Friday, April 22, 2011

When the Little Boy Stands Up and Becomes A Man

Every session with my therapist is another opportunity for a breakthrough in self-awareness. It is not my past that needs to be explored, but how I react to others in abusive situations, and how I let myself be put in these situations in the first place. There is actually a good rationale for this because going back into my past could trigger stressors that may send me into mania or into a deep depression.

In an earlier post I made the observation that abused children internalize what they went through and seek out abusive people because that’s what they know and their self-esteem has been ripped away from them. The point is to not act out like a hurt child when you feel you have been wronged, or simply swallow your emotions when someone has put you down.

On the other hand, lashing out in anger is not healthy either, as I have made perfectly clear in more posts than I think people need to read at this juncture. This is when the little boy in me has to stand up and become a man. Instead of swallowing back my pain from being hurt or abused, or worse, lashing out in a blind rage, causing more damage than good, the healthy choice is to simply not allow the abuser power over your emotions and simply walk away or gently make them aware that their behavior is unacceptable. It all depends on what you want out of the relationship.

For a healthy person, all this makes perfect sense. But for a victim of child abuse, it is actually a long, hard lesson to be learned and requires lots of practice. My relationship with my father’s abusive wife is a perfect example. She cannot hurt me anymore unless I allow her. But I have already made the choice I would not go down there again after what she did to my daughter.

So, here it is, folks! The grand epiphany! Life is about choices. You choose who you want to be and who you want to surround yourself with. You choose to allow people to walk all over you if you want. You choose to stand up to those who would put you down. Or you simply choose to walk away from abusive situations, just as you choose to react in anger because of what you felt as a young boy.

My therapist gave me a worksheet to fill out whenever I get angry or have these moments of “darkness.” What we are trying to do is establish a pattern, and with that, we can find effective ways of dealing with my anger. I will need to build an Excel spreadsheet because I get angry a lot, and the sheet he gave me is not nearly long enough, and this is going to take some time.

I see progress in my future.

Love to you all!

James M. Weil

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