Wonder and astonishment are the best words to describe what I am discovering about myself. I always felt different from the rest of the world. My intellect told me it was because I suffered an incestuous experience that isolated me from others. However, knowing the cause of an ailment does not make it better. Instead, I suffered more with the knowledge that I couldn’t get out from under my own self-loathing. As many survivors will tell you, we learn to fake wholeness in order to keep up the façade of normalcy. It is painful enough to hate yourself and it would be more painful to have others know those reasons because they would hate you, too. I know that thinking makes no sense unless you’ve learned to protect yourself through self-loathing; then you too would understand how real it feels – so real that others would admonish you if they knew. But, something is shifting and I no longer feel like that girl who is hiding her sense of inadequacy.
I am immersed in a book that so concisely describes my emotional pain that it blows me away. It’s truly extraordinary! How uplifting it is to read another person’s description of my life. If a book was written that matches my struggle there must be others out there who are buying and reading the same book. You have no idea how liberating this revelation is.
Sounds simple; pretty basic, really. Didn’t I say I always knew what my problem was? And don’t I know that 7 out of 10 women are sexually abused? So what is so special about this book and this moment in my life?
It is as if the stars have lined up perfectly and I am feeling what I’ve intellectually known all along. A new sense of freedom like no other. The emotional work I’m doing is paying off. Practicing mindfulness is putting me in touch with my negative thoughts and emotions in a way that’s allowing me to be aware of the hurt and pain, acknowledge it and then release it. My shame is diminishing and I am feeling stronger.
“As the light increases, we see ourselves to be worse than we thought. We are amazed at our former blindness as we see issuing forth from the depths of our heart a whole swarm of shameful feelings, like filthy reptiles crawling from a hidden cave. We never could have believed that we had harbored such things, and we stand aghast as we watch them gradually appear. But while our faults diminish, the light by which we see them waxes brighter, and we are filled with horror. Bear in mind, for your comfort, that we only perceive our malady when the cure begins.” Francois Fenelon (1651)