When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, darkly, but then face to face.
1 Corinthians 13
This is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible. If you delve deeply into it you find wisdom, you find strength but you also find, as in many other parts of the Bible, conflicts, confusion.
For a survivor of child sexual abuse our emotional growth stops at the time of abuse. So if abused as a child there is a part of us who only understands as a child, and despite an exterior pretending to be an adult we continue to think as a child. And when we grow up we don’t necessarily put away childish things. I have found few humans who were mature.
My friend Webster defines maturity as having completed natural growth and development. It is based on slow, careful consideration. Most humans seem to have never arrived at this. People say we are only human when we are obsessive about people pleasing and rescuing. An excessive need to control is not a sign of maturity. Being needy, having low self esteem and weak boundaries are not signs of maturity. Eating disorders and addictions, neurotic tendencies as well as obsessive, compulsive behavior patterns do not define maturity. We are just tall children trying to exist in a world where the majority of people are also tall children. We don’t define ourselves as such but down deep inside that soul part of us, the part that knows all, sees all and is aware of our limitations, who knows the truth waits and hopes that we will grow emotionally. We do not know how to put away childish things. We revert to anger when spurned. We reach for our addiction of choice to block painful decisions or results.
My sexual abuse started when I was thirteen. I felt thirteen until I got in to recovery. I was 45 years old by then. I hid it well. I used smart aleck remarks to hide the real me. I turned to addictions thinking no one would notice. Sometimes I look back at choices I made, things I said, problems I got myself into and I cringe. I should have known better. But how? Most of the parents of survivors of child abuse are not mature either. So what we have is children raising children. How are we going to find maturity in all of that?
As I progressed in my recovery I felt myself grow emotionally, found maturity a bit at a time, soon based decisions on careful consideration rather than impulse. It was an amazing experience. I learned, that if someone asked me a question that I didn’t want to answer, to say, “Why do you ask?” or “That’s rather personal.” I didn’t know I had a choice. I had to give myself permission to make my own choices. I remember the day I bought a sweat shirt that said, “What part of no don’t you understand?” I was living in a domestic violence marriage and this simple thing empowered me. Finding my self-esteem was the greatest gift I gave myself. But I had to earn it. Upon entering recovery I knew I had a dark side and I allowed that dark side to make my choices. I literally felt like I was no good. After all my father had told me I was no good and unclean. He hammered that in to me on a regular basis. A friend of mine from the time of my original abuse told me once that my mother told her I was no good, that I couldn’t be trusted. My friend couldn’t figure out why she said that as she didn’t see that in me at all. My mom needed someone to blame for my father’s middle of the night visits. How was I going to find self esteem in all of that?
For now we see in a mirror, darkly, but then face to face. Now that I have completed Repairing the damage done by my parents I no longer see in a mirror darkly, see myself face to face. It’s truly a wonderful feeling.
Do you want your children raised by a child? Or do you want them raised by a healthy adult. If you want to Repair the damage done to you in your childhood buy a copy of Repair Your Life and get busy. Find it and the many five star reviews at: http://www.thelamplighters.org/llblog01/books/repair-your-life/
You are never too old to give yourself the gift of healthy choices and self-esteem.