Monday, May 18, 2015

After Healing Abuse: The Collapse of the Victim Mentality

Healing abuse is powerful medicine. It's necessary medicine for a world with so much pain and suffering. Consider the below statistic:

"On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States—more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year."

-- The National Domestic Violence Hotline
http://www.thehotline.org/resources/statistics/

Obviously, we know that the number of people impacted who are physically abused on a global scale is huge, but the prevalence of this kind of pain and suffering is not my point today. However, I don't want to get into the topic of what comes after healing an abuse without reinforcing this point. Abuse is one of the many things that people in the U.S. and many other corners of the globe close their eyes towards. As if by not looking at something that the issue will simply vanish.

But it doesn't.

And after someone has been violated, it's a long, torturous journey back to health. Without healing, life is just long and torturous with no real sense of hope in sight. That sense of hopeless causes people to become perpetrators of abuse (acting out their own pain on others), drug addicts, alcoholics, sexaholics, severely depressed, and suicidal.

But when someone has taken the journey back to health and released all the pain that a traumatized body can hold, something beautiful happens. A person gets their life back. A person gets to feel free, open, light, and genuinely happy, and the old victim mentality that sought to protect a person, but instead caged them and kept them caught in cycles of pain...well, it collapses.

And this is not myth. This is not science fiction. This is fact. So let me share some of what I've had the opportunity to witness and facilitate.

Breaking Out of the Pain

I've worked with numerous people who've suffered a variety of abuses. Because of the nature of shame in society and being human, most people learn to hide and avoid their pain. Where most animals in an intense situation can diffuse the energy after it's over, human beings hold on. We replay it in our minds. We hold it in our muscles, emotions, and energy  body. This, of course, feels horrible. So we do everything we can to medicate this horrible intensity trapped inside of us and numb ourselves to the feelings inside of us.

But it never goes away. We cannot escape ourselves, and so many people courageously seek help. This is a very important first step on a long journey back to health, so I cannot over-emphasize it. If you or someone you know has suffered abuse, they need help, love, and support--a lot of all three. And let's be clear, I'm not talking about dealing with an upsetting event when someone yelled at you once. Most of us can diffuse that energy on our own with a little loving focus. I'm talking about sexual abuse, physical abuse and battery, the overwhelming intensity of being bombed or attacked while in service to your community or country, and a whole host of other really terrible things that human beings do to each other. The human body gets overwhelmed and traumatized, and most people need a lot of help working through what happened to release the pain.

But as healing progresses something starts to break out. Some amount of pain leaves, and a person realizes that they can do it. They can release pain. They can FULLY HEAL heart, body, mind, and energy. This can start a chain reaction of self-belief, willingness to face the inner pain, detoxification, deepening relaxation back into one's body, and more. As this cycle of healing repeats, more intense energies come out until at last it's all gone.

But oftentimes, some of the old defense structures are gone even though the inner trauma is over.

The Many Traps and Issues of the Victim Mind

Burrowing down into the core pain, the memories of the trauma, and the energy of it all usually means finding some route past the victim mentality. Some people are, unfortunately, too good at creating traps for themselves, and so the healing work gets stuck. I usually work with people to create a five-pronged approach to find an effective way in. However, it can be quite elaborate how broad of a defense the victim mind sets up. As such, there's generally a thorough deconstructing time period that ensues after healing an abuse that occurs in addition to some of the breaking down of the defenses that had to happen just to get started healing..

I understand that many of you have done a lot of healing, and some of you may be bought into the idea that you'll always carry this pain. This is not true. It is one of the traps of the victim mind that is keeping you from going fully into the core pain. The way you know that you've fully healed is when there's no energetic charge in your body. Your body does not lie, and if you've fully healed, the density, tension, and pain as well as all the upset emotions (self-blame, sadness, anger, hate, and so on are some of the common ones) will no longer be in your body. If you've fully healed, you also know where your body held your pain. For instance, sexual abuse is really obvious. The bulk of the pain and trauma is in the genitalia, the low back, and hips--essentially, all the evidence is at the scene of the crime.

For more about healing sexual abuse, you can read this spiritual blog post:

Healing Sexual Abuse

However, the old mental defenses may still come up out of habit such as a need to eat lots of sugar to feel good about one's self or the mental projections that make someone who reminds you of your abuser appear to be a bad person when they're not in anyway posing a threat. As you breathe into your new-found freedom, that part of the old mentality breaks down. It has to. The core pain is what gave it its charge, its energy, and its life. But without that energy, you don't feel the same way when the urge for sugar or the projection about the other person come up. You more quickly realize, "Oh yeah, sugar was how I self-medicated. I don't need to eat so much of that anymore." In the instance of projecting onto another, you more quickly realize, "That's Joe. He's just loud. That's not an attack against me. It's actually being friendly and saying, 'Hello.'"

As such, your relationship with your body continues to change in this after stage of healing an abuse. This is assuming that it already hasn't. For some people, eating healthy was the in-road to get down to the pain to help them feel their body enough to find where the issues were. For others, the food wasn't the appropriate avenue, so in the clean up phase, this is where it starts to get addressed. Everyone is different. The good news though as that at each step of the way, the old victim mentality and habits are breaking down because there's nothing left to support them.

Honoring the Abuse Clean Up Phase

I know after so much hard work that you'd probably like to get a break. But this is how it tends to go. The clean up phase can be way easier because the core pain and that trapped energy have dissipated. As such, you have more of your natural energy available to handle all of life as opposed to having it all trapped within you trying to hold down and avoid pain (and that takes a tremendous amount of energy). So depending on your particular journey, some of the additional things that get cleaned up include:
  • Eating habits (not usually drugs and alcohol--those tend to have to go early in the healing process)
  • Exercise habits
  • Creating newer and healthier relationships
  • Continued improvement in communication abilities (many people feel voiceless because of their abuse. Communication tends to have to be developed at all stages of healing)
  • Changing jobs if you were in one that under-appreciated you or in which you were not taking advantage of all your gifts because of self-esteem issues underpinned by your abuse
  • Changing to a new home or location
It is a lot of work. And I am so SORRY that anyone has ever abused you or someone you've loved. You can see how it is easy to become a person focused on peace on the spiritual path because of how insanely difficult it is to heal the aftereffects of violence and abuse. One bomb can kill, maim, and traumatize hundreds of people. It can do this is less than a minute. It takes tens of thousands of hours of healing work to help all those people, and most of those people will never embark on the healing journey. Instead, they will pass on their pain to others in a wide-variety of ways, and our global community as a whole suffers for it.

The Revealing of Hidden Levels of Ego

Because abuse is the elephant in the room, the rest of the room goes unseen for a long time. As the original victim mentality keeps eroding and collapsing, hidden ego assumptions start to become revealed. This is a sacred shift from spiritual healing to what I generally call spiritual growth. It is a time when I often ask a student to renew his/her dedication to the path because they can easily stay at their current phase of awareness. After you've healed your abuse, you're very likely to be at a healthy and stable level of consciousness, and goodness knows after the hard work of healing abuse, someone might want to pause or simply enjoy feeling free for the time being..

But the amazingly strange twist in this whole story is that healing an abuse can also make someone very tenacious and dedicated. It gives them a sense of "I can face any shit inside of me" and "Nothing is too dark in me that I can't handle it." What a strange, but amazing gift from an otherwise horrid story that is abuse. As such, people may realize that they want to keep going further on the spiritual path. They don't want anything limiting them. They can wonder that if they've felt so amazingly good after healing their abuse, how amazing might it be to let go of other hidden pains and issues that they don't know about? This is a wonderful realization, and it's what I encourage everyone towards. Because the more conscious we all become, the more none of us will ever want to harm or abuse another being again.

The Continued Collapse of the Victim Mentality

The victim mentality can keep coming back, however. This is a humbling thing, but many of you will start to sense that it has been around a lot longer than your abuse. Many of you will find that the victim mentality has strong roots in society and in your family. Those roots were part of what allowed it to stick around and to grow so powerful after your abuse. And those roots can grow back if given a chance by another traumatic event or something else.

As such, the spiritual path after healing abuse can go to new depths where we heal issues that enable us to be traumatized. What this means is that when a really upsetting or physically harmful event comes, you are more likely to respond with a certain level of equanimity to protect yourself and heal yourself afterwards if something happens. God forbid if any of you heal sexual abuse and then have someone do it to you again. Yet in going deeper on the spiritual path, you are more present to the situation that enables you to know to fight off an abuser or cry out for help if something were to happen. You are also more able to let go of the pain, to not self-blame, to get help, to prosecute (so many abusers are never charged with their crimes), and so much more. In the past someone might have tried to hide and felt ashamed because of other hidden ego issues that have been justified.

What do I mean by this? Well, the roots of lack of self-worth run deep, and in a horrible way, abuse can be misinterpreted as justifying this issue. Simply put, the abused feels like they deserved to be violated. Without the core self-worth issue, the person doesn't respond that way, and they can more quickly heal and minimize the inner trauma of the event.

Fully Healing and Turning to Spiritual Growth

Spiritual growth brings new intensities. It will shine a light on other things that need their own kind of healing, and it can give you the clarity to see how many other victims and survivors of abuse are in your life. I should emphasize that someone can be victimized and not be a victim. By the same token, many people are victims and have never had anything traumatic happen to them. That is partly because victim mentalities are taught by families and society. Whenever we are giving up our power to others, we are playing the victim. This is the ground where abuses and traumas can do their worst work. In turning to spiritual growth in an even deeper way, you help to break yourself out of the mind victim mentalities that are hard at work in society. In this way, you can not just expand and deepen into your own love, freedom, and awareness, but show everyone--from survivors of abuse to those who are simply lost in unconsciousness--a way out of acting like a victim and an inspiration towards true enlightened empowerment.
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