HEALING FROM TRAUMA

It’s Me I Don’t Trust!

January 5, 2017

 

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In Licking Our Trauma Wounds, I spoke about some of my residual damage from experiencing sexual abuse. I also mentioned that much of it is subconscious until jolted by a triggering event. One of the things that became exacerbated by my sexual abuse was my bent for people pleasing. I know this may come as a surprise to some since many think I have always boldly skipped to my own beat. While I do have this tendency, I have also been burdened (albeit self-inflicted) with the desire to please others.

Recently, I experienced a break-up. There were obvious components of this I knew I needed to process and heal from. And then there were some subconscious things at play I was completely unaware ofuntil a few days ago. Prior to last week, I thought I’d taken adequate time to navigate through all of the things that needed to be addressed within me. And I had some incredible break-throughs as a result.

Yayyy! Time passed, and I knew for sure I was good. Yeah, not so much!

Two weeks ago, there were three instances where my desire to please others resulted in me compromising my values. Feeling the guilt of this and knowing that, at this point in my life, it wasn’t characteristic of me to oblige someone for fear of them rejecting me; there grew an incredible sense of urgency for me to get to the bottom of what was going on. Much to my surprise (or chagrin, shall I say), I realized my people pleasing tendencies had flared up post break-up. This was something I’d dealt with (or so I thought) years ago. Welp…I totally neglected to take into account that a trigger for people pleasing is what I perceive to be rejection (or even the threat of it).

So while I worked hard to resolve my people pleasing years ago and knew enough to draw the connection between this and my fear of rejection, I couldn’t fathom this would be something I would still need to be aware of and work at for the rest of my life. As I dug into what I was feeling and why, it was interesting for me to learn that even though I was the one who initiated the break-up, I still ended up feeling rejected. I subconsciously felt I wasn’t good enough since I wasn’t worth this person being who I needed them to be.

“If he really saw who I was and what I wanted to be to him, he would have been the person I needed him to be. But since this didn’t happen, it means I wasn’t good enough.”

I internalized this as rejection without even realizing this was something I was contending with subconsciously. And so needless to say, post break-up I proceeded without caution. Thus landing me in a place where I found myself vulnerable to my desperate need to have approval and then compromising my values.

I thought through my fear and feelings of rejection, and reflected on other times in my life when I’d felt this way. In peeling back the layers, I realized the course for my people pleasing was set in adolescence and cemented by my sexual abuse. My bent to please others was birthed as a result of the dynamic between my mother and I. The older and more independent I became, the more it seemed we struggled. It would appear she grew resentful of me not needing her anymore. This was followed by a stark shift in her response to me. Whenever she was upset or disappointed, her default punishment was to withdraw attention and affection. Initially, my instinct was to do whatever I could to win her over again. But this cycle was exhausting, and the emotional pain insufferable. I eventually gave up. I became hardened and accepted that I was inherently not good enough.

The sexual abuse I experienced only confirmed this for me. I subconsciously believed, “It was because I wasn’t good enough that I was raped.” I felt thrown away and rejected. And so, in a desperate attempt to gain control, I developed an incessant desire and pattern of behavior to prove to people I am good enough. Obviously, me not being good enough is a lie and a trick from the enemy to keep me in a place mentally and emotionally where I am ineffective. The fact of the matter is, I am good enough! This is the reason Jesus died for me on the cross. He found me worthy enough (Romans 5:8) to willingly die such a publically humiliating and gruesome death.

In working through this recently, I saw that my self-sufficiency blinded me to the danger I’d fallen into. Because my fear of rejection wasn’t something I was constantly handing over to God. I ended up (wrongfully) thinking I could manage it on my own. Not knowing it, this fear along with my people pleasing were spreading like a disease to every part of my life (family and friend interactions, cowering to others’ views and feelings at work, compromising values in dating life, etc.). It’s crazy to think back just a couple of weeks ago to see the way my thought processes were so incredibly compromised. There’s no way I should have trusted myself to make sound decisions and yet because I hadn’t allowed God into my vulnerable (and hurting) places, I continued to spiral.

The lesson that was reiterated here for me was to pay special attention to my motives for doing things. If there’s any evidence of wanting to please others based on fear of being rejectedI need to stop and take a step back. It’s likely I experienced a triggering event I neglected to process, and I am struggling to trust God’s approval of me to be sufficient. I am seeing now that there will inevitably be times in my life where I am battling with a fear of being rejected. And that’s tough because this is so something I want to be done with but it is one of those thingssimilar to Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-9), that will always reveal my desperate need for a sovereign and faithful God.

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2 Comments

  • Reply Naundi white February 6, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    I can really relate to everything that you wrote on here. I would crave the need to be cared about to my sunificate other and would do anything for them to accept me. I’ve went through dropping friends that I still truly care for and I know they miss me and worry for me to this day. I feel if I let my love down I’ll be rejected and alone knowing I won’t be because of my friends and family but the love I crave from the person I’m with. When I changed so much by canceling out all social media broke my phone down to nothing but a phone to only call my mother and maybe use for work. I slowly lost my freedom that I use to have when I was in other relationships I thought this was normal to do anything for the one you love and epescially you feel that they feel the same and they cancel everything out. Having to go through so much to keep that person you love happy but its draining your own happiness but yet you still fight for what you think is their and still have hope that person could also do the same and change for you. I always ask myself if a person say they love you and ask you to be with them forever but they say their trying to change and you Dont see it do you just give up on them?

    • Reply Veronica February 7, 2017 at 12:11 pm

      Hi Naundi,

      Wow! You are sorting through quite a bit. Sounds like you’re at a defining point in your life where you’re reflecting on the patterns that have become your norm and wondering if there’s something more to life.

      I did my best to unpack what you shared. Here are my responses to a few of the things you mentioned:

      You mentioned you crave a need to be cared about and will do anything for your significant other. This need comes from somewhere. Perhaps childhood, adolescence, or even a relationship in adulthood. But in essence we all desire to be loved and cared for. This in and of itself is a natural and pure desire. Unfortunately, there are times when we experience relationships (not just romantic) that are damaging and we are left with scars, fears, insecurities, and unhealthy ways of approaching future relationships. Desiring someone to care about you is not necessarily problematic. REQUIRING someone to care about you however, is. You mentioned being willing to do anything for your significant other. I want to challenge you to ask yourself, “am I doing any and everything for this person because I really want them to be doing the same things for me?” If your answer is yes. I’m going to share something with you that may be hard to receive but know that I’m telling you this because I Love You–it’s not only unrealistic to expect someone to do something just because you’re willing to do it for them. It is also subtly manipulative. And I feel I can say this to you because I had a tendency to do the same thing in the past.

      You mentioned isolating yourself (“dropping friends you know care”). It sounds like you know this isn’t beneficial or healthy yet you’re unsure how to address the feeling you’ve been struggling with. Namely your fear of being alone or rejected. I completely understand this. The very thing we crave we actually end up preventing ourselves from receiving out our own fear.

      You talked about some extreme coping measures you’ve taken such as exiting social media (which I’ve also done) and breaking your phone down to only have the feature to make and receive calls. While I more than understand responding to your inner chaos with isolating and other extreme measures (because again, I can relate) you’re not actually addressing the issues so you’re actually creating a more confusing and painful situation for yourself.

      You mentioned a loss of freedom in your relationships because you feel/felt it was normal to cut out certain things for the person you’re with. This takes me back to the first bullet point. Often, the things we allow are attached to a motive. You acknowledged a fear of being rejected. It’s likely you’re fear of rejection is the underlying cause of your willingness to do things you don’t agree with or that don’t feel right.

      The question you ended with really hit me. You said: “do you just give up on them?” My question to you: “have you given up on yourself?”

      Naundi YOU ARE worthy of love. You are worthy of feeling like a whole person. I’m so sorry that you have struggled to feel loved and accepted in your relationships. I want you to take a step back though to determine how you may have gotten here. And begin your well deserved journey of healing and becoming whole. Maybe even consider going to counseling to have a safe place to sort through everything.

      Please keep me posted on how things are going veronica@broccoliofdating.com

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