of resources to work on each area.
That gives me an idea of how most knowledgeable people view the complexity and difficulty of treating this trauma.
I guess I would have to say that for me to treat myself as a machine was probably a step up from the way I didn't get any help for so long.
But now, like you, I begin to see the need to think of myself and act towards myself in a gentle, kind, loving way.
One exercise I use is to keep a picture of my beautiful two and a half year old niece, Caroline, with me in my wallet.
When I know I'm going to be in stress, I take her picture out and imagine how I would be with her if she were hurt or in distress.
I imagine how I would feel sorry for her upset and sadness, how I would hold her and comfort her I would reassure her that everything was all right.
With her, I would do these things first and then do the worry about exactly what happened, when, why, where etc. much, much later.
That's not the way I am with my hurt. First I have a tendency to look at how I can blame myself or someone else. Then I get angry and yell.
I know that wouldn't help Caroline feel any better. I know that it doesn't really comfort me either.
So instead I try to take the attitude I would want Caroline to experience and then turn that same love, gentleness and soothing towards myself.
It has worked for me before, especially with my fear of flying.
Thanks for the reminder that how I see myself and how I treat myself is a big factor in how the world and I interact.
I needed to be reminded how wonderfully complex a creature I and you are. I believe God is who created me and he's going to have a big part to play in fixing what ails me.