Wouldn't it be great if you could buy a product, like a bar of soap, that you could lather all over your body that would cleanse and coat you with the feeling of being understood? What if you could buy a lotion that you could rub onto your skin which would then seep into your pores with the message that your gifts matter? What would happen if the candle you were given to hold flickered a friendly message that your own personal light makes a difference? Can you imagine how it would feel if someone you regard highly walked right up to you and said...... "Do you realize how much I appreciate you?"
Sure it's best to be able to tell yourself these things, but in order to be able to do so, we have to hear it, see it, feel it, inhale it all around us or we don't even know HOW to believe in ourselves.
I spoke with a woman recently who spent many years in an abusive marriage. She was a brilliant reflective intuitive human being. I was so impressed with her demeanour as well as her eloquence. It seemed like she would be the LAST person stuck in a violent relationship but I've learned that outward appearances can be deceiving. And when it comes to covering up scars from the deep wounds of shame produced by being emotionally, physically and/or sexually violated by someone whom you had fallen in love with and who supposedly loves you, the mask worn in public is difficult to peel off.
This woman had been told for many years that she was ugly, fat, useless, stupid. She was told that no one would want her............she was unlovable, but good enough to keep for a screw every now and then......when he wanted.......when he commanded. Her husband told her that he felt sorry for her because she was so homely. She was told she wasn't allowed out of the house on her own............that he didn't want her family coming around because they were nosey liars who just used her anyway. He isolated her, and treated her like a slave. Not even her neighbours knew because this man she was married to was gregariously outgoing to them when they met on the street.
And she stayed..........in her home which was like a prison, and away from anyone who may have been a support. She stayed because somewhere along the line she began to believe him. She stayed because she was afraid of him. She stayed because she had lost touch with the people who mattered in her life and she felt all alone. She stayed because she thought no one would believe her. Fear, shame, guilt, anxiety........these were her feelings pulsating through her day after day. They ate up her self-image and spit out a belief that perhaps her husband was right. She was unlovable............a fat, ugly homely unlovable nobody. She believed this because she felt this.
One day, something snapped in her........like a twig snapping deep inside a forest. She realized for the first time that she was slowly dying inside and it mattered to her. There was a dawning of an inherent desire to survive and in order to do so, she needed her freedom. Her inward feelings of self-loathing turned into an outward energy fueled by a new understanding that she mattered and that she wanted a second chance to thrive. A safe harbour was needed. It was then that she called the local Transition house for victims of abuse and they arranged to help get her out of there and into a safe haven.
Two months later, we meet. Her home for the next year or so is also in a supportive living arrangement, an apartment securely tucked away on an unassuming street in the city, unknown to even the neighbours that it is a safe house for victims of violence. Men are not allowed entry into the building. She is learning to believe in herself while surrounded by people who point out her gifts and her beauty. She laughed when she told me how one day recently she realized how much she liked her own company. A cleansing of sorts has most definately begun. Her own candle was relit by others around her who care.
Psychological damage rarely happens overnight. Rather its a subtle accumulation of collateral which eventually weighs a person down, wedges them into a corner until they call for help......if they are able to call for help. Of course, there are situations which register automatic anxiety and grief. That's much different than the type that wears and tears at the spirit through ongoing abuse. This woman will continue her psychological healing for the rest of her life, no doubt. She's aware of that. But she's also aware of the fact that she is empowered to seek out the feelings inside her which fuel her beliefs and understanding that she is beautiful both inside and out.
Life has begun again for her and she's not going to let it slip out of her own hands again. She has learned the power of her own mind. The light around her glowed with hope. Her light makes a big difference.