You may have started the healing journey not knowing how to take care of yourself, always highly focused on taking care of others and making sure they were happy. As we know now, this is a coping strategy. Keeping the focus on others, keeping the peace, and staying out of trouble are all survival strategies many of us took on as children. It worked as a strategy in childhood, but now we don't know how to turn to meet our own needs once we've grown up.
Ongoing self-care is an important part of healing after trauma. When you take care of yourself, you learn what you like, what you want, what you need, and what you can do to meet those needs. You slowly learn to listen to your body and respect what it needs from you to take care of it.
The biggest reason we struggle with listening to ourselves is that no one listened to us when we were young, especially when we were hurting and in pain. Since we learned very early on that there was no one to talk to and that how we felt did not...
I was victimized as a child by my stepfather, a person I trusted, looked up to, and loved. Yes, I did love him. That’s why it was hard to understand why he would sexually abuse me, or why he would do something that left me confused, ashamed, and in pain.
As an adult, I continued his cycle of abuse by turning it inward on myself. The anger and fear I experienced as an abused child became self-loathing and self-hatred. I used alcohol, smoking, and sex to numb the pain. I also tried to play the role of "miss perfect" to hide my truth. I tried to make everyone happy so they would not see the truth about how I was really feeling. Even worse, I put myself in high-risk situations and bad relationships where I would be abused again and again.
It was a vicious cycle.
But that’s not all. I turned the anger, pain, and shame outward toward others as well. I manipulated people to get what I wanted. When the shame overwhelmed me, I withheld love or affection to punish and blame others...