Why I help others….And why it’s worth it.

I have been interested in Psychology since I was 17 and ever since then, I have had my head buried in literature. In high school, I was the only one in my class who read the textbook even outside homework. I was fascinated. I wanted to know what made people tick. Now that I am old enough to understand better, I feel that my high-school self was really trying to understand what made HER tick. I wanted to understand myself and I wanted to understand what motivated others to behave the way they did.

My high school teacher recommended me to become a counselor or somehow work in the field and it never appealed to me. I also don’t agree with mainstream psychology. I think mainstream psychology, for many reasons, keeps people stuck in victimhood and disempowerment. Also we live in a lawsuit culture and due to the incessant fear of being sued, therapists cannot practice with integrity. Fear overrides them actually being able to help their clients even though some lawsuits are warranted. And this makes therapists live in fear of getting sued or punished.

While I do come alive when I am helping others and I do have a volunteer job where I can at least listen to people’s problems, I also want to change the way people look at trauma and toward those who are wounded by it. That is one of the many reasons I write. All my life I had felt alone in my own pain. When I tried to reach out as a child and as a young adult, I was shamed, belittled, gaslighted and condemned by others who felt just as alone as myself but didn’t have the strength to face it in themselves. So, then I withdrew. Now, at 51, I want to be that person who lets those, who are suffering in silence, know that there is somebody out there who understands them. If I can write one article that allows people to know they are not alone, that someone validates their pain, that someone gets them and that someone is here for them if they need someone, then I have done my job. I want to do this because this is what I had always wanted when I was younger, so if anyone understands the loneliness and isolation of living in pain entails, it’s me. I get it.

In a world where the knee jerk reaction to people who are in pain is get over it, let it go, the past is in the past, move on already, get a stiff upper lip, just suck it up, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, change your thoughts, your parents loved you, put your big girl panties on, it happened a long time ago, it’s just a story, and other insensitive reductive belittling comments are the norm, I want to change that. I want to be THAT ONE to tip the scales in the other direction. A direction toward Understanding people in pain…leaving no more room to condemn and belittle survivors.

“But we need to tell people to get over it so they don’t get stuck in victimhood”

Do people really still think this works in 2020?

“Get over it” is actually ***WHY*** people get stuck in victimhood. “Get over it” tells people their feelings are wrong and to shut down. We cannot heal when we are shut down. Survivors need empathy, unconditional support and understanding since this allows abuse survivors to feel SAFE enough to release their feelings and talk about what happened. Get over it actually retraumatizes people since as children this is symbolic of their surroundings they lived in following the abuse. People are as stuck as they are because they feel so much pressure to get over it, to be strong, to pretend they are OK when they are not and to dismiss their feelings as invalid and something to feel more shame about causing overwhelming anxiety. However, when people feel genuinely validated, heard and understood, only then, can they START to feel safe enough to feel again and it’s in the feeling of feelings that we are able to let go and move through all the pain. We have to feel in order to heal and there is no way around that.

Why does our culture say stuff like “let it go”?

We others say “let it go” and masquerade it as “I’m just trying trying to help” when in reality it’s all about the person saying it. Saying things like “get over it” isn’t about the survivors of abuse; it’s about you. “Get over it” comes from (unconscious) anger and frustration and survivors can never feel safe in that kind of climate. When you get triggered by someone else’s inability to “just get over it”, it is only because that person’s pain is reminding YOU of your own repressed unconscious pain you are holding on to. And if you are not ready to deal with it and let go of your own pain, you might feel compelled to silence other’s pain. When someone else is showing symptoms of post traumatic stress, it instantly triggers our own so when we tell others that the past is in the past, we are really telling the younger part of ourselves ( the child within) to get over it. We have been programmed by our own environment growing up that these words are normal. You are probably remembering how your own pain was invalidated and wrong. “Act like a man”, “big girls don’t cry” “stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!”… Most of us grew up like that so it explains why we continue this cycle through generations.
How we respond to other’s in pain is how we respond to ourselves in pain and how our pain was greeted when we were children. And when we don’t give others the outlet they need to feel safe enough to release, people remain stuck. As a result of holding on to pain instead of using the body and emotions to let go of it, people wind up alcoholics, addicted to food, addicted to being busy all the time, addicted to shopping, addicted to work, addicted to drugs, and become susceptible to physical and mental illness, suicide ideation, numbness, denial. panic attacks, harming others, lack of empathy, disconnected, dissociated, and often creating more victims.

My opinions are counterculture and I don’t expect others to hop on board right away, but I do want people to THINK about the impact their actions might have on survivors because if we sincerely want to see child abuse end, it’s starts in how we treat survivors since a healed person is very unlikely to create more victims.

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