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Transforming the Shame that comes from Emotional Abuse

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Date : June 3, 2016

I learned to recognize how I react when emotionally abused.  The emotional abuse is delivered verbally and my reaction has been to freeze and no longer be present in the room.

 

My father was impatient with me and never seemed to take the time to explain a chess move or a tennis stroke to me without scowling.  It seemed like I was never good or smart enough.  He tended to spend more time playing with my friends who were quicker and better athletes than me.  He let me win when we were playing chess together and he thought I was too dumb to realize he was purposely losing.  I silently allowed this travesty to happen and wanted to make him think that I was oblivious to his deception.  I was afraid to call him on his scam.  I kept all this to myself for years.  My father died before I even realized this was a problem.  I believed that way he treated me was normal and happens to all kids.

 

I had a fifth grade teacher who was about one hundred and two years old.  One day she told the whole class and universe that in her fifty years of teaching, I was the dumbest student she ever had the displeasure to teach.  I was too numb to be mortified.  I felt emotionally paralyzed and disappeared into the classroom walls.

 

I had a recent experience with my Spanish tutor.  He made fun of my pronunciation of the assigned vocabulary words.  As the class continued, I felt the shame kick in and along with it, confusion.  I couldn’t think.  I couldn’t answer any more of his questions.  I saw words on the page, but I couldn’t open my mouth to respond.  At that moment I realized I was triggered and this caused me to shut down and feel deep humiliation at the same time.  I guess I was trying to protect my soul, but my heart was crushed and I was crying inside.

 

The next day I wrote my Spanish tutor an email telling him that his verbal diatribe had triggered me and I hoped that he would be mindful of what words he chooses to use next time.  During the next class, he asked me to get started and then said that I was overly sensitive and needed to get over it.  I found the boldness I didn’t know I possessed.  I said, You need to look for another student because this one is out of here.”  I  then shouted, “I will not allow you to hurt me with your words any more”.

 

My leaving was the first time I ever stood up for myself in this way.  My past experiences had been bosses, teachers and other authority figures tearing down my character, belittling my lack of intelligence or criticizing my physical appearance.  As a kid, I was often prey to the bullies because I didn’t fight back.

 

When I heard demeaning comments about my lack of intelligence, I would immediately believe these words to be gospel truth.  At the same time, I would freeze up because I was traumatized.

 

No more.  Now when I hear these crushing words instead of crawling into an internal shell I say out loud:

 

“I am intelligent.  I have an advanced degree and am successful in my field despite the soul stomping, demeaning comments I received regularly as a child.”

 

“I am courageous enough to fight through the fear.”

 

“I have nothing to prove to anyone.”

 

“I do suffer from trauma, but I have learned how to work through it and will continue to be open to new ideas.”

 

“I have overcome my childhood emotional abuse by facing it, and being patient with myself.”

 

“I know that it is possible to be triggered again, but I can talk to my wife, friends and go to therapy if need be,”

 

“I believe that standing up for myself is one of the greatest acts of self-love ever.”

 

 

 

Dear Readers,

Please share your experiences with transforming shame below or https://www.facebook.com/HealingEmotionalPain   Thanks!!!

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