Sometimes we can feel a certain way for so long that it starts to feel normal, comfortable even. It becomes so familiar that we stuff down that nagging thought that we should do something about our struggles. The process of healing can seem scarier than what we’re experiencing now.
I met a woman at a retreat who began to share with me that her abuse at 10 years old was surfacing again now that she was 40. Despite her efforts to will it away, by stuffing away the memories and emotions, she had grown accustomed to a frenzy of fear, shame, and pain. Even worse, her past trauma was impacting the intimacy she longed to enjoy with her husband. She agreed that she needed to “deal” with it, but in order to do that, she would need to bring the past into the open, and that was just too scary.
I assured her of two things — the same two things I suggest to you. First, there is hope for healing. She can be free of the impact of the abuse. Not the memories, but the haunting control the memories were having on her life. Second, the pain was not going away on its own. Until she took the steps necessary to allow for healing, every morning for the rest of her life she’d wake up longing for peace from its torment.
So how do you know if your sexual past is still hurting you today? This list describes some of the ways that your abuse could still be impacting your day to day life:
- You’re having trouble functioning at home or work.
- You’re suffering from severe fear, anxiety or depression.
- You’re unable to form close, satisfying relationships.
- You’re experiencing terrifying memories, nightmares, or flashbacks.
- You’re avoiding more and more things that remind you of the abuse or trauma.
- You’re feeling emotionally numb and disconnected from others.
- You’re using alcohol or drugs to feel better, or to be able to be intimate with your spouse.
- You’re not enjoying intimacy with your spouse, and you feel like there should be more.
Read More From Barbara
Healing From Your Sexual Past
The Invisible Bond: Hope and Healing From Your Sexual Past
Childhood Sexual Abuse: How the Past Affects the Present
You don’t have to face this alone. Email a mentor.