There was finally a point in my teens when I realized that I would never be rescued from sexual molestation .
The shock of that revelation was overwhelming…as if all my trauma had been condensed into a single instant. It felt, at that moment, as if I had been struck in the chest by a sledge hammer.
Traumatic childhood events (especially those involving a parent) can give rise to false core beliefs . Often, such trauma beliefs are not articulated. They may never be identified and consciously brought to mind.
But trauma beliefs can be enormously destructive – not only damaging our self-image, but crippling us.
Here are a few versions of such beliefs: I am stupid; I am ugly; I am unlovable; I do not deserve to be cared for; I must do everything perfectly, or I will be rejected; I should be punished; I will be abandoned by everyone I ever love.
Deep inside, I concluded that I was unworthy of rescue, because I would never be the woman my mother was. I would never be as kind, gentle, or generous as she was. Most especially, I would never be as vulnerable or petite. This translated into self-hatred.
That I developed weight issues in high school seemed “proof” of my deficiency. Clearly, I had an innate flaw that went through to the bone. So it appeared to me. I became a perfectionist to offset this.
Acting Out Trauma Beliefs
Weight problems can be a source of torment and discouragement, especially in our culture.
Those of us with problems involving our weight try diets, weight loss programs, and gyms. We buy expensive exercise equipment, and gadgets guaranteed to change our dimensions. Some of us even have surgery, and still the weight comes back.
Weight issues are the symptom, not the disease. Weight issues are a constant source of shame which is why, with some part of ourselves, we cling to them. They reinforce our trauma beliefs. That these false core beliefs were laid down so early in our lives gives them added strength.
Perfectionism is likewise a harsh taskmaster. Perfectionism (another way of acting out trauma beliefs) insures a sense of inadequacy which is the reason it is so tenacious. The bar is constantly out of reach.
What these two have in common is that they preserve the feelings we had as children. Those feelings have simply found a new focus.
Attacking Trauma Beliefs
A. Talk Therapy and EMDR
Until we tackle our particular trauma beliefs, it is unlikely we can make much headway against the scars abuse has left on our lives. Talk therapy is one way of doing this. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is another .
EMDR is a relatively new form of psychotherapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but has been well researched. While results are by no means guaranteed, EMDR is thought to make it easier for the brain to process memories of trauma which have remained acutely distressing.
Since its purpose is to facilitate natural healing, EMDR requires much less time than talk therapy. In one study, 77% of combat veterans were found to be free of PTSD symptoms in 12 reprocessing sessions. In another study, the victims of multiple trauma were found to be free of symptoms in as little as 6 reprocessing sessions.
Individual results, of course, vary. Trauma of long standing is likely to be more resistant. And EMDR does not work for everyone.
B. Transformative Love
There is a third approach to trauma beliefs. This is transformative love.
Love can change the view we have of ourselves, can change our whole perspective on life. A paradigm shift occurs. Suddenly, the world is beautiful, and we have a place in it.
A sustaining love like that in a strong marriage can go a long way toward healing the wounds of our childhood.
Unfortunately, love as human beings experience it often involves pain and heartache. We marry a man like our father. The boy with the winning smile turns out to be a fiend. We do what is familiar; make the same mistakes, again and again.
Change is slow and difficult.
C. God’s Love
“I sought the Lord, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears” (Ps. 34: 4).
The purest form of transformative love, God’s love is different from human love . His love is unconditional, unfailing, sacrificial, boundless, and everlasting. It is the love for which we have always longed. God’s love fills an empty place in our hearts no other love can.
And God longs for a relationship with us. We were created to share eternity with Him. But the choice is ours.
These approaches are not mutually exclusive. Try one or all of them.
I will never be the woman my mother was. I am a different kind of woman. But, with God’s help (and that of some wonderful therapists over the years), I have managed to rescue myself.
 Thankfully, reporting abuse is today far easier than when I was a girl.
 Childhood Trauma Recovery, “False Core Beliefs: Their Childhood Origin” by David Hosier, http://childhoodtraumarecovery.com/2014/12/04/false-core-beliefs-childhood-roots/.
 EMDR Institute, “What is EMDR?”, http://www.emdr.com/what-is-emdr/.
 God’s love is discussed at length at Bible.org, The Joy of Knowing God, “14. God Is Love” by Pastor Richard Strauss, https://bible.org/seriespage/14-god-love.
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