Most of us survivors of child abuse fail to develop a strong sense of identity. Most of the time we are confused about who we are because of we did not have a kind loving mirror reflecting goodness and worthiness. Not being loved, being hated, being disliked, being a nuisance, being emotionally and physically abused, not being able to develop sexually because your uncle has begun eyeing your developing body lustfully and you are blamed for his lust, leaves you totally confused. Your feelings are not validated, your psychic being is trampled upon, you don’t just cannot express your likes and dislikes. You are there to be at the beck and call of a self-centered father. You cannot express your anger and rage. The only way to survive is to suppress and stuff the negative emotions or else you could be in danger being attacked, what defense do you have, a child have against selfish adults. The only way to survive is to suppress your feelings and try to become the Responsible Child- Family Hero, Acting out child – Scapegoat, Placater- Mascot- Caretaker, Adjuster – Lost Child.
“One outcome of childhood trauma can frequently be that the person who has suffered it is prone to develop IDENTITY PROBLEMS.
By adulthood, then, those who have experienced childhood trauma will often find that their identity is UNSTABLE and FRAGILE – this will often mean that their attitudes, values and sense of who they are are all prone to wildly fluctuation; these changes are frequently dramatic (eg oscillating between feeling deep love and deep hatred towards the same person; or, sometimes, perhaps, feeling exceptionally important only to shift without warning or obvious trigger into a feeling of despair, self-loathing and worthlessness).”
According to the Object Relations Theory, if parents mirror their infants in a kind, loving and caring way the child grows up to be secure and confident. If we have had positive experiences while growing up we develop a healthy self concept otherwise we end up being confused and disoriented about who we really are. Always trying to please and fit in.
Post my mother’s death I became the poison container for some family members’ putrid emotional muck. Without my mother around I could only cope with the unbearable reality by playing whatever role I had to play to survive. I became hyper-vigilant and learnt to interpret the moods, feelings and wants of my father, grandmother, aunts and uncles. I just had to stop paying attention to my feelings to survive the chaos. Survive I did, but I lost my sense of feeling and living in the moment. I did not know who or what I really was.
I have been lucky in the course of my healing to meet people who genuinely cared for me, loved me and cherished me. Real love is the only real cure to heal emotional wounds.
If you don’t have loving people in your life start with Mirror work or Mirror Play, It is an effective method I’ve found for learning to love yourself and see the world as a safe and loving place.