Tuesday, August 23, 2016


I have an almost superstitious fear of saying I'm happy or having a good day.  It's like I'm afraid if I admit to it, that the happy feeling or good day will hear me and decide to run away. So when this image began popping up on my Facebook feed with some frequency this past week.  I thought, "Wow, I can so identify with this."

I mean it made sense.  I feel like if I don't keep my good mood a secret than some vindictive little sadness demon will come curse me and take it away.  Then it appeared again, and after rereading it I thought, "Well, I mean it's kind of true.  Nothing lasts forever. The down is going to come after the up..."

And that is when it hit me.

See here is what happens when you live through trauma.  Particularly if that trauma involves emotional or physical abuse.  You learn to be on the look out at all times because you need to be ready for the next angry outburst, the next throwing of dishes or the next time you will be called stupid, ugly or whatever other demeaning thing will be tossed your way.  You can't allow yourself to relax because you are always, always, always on guard for warning signs of the next event so you can try to avoid it or to defend yourself, if you can, when the onslaught happens.

To be happy.  To fully experience this emotion, you have to relax.  And relaxing means, letting your guard down.  For those of us who have lived through trauma, letting your guard down, even for a moment, is the most dangerous thing you can do, because if the attack comes then (and it often does as abusers can't stand to see their victims enjoying themselves), that is when you are blindsided.  You are caught defenseless.

It doesn't have to be relationship abuse.  If you've ever been attacked, or raped, or if you were raised with alcoholic or drug addicted parents,  or if you have lived through a war...any situation that has left you with that deep seated need to always be ready to protect yourself, you may find that you have a hard time with any feelings that actually feel good.

If you add in mental health issues like depression and anxiety disorder, where it can seem at times like your own mind is determined to steal your joy, the reaction is compounded.  It is after all when you relax that all of those awful things your mind likes to tell you about yourself whisper the loudest. Telling you that you don't deserve to be happy or, in the case of anxiety, you simply start to worry about what to do when the happiness leaves.

This for me is where the fear comes in.  It isn't a fear of happiness, it is the fear of what happens when I stop being watchful.

My abuser has been out of my life for 20 years.  Yet, despite nearly the same number of years of therapy and personal work, I've still so much more do.   Healing takes a very, very long time.


No comments:

Post a Comment