Fear of the unknown
Most people are afraid of things they don’t know. There are people who are afraid of flying, so they will never get on a plane. People who are afraid to learn new skills. People who are afraid of speaking in public.
Different anxieties, all because we don’t know what will happen.
Too many fears
Even though everyone knows fear to some extend, sexual abuse survivors face fears that are hard to understand by people who’ve never been abused. What is it like to be constantly on the alert. If you don’t know how to trust the people around you. Or how to love someone without having a panic attack. Never really being able to enjoy loving interaction. It’s very normal to have fears, but when it takes over your life it may be time to face up to them.
When you suffer from panic attacks, you’ve probably already found a way to deal with them. To silence them at least temporarily. By taking medicine for instance. Or by compulsive behavior. Eating too little or too much, or even hurting yourself. Those things work, but they only work for a little while. It doesn’t make the fear go away. In fact, when your fear comes back, it’s worse than before.
From there things spin out of control. You’ll need more and more of what seems to work for you, while your fear continuous to grow. You start being afraid of your fear. You’re well on your way to developing a phobia. In the end you will avoid anything that may make you feel afraid.
Fear is like a bruise
Your fear is like a bruise. It just sits there and you can live with it. But every time you touch it, it hurts.
In the same way, your trauma is like you hurt on the inside. Whenever something reminds you of the sexual abuse, you feel the hurt again. And again and again…
Something happens and you’re immediately thrown in a dark place. It’s called a trigger. You will react like you’ve always done before. You suppress the pain by taking pills, hurting yourself, eating that one too many chocolate bar. The fear increases and in the end you are constantly busy trying to shy away from your pain.
Dealing with pain
There is another way of dealing with the pain. Although the pain is still the same, you can consciously visit your pain. (Preferably with the help of a good therapist who knows a thing or two about childhood sexual abuse)
It’s a tough job to undertake and it takes courage.
Was I scared the first time I went to my old pain?
Heck no, I was absolutely terrified!
The closer I got to the source of my pain the more cramped up I became.
My therapist noticed and told me:” You’re doing an excellent job of holding on to your tensions. But it’s OK to let it go now.”
I relaxed my muscles a bit and my whole body shook.
Then I cried. I cried. I cried. I cried. Like I could never stop.
Very, very slowly I noticed it felt like waves. Everytime the wave crashed into the shore and returned to the sea it took a little bit of my pain away with it.
Healing one little wave at a time
Piece by piece my bruises healed. It’s so much easier to deal with triggers now that I’m not scared anymore.
I slowly began to enjoy touch. Physically and emotionally. It feels so good to have contact- real contact- with other people.
Healing my pain came after I let go of my fear.
I welcome life with all its challenges.
I lovingly invite you to try it. All you have to lose is fear. All you have to gain is life.