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Charlene transitioned into Spirit on November 17, 2014.  This website is in memory of her.

Sacrificial Lamb

She came to her appointment early that day, distraught and overwhelmed by the flood of emotions she was feeling. The day before her appointment she had a conversation with a friend who reported that before his open heart surgery he had to bath himself in a disinfectant soap so as to avoid any bacterial exposure during the surgery. He said that he felt that he was preparing himself to be sacrificed.

It was those words that triggered a flood gate of memories. All the coping skills she had used to repress those years went a way in an instant. She was raw, exposed and vulnerable as she began to report her memories.

At the age of two she was designated by her family to be the “Sacrificial Lamb”.  Her mother unhappy in the marriage took on a lover and was gone three nights a week. This left my client alone with her father. The molesting started at age two and continued until she was seven. Then it stopped abruptly, her father then became cold, detached and unemotional toward her.  As a child, she thought she was to blame for the abuse. She felt that the abuse was punishment for something she did wrong. How could she think other wise, he was supposed to be her protector, he was god in her eyes. No matter how wrong the molesting was, how she hated it, what was worse with his detachment.

As she grew older and as a result of the abuse and detachment, she felt that she had to put the needs of others above her own by being protective of others, and becoming over-responsible. She quickly learned that in sacrificing herself, by becoming the “strong” responsible one, playing the role of the mother and caretaker she would receive kudos. Although this was not the love and protection she had hoped for, it was better than nothing. Someone had to take care of and raise her three younger sisters, her mother was rarely available and her father was emotionally absent. Once her sisters were old enough she left home at the age of 21 and never looked back until that one day.

She felt the powerlessness and anger of her childhood, anger at herself for not being able to stop the abuse, anger and resentment toward her father and angry she did not have anyone to protect her. As a survivor of child abuse and coming from a dysfunctional family, she spent her whole life waiting for love and acceptance she never got as a child. The kind of love she needed wasn’t going to come from her family.
Weeks later as she continued to process her memories she said that her grief had shifted and was more about how she had lived her life because of the messages that she told herself about those early years. She was angry because all the years following the molesting she continued to be a sacrifice in all her relationships personal and professional.

She learned her values early in life. These values extended into her adult life and created the ‘compass’ which she used to navigate through the various trials and tribulations life had to offer. Her self-esteem reflected her overall evaluation and appraisal of her own worth. Because her trust was betrayed, it was difficult for her to trust in herself. She had problems asserting herself, and it was not safe to be competitive, to shine, or stand out.

Self-esteem is a child's passport to a lifetime of mental, emotional and social happiness. It's the foundation of a child's well-being and the key to success as an adult. Self-image is how we perceive ourselves. When she looks inside herself and is comfortable with the person she sees, makes all the difference in the world.  Self-esteem comes when we see the  self as being someone who can make things happen and who is worthy of love. Parents are the main source of a child's sense of self-worth.

In an attempt to feel valued  and worthy she went to collage and received several degrees. Still little change happened in the way people responded to her. She was a good loyal employee, hard working, reliable, and yet her net worth never reflected this. It seemed strange to her that her unworthiness issues would spill over into all aspects of her life.

Most of her life my client felt an underlying guilt and shame that persisted into her adult life and she did not know why. The guilt and shame were part of the reason she felt unworthy and not valued. She never felt good enough, to compensate for this she spent her life trying to over come this by giving more of herself. Often times carrying the load of two people.

Over the months of working together she began to make sense of her life. She understood as a spiritual person that she had created all the dynamics of her life and experiences for a reason. She was not yet clear what these reasons were, but she knew she had to make peace with her life. It was the “right” time for those repressed memories to unfold. It was the “right” time to see the gifts that came from them. It was also the “right” time to forgive it all.

It's not easy to let old, critical voices and messages that we heard as a child play over and over in our minds, without stopping them. Often we may barely recognize that they are there, or we don't really listen to them, we've heard them so often -- but they continue to impact how we feel and think about ourselves. Our values may change a bit during life but I believe the core values you learn as a child stay with you for the rest of your life.

The way back to her “true” self was by connecting to that little child inside, that child who deserves all of her love and acceptance. It can be hard to give it to yourself at first -- after all, if you didn't receive love as a child, or if some of that love was taken away from you by abuse, self-hate may have built up inside you. I knew she had the courage and strength to love herself, if she survived this long. After all she does deserve it!

I encouraged her to start noticing the next time she heard the voice inside her head criticizing her. To become aware of what is being said to her, and try to talk to it. Ask it why it feels it needs to say those things. Is that part of you trying to protect you, in some child-like logic? Or perhaps that part of you felt it had to take on the messages you heard as a child. Remind that part of you that you no longer need to do that to survive. You are free to make up your own mind about yourself.

In time she saw how those early experiences were the driving impetus to make sense of her life and the unfolding of her life work of service. In our closing session she told me that because of our time together she had come to realize that her life was a path of “Sacred Service”, and those early years taught her compassion and understanding. Who better than she to help others navigate their lives.

 

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