This is part 1 of a series on the 5 stages of grieving, and how it feels to a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and narcissistic abuse.
I encourage to read the initial post that started this series, as a foundation of what we are looking to work through and explore. We cannot rush through the 5 Stages of Grief.
Some general information about what denial is should help us better understand why we go through this stage in the first place.
If you Google the word, Denial, you will get the following: the action of declaring something to be untrue.
Further research shows us, as explained on ChangingMinds*:
Denial is simply refusing to acknowledge that an event occurred. Denial is a form of repression, where stressful thoughts are banned from memory. If I do not think about it, then I do not suffer the associated stress have to deal with it.
So what does this mean to me personally? How do I experience Denial? How do you experience Denial?
When I first started to deep dive into the abuse; exploring the memories that I suppressed and kept hidden away in the box at the bottom of the closet of my mind, the very first thing I said was…”There’s no way!”
- There is no way in hell that I allowed a teenager to get me alone in his house, time after time, and use me for his own pleasure. Touching me, molesting me, and making me cry.
- What human being would experience that type of sadistic trauma, and then find a way to not deal with it for so many years…decades! Nope, didn’t happen!
- I could not have gone on with my life, had 3 kids, hold down a job, and just basically survive if things went down the way these memories are telling me they did.
- It couldn’t have been as bad as all this, I must be over dramatizing it, making it out to be way worse than it really was.
- This must all just a result of a scary movie I saw as a kid or stories I heard about of other kids and now I’m thinking it happened to me too when it really didn’t?
I’ve said those things out loud in sessions and unknowingly I was already starting the healing process before I even knew I had to heal in the first place.
When we question all of this, and say things like “this abuse didn’t really happen, and that I must be over dramatizing it”, we are starting to dig through that box in the closet and explore what’s inside.
Little by little our minds are giving us what we can handle. The more we express denial for what happened to us, in my case sexual and narcissistic abuse, and bullying, we start to ask more questions. We open ourselves to, “there’s no way this happened….is there?”
We get to that “is there?”part, and as we dig through those memories, little by little, things become more realistically clear. The “there’s no way” turns into a “well maybe this is true” and then into “this really did happen, are you f****n’ kidding’ me??!!”
I’m using my own terminology there because it’s how I relate and literally what I said.
It’s not an overnight process, and as always I encourage you to always seek the help of a professional when you are ready to explore your past. You need to be in a safe place, with a safe person, who understands trauma so you can be best supported during this time of questioning.
I kept that box of memories buried under a pile of junk, hidden away for so long that I couldn’t believe what was in there. I was in total denial and disbelief at what my mind was trying to clue me on. Our minds know when we are ready to start healing, we just have to be open to what feelings will surface and be willing to put the time and effort required.
Allowing ourselves to grieve what happened and being OK with sitting with denial and not rushing through that stage, is healthy and normal.
You are amazing, you are awesome, and always know that YOU matter, friend!
Images courtesy of pixabay.com