The only way to survive any kind of child abuse is to disassociate (separate yourself) from your emotions. You know what I’m talking about. The minute something abusive happens you go numb.
This is your brain’s way of protecting you from the emotional pain of abuse. Unfortunately, abused children continue to disassociate when they grow up. The coping mechanism that once protected them as children now sabotages them as adults.
That’s one reason why abused children tend to marry abusers. They don’t do it on purpose. But somehow it always works out that way. This is because when the red flags of abuse appear early in a relationship, they don’t recognize them. Red flags trigger disassociation.
Disassociation is learned behavior. Abuse taught you to protect your heart and sanity in this toxic way. Learned behavior can be unlearned, and disassociation is no exception.
Unlearning begins by practicing awareness. The minute someone says something abusive to you or treats you in an abusive way, FOCUS! Zero in on the nagging thought that something isn’t right. Don’t ignore it like you usually do. Stay with it until you figure out exactly how you feel about what just happened and why.
Do this every time you’re in an abusive situation. Focus on those nagging thoughts whenever they occur. Listen to what they’re trying to tell you.
Soon you’ll form the habit of honoring your feelings. This is how abused children learn to create healthy, happy relationships as adults. So stick with it. Awareness is your friend!
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