For years now I’ve heard the statement “Depression Lies” circling around blogs and social media. It’s true. Depression does lie. It tells us we’re lazy, a burden to our friends and, sometimes, of so little value that the world would be a better place without us. I wish every depression sufferer had a firm grasp on knowing these lies so they don’t ever mistake them for truth.
During the last year of my work in the Trauma Recovery field I’ve realized that abuse lies, too. And its lies are just as powerful and destructive as the lies that depression tells. I believe that abuse tells us four very powerful lies that color our view of the world and ourselves. They permeate every aspect of our belief system. And they profoundly hamper our capacity to recover from our abuse.
The four lies are:
— We should be ashamed of our abuse, which manifests as Shame
— Our abuse was our fault, which manifests as Self-Blame
— We are bad because we caused our abuse and deserved our abuse which manifests as Low Self-Worth or even Self-Loathing
— We are powerless to change anything in our lives, which manifests as Powerlessness
The shame, self-blame and low self-worth reside at the very core of our being, defining the way we see ourselves and the world. That triad of lies is protected by the fourth lie: that we are powerless. The powerlessness tells us we cannot change the feelings of shame, self-blame and low self-worth that we feel. In essence, our feeling of powerlessness guards that core triad of lies. For this reason, I call those four lies The Lying Triad and Its Dark Guard.
Unfortunately, most abuse survivors don’t know that these predominant beliefs they hold so dear are lies. They have come, over the course of their victimization, to embrace them as the truth about who they are, how the world works, and how their life in the world will be lived. When one’s views are based upon shame, self-blame, self-loathing and powerlessness it’s easy to see that someone would have very little hope, either that they will feel better or that the world will be a loving, kind place in which to live.
Can you see the double bind? Abuse survivors believe both they and their life in this world is bad. In their minds, there is little use for working on their own recovery because even if they do the world will knock them down again because it is an unfair, mistrustful place for them. The lies they have co-opted as their truth tell them the world will take them to their knees every chance it gets. I can’t tell you how many survivors I’ve had tell me, “What’s the use? Why should I work so hard when life is just going to crush me again?” It’s a vicious and cruel web of lies that their abuse has taught them. They feel powerless to change it and their hopelessness is palpable.
I know it firsthand. I believed those lies for decades. I owned them deep down in the very core of me, on a cellular level. But through a circuitous path I learned the truth. I picked up puzzle pieces here and there, gradually putting them together into a cohesive picture of the truth. It took me years of stumbling about in hopelessness and despair, not really sure what I was looking for but intuitively knowing that the bits and pieces I was stumbling upon had some value.
I had the lies, and then finally, I had the truth. With those two items in hand I reverse engineered the process of moving from truth back to the lies. In the next few weeks I want to share the truth with you here on this blog. You are not composed of shame, self-blame, self-loathing and powerlessness. No, not at all. Let’s kick The Lying Triad and Its Dark Guard to the curb! Join me here as I unwrap this process of moving from lies to truth, from despair to truth, and from hopelessness to freedom.