As sexual abuse survivors, we have had to create safety for ourselves. We experienced the unthinkable and now feeling vulnerable and/or out of control can be frightening and uncomfortable. For me, there were a number of layers I wrapped myself up to feel safe and secure.
One layer of insulation was being an achiever. I could control how much effort I put forth and I defined myself by the degrees, accomplishments and even roles that I played. All of this was a way to define myself and be seen without exposing the sensitive or vulnerable parts of me. The following is an excerpt from my book that illustrates how that did NOT work for me.
“During that time, I realized my brokenness caused me to put my guard up so that I wouldn’t be hurt in every aspect of my life. At work, I tried to be polished, strong, and competent. The feedback coworkers gave me around my performance was “professional.” That comment stuck with me. Who wants “professional” on their tombstone? I would want to hear things like “kind,” “fun,” and “insightful,” but I got a very sterile description. This was the wall I put up to be safe and not criticized. Sadly, when I was my genuine self, I felt naked, vulnerable, and at risk.”
How do we become all we are meant to be if we stay in that very safe but confining comfort zone? How do we heal and grow? I have learned that to move from Surviving to Thriving, we have to be willing to do our healing work and stretch ourselves. We first have to see that the walls we construct to protect ourselves are the very walls that confine us. We have to recognize that all these layers we have built are keeping us from the growth, the relationships and the life that we want.
Last month, Blanche talked about how she overcame the wall of secrecy and silence developed over generations to be able to break the pattern to be present to her daughter. Blanche shared, “if the deeper struggles aren’t addressed, brought to light, and healed, each survivor will pass on the proclivity for poor choices and destructive relationships to the next generation.” Blanche had to move out of her comfort zone and seek to grow beyond the patterns her mother and grandmother established to be able to move into the kind of person and kind of mom she wanted to be. Her daughter has now found her voice and refuses to be shamed or silenced.
When you read this courageous example, does it inspire you to begin thinking about what safety walls you have created around yourself that may be holding you back from the life you want and the person you want to be? Have you wrapped yourself up in layers that are now confining? In our September 15th blog we will help you explore your sense of the value of stretching out of your comfort zone and unwrapping those layers. There will also be ideas about what small steps may look like.
I leave you with this quote from the upcoming book, Awakening the Light:
“With each raised voice and each healed heart, we begin to change the culture that silences innocent victims. We stop the shame, secrecy, and silence and promote hope, healing and health.”
At Survivors to Thrivers, we are committed to encouraging and supporting you as you seek to embrace your healing and growth. We would love to hear steps you have taken to move outside your comfort zone. Please know we are here to cheer you on– every step of the way!