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How can I ever forgive my past abusers?

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  • #39865
    Zenhen
    Participant

    I survived childhood sexual abuse and emotional abuse. For the most part, I have done an extremely well job at masking my pain and wounds. This is something I pretended didn’t affect me and I thought I would take my secret to the grave. I compensated by over achieving, studying vigorously and filling my time constantly with new activities. However, its been three years since I graduated and my life has slowed down significantly enough for me to do self reflection. I started meditating and trying to open my heart. Then all of these memories started coming back. At first via dreams, then flashes here and there in my mind, then I could feel it in my body. Thus I stopped meditating because it was too painful. Then an old relationship/flame plus my current relationship brought this buried pain and wounds to the surface. I am thankful for this yet at the same time overwhelmed as I had never confronted this issue before. I decided that I would work on healing myself on my own. Now I realize I can’t do this alone so I just recently as of last week sought out professional help, which I didn’t even talk about at our session. I wrote it down on the information sheet but never brought it up at the session. I was too afraid and too ashamed. Well in less than a week of seeking help, the two main abusers (there were many as my mother was drug addicted and often neglected us) have re-entered into my life. What is strange is that since I made the decision to heal, I have been having recurring nightmares of being abused again and of seeing my abusers again. I also have been having anxiety at night before bed or showering that someone will come in and harm me. My boyfriend got me a stuffed animal, which I usually hate stuffed toys but now I love and we got a dog so I feel much better. Its strange how these dreams of seeing them again are now becoming a reality. I know it is time for me to begin the healing process and confront myself. I can no longer run away, the universe is making it impossible!

    I don’t understand why right at the beginning of my healing would the universe set it up so that I am forced to confront my abusers again. The idea of the possibility of seeing them after they have been out of my life for years has me feeling very scared. I feel like a child again wanting to run and hide. I literally, physically feel fear that I will be harmed. I know I am an adult now and know that this won’t happen but I can’t seem to shake it. I feel like since I have been more vulnerable and authentic and revealing these uncovered hurts that I am almost regressing back to childhood patterns. I find this very strange as I portrayed and felt myself to always be confident and strong and to have it together. I feel like this upcoming meeting/confrontation on Saturday will either A. set me back emotionally and make me feel helpless again, B. I would confront them positively and seek somewhere in my heart a way to forgive or C. avoid the situation altogether and disown my family..not talk to them again. I can’t believe that my family, mainly my mother, expects me to be able to see my brother who sexually abused me again after so many years. I told her twice what happened and she brushed it off. Unfortunately it happened to other people too and she refuses to see it. I feel betrayed by her. I explained to her that I didn’t want to see him. Then the new wife of my former step-dad who was physically and emotionally abusive to my mother and us, has requested my friendship on facebook. Furthermore, my sister has reconnected with him after 11 years. I want to forgive and let go but don’t know how. I only feel anger and hostility because I have yet to heal. What bothers me most is the lack of acknowledgement of what happened not just to me but to others in my family. Our lives all bear the scars and wounds and everyone just pretends everything is okay. I want to talk about it. I want to end this secrecy. I spoke up about it as a child and was sent away to live with my grandparents. This was a blessing as I was no longer being abused but I felt outcast for telling the truth. I hate the way in which this hurt has affected me internally and all of my relationships. I want to heal and I want to forgive. Please help! Thank you all for your insight!

    • This topic was modified 8 years, 2 months ago by Zenhen.
    #39870
    Matt
    Participant

    Zenhen,

    I’m so sorry for all of the invasion and shame that happened and happens inside your mind and body. Anger is normal, and its good that you’re looking to heal it… and its good that you have it! Its far better than subjugation, or thinking that you in any way deserved it. Our anger protects us from that.

    However, its also fiery and painful. I think the solution to your anger problem is twofold. This is coming from my own reflections on how my anger settled from my own history which is similar to yours.

    The first and primary healing happens when we realize that letting go of the anger is not about them. We think that staying angry will somehow punish them for what they did, and we want to hold that anger like a weapon to beat on them. Buddha said this is like holding a hot ember in our hand with the intention of throwing it… but its our hand that gets burned.

    Said differently, letting go of the anger is about you, and you reclaiming the beauty and happiness that you deserve. Its like the abuse has two victims. The young you, unable to defend yourself and parents who were terrible to you (at least in this regard). And the present you, whose body is burdened with the anger.

    Holding this, knowing this is important. Because then second piece is looking at our abusers as dumb kids doing dumb things. Their invasive actions come from the same neglect of your parents. Boundaries weren’t taught to them, and so they did tragic and stupid things. The mental states that arise from sexual misconduct is awful on both sides. It would be nice to hold your parents accountable, but their addictions are really painful for them too, and arise because their parents did dumb things too. As we let our ancestors absorb the karma of the abuse (who knows how far back it goes) the anger leeches away, because as much as it would be nice to slam the spear of anger into a solid person, there really isn’t one there to hit, so we set the spear down directly.

    This we can do through sitting meditation, and especially metta practice. Ajahn Jayasaro has a “metta” video which is amazing, and a “counting breaths” video which is a great place to start developing meditative concentration. When there is anger in the body, we say “this anger is extra, corrosive and unneeded now. So, I can let it go. Let’s do some metta practice and make my body feel warm again, instead of compressed and icky.” Or, “I notice my mind is racing around the past, let’s do some sitting meditation. Breathe in, 1. Breathe out, 1.” Etc.

    The abusers just “showing up” suddenly is to help the healing. After all, if we get angry every time we see them, we have lots of opportunity to cleanse out our emotions and mind. In this way, the abusers become some of our greatest teachers, because when we can surrender into a compassionate view of them, finally, after lots of practice, we can love anyone… and all that pain becomes strength of heart.

    One last note, don’t be ashamed of yourself. What you went through is tragic, sad, and painful, but it wasn’t your fault, and it is very common. I was abused sexually as a kid, and feeling like I was the only one who had a secret plagued me for years. I hear your story and look deep into it, and I grieve for the little one, my small sister Zenhen. There’s no room in the heart for judgement or aversion to you, only unconditional acceptance and love and sorrow that you had to go through it.

    With warmth,
    Matt

    #39880
    Zenhen
    Participant

    Matt,

    Thank you so much for your honesty and insight. You especially hit the nail on the head with the anger. I want to release it because it feels like it is burning me and hurting me but at the same time I feel if I let go of anger it would somehow justify what happened and make it okay. I didn’t really realize that this was why I was holding on to it.

    Also I have been directing this anger to my boyfriend unfairly. He does things that reminds me of my abusers. I feel kinda of awkward and uncomfortable around him now because after I told him I needed a break from sex, he still tried to pursue it. Particularly, one night he actually initiated oral sex (which he doesn’t do very much unless he finishes too quickly…a lot of the time it seems he does it out of obligation). I was surprised and allowed it for a bit but then stopped it because I just felt weird. Plus, he was expecting sex afterwards which made me feel like he was only servicing me to get laid. So I told him it had nothing to do with him but I just needed time to heal. I told him I was tired and got ready for bed. I was halfway asleep, turned on my side, when he started to try to come on to me again. I was clearly not in the mood, didn’t move my body position and was completely dry. I didn’t say anything even though I normally would have because I just wanted to see how far he would go. He didn’t stop even when he asked me if it felt good and I didn’t reply. It was over quickly and I just felt completely used, especially since when I initiate at times he physically can’t get it up or just flat out rejects me. BTW I am starting to initiate sex as a form of empowerment because I used to and still struggle with feeling ashamed about my sexual desires. I saw them as meaning I deserved my abuse. I don’t understand why when I want it he can’t give it but when I don’t seem to want it this arouses him. So now I feel like there has been a violation of trust. I told him that was unacceptable. He was apologetic and knew he should have stopped. I am still a bit angry at him. In a way I was just wanting to see how he would react in such situation. I know deep down he didn’t intend on hurting me and he is a good person. I just really don’t know what to think of what happened. So now I feel like I have no safe haven with him, my mother or anyone else.

    I have read a few of your replies on this forum and have been so uplifted by them. The love you have found for yourself and others really inspires me to be better. Thanks for sharing your light and for your words of encouragement!

    #39881
    Matt
    Participant

    Zenhen,

    I’m so happy and honored that my heartsong has been uplifting for you. I always hope and wish that the words reach out across time, space and concepts and help the hearts of those in need… and your words bring joy to my heart. Well, not all of them obviously. The situation with your boyfriend seems very salvageable. It sounds like he is loving, but ignorant of what to do, and like all males I’ve met, gets swept into the sensations of pleasure (blinding him to your side at umm… peak times).

    One of the baggages of sexual abuse is the way we view penetration and sexual desire as about our partner or about ourselves. Because during our abuse, sometimes our bodies get turned on and experience pleasure, the icky emotional and mental responses get paired with pleasure and sex drive. For myself and some others I’ve talked to about it, this generated a rift or split between our sexual and romantic feelings. For instance, I could talk about my sexual preferences any time with my partner, except when I was turned on. This makes deep sexual union difficult because it is essentially a stifling of our sexual creativity. Said differently, we don’t let our bodies express the sensual and sexual energy we feel.

    This is normal, and can be undone with some patience and acceptance. I noticed it in your post, and it brought a few things to heart that perhaps, if it resonates with you, you could try. The goal is to move away from the split and back into union, so that the sexual connection moves from their energy and our energy into an “us” energy. This allows us to experience real sex, unburdened by the abuse (which was not sex, even though it physically looks like it).

    Consider that our sexual energy isn’t there to inspire our body to orgasm, its a sacred binding force of love. So, when we are taking back our power, it isn’t like grabbing a horse that we ride for our pleasure. Instead, we slow down, and pour our power into our partner. Each of us is different, but for me this is much like letting my mind and body sink into my partner like a cloud. If you make a tight fist, and really squeeze it… that is like the energy before sinking. Then relax the fist slowly, and feel the way it expands… spaciousness, blooming.

    If you lay behind your partner and place your mouth on his neck, hand on his thigh or lower back, you can let your body unclench into him in the same way. You are a goddess, and your sacred river of passion is right behind that clenched feeling. She is powerful, sensual, creative, and alluring. Try to let yourself fall into him, relax into him, let your body feel his… the softness of his skin, the taste, his breathing. Try to let your mouth be a single body motion with your hand. Slow. As in can’t move too slow. Press in together with mouth and fingers, pull back together. Then, as his body starts to move, try to catch him with your body… so you remain in control of the pressure. For instance, if you are pulling back with your mouth and fingers and his hips move backward toward you, move your hips back as well. If you’re pressing in, and he moves, keep your body at the pressure you’ve set. Try to follow the relaxation, instead of the pleasure.

    What this does is bring your creativity to his body in a pleasing way, and allow him to give it back. He can do the same practice for you, when you’re ready. And yes, this should help with any “he’s not able to perform” issues. What I have seen in myself and others is that men have a difficult time sustaining passion for a woman if she is not giving the energy back, such as if she is getting involved in thinking, or if the man is moving too fast for the waves of the woman and so on.

    Also, you could pick up “The One Hour Orgasm” which is great in reawakening our sensual side, as well as providing a space for intimate communication with our partner. Its not about an hour of pleasure, rather, helping bring the sacred qualities back to our lovemaking.

    With warmth,
    Matt

    #39885
    Buddhist Wife
    Participant

    Hello,

    I am so sorry to hear about your past experiences.

    It seems to me that no one in your family understood boundaries and so you have never learned to create them for yourself. Coupled with societal pressure that women are under to be nice and passive it must be incredible difficult for you to stand up for yourself as a result.

    I think there are two issues here.

    I do want to say however that I believe, under no circumstances, should you allow your abusers back into your life. I cannot believe that anything positive will come from it. I’m horrified that your mother has been so callous as to ignore your needs. It sounds to me like she is being incredibly selfish and that this so called ‘reunion’ is all about her needs. She wants to ignore what happened in the past and get you to play ‘happy families’ again, no matter what the cost is to you.

    I think you have to be true to yourself and set up boundaries. Reading between the lines, it seems to me that you are being pressured into this meeting. So don’t go. I don’t care if your mother cries, stamps her feet or throws a tantrum. I don’t care if your whole family criticise you, tell you that you are being unfair or place pressure on you. They are wrong. They are wrong. They are wrong.

    You do not have to see or speak to your abusers ever again. Anyone who asks you to do something that will cause you such distress does not love you in the way they should.

    Sadly sometimes we are born into toxic families who do us wrong. Sadly sometimes it is better that we don’t have contact with these families. It’s possible that this might be the best option for you. Perhaps this is something you want to bring up in therapy. Don’t be surprised if your therapy is going slowly. Therapists are often like this and will approach issues carefully to build up trust and a proper understanding of the picture.

    The second issue is about forgiveness. I have to say that I think it is possible to forgive and not have someone in your life. I think it is possible to say, I release this burden which is weighing me down emotionally, but I cannot allow you back in to my life

    For now, I think this is all you can do. Your mother is not acknowledging what happened so I doubt that your brother will, or that you will get any apologies for what happened in the past.

    I am including the following links because I think they might help you to look at your situation.

    http://www.daughtersofnarcissisticmothers.com/

    This is a website which focuses on women who have problematic mothers. Sadly there are several women who are members of this site who have stories similar to yours. I hope you can draw some lessons from them.

    http://www.pandys.org/articles/siblingsexualabuse.html

    This is a website about sibling abuse. I haven’t seen it before so I can’t vouch for all of its contents. However on a quick reading it seems like it might be of use to you.

    I will be thinking of you and I really hope that you can move towards healing.

    #39889
    Zenhen
    Participant

    Matt,

    Thank you for the information about sexual fulfillment. I really want to get to a space where I can fully enjoy it and not be afraid of release or not go off into my own head space. As far as my partner goes, I sort of suspect he has some sexual healing to do too. We will pick up this book and hopefully just learn to love and please each other without any need for power struggles or fantasy or anything extra. I have read briefly about how spiritual sex can bring healing and I would really like to experience that spiritual union that can arise from sex. Thank you for the insight!

    #39899
    Zenhen
    Participant

    Buddhist Wife,

    Thank you for taking the time to look up these links for me. I am sure they will be helpful. I have always felt that my mom was a bit selfish but never thought to classify her as a narcissist. I know she has a victim attitude and anything that happens isn’t ever her fault. Even when things happen to others , she somehow makes it about her own suffering. My heart really goes out to her as I have watched her age. I feel really bad for her because she is stuck in these patterns and is unable to see her blind spots. In a way, I am thankful to her because she has really inspired me to grow. Seeing that she has matured on the outside but still remains unripened on the inside is really heartbreaking. I decided I would do what it takes to grow.

    “The second issue is about forgiveness. I have to say that I think it is possible to forgive and not have someone in your life. I think it is possible to say, I release this burden which is weighing me down emotionally, but I cannot allow you back in to my life”

    I agree with you here. Whether I see him or not, I simply want to forgive. I heard forgiveness is for the forgiver and I truly just want to let go. For now, especially since I am feeling so vulnerable, I think it is best not to see him. If I could see him without expectations, it would be different. If I see him, I want to confront him, I want to talk about it, I want to know why, etc. Ideally it would be great if I could get those answers but I know this wont happen. In additional, I often wonder even if I get those answers will it change the way I feel inside. I am sure I will receive no apologies from him as he got caught (he did this to someone else as an adult) and was actually arrested and showed no remorse. I was more understanding of him as a kid since he was only seven years older than me and our family really set no type of boundaries. But to see that he continues to do this really makes me sick and makes me feel guilty. Like maybe if I told the police when I was younger, rather than my mom, he would have stopped then and not continued.

    Parting from my family, which I did once before for over a year, will be very hurtful. I stopped all communication all together. Me being the one they could always count on and use anytime they needed money or favors, not having me around anymore really made them think. My uncle actually one time said to my mom to stop pushing me so far because there would be a day where they wouldn’t see me anymore. I took his advice and just left. After I re-entered their lives, they have been more respectful but it is a struggle at times to set boundaries. I have noticed that since I have been undergoing this healing process, I have actually withdrawn from them more. For some reason it just feels better to keep them at a distance until I can get some stable ground and not be so angry. What is sad is that I am a very family orientated person so not having an ideal family or close family really hurts. However, I have learned to create families where ever I go. People really appreciate this about me and feel very loved in the homey community that I create through my friendships. My house is sort of like home away from home for many of my friends. I am thankful for their friendships and communities like Tiny Buddha!

    Thank you for your advice and your warm wishes!

    #39938
    Amelie
    Participant

    Hello dear Zenhen,

    I don’t enter Tiny Buddha very often, but something made me come in here and then I saw what you wrote… I truly believe there are no coincidences.

    First of all, feel embraced… you’re not alone! I have a similar story. I will tell my experience in the hope it may be of some help for you.

    I’m adept from a life philosophy / religion very close to Buddhism. Last year I was in a retreat for spiritual training; in the middle of the retreat I started remembering things that happened in my childhood. I remembered I was sexually abused by my father and uncle! Memories came up as visions and physical sensations in my body… I just couldn’t believe it, because these memories were closed for almost 20 years in my mind and I had no idea until that moment. I was living in the same house where uncle who abused me was living too… I didn’t have enough money to move to somewhere else… In the retreat I sought advise from one of the spiritual leaders and she said I should forgive the abusers.

    I came back from the retreat in intense suffering… To tell my family was something I couldn’t think about at the time (haven’t told until today). I told it to my best friend – he helped me a lot. A few days later I decided to tell this to a person I trusted a lot, who I considered as a second mother to me. She didn’t believed me… she said I should think very well if these memories were real, if these memories weren’t being induced by the retreat… I had a panic attack when I read her email. It just never went through my mind that someone would doubt me, would doubt my memories were real – especially her.

    Anyway, weeks passed and I was in deep suffering, memories going over my head and body. I know I came up to a point where I didn’t know what to do, I was so desperate… Somehow I run into a mentalization to forgive, from Masaharu Taniguchi. A spiritual leader from Seicho-No-Ie recommended me to repeat this mentalization many times a day, for the abusers and for my mother. I didn’t know what else to do, so I started doing it but not with much hope… I repeated it 100 times a day for my mother, and 100 for my father (to repeat imagining the person is in front of you, as if you were talking to him/her). In the begining it was very hard – the memories came, but I decided to keep on doing the mentalization no mather what. In the eighth day, I experienced a huge relief. I continued doing it for some days… Since then, the memories from the abuse don’t bother me anymore.

    Doing this mentalization is what released me. Some people don’t believe this kind of thing can work – I didn’t believed in it when I started doing it. I was skeptic, but I was too desperate to rationalize… so I just did it. The fact is: it released me. I didn’t understand how it worked, but recently I understand (or began to understand)…

    The mentalization is this:
    “I forgive you, you forgive me, you and I are one before God
    I love you, you love me, you and I are one before God
    I thank you, you thank me, thank you, thank you, thank you”

    Today, I can meet my mother, my father and my uncle. I’ve been thinking honestly with myself if I had truly forgive them, and… I didn’t – I have other reasons to be mad at them. So I started doing the mentalization again a few days ago, for all of them. I truly want to be cleaned of all negative feelings… I’m working on it.

    A very important thing… I believe you should think honestly what are your feelings with yourself about this. I had a very hard time to admit to myself I felt pleasure in some experiences in the abuse. For many people, this is inconceivable, disgusting… but a body is a body, and we have parts of our body designed to feel pleasure. I still feel guilty about have feeling these things, and sometimes disgusted with myself – even though I know I was just a child back then… So, I’m working on forgiving myself too.

    My learning… Hate is a waste of our life. Anger, sadness… all negative feelings are. I spontaneously remembered things from past lives; I know that what happened to me as a child wasn’t by chance. It never is. I understand we are here together by major reasons. I understand I love my family and that the wrong things they did doesn’t nullifies all the other good things they gave me until today. I decided to forgive and to love, even if it’s difficult. It’s entirely up to you whether you would still meet the abusers or not… but if you forgive them, you will free yourself. To forgive them doesn’t mean to have a relationship with them… but I believe you should be in peace with them.

    I honestly hope this can help you. Feel free to answer or ask me anything. Whatever I can do to help will, I’m here.

    Amelie

    #39943
    kristin
    Participant

    i agree.

    no accidents. no surprises.

    i found this at the perfect time.

    zenhen, your experiences are so familiar to me.

    matt, your words are like a balm.

    i’ll save them to reread over and over.

    the journey. here we are.

    thank you.

    #39950
    Matt
    Participant

    Kristin,

    Namaste! Its been an incredible journey on this side, and I hope yours becomes more joyous as time passes. I’ll share any innovations I’ve found, and do my best to give love.

    Amelie,

    Thank you for the mantra, I had not seen it before. It is amazing and well aimed!

    About that guilt…

    When we wake up and decide our hearts have had enough, and we seek an find innovations to overcome our challenges, we begin to recognize how much time we spent in avoidance. See where this is going? Time sifted through our hands as we sought refuge in any number of things. Addictions, mindlessness, indulgence… we kept getting stuck. Said differently, our root chakra was thrown out of whack and we slipped into states of craving and aversion. With the bottom half of our energy vibrating, so was the top half. The guilt is just a result… an empty feeling or residue from the out of balance root.

    What I’ve found helpful is like a mantra, but also a metta type meditation that follows the reiki rune cho-ku-rei, or “bring the healing energy here!”. The mantra:

    The humility to accept the body and mind want to give focus to the heart.
    The humility to accept the mind is a meeting between body and nature.
    The humility to accept the body wants to give focus to compassion and sacred union.

    This has helped me let go of many “automatic” emotions that come up, and the view of the world becomes much brighter. This is really only a side effect, because it quickly becomes obvious we are here to follow our hearts, give love (in whatever way that helps us or others scoot on away from the icky energy) and find peace and balance as best we can.

    The guilt, from this view, becomes fuel… like an exercise ball for the spirit. Its painful, but the pain makes us alert so our bodies know to realign with compassion and nobility. I don’t believe its a coincidence that nature would give us a potent energy for balance, such as feeling icky when we work unskillfully with nature, and a feeling of warmth when we do act skillfully. And the great part is the guilty feelings are impermanent… as we gain strength of heart and balance our energy, the icky just fades away. The mind part is a maze of mirrors… we don’t have to do anything with it, just let it go. We can trust that a) we’ll either be reminded of the imbalance through uncomfortable feelings.
    Or b) have the strength to let go of the maze and bring our energy back into the present moment where we let go in whatever way feels right for us.
    Or c) simply not dwell at all, having let go of the past, and keep sharing and loving in ways that seem wise, here, now.

    Perhaps a combination of the two mantras would be beautiful. Consider doing the cho-ku-rei mantra for awhile, then stand or sit naked in front of a mirror and do the other, forgiving your body for hurting so long. Forgiving your mind for cycling so much.

    Look at how beautiful we are!

    Namaste.

    With warmth,
    Matt

    #39994
    Zenhen
    Participant

    TO KRISTIN, AMELIE AND MATT ( IN THAT ORDER)

    Kristin,

    I am glad that my post was timely for both you and Amelie. As you all may have experienced and as Matt has commented on, secrecy is a major part of the abuse. I was really torn about whether I should openly talk about this. Even under a pseudo name it was extremely difficult to post. I almost thought about deleting it afterwards. When I first starting speaking of my abuse I spoke in third person as if it happened to someone else. I am glad that you were brave enough to speak up and that through our stories, experiences and kind words we can help each other heal.

    Amelie,

    I am incredibly proud of you for speaking up. I am sorry that your close friend/mother figure doubted you. I know how hurtful this can be. You know what is true for you and in your heart. I will keep this meditation in mind. As I am now rediscovering this pain and anger, I think it is too early for me to do the forgiveness meditation. I feel that I must purge first and shed this old skin. I am close to forgiveness though, I can feel it and first I have to forgive myself for a lot, mainly for being so harsh to myself. I have been doing the meditation though for other people in my life, even my pets when they have an accident = ).

    Luckily I never felt pleasure from the abuse. I did however see it as a form of love since it was the only type of affection and attention I received. So because of this I have made the ill interpretation that if a guy doesn’t want to sex me up 24/7 he doesn’t love me. However, when I am with men who physically want me all the time I just feel used and kinda disgusted. So now I have a relationship where my boyfriend has a low sex drive and some ED issues, it makes me feel safe in a way. I don’t worry about being used and abused but then I struggle with feeling unloved. Weird how this abuse creates all of this conflicting emotions. I am trying to sort them out now. I hope that you too find healing.

    Matt,

    “our root chakra was thrown out of whack and we slipped into states of craving and aversion. With the bottom half of our energy vibrating, so was the top half. The guilt is just a result… an empty feeling or residue from the out of balance root.”

    You really opened my eyes to a part of me which I just assumed was natural. I feel like I am constantly craving not just one thing but many. I didn’t realize that there was a correlation or that my root chakra might be out of whack, thus causing this craving nature. Funny thing is I could never truly pinpoint what I was craving so I went after them all never truly feeling satisfied. Many times I am ridden by guilt and shame. You really give me hope for healing. At times I think I will always be broken, scarred, wounded no matter what I do but after hearing you I see I don’t really have to be. Thanks again!

    AMELIE, KIRSTEN AND MATT,

    Here are some questions for all of you. I am trying to figure out what is “normal” or not and exactly what feelings are contributed to my abuse. I would like to know if you all had the same feelings and experiences and how you deal or dealt with them.

    1. I feel like I am in a fog. I feel like I am not real sometimes. I read this is disassociation. How can I wake up?

    2. Every now and then I can randomly feel my genitals tingle and I can’t discern if I am aroused or not. Is this just old pain trapped in that region? Or am I aroused? Or do I just feel uncomfortable with feeling aroused that I want to call it something else? It’s almost like I don’t know if I am aroused unless I am with someone else.

    3. Is it hard to read/feel your body? Doing yoga has made me realize I have little body awareness. Really I was stuck in my mind. How do I reunite my body with mind and with heart?

    4. Sexual desire is bad and I want sex badly. (On top of the sexual abuse, I grew up with this religious message). Do you have this saint/sinner complex? Also I am turned on by taboo sex. Sometimes I feel this makes me a pervert and wonder if my sexual abuse is the reason these things arouse me.

    5. Does your nonsexual desires and needs make you feel guilty? I feel undeserving of good things many times.

    6. Do you feel like people just want to use you? Do you have a hard time saying no?

    7. I feel like I am a bad person or that there is something secretly wrong with me. Do you ever feel this way?

    8. Do you ever worry that you might abuse someone else? I read that people who abuse were abused and can’t get this out of my head, even though I haven’t even come close to it. I would never want anyone to experience what I did.

    9. When you see children with adults in physical contact do you feel uncomfortable? For me particularly with little girls and their dads, uncles, male figures, for example, tickling on the floor or hanging/sitting loosely on laps, or kisses on the mouth. It makes me really sad that I can’t simply see that as affection. It makes me acutely aware of how my perception is warped due to the abuse. Also I wish I could have experienced such physical closeness as a child without fear of abuse. Tickle fights lead to abuse, sitting on laps lead to abuse, etc. How do I erase this? How do I rid myself of these suspicions? Not every man is an abuser. (I know women can abuse too but that wasn’t the case for me).

    10. Is it hard to trust? Are you frequently afraid that others will harm you? Not just people but even things. For example, I rock climb and even have a hard time trusting the equipment. When I posted this, I was almost certain I would get negative feedback. Even though logically I know it would not be the case since everyone on this forum is kind and interested in helping others.

    Thank you all for taking the time to reply. Also please feel free to add any other feelings or experiences. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • This reply was modified 8 years, 2 months ago by Zenhen.
    #40019
    Matt
    Participant

    Zenhen,

    Whew! That’s a lot of questions. πŸ™‚ I’ll take them one at a time and try not to blab too much about one. Feel free to ask me to provide more detail on any of them if it might help.

    1) The fog! Yes the fog, our silly minds which place a layer of silt on everything. The guilt and shame and fear adds extra layers to our senses… and we wake slowly over time as we find self acceptance and heal. It is jarring to suddenly awake, and so its better to erode the fears over time and things get clearer and clearer. The disassociation, in my opinion, is like a protective armor we put in place to protect our tender heart from our environment and our relentless self-criticism.

    2) Tingling genitals sounds to me like a physical arousal perhaps without mental arousal. Instead of feeling warm and fluid, such as when our partner kisses us gently, its more like an itch. As the root comes into balance with our healing and self-nurturing, the mind and body unite.

    3) Sitting meditation is great for bringing the mind and body together. The cho-ku-rei mantra has also helped me with that.

    4) The saint/sinner is sooo common in my experience. Its more helpful to step away from the self judging. The saintly view arises from pride, where we pretend/try/think we are “perfect”. The sinner view arises from shame, where we fear/avoid/feel isolated because of our flaws or desires. Its a cycle that we can step out of with practice. The feeling of shame makes us feel unworthy of connection, so we compensate by trying to be perfect (whatever that means). When we (or others) regard our actions as great, we feel pride. When we (or others) regard our actions as not great, we feel shame. Instead of trying to be perfect, we can do our best to say what we see, think, and feel. That way if others like or dislike what we do, its about them, not about us.

    5) Brene Brown has a great ted talk that is all about shame, isolation, and finding our self worth. This lack of worth is just a byproduct of shame. Consider that everyone is equally worthy of human connection. You, me, them… we’re all just stumbling along trying to find our way to joy.

    6) When we were young, we didn’t have the strength or knowledge to set good boundaries. Because many of them were violated, we might get caught in fiery emotions like anger and fear before we think to set them. This makes us feel used or taken advantage. We now have the power and wisdom to say no, and if someone asks us for something that we don’t want to give, it is our responsibility to say no. Others can’t guess what we will and won’t do, and its not fair to make them. So when they ask, we can just say yes or no based on what we feel is right in the moment.

    7) Sounds like shame to me. You are one of the most courageous people I have ever met, and I laugh and cry when I read your words. Sure, there are things you can improve on, but that’s true for everyone. As we open up and share with others, the “wrongness” is not secret, or even wrong. Just painful, so we heal it for our sake. Our parents set a bad example for us in suppressing or ignoring our abuse… most people cry and hug us. Little kids, penetrated and alone, scared, confused… grow up into adults longing for love and acceptance and scared they are unlovable. Why would a heart do anything but want to cry for their suffering? Love flows and connects us.

    8) I did. I knew I would never, but still struggled with sexual desires arriving unwelcomly. As we heal, that goes away. Really its just fear… like you’d ever abuse a boy or girl. I bet you just about throw up in your mouth to even consider it. Fear is just fear, we can let it go. You are in control of your body.

    9) When we are afraid, we are on high alert for danger. As we cleanse the fear, the alert changes back to appreciation for the love that is being shared. Instead of “oh no, where might that lead” which is our fearful mind playing a fantasy, we can see “look at how beautiful love can be… dads and daughters playing creatively and safely”.

    10) Sounds like more fear. Consider reading “From Fear to Fearlessness” by Pema Chodron. Its pretty awesome. Consider that courage (which you have a lot of) is an energy that lets us do things we’re afraid of. As we let go of the fears, we don’t have to spend as much energy on courage, which we get to keep instead. Then we can do whatever we want with it, give it to others, concentrate longer, climb higher etc.

    I’m impressed! You really know a lot about yourself, even if you don’t know what to do with what you know. πŸ™‚ As we keep walking down the path of healing and self knowing, toward a balanced state of love and light, these items erode and dissipate. I’ve experienced all of them, but now, meh, not so much.

    I still have some fear that my love or view might harm others because of what I’ve been through. Some fear that if someone really “knew me” they would consider me unlovable. But these are like gnats, flying around a spacious mind and heart so when they do come up, I catch them in my hand and put them back outside where they belong. The heart has too much love in it to let anything stop its pouring for long. Know what I mean?

    With warmth,
    Matt

    #40043
    Zenhen
    Participant

    Matt,

    Thank you for sharing your experience with me. I feel extremely relieved and reassured knowing that I am not alone. Last night, I looked up Ajahn Jayasaro’s metta meditation. You were right, it is amazing. I went to sleep so soundly. Since I first posted this, my feelings of anger, hurt and fear have subsided. They have slowly been transforming into compassion and understanding for my self, my experience and my abusers. I love how energy can slide back and forth like that. I still don’t know what I will do tomorrow, to go or to not go, but regardless of my decision I will be at peace. The potential encounter was what prompted me to write this post and some incredibly great things have come of it. Things are getting harder yet easier at the same time.

    I think because I am an ENFP, I am acutely aware and perceptive of the undercurrents within myself and others. This is a mixed blessing. I know what I see but don’t know what to do with what I see. You pointed that out clearly. I am slowly acquiring the wisdom and discernment to know what to do with those perceptions and findings. I am so thrilled that you recommended the Pema Chodron book to me. In January I went to a nearby Shambhala center for about two weeks. I even attended a weekend meditation seminar with Judith Simmer-Brown. I saw that book on the shelf and scanned through it. I put it back down though. I said I would go back and get it later but didn’t. I actually never went back because the meditation was a trigger for all of the memories. I had forgotten about that book but will go back and get it : ). Hopefully soon what seems like fire breathing dragons will become gnats!

    ” The heart has too much love in it to let anything stop its pouring for long. Know what I mean?” I do know what you mean. My initial reaction (and honestly I think that of most) is to love but things get in the way. I am learning to remove them!

    Thank you so much for all of your kind words and warmth!

    Sending Lots of Love,

    Zenhen

    • This reply was modified 8 years, 2 months ago by Zenhen.
    • This reply was modified 8 years, 2 months ago by Zenhen.
    #40052
    Matt
    Participant

    Zenhen,

    Wow, you really knocked my socks off with your insight “…transforming into compassion and understanding for my self, my experience and my abusers. I love how energy can slide back and forth like that.”

    Our history inspires thoughts and feelings which cycle around our energy system (from perceptions, thoughts, feelings, beliefs etc etc). However, as we wake up we can see that those energies are impermanent. Otherwise, a metta practice wouldn’t do what it does. Isn’t that cool? That as we abandon the old and embrace new patterns, our energy very tangibly shifts.

    What a space this creates around our experiences. “Hmmm, now this thought cycle is interesting, what to do?” Or “Hmmm.. this feels painful, what to do?” Others may trigger us, but they don’t wrestle control from our hands… after all, if we intend to give metta to all, but don’t or can’t, we can rest assured that with more practice (time on the cushion) our equanimity will return.

    Then, namaste becomes an embodiment… the Buddha inside us remains awake, alert, giving and bows in respect to all. Those who are helping us cleanse our heart through triggering us are as important as those who give us wisdom. Motivation and direction, what a beautiful life we live!

    Namaste. πŸ™‚

    With warmth,
    Matt

    #40059

    Hello Zenhen,

    I applaud your decisions to deal with what you have experienced and to allow healing to take place and to set boundaries. A boundary defines your comfort level. If you are not comfortable seeing certain members of your family or all of them, then do not do it. You can still feel love in your heart for them, but accept that you do not feel good being with them.

    I spent a long time harboring anger and unforgiveness in my heart towards those who abused me, but through spirituality I learned that the only person I was hurting was myself. Forgiveness is the key to letting go of the anger and pain–it is a gift to yourself. It does not mean you condone what happened, or that you need to have a relationship with those who abused you. It is simply a decision you make to let it go–to stop allowing it to negatively impact your relationships and your life. It is a healthy, healing and loving decision,made by you, for you. You cannot change the past, but your words tell me you are living in the now, creating a different life for yourself. I know you will have the strength and receive the guidance to do this.

    Love and peace,

    Marilyn

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