Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Choice to Make

Growing up in an abusive home has a tremendous effect on how one views the world. I've known this for years, but recognizing warped places in my thinking is a process that takes time. Periodically, an awareness would surface that I did not love myself, and I didn'tt see how that was going to change. It was just the way it was.

I was trained to ignore my wants and needs. As a child, I often felt like I was being bad if I dared to have any needs. There just wasn't time, emotional energy, or empathy available to address a child's emotional needs.

For example, when I was eight years old I became terribly ill. I instinctively knew that something very serious was wrong. I was told that I was fine and to stop being a baby. When a doctor confirmed three days later that I was very ill and needed my appendix out as an emergency surgery, I was left at the hospital without any parental comfort. The nurse explained to my parent that young children often benefited from a parent staying in the room even during the nights, but I stayed in the room alone. I remember trying not to fall asleep too deeply so I could push the nurse call button if I became worse in the night. My surgery was scheduled for first thing in the morning, but the nurse said a doctor would do the operation in the middle of the night if I couldn't make it until then. The nurse was kind. She came to my room a couple of times. She patted my hand, wiped the bangs out of my eyes, spoke about my surgery and comforted me more than my absent parents had ever done.

I buried the intense feelings of loneliness and abandonment with many other buried feelings of fear, worry, and anger that there was never room for in my home. I apologized the next day to my parents for being sick and I entered surgery without a parent kissing me, hugging me or reassuring me. They came and I appreciated that. They waited and they were there when I exited surgery. They stayed a little longer before they said they needed to go. They gave what they had--but comfort, emotional sensitivity, or emotional support weren't part of the package.

As I've processed many such memories and other darker memories of blatant sexual abuse, I've been able to experience some of those long repressed feelings, I've been able to feel compassion for my parents and their struggles with addictions, I've been able to feel sympathy for my younger self. I've had greater understanding about my internal motivations.

And then, last week, a moment of decision was suddenly and clearly upon me. Was I going to continue hoping for the day when my parents would understand me, accept me and cherish me? Was I going to continue choosing to squash self-care and self-love in order to live by my parents' rules? Or was I going to choose to fully commit myself to being responsible for my needs in a loving, nurturing way? Was I going to start treating myself with the full measure of love and respect that I lavish on my children and step-children? Was I?

I discovered in that moment that I am ready. I am again at another new and exciting place of healing thanks to God's leading. I can now accept and embrace giving myself loving, respectful care for both physical and emotional needs.

The work of facing more painful memories and repressed feelings was worth it. With Him, we can reach levels of healing that seemed too far out of reach. With God, all things are possible.

Reader, where are you today with your healing process? Do you believe yet that you are lovable and that it is more than okay to take care of yourself physically and emotionally?

Wherever you are on the journey, keep on looking to God with trust. He can and will help you. He'll help you find and unfurl your own set of dazzling wings of grace, hope, and love.


Cynthia said...

This was such an honest and moving post Tanya. I ached for the little girl- you alone in yoru bed. But I am so glad that you have moved past the stage of needing your parents to embrace you in order to heal fully. That may never happen...but you will still be whole. Taking that power from them was a very important step!

Jan Parrish said...

Tanya, I'm so sad for you as a child. Surgery is really scary. I can't imagine laying in bed all night, in pain, waiting for surgery. At such a young age too. I had surgery at nine and I remember they had windows in each bay and no privacy.

What a great healing moment for you.

Plumbing Buena Park, CA said...

Great post!

<3 Lindsay

Tanya T. Warrington said...

Twofinches, thank you for the encouragement and empathy. Your compassion touches me.

I am so glad that I am a grown-up now.

As we grow up and heal we learn that we have power that we did not have as small children. We can make choices for ourselves and carry them out. We can address our needs in healthy or unhealthy ways. We can choose to grow and heal.

Tanya T. Warrington said...


Tanya T. Warrington said...

3 Lindsay,
Thank you! God bless your choicemaking. :)

Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft