Treating trauma with self-love


By Debbie Ali

As a continuation of my last column on treating trauma from the standpoint of boosting self esteem, I would like to emphasize that I am not a licensed Therapist, Psychologist or Psychiatrist. 

If you wish to fully love yourself, understand what that means and pull yourself out of the endless ditches you seem to keep falling into, then you must confront your own ‘self-hate’.  You must listen to all of the terrible things you say to yourself and understand that your focus is twisted. Later on in my life I came to realize that this internalization of unhealthy thought patterns only drove me lower.

To put it simply, while stewing in my own sweat and filth for two weeks, there was more than sufficient time to analyze every aspect of my life and find all of the reasons I deserved being abducted, raped and tortured.  Upon finding both good and bad evidence I realized that I harped more on all of the negatives of my life rather than the good.

You must analyze your life and find the evidence of both good and bad alike and then treat with them both.  It can be as simple as making a list of pros and cons, where you document the good the bad and the ugly you possess as an individual (and we all have them). With constant revisions over time you will come to realize that every human being has done both good and bad and neither of them warrants the way we have learnt to punish ourselves.  We punish ourselves by continuing to think less of who we are, by allowing the negative views of others in our lives to pull us down into those ditches.  Then, we are the ones who have to find a way to climb out of the ditch or if we choose to remain in there, we are the ones who would need to find a way to cope with that pain.  My analysis uncovered that regardless of what type of moral or immoral life one leads, focusing on the so called failures obscures the view of the beauty in and around us. 

At the end my two-week abduction, I saw myself as someone unworthy of love, someone who was tarnished by the sexual assaults and beatings and the judgmental stares of those around me.  After two years I was able to look myself in the eyes in a mirror.  Before that, I would change, fix my hair and makeup and carry on with life, but I could never look into my own eyes; the day that I did, I fell apart. I fell apart because I did not recognize the woman in the mirror at first; all I could see was the indescribable pain.  Slowly I began a regime of confronting my eyes for very short periods of time every day until I was able to prolong it.  This helped me to face head on the anguish I was feeling and hiding deep inside, a pain that was silently ripping me to shreds without anyone around me knowing what I was enduring.  I said nothing to protect them from my agony.

Who are you trying to protect from your anguish?  You may even think you’re protecting yourself by denying your suffering.  However, I ask you to ponder on this view; are you truly saving yourself or are you really running away from reality?  Life is a circle and the very same trauma you feel you are escaping now, will hit you in the face in time to come.  How about facing it now or at least starting the process of facing it now? 

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