Wednesday, June 01, 2011
I recently became co-leader of the Survivors of Abuse team. We would like to change our image, so we're voting on new pics one of the members found. I sent out a mass team mailing, then I realized that some members don't receive team mailings or the weekly team digest, because they didn't check the box under their team settings to do so. So I thought that I would send individual emails to every team member who hasn't been active in the team lately; alerting them to the fact that we have new leaders, we have new topics, new challenges, are looking for suggestions and are voting on a new image. I went through the entire list of 163 members. Out of 163 members, only 33 are fairly active in Sparkpeople, and that's including those who haven't had activity in the last 60 days.
That means 130 probably dropped out. I spent the morning reading heartbreaking main intros about last chances, health issues, no more excuses, need to lose for my kids, depression, abuse and all the myriad of reasons people join Sparkpeople with the best of intentions. Heartbreaking, because they ended their intros on such an optimistic note - that this time they would do it. I hope that some of these members quit because they met their goal. More likely they gave up yet again, and that is what is so heartbreaking. Some pages had a big optimistic intro, then no friends added, only a few teams joined and nothing. That says they probably didn't even make it through to the second day. Some of those people had a LOT to lose. You could tell that they really needed to be here.
I have a LOT to lose and I have been where those people are. Diet after diet - never finishing any that I started. Rarely finishing anything. That's another effect of having been abused. I went through life continually searching for something that I thought I was missing. I had some hole that I had to fill. It was an ache in my heart. It was a void in my psyche. It was an open wound in my soul. I tried to fill it with all the wrong things. I was never satisfied. As soon as something worked and I was happy, I sabotaged myself; whether it was realtionships, diets or even jobs. I moved around the states and never held a job more than 6 years. I have had more career type jobs than most people. I mean positions in which most people would stay and retire from. Not me. I was always searching for something that was "right for me". Diets too. When I found something that worked, I quit for one reason or another. Subconsciously, I wanted to be fat. It gave me an excuse. If I couldn't find what I was looking for - it was because I was fat. If no one loved me - it was because I was fat. If no one would hire me - it was because I was fat, etc, etc.. I thought that I had resiliency, but I never had staying power. I would shoot for the impossible, obtain it, then give it up. I felt like I was never good enough or didn't deserve what I had achieved. Like a mountain climber who reaches the top and doesn't enjoy the view or savor the accomplishment; but is looking for the next mountain.
I don't fear that I will do that again with this diet. It's not so much the diet plan itself, as the fact that I've changed who I am inside. It took me 48 long years but I am finally healed. I wasted so many years of my life looking ahead or living in the past that I never appreciated the moment. I reached a point where I knew that I was jeopardizing my health. People depended on me, I couldn't let them down. I reached that defining moment where I had to change, just as those others said they did. However, this time I won't become a dropout statistic because I found something important. Something that changed my life. What saved me was love.
Love filled that hole in my heart. Love is what healed me. It wasn't the love of a good man. It wasn't the love of god. It was the love I needed to feel for myself. It wasn't easy. I had developed a habit of self-loathing, all the while putting on a good facade. We are so good at nurturing and taking care of others. We need to nurture ourselves. Those of us who were abused, especially need to love ourselves, and look within ourselves for the answers. Too often we are so eager and anxious to fill that void, but we think we can't do it on our own. We desperately search for someone who will finally take care of us. Someone who will make everything right. Someone who will make up for the abuse we suffered. We look outside of ourselves for the answers.
While we still have that void we are actually very needy. We think we're giving more than 100% to a relationship, to a job, to whatever and all the while we are wondering why we're not getting it back. There is not a person or job or anything that can give us everything we think we need. We have to do it for ourselves.
I had to start believing that I was worthy of the good things that come my way. I had to stop giving myself excuses, but I knew that I had been wired not to choose wisely. I had to get rid of all the faulty thinking and distortions about myself that I had programmed my brain with.
I practiced positive affirmations. Over and over and over in my head, I told myself that I was deserving of good health. That I was the perfect child of god and good things were coming to me. I repeated all kinds of affirmations often throughout the day. I didn't believe them at first, but if you keep telling yourself something, eventually you come to believe it. I had to reverse all the years of faulty thinking, when I would tell myself just the opposite. I started meditating to calm myself and quiet all the negative chatter. Finally heard that inner voice. The one that was silenced for so long. The voice that knows I can do anything and is my inner cheerleader. I practice visualizations, where I see myself as I would like to look and where I would like to be. I practice mindfulness. After a while, I knew I was ready to start the diet plan that I would be on for the rest of my life. One of my Spark friends said nothing ever happens just by chance...there is a reason for everything. I found the diet and I found Sparkpeople within days of each other, because I was open for good things coming to me.
I'm a long way from perfecting my self help techniques. However, I know that if I keep practicing, I will get everything that I desire and deserve. I know that I am ready to accept them this time. I also have to stay focused in the here and now - to be mindful of the present. No more going through life on auto pilot. No more regretting the past or living in the future. I have to live NOW.
I wish I could wave a magic wand and help every woman who is still struggling with the after- effects of their abuse, but I can't. Everyone has to find their own way. I wish that I would have had the option to obtain a therapist experienced in CSA or trauma 30 or 40 years ago. It just wasn't an accepted practice. It was a different time. I know now that the right therapist would have guided me into finding my own path to a healthier, happier life a lot sooner. There are so many therapists who are skilled in what psychology calls 3rd wave therapies and include the techniques I had to discover on my own - like meditation.
If you're reading this blog and you struggle with similar issues, if you're thinking about giving up because it's too hard or you lack motivation; then I appeal to you to develop a love for yourself. Nurture yourself. Practice self-compassion. Treat yourself as good as you would anyone else you love. Use this site for support. Seek professional help if you're really stuck in a rut (but make it one who practices ACT, DBT, CBT, EMDR for PTSD). Read self help books on the subject of meditation, mindfulness, positive affirmations or visualizations. There are free instructions on the world wide web. Do whatever you can to prevent yourself from becoming a dropout statistic or worse.
You can do it. You are a survivor. But don't just survive- live life to the fullest. Here and now, in this moment, become better and better - for you.