Support: Landing On My Feet

saddle-up-donna-thomas“You just need to date…find yourself a good man.” This is not what I needed.

I was afraid. I didn’t know if I could trust myself. I didn’t understand this because I was making lack of trust an external issue instead of an internal one. How would I be able to trust a potential suitor? What were his intentions? Why did he want to get to know me? Why was he asking so many questions? Why did he want to know about me? What are his intentions? All of my questions were about him and his actions. I felt broken. I felt tired. I didn’t have the energy to date, and that is okay.

Learning to give myself permission to do what is right for me has taken much practice. Learning to trust myself to know what is best for me has been a lesson of trial, error, and assertiveness. Too often I feel our social culture encourages us to look externally for advice on what is best for us as individuals. Too often I find external belief or advice is not what is needed to properly heal. The notion that it was time for me to “get back in the saddle” did not sit with well with me.

My group therapist advised all of us that had experienced abuse to take time to explore feelings of resistance and unease. It was time to look internally for advice and guidance. One of the biggest problems for victims of abuse is the disconnection from one’s internal warning system that something isn’t right. We can be dangling from our feet about to be dropped and ignore the instinct to “right” ourselves. For individual reasons, we bypass the emotional warning bells and normalize the unhealthy to stay in abuse. We do that for so long that unhealthy is processed as healthy. By default healthy becomes unhealthy. What happens when we remove ourselves from this paradigm? We start to recognize that we are cats with a broken “righting” system. How do we fix that so we can safely land on our feet and scamper off when appropriate?

imagesThis is one of those areas where I have had to defer to the skills and tools of a therapist to help me learn how to reconnect and stay connected to my “righting” system. Undeniably it takes time. This much I understood without being told. How much time? It will be different for everyone. However, whether it is a few weeks, months, or years it is much harder to near impossible if one is distracted by dating. I was advised not to date for a couple of years while rehabilitating. It made sense to me. The advice gave me permission to date myself, bond with myself, get to know me again so that I had someone I could trust. I needed time to practice this so I could instinctively “right” myself without doubt. In this spirit I was finally able to respond to the statement “You need to date” or the question “Why don’t you date”. My answer, “Because I need time to get to know myself before I try to get to know anyone else or let them know me.”

Since then I have jumped into the pool again. I have learned that healthy people are patient people. I have learned that when I feel uneasy, when my “righting system” starts to kick in I can trust it to guide me to good answers that help me determine if a relationship is healthy for me or not. I land on my feet now. I know when it is time for me to stay, or scamper away.

To learn more about how you can connect to your righting reflex, click here.

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