On my birthday I made the mistake of checking out a Twitter profile of a person I have zero respect for, the problem was, it wasn’t really a mistake, it was a compulsion. I used to check out their profile frequently. More on that in a minute…
When I checked out their tweets, I was made aware that I was being used as a negative example of someone who “revels” in their “sin” and follows “revisionist” theology (among other things.) This was being said in a resource these folks made to dismiss and recontextualize who I am. I was deeply hurt and offended.
But remember, I initiated the sequence of events that stole my joy for a short period of time. I went to that profile knowing that I would be offended and nothing good or helpful would come of it. The point is, the Universe didn’t bring the offense to me. I went looking for it. But why?
I came out of denial about that on Tuesday. I saw that what I was doing was reliving the past abuse, and made an inner vow to never check out those social media profiles or websites again. I knew I wanted to blog about this but also knew a friend, James Guay, LMFT * would have insights about why we sometimes seek out and revisit past traumas. His input is simply amazing:
‘Recovering from conversion therapy is much like deprogramming from a cult or getting out of an abusive relationship. We often replay and repeat what happened to us in our conscious awareness, in our dreams and/or in new relationships. We may even seek out circumstances that reinforce the original trauma in order to resolve the destructive messages we internalized.
The psychological term for reenacting scenarios from past traumas in hopes that we reach a better resolution is called repetition compulsion. It’s our opportunity to heal, grow and have a felt-sense of mastery over a situation but if kept unchecked, can also keep us stuck in cyclical patterns of abuse.
While as trauma-survivors we often prefer to reside in what’s familiar, even if it’s extremely harmful, we need to learn how to cope with the anxiety of creating new ways of being in the world, in order to thrive and not just survive. Over time and with practice, we need to create a healthier relationship with ourself, where we have a deep sense of knowing and feeling our own self-worth.’ – James Guay
I was deeply emotional on Tuesday when I realized what was going on and then again when James shared the above with me. I am sure I am not the only one that needs to release the compulsion to try to “repeat what happened…to resolve the internalized destructive messages.” The past is resolved when I forgive and let go, not hold on to bitterness and thinking that I can resolve trauma by revisiting it repeatedly. It’s time to only derive energy live from sources that are life-giving and positively energizing.
Lots to chew on with this. Thank you, so much, James.
Being free is good,
- More about James:
James Guay is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (#39252) inspired by seeing his clients transform from being perfectionistic, constantly on the go, feeling empty despite their successes to a place where they can finally truly relax, create a better work/life balance, and be more kind to themselves and others.
He’s also a social justice activist with a mission to help bring more compassion into the world — especially for oppressed minorities. To advance this cause, he’s testified against conversion therapy at California’s State Capital, appeared on Lisa Ling’s Our America show, appeared on various documentaries including VICE, and has been interviewed and/or written articles for Time, NY Times, LA Times, Huffington Post, Rage Magazine and the Advocate. www.livingmorefully.com