Friday, May 31, 2013
Comfortable in Chaos
As an adult survivor of severe physical, mental, and emotional abuse, sexual molestation, and rape, I was constantly subjected, involved or a witness to everyday chaos in my home environment. There was no such thing as “Normal” in my household, and every day was filled with constant anxiety and fear for when the next horrifying event was going to happen. At that time, I did not realize how dysfunctional things were, I did not know that it was odd or strange to have every conversation or interaction end either in a fist fight/beating or a verbal altercation so damaging, it would take the paint off your skin.
What is Normal? Conforming to the standard or the common type, usual, not abnormal; regular, natural .
What is Chaos? The state of utter confusion, lacking any order or organization. -Dictionary.com.
Well, in an odd sense, my childhood was normal; I learned to conform to the standard, common regular traumatic daily events occurring. This was my “Normal” throughout my entire young and teen life. I did not know that these situations were wrong and abusive. I thought all families lived like this, at least when I was younger. I realized by age 10 that my family was severely “Messed Up!”
Every day was spent on guard, waiting for the next damaging or horrific event to occur. I learned to be hyper-vigilant, always in a fight or flight state, always scanning my environment for danger and adopt danger avoiding behaviors. Children who are raised in a physically, emotionally or sexually abusive environment live in a state of chaos. “Walking on Eggshells,” just waiting for the next event. This creates a pervasive fear, a common core belief developed by children in this situation is, “something bad is always going to happen.”
As adult survivors, we learned very early unacceptable ways of communication, coping, reacting, thinking and interacting with others. As most psychologists will concur, what happens during those first years of development has a strong influence later on in life. When children are exposed to adverse situations, such as violence and abuse, the outcomes of that play a significant role later in life and how we react.
In a normal, loving, nurturing environment where the child feels safe, protected and secure they grow up believing they are “Lovable” and that “People can be Trusted” and “The world is a safe place.”
I grew up believing just the opposite, that I am “Unworthy of Love or Good things in my life”; “Nobody can be Trusted”; “The World is a cruel/unsafe place,” and “Something bad is always going to happen!”
We learned our coping skills in a dysfunctional environment and carry them with us into the adult world, where they simply do not work! We have been so “Normal” in functioning in Chaos because it is all we have ever known. We interact with others; react to situations, display anger and outrage in very unacceptable, “Abnormal” ways. We often sabotage any happiness and relationship we do find, or when circumstances and issues in life are going smoothly because the dysfunctionalism is much more familiar, we can cope and deal with crisis better. Sometimes we do this unintentionally. We learned early that hopelessness, and haplessness was how we often felt and how life should be lived-In a constant state of Chaos and agony. I know I feel unworthy at times to have anything “Good” happen in my life. I often feel that I am unworthy of love and acceptance by others.
It is easy for me to reverting back into old patterns of thinking, interacting with friends/loved ones, emotions, and self-destructive actions. I have had to unlearn these negative coping skills that were engrained patterns from my youth. It is a constant daily battle not to let emotional triggers or stressful situations affect my life. My insane coping skills were taught at such a young age that things that are natural and normal to me, others find crazy and weird. When I am emotional and distraught the familiar mechanisms of coping come rushing back into my life and if not recognized immediately, will take hold causing irrational thinking and behaviors to surface. To the average person who did not grow up in chaos, they don’t understand the constant battle adult survivors of abuse suffer from. We seem abnormal and never thankful or content with the good in our lives. We think that at any moment that security can be ripped away, so rather than wait for the inevitable to happen we self-sabotage because the chaos and crisis feels and seems normal to us! We know how to operate, cope and adapt to chaos and crisis environments because it has been all we have ever known. We have no idea, until we have healed, and have learned positive coping skills by putting them in to daily practice, how to function “Normally” in society.
I am learning that I am worthy of “Great” things happening in my life. I am worthy of love, appreciation and value by others. I do not have to live in a constant state of chaos and crisis because it is physically, emotionally and mentally draining. I have learned to cognitively realize that those childhood belief no longer apply in my adult life or environment. I will not sabotage the positive good things in my life and will be surer to enjoy them when they are there. Happiness is not a feeling; it’s a state of mind, where you are content in whatsoever circumstance you’re in. Knowing and trusting that the Lord has “Got This.” I will not create crisis and chaos in my life!