Some of the most powerful women I know are survivors of childhood abuse. They beat the odds when they were young, so nothing seems too big of a feat to conquer. Some psychological theorists would highlight that these women had to learn (at an early age) to focus outwardly. Makes sense if you think about it…a child’s chance to prepare for, or escaping future abuse is mediated by scanning their environment and being able to read the ones that care about them the most…all in an attempt to prevent pain.
When the child grows up, they become a master at performance. Usually, the abused child’s inner, emotional world gets set aside. They learn there is no point in having sadness or fear because these kinds of emotions were never attended too by their caregivers. Secondary emotions are then learned – such as anger. Anger then fuels the child to become what some would call a “firey” women. This women is going to get the job done, she will pick up the pieces before they fall out of your hand- she’s got it handled.
As much as trauma can corrode existence, it has for some, created a compensatory effect – self reliance and empowerment. This is a function of childhood trauma that (I believe) should be celebrated; to the extent it is working for these powerful survivors. For some, this function has become a cancerous growth… harming the strong woman’s right to connection and vulnerability.
Everyone has a right to connection and everyone has a right to feel safe in order to allow vulnerability.
If you are a strong willed survivor – please hear me when I say… You deserve to be seen and heard by someone that won’t hurt or ignore you! It is a basic social/human right. You have a right to let down your guard with someone who is safe. It may feel as if the world is going to fall apart if you let go…and maybe in some ways it will…but let it… let yourself fall apart so you can get back to your true essence: the purity within in that has always been there, always will be. Herman Hesse once wrote, “some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go”.
Letting go can be difficult. And it is essential to feel safe. Safety can be found through the people you learn how to trust. I hope that all survivors find people around them they can trust. There are also some places that dedicate their lives toward reconnecting trauma survivors to themselves and relationships – if you are a survivor- find those places in your area. It could be a trauma sensitive yoga studio, or a women’s group specifically themed around trauma. Keep searching for resources. And while you do, I am here. Here with you. And truly admire you.