Resentment is the most toxic substance made by mankind. It is not formulated by a laboratory chemist, sold to the industrial complex, and then dumped in mass quantities into the air, water, and soil of our planet. It is made by you as an inside job. It creates a toxic soup that your cells have to bathe in, day in and day out. It’s corrosive to self and others.
Pulling the plug from your resentment bathtub and draining this toxic chemical allows you to replace it with a healthier response, such as gratitude and appreciation. This then leads to the absorption part of healthy digestion. You can now absorb the lessons that life has provided for you, not done to you. You begin to find the growth and the wisdom that your trauma can be a catalyst for, if it’s properly digested. This is called post-traumatic growth. Your cells will begin to feed off of vitamin J, for joy. The joy that comes from appreciating the simple blessings in your life, such as eyes, ears, a nose, a mouth, and skin. The last step is elimination. The elimination of the victim mindset, the part of your story that keeps you small.
Don’t get me wrong. This is not easy. This is not “church pulpit forgiveness” where you just mentally say you forgive someone who has hurt you. This is especially difficult if you are in a difficult or even abusive relationship…believe me….I know.
When my father was alive, he used to angrily tell me he would never speak to me again when he was upset with me. My mom never stood up for me when this was happening. When my dad died my brother got angry with me and did the same exact thing. Like my father, he clenched his jaw, spit when he spoke to me with bulging eyes and a red face, didn’t allow me to talk to him in order to see what kind of pain he was in…just threw me away. It caused a lot of despair last February when this happened. In fact, my autoimmune markers registered as positive for the first time in 26 years again.
I am now old enough and have been around my father for over 50 years. I know that if I stay in my adult self and hold a good boundary with my brother and my own thoughts of sadness, grief, and despair, my body will heal itself once again. In fact, it already has. Not doing my own hard internal work would allow my mind to continue to be triggered and resentful and angry and I then wind up with a hormone imbalance, have my leaky gut aggravated, and potentially suffer from an autoimmune flare. This is what I experience and see day in and day out in my practice.
I used the word abuse earlier. Abuse is a strong word. I want you to understand what abuse is. I want you to know how to handle it. I am giving you 10 things I want you to know about abuse. Most people don’t even know that their family dynamics are abusive if they don’t contain physical violence.
What is Abuse?
Abuse is defined as any action that intentionally harms or injures another person. In my family, there is a lot of sarcasm used by my father as humor. Sarcasm is actually a form of abuse. The definition of sarcasm is the use of irony to mock or convey contempt for another person…this is purposefully harming another.
There are many kinds of abuse encountered by adults, including:
- physical abuse
- psychological abuse
- sexual assault
- verbal abuse
- elder abuse
- financial abuse
Someone who purposefully harms another in any way is committing abuse. I was deep into my own trauma therapy before I realized that I came from an abusive family of origin because there was no direct physical violence beyond spanking. There was however a LOT of contempt conveyed, lots of the cold silent treatment, and I was thrown away several times when I disappointed my parents. Add that to sexual abuse in my elementary school and having a dad that was in the Navy and gone a good deal of my childhood and I have an Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs) score of at least 3. It was no surprise that I married a man who I had to send to jail twice for domestic violence.
Am I broken? No. Do I blame my parents, my vice-principal, my husband, and now my unskillful brother for everything that goes wrong in my life? Absolutely not. Do I call myself a victim? NO. In fact, at this point in my life, I am deeply grateful for these experiences as they have forced me to learn new tools, grow, and expand my consciousness.
10 Things I Want You to Know About Abuse:
It was not your fault.
Survivors of abuse carry messages of “not being good enough, worthy enough, deserving of better” into their adulthood. This creates illnesses like autoimmune diseases and cancer. The reality is your abuser also had that same message and acted out in a dysfunctional way. You do not want to continue the abusive pattern; against yourself by getting into toxic relationships, addictions, and habits. You also don’t want to be the perpetrator of abuse onto another human or animal. You are enough. Unlike your abuser, you don’t have to abuse anyone else to feel superior or complete. You are already whole, and perfect, in your own imperfect ways.
You cannot make your abuser change.
No matter how much love, money, support, or pleading you pour into an abusive person, you cannot make them change. Like anyone with an addiction, they must hit rock bottom and be willing to make the change for themselves. They have to seek help. That help might be court-ordered if you do something like call 911 the next time you are hurt by your perpetrator. Making sure you hold boundaries with abusive personalities is the greatest gift you can give them…and yourself. Not only do you learn to advocate for yourself, but you also force rock bottom to happen sooner than later so the person you love can make the choice to get help.
You deserve love and safety.
Every human deserves to be safe, to feel loved, and to have the opportunity to reach self-actualization. This includes you and it includes those people in your life who have been abusive. Clinging to a co-dependent relationship just perpetuates toxicity in your life and in theirs. You deserve to be in healthy, supportive, and loving relationships in which you feel seen and are heard.
You are not broken.
In my medical practice, and in the retreats I host, I often hear people lament that they are forever damaged and broken. This is simply not true. Many of us grew up repeating this nursery rhyme:
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the King’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.
You are not Humpty Dumpty. You are a resilient, valiant, and courageous human being. Once you make the choice to recover, you can. You just have to make the choice to stop being a victim. The victim position is a powerful one. You can claim a pass on taking responsibility in your life and many people will let you get away with it. However, you are capable of much better than this dysfunctional way of trying to claim a small amount of power. You are MUCH bigger than this. In fact, it is imperative that you shine brighter than the cloudy little victim can. You cannot attain your birthright and live your mission if you do not shake off the chains of victimhood and reach for the brass ring of taking responsibility for each and every breath you take in your life. No one is to blame for your circumstances once you are an adult. My Healing Trauma Through the Chakra System Program teaches you how to do this. You have GOT THIS!
You get to choose how and when you end the toxic habit.
Do not let anyone guilt or shame you for the choices you have made in your life. You have not made mistakes if you are learning from them. These challenging experiences are roads to wisdom if you treat them that way. You can only understand the choices another makes if you walk a mile in their moccasins. You do you and let others do them. We each have our own paths to tread and what others think of you is none of your business. Carry on.
Forgiveness of the abuser is necessary if you are to heal completely…reconciliation is NOT.
Forgiving is essential, reconciliation is optional and only done under certain conditions. You only reconcile with an abuser if they have expressed contrition for what they did, apologized, and sought help to make sure they do not repeat the pattern again.
Forgiveness is releasing yourself of the toxicity that will ultimately kill you if you carry it around in the form of resentment and bitterness. It translates literally to pain. I teach a method for forgiving, but it’s hard. It’s not easy to truly forgive. It’s very easy to give lip service to forgiveness, but that doesn’t actually work.
Self-compassion is a must.
Self-care is a must. Victims of abuse often put themselves last on their “to do” list. This is perpetuating the abuse you have already suffered. You do not need to continue this abusive cycle by abusing yourself. You will never get better unless you learn to love yourself. I teach my patients, students, and retreat participants how to bond with their child selves, the ones who were abused; how to repair their attachment disorders. I teach them how to reclaim their power, so they can regain their health. This is a must.
You are not crazy.
Dr. John Gottman identified two kinds of abusers: the cobra and the pit bull. The cobra will never recover from their abusive ways. They are calculating, cold and manipulative. They gaslight their victims and make them feel like they are crazy. The pit bull gets angry, explodes, and then comes back to apologize eventually. The pit bull can benefit from treatment. 30% of pit bulls who get treatment actually do recover. You are not crazy. You need to know if you are with a pit bull or a cobra though. If you are with a cobra you need to get out…fast. Leave no forwarding address and do it after careful planning and do not tell them you are leaving before you go.
You deserve the best there is.
You deserve to do the work required to be in a healthy and loving relationship. Trust me…this is hard work. You deserve to suffer and to succeed. You deserve sorrow and you deserve joy. You deserve to be angry and you deserve to be content. This is the orchestra of human emotions and we all feel them. No one is happy all of the time. Every relationship has conflict. The difference between a healthy relationship and a dysfunctional and even abusive relationship is people in healthy relationships talk and listen to one another. They don’t forget that despite the fact that they are angry, they still hold this person in a loving space and don’t forget that they hold a Divine spark of God within them. They do not discount your feelings and experience. They do not throw you away if they are mad at you. They do not yell, hit, or demean you. They retain respect for you in the midst of conflict. They do not give you the silent treatment. And the same goes for you…
Abusive relationships are not a waste of time.
Many people believe they have wasted time on relationships that don’t “turn out”. This is not true. Every experience you have can be one that helps you attain more wisdom and growth. This is true for relationships. Every relationship is an opportunity for growth and an expansion of self-awareness and consciousness. I know that I would not be as far along as I am in my life in terms of knowledge, communication skills and wisdom had I not been in toxic relationships that forced me to learn to advocate for myself AND my abuser. How do I advocate for abusive people? I hold good, strong, impenetrable boundaries. That is the greatest gift you can offer someone who is so narcissistic that they are able to devalue other humans to such an extent that they actually harm them.
I now know everyone has experienced trauma and abuse in some form. The good news is it can be healed, and you can reframe your story and reclaim your power. You do need help to do it, however. I call this “borrowing a brain” or the right kind of therapy. Talk therapy DOES NOT do the kind of rewiring and laying down new pathways that you need. You need specific therapy to rewire your brain, release the trauma from the body, and to reframe old messages of victimhood to powerful adult beliefs. You can get started by watching my “Healing Trauma to Reverse Autoimmune Disease Master Class” which includes a super-duper deal on the Healing Trauma Through the Chakra System Program when you watch it. You can do this right from your own computer in your own home. This program is one I designed to help you attain more emotional resilience, better skills for dealing with conflict, and it teaches you how to find the right therapist for your individual needs. You can get it here.