While I don’t condone abuse, I do believe that if you’re subjected to it, you need to first remove yourself from the situation and from there, find the benefits from what you’ve endured.
I know this sounds crazy, but humor me for now and consider some of the ways I’ve re-framed some of my own traumatic experiences.
Perhaps you can relate to a few of them and hopefully, you’ll be able to re-frame some of them yourself.
My own abandonment issues started at the age of about 6 years old. When my parents split up, my mom took my younger sister to live with her leaving my older brother and myself with my dad. About a month into this arrangement, my dad took me with him on a weekend golf tournament and explained that my older brother couldn’t go because he had something he had to do over the weekend.
When we arrived home that Sunday evening, I discovered that what my older brother had to do was move in to my mom’s house. It was broken to me after I arrived home and immediately went looking for my brother only to find that he and all of his things were gone.
As this was being explained to me, my primary focus was on not crying because I knew that would result in me being given something to cry about.
Make no mistake, it’s not a memory I care to go too deeply into because the pain doesn’t dissipate, but reframed, it taught me that I can survive (and ultimately thrive) no matter who abandons me because I did it when the person who was supposed to love me (you know ‘mother’s baby, father’s maybe’) left me in a bad situation with the excuse that there wasn’t room for me in her house. Yes, that’s what I was told at the age of six when I asked if I could move in with her too.
The idea here is to figure out how these otherwise negative experiences can benefit you.
In my case, since both of my parents had expressed very early on how much of a disappointment I was to them, I found a certain freedom in not having to abide by anyone else’s notion of who I should be or what I should be doing.
In that space I was able to learn who I was and what I wanted without ever feeling like the vast number of criticisms I was sustaining had any hold over me.
The fact that I’m doing art is the clearest observation of that.
In the beginning, no one was particularly supportive of my creative endeavors. My first forays into art included a poem that got me suspended from school for three days and when I started playing guitar and writing heavy metal music, my peers said I had no right to be doing what I’m doing because I’m Black. I was supposed to be rapping, in their collective opinion.
All of this isn’t to say how hard I’ve had it, though.
The point is, what positive changes might you be able to make in your own life by re-framing a negative experience into something positive?
Take some time and really think about it and if you need some help figuring it out, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll try and find a re-frame for you.