Guest Post By Amy Graver
“I am a survivor and not a victim.” A mantra I have repeated to myself and my negative parts so many times over and over until it sank in and became a reality. I refuse to live as a victim any more. Yes, I was sexually and emotionally and sometimes physically abused, but in living with the word “victim” hanging over us was to allow our abusers the power they once usurped over us for too many years.
Up until about two years ago I was negative all the time, my thought patterns were totally distorted by “black and white thinking” by that I mean thinking that people were one of two ways they were either all good and could do no wrong or they were all bad and never ever did any good. I viewed my life through that much distorted lens also. I was so full of self hating and self depreciating talk, I had the mentality of “make others hate you before they can see how bad, disgusting and vile I was.” I used to constantly put the self down before others could. But in doing so I was letting my abusers win. Letting them get the final say in our lives and allowing them to do so. But in doing all of this we were only hurting us.
I was very depressed much of the time, and had issues with suicidal ideation, and self harm. I was sure that everybody would reject and leave me in the end, so I would either reject them before they could reject us, or we (my parts and I) would try and point out how “bad and toxic” we were in an attempt to make them walk away. Many did, (and to be honest looking back now I do not blame them.) because if you are giving people a “get out clause” and consciously or subconsciously giving out back off signals, then they will eventually go.
The way in which this negative attitude affected my life and my healing process was that it held me back from moving forwards, I was stuck in an endless rut of making myself worse, negativity feeds negativity. It was a friend who is herself a survivor who pointed out to me about my negative and depreciating self talk and the way in which I was relating to her in letters and emails, she was honest with me and did not sugar coat it, and it is this that brought about the realisation, and pushed me to change thought patterns and behaviours and to move forward.
The benefits of that realization have proved to be far reaching, forcing me to challenge the self and to think more positively, to have more empathy towards myself, and to be more at peace with myself. Now when I start to hate the self I pull myself up short and change it with a positive thought instead. All of this has also been a real boost to my confidence.
One way I have helped myself and am still doing to help with my PTSD is to change the narrative of the flashbacks, by this I mean for example changing what I am actually seeing to what I would have liked to have happened. In doing this the abusers lose their power over me and the flashbacks become less frightening.
Having said all of this I am still in the process of recovery, I am a work in progress, as are we all. There is hope for all survivors of healing and recovery. Keep going for it, and thank you for reading this blog. My thoughts go with you. You are not alone, others share your journey too.