There are times in our life that we come to a crossroads, or a doorway. We stand there, facing the opportunity to move in a new direction or turn around and stay with the familiar. Even if the familiar is not healthy, and we know for a fact that it’s not, it’s still has a lure of comfort.
I wrote before about standing at the crossroads and deciding which way to go, and now I’m in a similar place again. Only this time it’s a closed door, and what’s on the other side is the scariest thing imaginable to someone in recovery…Hope.
The alternative is to stay put, not open the door and remain stuck. Staying in the familiar confines of the past, no matter how damaging it is. The pull of that force to stay status quo is strong, very strong, and at this very moment I’m deciding what to do.
With the comfort of Mia, the Survivor Cat sitting here on the desk, I will try to work through how best to decide on the next steps.
Where I am right now is all I’ve ever known. It’s a place that I’ve existed in for entire 40+ years of being on this earth. It’s a house, so to speak, that’s filled with invalidation, with questioning whether I can trust myself, and full of confusion. It’s a place where I was groomed to feel like I was loved and cared for, but in reality it’s the root cause of the reason I sit here today as a survivor.
Wait, the root cause is the sexual abuse you suffered as a child, isn’t it Matt? Well, yes and no, when I think about this objectively. Yes, I was abused sometime during the age of 5-10. I know it happened more than once but I don’t know yet how often. While those events may have been my first real taste of trauma and grooming, it’s what happened immediately after that sent me spiraling into the abyss of fear, mistrust, and invalidation.
The way that I was raised, with a lack of emotional support, a lack of validation, and constant nagging of everything that I do being wrong, is the driving force in my recovery now.
As a child we should be able to run to our parents for safety, for support, for comfort. We should feel like we belong and that we will be believed and validated. Now if you talk to anyone else in my family or anyone who knows my mother, they would tell that all of things I mentioned; the safety, support, and comfort were telltale signs of what my mother does. She’s amazing, she’s considerate, she loves God, she’s comforting…you name it and they would validate her over me because of her reputation.
I spent my entire childhood and teenage years being told my clothes were ridiculous, my hair was too long, I had the wrong friends, and my music was of the devil. I was told I don’t walk with God enough, I don’t embrace the Bible, and I’m not living as I should. I don’t spend enough time with the family, I’m too easily influenced by others, I don’t appreciate how good I have it…the list goes on and on endlessly.
I’ve lived my life with a gigantic guilt complex and I still do today.
So why in the world would I be standing in this doorway and even considering looking back and staying put? Because that’s how I was raised. I wasn’t capable of making good decisions on my own. I wasn’t capable of giving my kids the life they needed and I wasn’t living as God wants me too. There was a force at work that I was powerless to fight. I was to just take her words as gospel and reply with, “yes mother you are right, I am wrong”. “God is speaking through you to me and you are right, I am wrong”.
Since I rarely acknowledged her in that way, it just increased the distance between us and fueled the invalidation that I experienced so much. Thus reaffirming to her how much I was wrong and she was right. The cycle continued and just went faster and faster.
So what’s on the other side of this door? HOPE!
The realization that what’s behind me is not going to change. I can’t change her. Nobody has the capability to change anyone else. Regardless of how legitimately right I am or not, what’s done is done and she is who she is. Do I love her as my mother, yeah, but can I continue on this way…no!
So it’s time to step through that door and experience what I have been missing.
Wait though…”What if I can’t make it?” “What if everything that I was told when I was younger is really true?” “What if I screw up and once again she ends up being right and I’m wrong?” See where I am going with this? Stay with me…
Who knows what the life through this door holds? If I can’t change the past, I might as well embrace the future! As scary as it might be, the life I’m leaving behind is just as/if not scarier. I’ve been groomed to think that the door is not for me. I need to guidance of others if I’m going to survive, I need to do as I’ve been told.
Nope! I can’t let that happen anymore. If I’m going to be free, I need to experience it for myself. If I screw up, then I screw up; I will find a way to deal and work my way through it. I need to not give into anxiety when the going gets tough; to not give into the intimidation every time I’m around my mother. I can’t let her have that power over me anymore.
I need to choose to not her bother me, to not get that sick feeling in my stomach when I know I will see her. I need to be OK with the fact that I know and realize things that others don’t, but that doesn’t make them any less true. Even if my whole family is against me and everyone that knows her rushes to her side. I know what is true in my heart. I can rise above it and be fine with who I am and what I know.
I will validate myself and surround myself with others who validate me and I will be good with that.
That new world of Hope is waiting for me and its high time I turn that handle and feel the cool breeze. It’s time to take that first step and see what I can really do, free from anxiety, guilt, and a past that has haunted me.
I know it won’t be easy, and I will question myself at times and have bad days. Nothing is perfect and rosy every day. If I embrace my own inner strength and believe that I’m worth it; I can rise up and stand tall knowing that “I got this”.
If there’s a doorway in front of you right now too, I encourage you to believe in yourself and validate yourself. You deserve to feel better and live the life you want, free from invalidation of the past.