Understanding dynamics that led to abuse and changing perspective

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I've been doing Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings regularly for a little while now. The focus is on the self and self-perceptions and one's own feelings. I've been so outer focused - approval seeking. being affirmed from the outside, seeking validation - the bulk of my life that it took a minute for me to understand putting the focus on me. At first it felt selfish and how dare I be selfish! But it's turning out to be the best thing I could do for myself. My approval of me, my acceptance of me, my validation of myself - those all come first. I didn't know that's how you raise a healthy person but it is. I needed to do ACA to understand where I came from and how it led to my abuse. I keep getting payoffs in understanding how much sexual shame there was in my home and how that led to my abuse and my covering my abuse but continuing to act out sexually post-abuse. I was taught to deny my sexuality, that it was bad, that it caused pain to women and yet I still had it and had no one telling me what to do with it and behold, an abuser found me and "taught" me about my sexuality. I was used and taught what I was good for or valued for as no one else - especially men in family - valued me or let me know that I was valuable. And I felt guilty for what had happened to me, for what I had done (I blamed myself entirely for getting abused: "If I hadn't done this or had this need, this wouldn't have happened"). I was 13 and I'm now 53 and just seeing how badly I blamed myself and my family let me do it.

Getting over the need to blame is changing my life. I feel much less guilty about the FACT that I am sexual. I can't believe how much guilt I've felt. I was afraid that I was bringing some kind of shame upon my family of origin since I was the "good kid", the "smart one", the one who didn't fuck up and yet I had this potent secret and it didn't jibe with the rest of my life and I kept acting out on it and trying to deal with things in that "acting out" world that weren't allowed in the "good kid" world. I was one screwed up kid who could do well in school, act like I had no needs, smile a lot and then compulsively scan for adults to act out with and that acting out including dynamics that expressed parts of me that were forbidden to be expressed in daylight. When sex and other parts of us are shamed or forbidden, many find ways to be expressed and many show up in sex lives. Other parts are repressed and depression, rage, addictions and other coping mechanisms (I mention these as a partial list but a list of some that I've used) ensue but they all seem to share shame at their core. I don't want to generalize about others so I will say that is what happened to me: I was shamed directly and indirectly about many aspects of myself and parts of me found expression in sexual acting out post-abuse that I have been incredibly guilty and ashamed of until recently.

There are many different victim stories on this board. I only speak for my experience and I respect that there are many different ways abuse happened. For me, shame led directly to my CSA. Shame led to my isolation, my vulnerability, my sense of disconnection and needing connection and my incredible self-doubt which allowed for a man to take advantage of me and led me down a path of more isolation and disconnection.

To really start to understand this and address this is progress and it feels "good" even though some days it doesn't feel so good. I'm finally taking care of myself and I understand what that means. I have a different kind of hope. It's great to start really trusting oneself after a lifetime of doubting oneself. And liking myself - who knew??
 
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