Today I read another blog, http://mindsetforlife.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/buddism-and-guilt/, and realized this is the biggest difference in my own mindset right now. His description “When you carry around guilt in our minds is like hiking up a mountain and picking up every rock we stub our toe upon and throwing it in our backpack. That is unskillful. It is unnecessary suffering . . . ” was a wonderful way to think about it.
So many abuse survivors carry around this burden of guilt. I’m not even talking about shame here, though that is closely related. Guilt. Huge, heavy, out of control guilt. I never allowed myself to make a mistake and move on, instead (I thought) I had to pick up those rocks and carry it forever on my back. I caused my own suffering, years after my parents were done with me. Why? Why do we do this?
The book I recommended yesterday, Trauma and Recovery, actually explained much of this in chapter 5 on child abuse. It explained how young children create 2 selves. Not exactly a multiple personality, though it can go that far, but for me it was just an unnatural split. I was told and shown repeatedly that I worthless, less than human, and would never amount to anything. I was unloved. Since humans die without love, I made it my mission in life to gain love, by being perfect. By blaming the abuse on me, it actually gave me some control, because if it wasn’t my fault, wasn’t something I could correct in myself, then, well, my situation was hopeless, and humans can not live without hope.
So even though I knew I was worthless, I tried to be so very good, to prove my worth. The problem is, I did not accept this good girl as really being me, since it never helped. Nothing was ever good enough, so this straight A, super thin, perfect child that the outside world knew as me, did not know the hurting, lonely, frightened child inside that was burdened with unimaginable guilt for never being good enough. As I grew up, those 2 girls became even more distant, and the perfect child had higher standards every day, and kept adding not just stones, but boulders on my back. I kept that up, simply until I couldn’t. It was too much, too heavy, too painful.
So how do you get rid of the stones you have gathered? You say Oops, that’s OK, I’m only human. But first you have to believe you are human. You have to give yourself as much compassion as you hold for others. I’m not completely there. I hope one day to not even have that backpack. But for now, I accept that it still fills a bit, and occasionally I go down to the river and skip those stones, one by one, watching the ripples and feeling the strength return in my body and soul. With each stone, I say “Oops, I really f-ed that up, didn’t I? HAha!” I force myself to laugh at my mistakes, and own them, roll around in them. And then I look around, and see the universe is still there, the world is still turning, and my family still loves.
I am not only ALLOWED to F things up, but it is actually EXPECTED and a necessary part of life.
- Prayer – Heal My Pain Today (stephen777dotcom1.wordpress.com)
- Perfectly Imperfect (kwilkids.net)
- Love Me? You Gotta be Kidding! (worduncensored.wordpress.com)