I am 23 years old and have spent nearly two years trying to deal with memories of sexual abuse by my father. I even broke up with a great guy to avoid having a sexual partner. Mostly, I need to relinquish my status as a victim to live the life I want. I’m talented, but when I have success or attention for my work, I retreat and sabotage what I’ve gained. I’ve been to numerous therapists and the Berkeley Psychic Institute, but it was not helpful and not worth the money.
I don’t want my victim mentality to be a part of my conversations, yet I always end up including it. I didn’t realize it was so much of my identity until I tried to change. I’m on the right track now, but I see so many people lost in self-help and constant fixing; I don’t want that for myself. How can I stop trying to figure out which parts of me are the result of abuse and which parts are what I was born with?
By admitting that it doesn’t matter. The notion that you must pinpoint whether a behavior results from your innate nature or whether it developed because of how you were nurtured is old-school. If you really want transformation (and it’s clear that you do) challenge the authority of the thoughts that create your suffering. Thoughts inspire feelings, and the energy of those feelings creates the engine that propels our behaviors. By learning to observe your thoughts and question the validity of them, you will eventually free yourself from the pain of being their slave.
You’re insightful to notice that many people are stuck in self-help books and constant fixing. The problem is that they fill their minds with new belief systems that they lather like pink icing on their poopy problems. When the icing eventually proves that it’s not substantial enough to live on, they search for more icing, rather than toss out the poop. The pink icing could be crystal-based healing or feng shui or any practice that focuses on the symptoms, rather than the core issue.
You’ve identified your core issue: behaving like a victim. Now the task is to stop identifying yourself as a victim. A new way to see yourself is as an explorer of one of life’s eternal questions: Who am I?
If you can begin to see the sexual abuse as something that happened in the course of a life, rather than who or what you are, you will cease to define yourself by it. Then you can challenge the fearful thoughts that appear when you think of the experience. One way to do this is to give yourself three examples of how the opposite thought—“I am not a victim”—is true. Eventually, you also will come to trust yourself to be in the world as yourself, rather than hiding from the world because you fear you will be seen as damaged.
My boyfriend of two months still has framed photos of his ex-girlfriend. The photos are in a drawer, but it bothers me. I told him that I didn’t want those photos in the house if we get married. He knows that those photos bother me, but they are still in a drawer. What should I do?
Stop opening that drawer! Hey, you’ve only been dating for two months. After six months or a year of dating, you can talk to him about putting those photos in the garage. But for now, stop feeding your fears that you’ll lose your man. Slow down, sister! And stop talking about marriage; you’re scaring me. (It’s only been 60 days!)