Shame permeates a sexual abuse survivors life. From the first violation, to our last breath on earth, shame poisons being able to feel the fullness of life. Dismantling the damage from sexual abuse takes a lifetime of work. It is done in bits and pieces. When the work is even mildly successful the goodness accumulates,for example, a little less body shame results in more positive feelings about being a woman, a little less fear from emotional betrayal, a little more freedom in relationships. But they are bits that cost us dearly in our lives, the struggles, our tears, and our bodies, while our resources are consumed with healing. Instead of being able to put it towards improving our lives.
Lately I have become acutely aware of how the misplaced shame of sexual abuse spreads its poison in areas other than my personal relationships. Its coming to the front in my financial life. These shameful core feeling seems to center around being what I will accept from others in terms of material goods (including cash).
What little I thought about money when I was growing up, took a real downturn when I was forced at times by Jack (the perpetrator), to perform sexual acts. Then he would force me take money for it. Someone explained to me it was to make him feel okay about what he did. Then there was nothing wrong in his mind with forcing a child to have sexual activity with him. I was not able to stop what he was doing to me. My seven year old mind in an effort to make sense of what he did, twisted all the those events around. Resulting in twisted, distorted thinking. I didn’t want him to hurt me, I didn’t want his money, but I did want someone to love me. To me,even today, whenever I get money, it means what he did was okay. To an adult mind, that would ludicrous. To a child who is learning about the world it is just what happens.
Since I am not a physical child any more, I have plenty to reexamine about the things that happened. Then I can change the way I am thinking when it’s distorted or plain out wrong.
In general, I have created a process that works for me, so that I can heal. What follows is the process I use to help me discover what inside of me that needs healing next. There are times when I am feeling particularly strong, when I will choose an issue and ask in prayer and contemplation for my life experiences to illuminate what I currently believe. Usually it doesn’t take long before it’s some form of chaos erupts that shows me what is held in my mind or heart. Once this chaos has happened, I spend some time writing down the details. When I do journaling on the events, its to get everything down on paper. This is a great time for insights to emerge. Sometimes its immediate, during the writing or more likely, it comes shortly there after. Then I can make conscious choices about what I want to continue on doing and what to eliminate. Currently I am trying to find an antidote for this issue of financial shame .
What follows is a partial list of the points that came out of writing about 15 pages of journaling.
As I am waiting for a newly accepted job to actually start, I doubt if I did the right thing for me. I realize I might be wasting time. Am I doing the right thing by waiting? Its been seven weeks since I accepted the job and due to construction problems the building is not ready. So I am spending a lot of time wondering if I am unduly loyal? Am I setting my self up for betrayal since I don’t know the people enough to trust them well? Another thing is how much I hate having to ask for money? Even if its a unanticipated emergency borrowing of sorts. Just enough to carry me through this time of unemployment. I wonder how its impacted me that my biological father wouldn’t claim or support me, even to his death. I tell myself that I wasn’t important enough to matter. It’s similar to not mattering to God, the creator of life. When I was worth something, it was for something I shouldn’t even know about, being useful for sex. I didn’t want to be useful for sex. But sometimes, my stepfather gave me money after he raped me. Am I a child prostitute? I thought I had to suffer to have money. I didn’t want in those cases. And on top of all that twisted mess, was the fact that we were poor. There was no money to learn to manage. Just fights about spending it on beer, or things that would be repossessed or taken away for no apparent reason. No use in trying to earn money or save it, since it would be taken by those who were bigger than me.
These thoughts are part of the poison in my water, making my financial life unfit to support me. I am dying of thirst and trying not to drink. Its affecting every dream I have attempted to fulfill. The relationships I am involved in and all the ones I have left.
Shame and unworthiness are intertwined. I am deciding now how to manage what I have uncovered in my recent daily life. I will journal more about the points about and confront them, counter them and practice new ways of thinking to help correct my financial life. Having higher self esteem in being able to provide for my self will lead to a healthier life. This shame I feel is directly affecting my financial life that is fed by my employment.