One of the things that abuse survivors have to deal with is warping of their fundamental sense of reality. For children who had abusive families, whatever form that took, one of the mainstays of that abuse is to be told that black is white and white is black.  They are told that what they see with their eyes – that Daddy hurts us, that Mommy has two faces public/private, that our family isn’t safe – are all lies.  It’s brain washing on an epic scale, usually from early childhood.  It’s meant to break the child down so they don’t fight back and they obey all the weird and abusive rules and needs of the adults.  It sounds like prisoners of war stuff and it is.  Even when it’s not physically abusive the damage is real just like the PTSD being suffered by soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s challenging, to put it mildly, to unwind all that programming.  We can choose not to be manipulative with others because we’ve seen all the damage it can do, but in being brutally honest about everything we find that we are using our honesty to try and get others to behave in ways that meet our ideals of appropriate behavior.  In so doing we find that we’ve made major strides in life but some of that programming still remains. Plowing swords into plowshares is a great start only if it’s not a means to look like we’re changing when inside we’re still wanting to use that plowshare to run over the person who is not doing what we want.

The challenge, in the end, is to not become the newest abuser, the “Heal or else!” dictator who demands that we unwind things and become “normal.” Transformation is something that is not one or done.  It’s an unfolding that can continue throughout our lives if we allow it. Finding our own personal truth is a process much like a child learning to walk. We work to get all of our parts lined up in the right position and then *boop* we’ve sat down again.  We take one faltering step and then *boop* we’ve fallen over.  Time to cry from the surprise of it, then sit up, shake it off and try again.  The thing to note is that people don’t respond to babies at this stage by chastising them or lecturing them or punishing them for failure, they applaud every gesture or suggestion of gesture in the right direction.  We should do the same for ourselves.  At each stage, as we discover that white is actually white, we should applaud ourselves. Each moment that we become aware that black is black, that gravity works, and we are an integral part of it, we should cheer ourselves on. Only then do we have a chance to walk away from the lies into our own truth.