We close our February blogs with a final look at the insights shared by Christina White in her very personal discussion of her experiences as an abused child.
“I’m still trying to heal from a feeling of not being loved as a child. It hurts me even now as I type these words.”
When a child has been abused they often feel flawed inside and come to believe that they caused or deserved the abuse. This leads to feelings of shame and an identity of brokenness. For this wound to be healed, self-forgiveness must occur. This allows the child to separate their self-judgment. They may have internalized a sense of being responsible for the abuse because they were bad.
As parents we must help them understand that they are not responsible for the abuse and neither deserved nor caused it. Otherwise, they will continue to act out, repeating the experience and manifest their core belief that they are inherently bad. If we don’t, we will fulfill their distorted self-belief of being unforgiveable and deserve the pain and chaos of abuse. They will do everything they can to continue to recreate this tragedy until repeated moments of forgiveness and connection eventually override their distorted belief.
This often manifests in behavior that deliberately elicits negativity and distance, and which complicates the attachment process. It is important to be aware of this catch-22 and not to allow ourselves to be sucked into our own feelings of hurt, anger and fear. It is when they are behaving the most outrageously that they most need our love and forgiveness. Our love must always be unconditional even when we are unhappy with their behavior and are working to redirect and teach them better choices. We must always move toward them and not away from them.
In these times and with these children love is hard and forgiveness is even harder, but it is necessary for their healthy growth and development as well as our own and of the family we jointly create. Embrace the child and separate his choices and behavior from the person who deserves our total and unconditional love. Safe touch can be profoundly healing and a forgiving hug will accomplish wonders for you and your child.