“Whenever we begin to feel as if we can no longer go on, hope whispers in our ear to remind us that we are strong.”
Robert Hensel, Disability activist
I am a victim!
Betty, a well dressed woman, well over forty, walked into my office and sat down. She was poised, polished and yet…perturbed. I asked her how I could help her and she said,
“I am a victim!”
“How are you a victim?” I asked.
“I was victimized…by my father!” she retorted.
I queried her further, “How were you victimized by your father?”
She responded, “I experienced incest with my father many years ago as a young child.”
She went on to explain between the ages of five and eight years her father had molested her several times. I then asked her to tell me about her life now. She said she was married to a good man and they had three great kids. She explained how she worked for the federal government in a job she enjoyed and supervised twenty people.
“Worrying is carrying yesterday and tomorrow with today…three days load at once. No wonder your tired! Worrying doesn’t empty yesterday or tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of your strength.”
I asked her how her health was these days and she responded she enjoyed good health.
I asked her how was her social life and she told me she had an active one with three close friends. I wondered if she was having any financial difficulties but she assured me she was not. She and her spouse managed their resources quite well. Finally I asked her if she felt she had a strong spirit and a strong sense of self worth. She said she did indeed and felt she was a very fortunate.
How are you a victim?
So then I asked her, “Betty, how are you a victim?”
She looked taken aback by my questions and shifted her posture in her chair, twisting her shoulders a bit to the left, as if realigning herself in some way to her world. Then when she had resettled herself she said,
“Ken, I was victimized by my father over quite a long period and it still bothers me!”
“From what you have just described to me about your life today, it sounds like you are not a victim of your past but a victor over your past!”
I added, “Let’s go back and look in more detail at how you coped, what you did and what you learned from those experiences which make you who you are today! Betty, are you willing to take that journey with me? Because if you are, you will move past your past and into your future!”
I need to do this for me…for my own family…my own future.
Betty, poised again, deep in thought, finally looked up and said,
“Ken, I have such mixed emotions about my father. I haven’t even spoken to him in over 10 years …and he is in poor health.”
Betty hesitated for a few seconds and then said, “Yes…I need to do this for me…for my own family…for my own future!”
And so this is exactly what Betty did. She went on a journey exploring many of her childhood memories. We started with the clearest ones and uncovered what happened and what she learned about herself, relationships and her values. Then she discovered how this impacts who she is today, what she does today and what she has achieved today.
She found clear, direct connections…
She found clear, direct connections between every significant incest experience and some important value she held today such as self respect, determination, respecting others, personal boundaries, independence, parenting and several others.
She also realized her value system and what she had achieved as a person regarding her family, her career, and her life in general, was also tied to her relationship to her father.
I love my father!
At our last session I remember one of her comments distinctly. With two small tears of insight and recognition sneaking out she said,
“You know Ken,…I love my father!”
“Yes, Betty, you do! And he loves you! You just don’t have your father’s value system because you didn’t have his life experiences. You have probably figured out he loved you the only way he knew how at that time in his life with his own childhood and his beliefs about himself.”
“Yes, it makes much more sense now..and you know what?”
“What?” I said.
“My father is in a senior’s home in Ontario and my brothers visit him now and then. Of course, I am not expected to because my entire family know what happened. But Ken, I am going to visit him and tell him I love him and that I am OK!”
“I think that is a very wise decision for you and him!”
Six out of ten women and five out of ten men…
And that’s what she did! Betty discovered she was a victoriously evolved person, with lots to be grateful. This included her childhood and everyone in it, including her father.
Even though others still thought she was a victim, she realized this simply reflected their level of awareness based on their life experiences.
“Living in the past creates depression, living in the future creates anxiety,
living in the present creates strength, harmony and motivation!”
The researchers continue to struggle with determining the incidence of incest regionally and globally. A recent collection of data suggests at least six out ten women and five out of ten men have experienced some form of incest. Yet you can’t really pick them out of the crowd in a shopping mall or on a busy downtown street.
This implies about half of your family, friends, colleagues and neighbors have also experienced some form of incest. Notice however, they are difficult to identify unless they share it with you.
“You won’t see the opportunities in front of you if you are blinded by what is behind you.”
This demonstrates people who have experienced incest have learned from these experiences and have used them, like Betty did, to become who they are today. These experiences have also been used to determine what they do today and ultimately what they have in their life today.
A dramatic demonstration of the truth…
This was demonstrated dramatically to me a few years ago. I was facilitating a conference seminar on school yard bullying in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. I asked a group of about sixty participants: teachers, social workers, probation officers and youth workers how many owed their career choice to the person who bullied them in their childhood.
There was a few moments of silence as each person tracked back over their own life history. I urged them to be honest with themselves and just raise their hand if they could see how their current occupation was tied directly or indirectly in their own mind to that bully. Over twenty, more than a third of the professionals present that day, raised their hand.
I then asked them one further question which also surprised them. I said, “Have you thanked that bully yet for how they contributed to who you are, what you do and what you have today?” Not one had done so!
If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you smarter!
Remember what I mentioned in the last news letter.
People and events which we view as bad, traumatic or damaging also benefit us equally in other ways we may not have noticed. “If it doesn’t kill you it makes you smarter!”
“You are exactly where you need to reach your goals. Everything you’ve been through was preparation for where you are and where you are going tomorrow.”
Check out our Take Away Tool to learn how to move past what you have perceived as your trauma. Next time we will take a look at another way you can uncover wisdom from your past.
POINTS TO PONDER AND REMEMBER are:
1. Every parent loves their child the only way they know how.
2. Every parent brings their own value system to parenting unconsciously.
3. Incest is very common among humans everywhere.
4. Incest does not have to paralyze you in your life.
5. Incest can be used to liberate you from your past and give you a future.
6. Incest has helped make you who you are today and you are a wiser person.
7. Incest has helped you do what you do today and you are a productive person.
helped you have what you have achieved today and you are a successful person.
9. Incest has certainly created pain, confusion and challenges but equally created strength, insight and determination.
10. The wise person owns both the negatives and positives so they grow in self appreciation.
YOUR TAKE AWAY TOOL: “Resolving Your Childhood Trauma!”
Step One – Identify a significant, childhood trauma which still comes back to you regularly. It could be anything where you perceive you lost something or someone; were betrayed, assaulted, sabotaged, undermined or threatened in any way.
Step Two – Go back to the time it happened and ask yourself these specific question:
I. How did this traumatic event strengthen me, my spirit or my sense of me?
II. How did it enhance me, my self worth, my self esteem or my self confidence?
III. How did it motivate me regarding my work, career or ambitions?
IV. How did it serve me in some financial way such as creating opportunities or raising my self worth?
V. How did it draw me closer to other special people such as bring a friend closer or create a new one?
VI. How did it bring me closer to a specific family member(s)?
VII. How did it make me a healthier person by learning who to trust, how to manage stressful situations or how to protect myself.
Step Three – Write down your answers in careful detail and review them. There will be at least one benefit in each area of your life and one area will impact another. So for example, when you learn to protect yourself you also raise your self worth.
Step Four – Look carefully at your list and ask yourself this last question honestly, “Would I trade these benefits to erase this traumatic event from my life?”
Step Five – If you would trade these benefits to erase the experience you have not uncovered all of them. So go back and find the rest. If you are unable to uncover enough of them contact me and I will assist you. They have to be there. It is a law of nature and your survival proves there is no mistake in this trauma happening to you.