I’m an abuse survivor.
I avoided being trapped in the grievance pit because people much smarter than I am, refused to enable my victim mentality.
As sorry as these mentors were about my suffering, they weren’t afraid to hit me with hard truths.
Aside from kickstarting my stunted level of emotional maturity, my mindset also needed a firm kick in the pants.
I could only be transformed by the renewing of my mind, not the emptying of it.
If I followed the way in which they were pointing, the truth, they said, would
set me free.
The biggest challenge was accepting that there might not be justice, a reckoning, or accountability for my abusers.
Instead of revenge, I had to
take thoughts captive, set boundaries, and sift the good from the bad.
Part of this was learning to
forgive the absence of apology.
If real freedom was the goal, I would – as I described it in 2013 – at some point have to
exhale dust, and inhale grace. Reality Check
The second biggest challenge was in learning to tell myself the truth.
I am a
dysfunctional family survivor.
I had to
recognise that what I thought was normal, wasn’t.
This is how I can say with confidence that the way we live out our lives can be compromised by the lies we are either told, or tell ourselves.
Sometimes this crippling effect is no fault of our own. How we see ourselves can be hindered by falsehoods spoken by others.
Having been conditioned to hate myself, my life was paralysed by negative self-talk.
statements like “You’re just like your [deadbeat] father” drilled into me a large amount of self-hatred, self-doubt, fear, and insecurity.
In my experience, knowing the difference between where my responsibility lies, and where that responsibility falls on others can be difficult.
Knowing the difference comes down to a determination to move from surviving to thriving.
Asking who’s really to blame for the mess my life is, is a good place to start.
Answering these types of questions requires the right kind of thinking toolbox.
Replacing lies with truth in moments that incapacitate us, is the mental martial arts basis of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
Guided self-reflection is a course corrector.
There are direct benefits here for fathers who’ve been tied down in dad-hating divorce courts, or who want to change and just don’t know where to begin.
Since we all have blind spots — see the
Johari window — separating the truth from the lies we tell ourselves can be a game -changer.
CBT isn’t a magic wand, but the principles of CBT can help survivors heal, and manage their trauma by identifying triggers.
For instance, if the hat fits, wear it. If it doesn’t, hand it back.
It’s a simple response to the question: Is what’s been said about me true?
The Australian Government
defines CBT as:
‘a type of psychotherapy (talking therapy) based on the idea that how you think and act affects how you feel.’
‘Basically, the aim is to challenge and break the habit of negative thinking, and unhelpful thinking.’
This includes ‘catastrophising, where you always assume the worst possible outcome, and personalisation, where you take everything personally.’
CBT isn’t complicated, and it is widely practised.
This means there are a lot of professionals who can steer anyone willing to find out more about CBT in the right direction.
Another bonus: CBT has a start and an end. Those who can wield it gain tools for life.
For dads in a dark place who might be tempted to turn their own victimhood into villainy, CBT is a ticket to freedom beyond both.
Take those thoughts captive, set boundaries, and sift the good from the bad.
Inhale grace, exhale dust.
Photo by cottonbro studio.