Initially facing your inner most feelings will be extremely painful. It is probably the most difficult area you will have to deal with in your healing process. Men find this particularly difficult because as young adults they are conditioned to think rather than feel. Both sexes however will find this stage immensely rewarding and will be relieved by letting the pressure out.
The important thing when coming to terms with your feelings is to still remain in touch with your thoughts. They will help to balance the strong feelings which at first may overwhelm you. By maintaining a positive thought process but allowing your feelings to be explored you will soon be able to communicate your feelings and release the years of tension.
All the above may sound like psycho-babble but believe me by feeling rather than thinking, you will come to terms with your abuse far quicker. Think of an occasion when you had an argument with a loved one; it was never really resolved until you told that person how you felt, it would have gone on for ages by just thinking through the problem, by feeling you solved the disagreement far quicker. Still not convinced? Try it, next time you have an issue with your loved one. For example:
‘I don’t like the way you talk to me. It makes me feel very small, which in turn makes me feel defensive and angry.’
‘What do you think you are doing?’ try
‘Why are you doing that? It makes me feel sad.’
Sounds crazy I know, but it works. Trust me.
Sometimes arguments are totally unrelated to the current situation. It is easy to bottle up your feelings and then lash out at boiling point. This is when you can use your thinking skills to rationalise the problem and talk about what led up to your outburst. This inability to communicate feelings leaves tensions and hidden anger that can manifest themselves later in life.
As an adult victim of child abuse you have probably buried these feelings very deep into your subconscious. They could be near or past boiling point. Learning to come to terms with these feelings will allow the release of this tension. A friend of mine said, ‘All these years I’ve thought I’d dealt with my abuse. The trouble is I did too much thinking and not enough feeling. I suppressed all my feelings into a small dark room in my inner-self. Eventually the room became full, but I still kept cramming those feelings and emotions in. Now that I am opening the door to confront the demon within I am overwhelmed by years of neglected emotion that has been behind the locked door for too long. It is bursting to get out – that is my demon.’
Today as you are reading this you are probably saying that you do not repress your feelings. As a child you became an expert at hiding your feelings in order to protect yourself from the torrent of abuse. It was easier to deny your feelings than to face being rejected or criticised for them. This reaction was an automatic response which probably goes on now, even though you are an adult.
If you don’t deal with your repressed or avoided feelings, both those left over from your childhood and those that occur today, you will be more likely to experience the long term effects of childhood abuse.
Coming to terms with your feelings isn’t going to be easy. A good way to begin is by starting a journal. A journal will help you express your thoughts so that you can develop your feelings. If you feel this is unnatural you can talk to a loved one or a therapist. We strongly recommend you seek professional help and you can use our section on choosing a therapist to help you decide.
Becoming aware of your feelings is the first step, next you need to understand them. If you are finding this difficult and you can’t face or afford therapy then feel free to contacting HAVOCA, a totally free and confidential service. Once you understand your feelings you will be able to see how they have affected your life since the abuse, and through education you will be able to educate yourself to readjust your behaviours to accommodate these new emotions. Finally through changing these patterns you and others around you will notice a transformation.
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