“It’s unbelievable how many ppl carry this around with them and then all of the sudden come out with – I was sexually abused as a kid. They go their whole life, carrying it around and never say anything”. This is what a Psychiatrist, on one of my cases, casually offered last week 😳
He was shaking his head, in disbelief. AND HE’S A PSYCHIATRIST!!!! I so wanted to launch into a freakin list of why this happens. Let’s STOP shaming victims for finally speaking up…can we just??? The grand Psychiatrist then added more, “Why do these people wait so long to say something”. Good God, I hope he kept that shit to himself and didn’t audibly speak those words to the poor soul who confided in him. Again, HE’S A PSYCHIATRIST. WTFFFFFF? Talk about sensitivity training.
No wonder why WE don’t tell ppl – too often the reaction is ignorance/blame, and -why did you wait so long? Leaving us feeling bad and wrong. Or we are met with minimizing of what is obviously monstrously huge – well, now, “THAT was a long time ago”, “The past is in the past now” (-my personal favorite). “Just move on sister”. Or ppl start sharing something unrelated about themselves – obviously squirmy, the reveal most likely touching on their well-hidden or not-yet-fully-realized tragic experience- also. Seamlessly easy to deny, of course. We’ve ALL crafted the art of “I’m fine” haven’t we?
Some would suggest that you find someone you can trust (to confide in) … well, as an abuse survivor I can tell you, that would be like going to feed the bears just after being discharged from the hospital after a bear attack. Fat chance my friends. Putting yourself in a vulnerable trusty spot when TRUST seems the very thing that fucked you over in the first place???? You trusted that your family loved you and would keep you safe. When trust is shattered over and over and over we begin to be weary of everything. And everyone. All of it dangerous. Yet the “fix-all” is to open up, feel into WHO and WHAT is safe and not safe, who has an open heart and will meet us (and our disclosure) with compassion and validation? A fantastically brilliant tactic, this blanket mistrust, but today it’s more of a burden – true story.
As adults, trusting someone with your “story” is very difficult. But continuing this younger version of mistrust is really limiting our human connection capacity. Connection that we ache for. To muster the courage to throw our tie lines onto the pier, in hopes of anchoring to something solid, safe… but there’s this bullshit terror as familiar as the skin covering our frame. As needed as our first training wheels, helping to keep us safe, steady, trusting that we could do this, unharmed. We could relax and enjoy the ride. If just for that ride.
Having to scan and read those who came towards us as children, both immediately and efficiently, it saved us from harm countless times. Not relaxing by any means. But nonetheless, training wheels. Crafted us into highly skilled empathic adults today. Highly skilled. To an empath, intention is clear as a blue sky. We perceive accurately. Always have. We feel deeply – which is why we were the target of the abuse – our light too bright, shining on their darkness.
But another, not so useful facet of this same GEM, we also learned NOT to trust our own perceptions. Second guessing our thoughts, feelings, pain, opinions, and decisions because want came at us was completely different than what was going on inside us. Completely different. So as empaths, we receive so much info about others, but it’s very diff to sort out. What’s real? What’s ours? What belongs to the other person? Where do I belong and they end? Are we being overly dramatic or dismissing important info? Very messy indeed. Confusing for a tiny child – a mind fuck.
So Just as this psychiatrist is telling about a client he has, this sharing is like a superbug, silently stifling any possibility we’ve considered in telling someone our secrets. We get the message loud n clear. What if I tell someone and they tell others? What if I tell the wrong person? What if I’m making a big deal out of nothing? What if they don’t believe me? Christ, look at the way this “professional” reacted, I don’t think I could handle the reaction of disbelief – On top of everything else. I might lose my mind, end my life. Too much shame, too raw, not safe.
So this brings me to …Be aware.. the way we respond when another human discloses a long held secret – has HUGE impact. If you are blessed enough to be privy to another human’s secret – be mindful of your reaction. They’ve chosen you for a reason. Especially if you’re working on excising the darkness/trauma that lives in you—-truth begets truth. It’s not accident they have chosen you to tell!
If nothing else, be present and attentive. Safety is key. They might sense in you, acceptance and non-judgement. Be honored that another human perceives you as a safe harbor in the storm. Be the safety, the warm blanket, the comfy couch, the buttered bread.
If we perceive there is more UNSAFE out there than SAFE – it ripples outward. Our outer world becomes smaller. We silently tuck this desire to share our secret into the “not safe to tell” or “keep it to yourself” file in our head. This happens time and time again. Every little piece of NAH, TOO RISKY filed neatly in the container of secrets.
Its easy to see why many folks “go to the grave” with family secrets.
Until we support others without judgement and provide a safe container for their secrets we can be assured that this ignorant perception will continue.