Header image  
Your inspiration to overcoming this scourge in our society. By you healing you can help another.  
line decor
  HOME  ::  
line decor
 
 
DISCOVERING INTIMACY IN YOUR COMMITTED RELATIONSHIPS

 

I have beautiful things and people in my present. I have beginning friendships with women who understand from inside what I’m going through, unlike the friends I had a few years ago. I have a lover who supports me in my healing, who is not afraid or enraged to see me, and sometimes be with me, in the hellish place I must go in my deeper remembering. I do not have to lie to them. I do not have to keep up appearances for them, I do not have to regain perspective (their perspective). I am not alone.
- Ely Fuller

Try and find committed relationships

Without commitment you cannot learn to care for another person more than yourself, nor learn to value the growth of strength and clarity in another soul, even if that threatens the wants of your personality. When you release the wants of your personality in order to accommodate and encourage another's growth, you attune yourself to that person's soul. Without commitment, you cannot learn to see others as your soul sees them - as beautiful and powerful spirits of Light.

You learn the roles of love and commitment and trust in making your partnership work. You learn that love alone is not enough, that without trust, you are not able to give and to receive the love that both of you have for each other. You learn that your commitment must be translated into a form that satisfies the needs of both you and your partner. You learn to value the needs of your partner as much as you value your own, because the partnership that you both want requires two healthy and inwardly secure individuals.

You learn that sharing your concerns with consideration and the intention to heal and trust in the process is the only appropriate avenue. As you approach your needs with courage instead of fear you ignite a sense of trust. The true human condition in its most perfect form has no secrets. It does not hide, but exists in clear love.

Individuals who experience what might be thought of as a martyr attitude see themselves as giving all that they have to others. They see this as a form of loving, but in truth the love that they give is contaminated because it is so filled with sorrow for themselves. A sense of guilt and powerlessness clouds the energy from their hearts and so when their affection is felt by another it does not feel good, actually. It feels somehow thick with need, yet the need is never articulated, so their love feels like cement pulling you.

Each interaction with each individual is part of a continual learning dynamic. When you interact with another, an illusion is part of this dynamic. This illusion allows each soul to perceive what it needs to understand in order to heal. It creates, like a living picture show, the situations that are necessary to bring into wholeness the aspects of each soul that require healing.

The illusion is a learning vehicle. It is of the personality. You will leave the illusion behind when you die, when you return home. Yet a personality that lives in love and Light, that sees through the eyes of its soul, metaphorically speaking, can see the illusion and simultaneously not be drawn into it. This is an authentically empowered personality.

The illusion is exquisitely intimate to the needs of each soul. Always each situation serves each person involved. You cannot, and will not, encounter a circumstance, or a single moment, that does not serve directly and immediately the need of your soul to heal, to come into whole­ness. The illusion for each soul is created by its intentions.

Trust allows you to laugh. You can just as easily laugh and play while you grow as become serious and over­whelmed. Spiritual partners see from the perspective of the impersonal, and they help each other see from that perspective the meaning of their experiences. They can laugh at the richness and the beauty and the playfulness of the Universe. They enjoy each other. They see the frustrations of the wants of the personality for what they are, learning’s, sometimes great learning’s, for the soul.

HUMILITY:
An authentically empowered person is humble, A humble spirit walks a familiar world. People are not strangers to it; they are its companions upon the Earth. A humble spirit does not ask for more than it needs, and what it needs, the Universe provides. A humble spirit is content with the fulfillment of its authentic needs, and is not burdened with artificial needs. Humble spirits are free to love and to be who they are. They have no artificial standards to live up to. They are not drawn to the symbols of external power. They do not compete for external power. This does not mean that they do not take pride in what they can do well, or that they do not focus their efforts to produce the best that they can, or are not spurred onward by their fellow humans when that is appropriate to the situation.

Working on that intimate relationship

Deep Intimacy is a bonding between two people based on trust, respect, love, and the ability to share one’s feelings deeply. Casual Intimacy can not bring this to you. Period You can have intimate relationships with lovers, partners, friends, or family members. Through these relationships you experience the give-and-take of commitment, humbleness and caring.

Most survivors have problems with trust. It is normal and part of the average survivor as you got used to handling things alone and taking care of yourself was what you had to do as a child, it may feel unfamiliar and scary to be in a close, committed, intimate relationship. In order to protect yourself whether consciously or unconsciously, what often happens that survivors have casual or superficial relationships. Having the need to have one but not to let it get to close, just incase it ma lead to further hurt. Many survivors describe intimacy as suffocating or invasive or down right frightening. In fact many survivors have no cooking clue as how should a relationship work and what are the basic principles. They often feel claustrophobic when someone gets close. Learning to tolerate intimacy, to feel safe with deep sharing, is a huge challenge. It is probably one of the greatest challenges that a survivor faces. To be fair this is also a huge challenge to a non survivor also, so for the survivor it is compounded. To overcome this is to face one’s fears and do it anyway – the reward is unimaginable to the survivor. It is in fact part of the map.

Healthy independence is the corner stone of any relationship. This is often compromised in the survivor. On the other hand, you may cling to those you love in a co dependency way, unable to tolerate a healthy level of independence. Or you may find yourself too absorbed in your own problems to pay attention to anyone else, hence survivors often have superficial relationships. Partners often feel like they are there as a show peace, decoration or prop.

Survivors struggle with basic giving and receiving and often may not know how to give or receive nurturing. Most survivors often are the givers, and give at the expense of them selves. Physical closeness may be threatening or confusing to you as it usually brings up confused memories and feelings. You may be able to establish intimacy with friends but not with lovers. Survivors may sexualise every friendship or run away when sex enters the picture. This gives your potential partner different signals - who become confused themselves about you. Or a certain level of intimacy may be okay, but when you start to get more involved or the relationship starts to feel like family, you panic. These are merely a past memory recall that brought about lots of confusion, heart ache, disappointment, pain and fear. It completely clouded your healthy view on life.

One of the favourite tricks of the survivor is that you may also sabotage relationships or repeatedly test them to the breaking point. This invariably backfires on you and you may find yourself alienated, lonely, or trapped in relationships where your basic needs are not being met. Then you secretly say to your self "so you SEE IT IS TRUE, I am not good enough, attractive enough, loveable enough, likeable enough" ... etc. This is merely a reflection of the belief system of the survivor. Usually survivors attract to themselves partners that are dominate and distant and may be abusive. This is a direct result of your own belief systems about yourself. Normally Survivors are unable to say no, to set boundaries and limits. Many, many survivors have no idea what a healthy relationship is like or even potentially imagine it. They usually have no framework within which to set them.

Just like learning learning in a school environment, so it is possible to teach yourself the necessary skills to have good, supportive loving in your life. These are not insurmountable problems, just something that you must learn. This is not a switch that you turn on one day when you discover this. It is a long road of continual learning and development. This does not mean that it is impossible, every thing is possible, but it is also to realise that even people who have not had this trauma struggle with the same issues. The capacity for intimacy lives inside of you and everyone else. As a baby, you started out with a perfect sense of trust and closeness. You learned along the way through events that something was not right, but lacking proper role models, this is how you thought that you must do it. This knowingness was stolen from you. It is for you to learn to regain that which was stolen from you and start again. Or put another way to unlearn what you learned - or what you thought was true.

Healing is the process of getting it back on many levels. Please see the article of healing your sexual abuse process elsewhere on this web site. This is possible and has been done for many. It is also possible for you.

A WORKING RELATIONSHIP

Intimacy isn’t something you can do alone. By its very nature, is assumes a relationship. And a relationship means risk. The other half of any relationship is a person you can’t control. But being hurt or disappointed by someone you love can never be as devastating as it was when you were a child. If your trust is broken, it will hurt, but such a breach need no longer annihilate you. You can recover. You are building a more complete self to fall back on.

In order to develop a working relationship, you don’t have to marry someone or be lovers. You can learn a tremendous amount about intimacy in the context of a close friendship.

If you are already in a partnership or friendship you consider intimate, assess the quality of that relationship. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I respect this person?
  • Does this person respect me?
  • Is this a person I can communicate with?
  • Do we work through conflicts well?
  • Do we both compromise?
  • Is there give-and-take?
  • Can I be honest? Can I show my real feelings?
  • Do we both take responsibility for the relationship’s successes and problems?
  • Could I talk to this person about the effect child abuse is having on our relationship?
  • Is there room for me to grow and change in this relationship?
  • Am I able to reach my own goals within this relationship?
  • Is this person supportive of the kind of changes I am trying to make?
  • Is this person willing to help me?

If you can answer most of these questions with a yes, it’s likely you have a solid working relationship. If you aren’t sure of the answers, either the relationship is very new or you’re not asking enough of the relationship to know what is or isn’t available to you. If you answered mostly no’s, you should seriously consider changing or ending the relationship. This would be a direct indication that commitment is not there, either on your side, the other side or both. You would need to look at it.

THE IMPACT OF YOU CHANGING AND ITS EFFECT ON RELATIONSHIPS AROUND YOU

When one person changes in a relationship or a family, the whole equilibrium shifts. This is normal everywhere, not just with survivors. Although sometimes people appreciate the changes you make, upsetting the status quo usually causes reactions designed to keep things as they were. It often makes people uncomfortable.

As you heal, you will change and your loved one's will be challenged to change along with you if you are to create healthy, meaningful relationships. This is often stressful, but if both of you are committed to growing personally, you will be more likely to see changes as positive and to welcome, or at least tolerate them.

As you change, your changes naturally impact on the people close to you, but when there are changes toward health and fulfillment, ultimately they can enhance your relationship, as well as your individual lives.

RISK TAKING IS PART OF RELATIONSHIP DYNAMICS - TAKE CALCULATED RISKS

Learning to be intimate isn’t comfortable, especially for a survivor. Many Survivors don't know the difference between placing boundaries in place and hiding behind barriers. As a Survivor said, “I kept myself safe, but I also kept myself alone.” Becoming intimate means peeling back the layers of protection, that you placed there during your abuse, to let someone in. It means going to the place where you were comfortable, secure, happy, and contained, and then take one step at at time in building up your risk taking. That IS, One step, not twenty.

Instead of spilling out all your innermost thoughts, say “I’m frightened” once, and leave it there. Instead of moving in with your lover, try spending the weekend together. It’s the little steps that have staying power. Practice taking small steps at a time. Then gradually make the step slightly bigger, and practice that until you are comfortable with that. Then try bigger. And so on.

There’s no fixed goal. Intimacy is experienced in the moment as part of a changing, fluid relationship. Learning to be intimate is a slow process, involving mistakes, small successes, and backsliding. Even so called normal people have to go through this process.

To break through to a deeper level of intimacy, you need to be willing to take calculated risks. A calculated risk is different from a blind leap. With a blind leap, you shut your eyes and lunge forward, hoping that things will work out magically. In a way what you are doing with blind faith is dumping it on the other, hoping that they will contain you. That is not the way. You must take control of your own life. By you starting an affair with a married man, positive he’ll leave his wife, or, you get pregnant, hoping a baby will save a faltering relationship, or, you tell a friend your deepest secrets a week after you’ve met. This kind of blind leaps rarely pay off. In fact it is like placing the responsibility with someone else. That is not right or fair.

Calculated risks are different. It is with consideration that you take a calculated risk, you weigh your chances and step out onto the ice only when you’re relatively sure it’s solid. You should also be prepared to be let down. With intimacy, nothing is 100 percent sure, but with forethought and a responsive partner, you maximize your chances for communication, increased closeness, and satisfaction. TRy to minimise the impact by developing yourself first.

THE LEAP OF FAITH AND LEARNING TO TRUST

Survivors tend to see trust as a absolute, black or white, either not trusting at all or trusting completely. You may bounce between the two, not trusting until you are so desperate for contact that you throw your trust at the first likely target. This indicates a great need within you. Try to understand and master this need first. Since most people can’t handle that kind of desperation (neediness), you may end up disappointed or abandoned, thus proving your original beliefs- that people aren’t trustworthy, that you aren’t lovable, that love isn’t worth it. Classical response. You must try to avoid this as it is very disheartening - especially when you are trying to grow yourself.

Before you can trust anyone, you have to trust yourself. It is essential to learn this skill. If you know you can take care of yourself, you won’t need to blindly fling your trust out in the hope that someone will take care of you. That kind of absolute love is what a child feels for its parents. It’s not what two mature adults feel for each other. This is a concept that you need to understand.

Try and find a healthy relationship in your environment. Try to monitor what goes on without being prying. Try to find a relationship where there is commitment, for from commitment trust flows. With out commitment, trust can not be built. In a healthy relationship, you vary your level of trust according to what’s actually happening between you and the other person. You experience gradations of trust, periodically assessing whether your needs are getting met, whether you’re growing in the ways you want to grow. And if you see that the relationship warrants it, you open up more. Trust accrues over time. It’s earned. It follows commitment.

Play with Experimenting with Trust

You have to develop a trust for yourself even before you start. Work on yourself. As you come to trust yourself, you build a foundation for trusting someone else, because you know what it feels like. You can always go back to not trusting if you want to, but at least give it a try. The basic premise of this experiment, whether you believe it yet or not, is that under some circumstances, and with some people, trust is safe. Given that, try trusting in small doses.

Choose simple situations that give you a good chance of success. Instead of saying “I trust that you never betray me in any way,” ask your partner to make dinner for you on a night you work late. Trust a woman in your support group to hold you in a nonsexual way for five minutes. Or call a friend when you’re feeling sad and ask if she’ll spend a little time with you.

Say that you are experimenting with trust and that this is important to you. Then, if they come through for you, let that affect your world view. Let it enter in on the tally. Maybe trusting is not as dangerous as it was when you were a child. These are just some of the ways you can practice learning to trust.

If the experiment fails and you are let down, try to analyse what happened. This is a learning experience. As a guideline try asking yourself these questions;

  • Whom did I pick to trust? Was it wise?
  • How long did I know the person? Was it long enough? Was I secretly dumping or was I in control of myself?
  • Did we have good communication? Was it genuine, or was I just thinking that it is all ok?
  • What kind of thing did I trust the person with?
  • Did I explain what I was doing, letting them know it was very important to me?
  • Were there any elements in the interchange that paralleled my original abuse? Look carefully at this one.

Use the answers to these questions to learn about when it is and isn’t appropriate to trust. Then try again. Please remember that this is a practice process. You have to practice. After all, normal people had to learn this skill in exactly the same way as the Survivor has to!! We all have to learn it.

FIND OUT HOW YOU ARE DOING BY TESTING

This is a tricky area. All of us need to test a bit from time to time. It’s healthy to do some testing in a new relationship, just to see if the other is there with you in a genuine way. Many survivors, however, carry this to extremes. Many Survivors push, manipulate or may taunt your partner, waiting to see if he hits you, lashes out at you, treats you badly. Some try all sorts of tricks like sleeping with your lover’s best friend to see if he will get disgusted and leave. One woman never shows up for the first three dates. Or someone makes it to the fourth date, she’ll begin to consider that person a potential friend. All ways pushing and pushing.

Remember that the other person is also entitled to be treated fairly and should not be abused by you. At the same time it’s legitimate to test people to see if you should trust them or if they can meet your needs, but if you find yourself excessively testing your friends or lovers, you may be reenacting the familiar betrayals of your childhood. If you set up tests that no one could possibly pass, then you’re not testing. You’re saying goodbye. This is setting up a barrier between you and the other. Try reading up and get a good understanding of what boundaries are and as to there proper functioning in ones life. Learn the difference between boundaries and barriers between you and others.

Instead, try designing tests that are fair: “I’m going to wait and see if you really take care of the kids two afternoons a week like you promised,” or “I need to see if you stay open with me if I tell you what I’m going through.”

Discuss your needs with your friends and lovers to make sure that you’ve set up reasonable assessment points. If you struggle with this and other points raised here, do try to get professional help with someone who is experienced to assist you.

PROJECTING YOUR PAST WITH THE PRESENT IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS

this is an easy trap to fall into. In fact many people do it, even so called normal people. When your partner says or does something that you don't like, and you have a reaction to it - in most instances it has nothing to do with the person in front of you, or the circumstances, it has to do with you bringing in subconsciously something from your past. EG. you may have a partner or friend who genuinely loves and respects you, but you don’t experience it that way because you expect relationships to be abusive.

Of course if someone is abusing you, you need to get out of that situation. That is healthy boundaries. But if you only think you’re being abused, you must learn to make the distinction between the people who care about you now and your abuser.

Just try these simple tests for yourself to assist you in the identification is to create reality checks for yourself:

  • My father never listened to what was important to me. Paul usually listens. - Is this usually true - if so then you are projecting father onto Paul in that instance.
  • My mother always said things were going to change and nothing ever did. With Mary, although we’ve still got a way to go, our relationship has changed.
  • My friend Jack has straight brown hair and wears sloppy clothes. My uncle’s hair was black and curly and he always dressed immaculately.

Reinforce these distinctions so that you can stay aware that the people in your life today, are not your abuser. This is a skill that you have to learn. Once mastered your whole way of seeing life would change fundamentally.

PUTTING UP BARRIERS AROUND ME TO PROTECT MYSELF

It is common for survivors to put up a barrier / keep distance between themselves and the people they love. It is a subconscious way of trying to protect yourself. Survivors often say or indicate through body language - "don't come near Me". If you feel threatened by closeness, you pull away. You attack the other person in some way, because you’re scared and want to create a reason to leave, or you leave your body, or you stay present in body but your soul / mind is whirring a million miles away.

Having alone time is also very important in a relationship. It must be done. But the intention is what is important here. If you want to push away because you are scarred in of being hurt or something similar - is not healthy in this instance. But if you want alone time, for yourself for quiet time or contemplation time, knowing that you are coming back is OK. Sometimes creating distance is a good thing to do. It’s important to be able to separate from someone you’re close to, so you can nurture other aspects of your life and keep your relationship in perspective. Being close, and then returning to yourself, and then being close again is a natural cycle in a healthy relationship. A good process. But if you withdraw every time you feel uncomfortable, it’s a problem. You will need to look at the underlying behaviour.

Notice when and why you react or pull back, these are your vital clues for you to look at and asses within yourself. In each situation assess whether it’s what you really want to be doing, whether it’s appropriate, or whether it’s a carryover from childhood that is no longer useful. If you decide you do want to be more separate, practice moving away in healthy ways. Picking a fight or having a secret affair is not a good way to create separation. This normally just brings on more heart pain and leads to more drama in your life. You already have enough of that.

If you decide what you really want is to be close and not to withdraw, then becoming self aware, master the self, understand what exactly is going on inside of you is important. You may have to force yourself to reach out, even if your natural habit is to retract. This is your reaction - it is not from your friend. It is something you need to work on and resolve. Instead of saying “I’m leaving you; this will never work,” try to say something like “I’m scared; let’s talk.” Start you talking about how you feel by using the "I" word in your sentence. Tell your friend “I am having a hard time,” "I am struggling", "I am scarred" etc. , instead of not calling for weeks at a time. The key to greater intimacy is honestly expressing what’s going on on the inside, instead of covering your panic and running away, denying yourself etc.

Take small steps at a time. It helps to create a cushion of safety. Set little goals for yourself, strike little bargains with yourself-“I’ll let myself be close tonight, but tomorrow night is just for me to be by myself.” Stick to them. This will also start to create trust for yourself about yourself. It is also the beginning of you teaching yourself the value of boundary setting.

If you live in your head - which is where most survivors tend to live - it becomes harder to try and understand how you feel. If the distancing you do is in your head, the triggers may be harder to pinpoint. Self awareness now becomes key. Try to watch where and when your thoughts stray. Enlist the help of the people close to you. Ask them to watch for the telltale signs-a lack of focus in your eyes, a drop in your voice, the sneaking feeling they get that you’re just not around anymore. If you’re caught, or if you catch yourself, stop and look at the reasons why you withdrew when you did. These are all clues for you to find out what it is that you need to address within yourself. They are invaluable tips. Get help here.

FEARING OF LOVE OR NOT TRUSTING OF LOVE

If the people who said they loved you abused or neglected you, it can feel terrifying to love again. In fact you look at it and wonder well what exactly is love and how does it work.

Commitment or love with a family 'connection' feeling can be scarier still. In fact it can be down right terrifying. The subconscious memory in you of the child in you still equates commitment with being locked into a situation where there’s no escape. So as you get closer, you may become paralyzed by all your old defences and memories that start to run the show, rather than the adult in you.

Try talking to those close to you about what love and commitment means to them. Read the bit again at the beginning of this page on commitment to see if it now gives you more of an in depth understanding. And if the word “love” sticks in your throat, try saying how you feel in your own words: “I am glad I know you.” “You make me feel special.” I get happy just thinking of you.” One woman who refused to use the word “love” told her new lover, “I’am in serious like with you.” One day you will be able to use the love word to your partner - it generally happens when you have reached the commitment stage in your relationship.

Love is a terribly misused word. 

SOCIETAL LABELLING ON WOMEN

The Western and Middle Eastern cultures sanctions an image of woman as dependent, unable to take care of themselves, and incomplete without a relationship. Often due to this societal conditioning, you may not have gotten the nurturing you needed in childhood. Or you may have been smothered, not allowed to separate from your family in appropriate healthy ways. This often results in women becoming clingy to family structures, women structures etc., all to afraid of being alone. Many Survivors feel that if they don't have a partner they seize to exist.

Overcoming this state of unhealthy dependency is much the same process a two year-old goes through in learning to play independently. The toddler will spend a few minutes with a toy and then run back to the living room to make sure her mother is still there. Once reassured by a pat or a smile, she ventures out again, until a few minutes later she needs to see her mother again. Learning to feel secure while spending time alone requires much the same thing: practice, positive reinforcement, and more practice. The practice side of healing a survivor is probably the most important thing that a survivor needs to realise.

Take time alone in small increments, doing things you actively enjoy. Ask your friend or partner to say encouraging things: “I’All still be here when you get back” or “I’m proud of you.” Planning ahead is a big help too. You can arrange to have dinner with your husband after spending the day alone. Expand your sources of nourishment to non–people sources: pets, nature, creativity. If you spread out the ways you take care of yourself, you will be less dependent on any one person.

It really is important for you to develop a network around you that will support you. But in order to do this you have to be up front with them and tell that what you are doing, why you are doing this, and that there role is one of support and not of rescue. To be able to do this you need to be very clear with yourself what they mean. If you do this it will become one of the most richly rewarding things that you can do for yourself.

I exist because of you

Many survivors often seek out such relationships where they gain a kind of existence by being with someone who has achieved something. They do this through a process we call merging or attachment. Merging is a state of extreme dependency, where you are totally dependent on the other for your existence. Not having a strong enough sense of yourself, your own identity, you confuse your thoughts, feelings, and needs with those of others, until it’s hard to tell where you stop and they begin.

If you are lonely or afraid to be alone, this kind of closeness is seductive. It’s also unhealthy. A strong relationship is made up of two individuals sharing together. For that you need an independent self. YOu have to build an independent self. It is imperative to your healing. With out it you can not develop healthily relationship

PLEASE USE ME AS THE FLOOR MAT, AND WHILE YOU ARE ABOUT IT, I CLEAN SHOES ALSO!

The sexual abusive act often resulted in the survivor giving away their power. They felt powerless to protect them selves. As a result from this overhanging memory, Survivors often have trouble setting limits in relationships. Because they didn’t learn about healthy boundaries as children. You may do all the giving. Or you may feel you don’t have the right to say no. But if you are one half of a relationship, you deserve to do half the decision-making and to exercise half the power. You are also have the right to receive - in fact giving and receiving should be equal in any relationship. The same principle applies to exercising your power.

In balanced relationships both people contribute to making it work. There is an equal distribution of power. BY you trading your power for love never works in the long run. It always leads to further abuse and / or disrespect. You don’t have to be all-giving to merit love. Total self-sacrifice is not a virtue, it costs you. This is now what a healthy relationship is about.

If you haven’t had much practice setting limits, start with something small: “I don’t want you to call me after 11:30 p.m. because my roommates are sleeping.” Or, “if you use up the milk, please replace it.”

Once you’ve had a little practice, go on to something bigger. If you’ve been expected to cook the family dinner every night and you no longer want sole responsibility for that job, negotiate your new position such as: “I will no longer be cooking on Tuesdays and Thursdays.” Talk it over with your partner and children and help them come to terms with their new responsibilities. If they won’t co-operate, you can still say no.

The fact that someone doesn’t like a limit you place there, doesn’t mean you have to back down. When 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday rolls around, head up to your room with an apple and a good book. And if you don’t want to hear complaints from the kitchen, a walk in the park might be nice.

Your family may grumble. They might even make a lot of noise, but they won’t starve. Your oldest boy might even find out he likes to cook. And you might find that you like setting limits a lot. Please remember that this is an example of boundary setting. Always try and negotiate your boundaries, but be firm but fair.

MANY SURVIVORS TRY AND AVOID CONFLICT OR MAY STRUGGLE WITH CONFLICT

Conflict is threatening to many women, not just Survivors. There tends to be more fear in this area with Survivors. If you grew up in an environment where conflicts exploded into violence or where you were suppressed entirely, you may feel at a loss when it comes to dealing with conflict in a healthy way. In fact you have no clue. Instead you may freeze, withdraw, or try to manipulate the situation to meet your needs without a direct confrontation. You may be afraid that if you assert yourself, you’ll be abandoned, not accepted, not loved anymore. You may fear getting hurt or hurting someone else. Or you may escalate the disagreement until you say or do things you really don’t mean, this tends to happen when you mount the anger pony and use the anger pony's power to confront for you.

But conflict is normal-and inevitable. It is part of every relationship. It’s a basic part of intimacy believe it or not.

The principles discussed in the boundary section should be used in every confrontation. You should use the I word extensively. Talking directly, with respect for both yourself and the other person, is a healthy way to air problems. Try to share your feelings as soon as you recognize them so you don’t store up a backlog of resentments and disappointments. Say how you feel and what you want. Then listen to your friend or partner without interrupting.

To keep a conflict from spiraling out of control, you can agree beforehand on some basic guidelines, such as no violence and no name-calling. You can agree to stick with the present issue and not trash the relationship as a whole. Ground rules like these can help you feel safer.

Not all conflicts involve anger. Sometimes you simply see things differently or have different desires and need to work out a compromise that’s acceptable to both of you. Either way, it’s important to hear each other’s perspective.  If this isn’t happening naturally, set a timer so that each of you can talk for five minutes while the other really listens. Or try reversing roles-pretend that you’re the other person and say what you think he or she is feeling.

In most situations there’s at least one, and usually more, solutions that could meet both people’s needs. It’s not necessary to back down from what’s important to you or to invalidate your friend’s or partner’s needs. Negotiating respectfully and successfully is a skill you can learn. And as you resolve conflicts in ways you feel good about, you build trust not only with yourself but with others. BY using the I word you will develop respect also.

THE EQUAL EXCAHNGE OF GIVING AND RECEIVING

There are two sides to intimacy: giving and receiving. You may have a hard time with one or with both. The way to learn either is to practice. If you have been unable to give, start by giving someone what’s easiest for you, perhaps a compliment or a favourite food. If you have been unable to receive, the start to practice you actually receiving from another with out you feeling guilty, ashamed, or immediately feeling that you have to give something back. Ask the person to acknowledge and thank you for what you’ve done. Recognition goes a long way in reinforcing behaviour.

As time goes on, work up to giving things that are harder. You may find it relatively easy to give on your own terms, what you want to give, when you want to give it. Children often pick out presents, for instance, that reflect their own interests rather than the interests of the recipient. But as an adult, you need to work toward being able to give people what they need, when they need it. Your lover may want to be accompanied to an important event, not cooked for. Your friend might need to talk to you even though you want to treat him to the movies. This doesn’t mean you can’t say no, only that you become capable of stepping out of yourself to meet the other person halfway.

Receiving feels wonderful once you get used to it. But first you must acknowledge how scary it is to be open. If, as a child, you were left to fend for yourself or there were strings attached to getting what you needed, you learned that nurturing was either unavailable or unsafe. But now, receiving doesn’t have to mean owing something back.

Start asking for at least one thing you want every day. It can be as small as “Would you make me some tea?” or “Can you drop this off to the Sales Department on your way out?”

Tell the people close to you that you’re learning to ask for what you want, that you’re learning to receive. You never know- your partner might spontaneously put love notes in your lunch bag. Your daughter might pick a flower for you on her way home from school. In each instance always express a thank you followed by gratitude.

In healthy relationships, there is a balance to giving and receiving. If you’ve always leaned heavily one way, you will need to focus more on the other aspect, but eventually, as you feel safer, both giving and receiving will develop a relaxed natural rhythm.

During certain crucial periods when healing from child sexual abuse demands all your attention, you may be unable to give anything. You may be so self-absorbed that you become temporarily unable to meet (or even pay attention to) the needs of your family and friends.

This kind of self-absorption is a natural side effect of engrossing emotional work, but you can’t immerse yourself in it all the time and expect to maintain intimate relationships. You need to make an effort to keep relationships reciprocal.

If you can’t give quality attention, at least apologize. Acknowledge that you can’t do more just yet, but that you intend to be more present and available as soon as you can. Express your appreciation for your friend’s loyalty in continuing to love you even when you can’t give much back. Then see if there’s something small you can give. Perhaps you can do your lover’s laundry even while you’re obsessed with your own thoughts. If you can’t give fully, give what you can.

This doesn’t mean you should fake it. There may be legitimate times when you absolutely can’t give anything. If this is the case, acknowledge your limitations and take responsibility for them, instead of putting down the other person for having needs.

Generally, the deeper a foundation you have with someone, the more the relationship is able to withstand trying times. Sometimes a healing crisis actually helps a relationship grow in depth and commitment. But even if you have a sold relationship, the demands of healing will still be hard on your partner and friends.

ATTRACTING AND RECOGNIZING BAD RELATIONSHIPS

Due to the wounding you incurred as a result of your sexual abuse in your childhood years, Survivors tend to have the tendency to repeat childhood patterns. This often means exchanging the family of origin (where the sexual abuse occurred) that was unsupportive, distant, or abusive only to get involved with a partner who embodies those same qualities. This is what we attract into our lives.

When women are in bad relationships, they frequently try not to notice, and hope things will change. Or they think that because nothing overtly abusive is going on, the relationship is okay. The Survivor generally thinks that this is how all relationships are / or that every kind of relationship they have had is like that and it is normal. But relationships that lack life, inhibit trust, or are simply boring are unfulfilling too. If your partner is unwilling to relate to you as a courageous, vulnerable, strong woman, then you must question the nature of this relationship.

If you have a partner who belittles you, a husband who hits you, or a friend who doesn’t respect your values, you can’t count on them to change. Everyone changes-that’s a fact of life-but you can’t expect them to change in any particular direction or at any particular pace. The only thing you can do to change a relationship is to change yourself. This means resolving your wounding's resulting from your childhood sexual abuse.

You can act. You can grow. You can develop alternative support networks. You can forgive yourself for not knowing better in the past, and start saying no in the present. If you make all the changes you can and still aren’t getting your needs met, consider leaving the relationship. It is better not to be in a relationship at all then it is to be in one that continues to link closeness to betrayal, abandonment, and violation.

Parting ways between you and your partner

Survivors tend to attract unsatisfying partners. Although they don't like it is is usually familiar. Separating from an unsatisfying relationship can be very difficult, because it is so familiar. Many women are so attached to their partners that the relationship is more of an addiction than a freely chosen healthy partnership. In her book, Choice-Making. Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse defines this state of co-dependency as “a condition of chronic dependency, a state that keeps us from self-fulfillment and personal freedom.

Breaking this kind of addiction can be frightening, downright scary and usually invokes huge amount of guilt. But there is more and more help available for women who are reclaiming their autonomy and self-worth. Make an effort to find help for yourself. become empowered and independent. You will be amazed at what lies ahead for you when you go through this process. YOu suddenly discover that life can be fun, deeply rewarding and enriching.

Sometimes the process of weeding out people who are no longer good for you is spurred by a decision you make about changing your lifestyle. If part of your recovery from sexual abuse involves getting sober, for instance, you will have to leave your old drinking buddies behind. Or if you have a friend who tells you you’re lying every time you talk about sexual abuse, you may need to end that friendship.

All these changes can be hard. You may feel lonely or lost. Even if you know you are making room for something better, there’s still loss- the loss of the familiar, the loss of the good qualities in the people you leave behind. This can be a painful and awkward time for you, a kind of limbo when you have let go of the old but have not yet grabbed hold of the new.

You especially deserve to have enriching relationships

If you’ve previously chosen relationships for the wrong reasons, it’s possible to break that pattern. By growing within yourself you will see that the old style of relationship does not feed you anymore, and what usually happens is that you will look back at that kind of relationship and say to yourself "what was I thinking before" For instance, if you find yourself repeatedly attracted to older, authoritative men who remind you of your abuser, and you know from past experience that you fell powerless with that kind of person, turn away and look elsewhere. However, sometimes you know what you don’t want, but don’t yet know what you do want. You may feel you have no choice about the people you get involved with.

As you grow and your self-esteem increases, it will seem natural that other people will like and love you. You will realize that you can say no to some people and actively choose others, and through this process you will discover just how rich the world can be for you.

Try looking at new relationships as places to practice intimacy. We have all been conditioned to judge relationships on the basis of their length-a good relationship is one that lasts forever and everything else is a failure. But relationships can be worthwhile even if they are short or don’t give you everything you need. If a relationship seems to provide a context in which you can practice communication, trust, and the give-and-take or caring, then you have a healthy basis for growth and intimacy. Entering this phase of your life will be very exciting and eye opening for you.

ARE WE HAVING FUN YET?

A women’s band sings a song about relationships that has as the chorus:

Work on it, work on it,
I don’t wanna work on it.

Whenever they play it in concert, the audience roars. We can all recognize the feeling of having worked at relationships to the point of overkill.

If you add to that the work of healing for child sexual abuse-memories and confrontation, rage and grief-and then throw in the laundry, the kids, and earning a living, life can be overwhelming. When you’re running on empty, trying to catch up, fun is the first thing to go. But that’s a mistake. You were not placed here on the planet for this to be a dredge, hard work, boring, no fun, unhappy place - it is meant to be fun, joyful, exciting, loving and supportive. It is your divine right. Find it for yourself. You deserve to be happy here. Please heal yourself - it is possible and has been done many times. When is it going to be your turn.

If you see your partner only when you crawl into bed, exhausted, at the end of the day, you’re both liable to forget what brought you together to begin with. If you talk only about sexual abuse when you see your friend Carol, Carol may stop calling. And even if you’re fortunate enough to have friends and lovers who stick by you, you’ll be missing out on fun times together.

If healthy relationships are important to you, structure your life to allow for quality time with the people you love.

Fun is not an optional part of the healing process. It’s one of its chief rewards. YOu can have your rightful share.

When are you going to look after, respect and love yourself enough to do that for you???