As I made progress in recovery, I began to realise that taking risks was a great way to build my confidence and to diminish the fears that were holding me back.
One thing I became aware of during this process was to do with the amount of shame and fear of rejection that I was carrying.
One week I had my first meeting with a therapist. I had spoken to her about the distress that I had been feeling about a situation where I felt as though I was being bullied and intimidated. The therapist’s solution was to try to convince me that it was, in fact, me who was “the problem”. This mirrored the type invalidation and gaslighting that I received as a child.
The experience with this therapist affected me deeply, especially as she was in a position of power and was supposed to be someone who I could trust (sanctuary trauma). I was left feeling as though I must be “bad”.
I dealt with the shame by isolating myself. I didn’t dare speak to anyone about it, because I had experienced similar situations with other therapists and I feared that others would agree that it was me who was the faulty person.
Fortunately I came to near breaking point, which forced me to reach out to others. The response that I received from the trusted people who I turned to was the opposite of what I had feared. I received one response expressing regret that I had been at the receiving end of this experience. I was told that I did not deserve this as I was someone who took such care not to harm other people. I realised that the kind words of this person were true and that perhaps I was not such a horrible person after all. I can’t express how much relief and gratitude I felt.
During recovery I reached a point where I had absorbed so many messages that I was bad / to blame for everything / defective etc. I ended up feeling as though I simply couldn’t cope with receiving any further messages that there was something wrong with me.
It is important to realise that people who are giving out these negative and condemning messages are not “on your side”. They are normally offloading their own shame onto you to make themselves feel better. Take small risks with revealing personal things about yourself to others and see how they treat that information. Be discerning in who you open up to.