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No matter how whole we appear to others, survivors of trauma memories know it’s an illusion. We feel our shadow-self. When we look in the mirror, it obscures what others see. Compliments and praise are swallowed by the abused child’s shame before the adult can taste the wonder of being something good. Many of us hesitate to step forward with our personal talents and gifts because the dark side dims our inner light.

  We are inclined to hide from others. Whether we’ve dissociated our memories or pushed them into the corners of mind, we instinctively know getting truly close could expose our secret self. We might be the friendly person with no close friends, the quiet one on the fringes, the always giving and nurturing paragon, or the boisterous one who needs control in every situation. Our disguises come in many shapes. They reflect how we learned to manage the roaring pain of having who we are distorted by what we experienced.

With our true self tangled in the web of our abuse, survivors are challenged to connect to their inner wisdom and perceptions. Rather than connecting to the empowering knowledge of our personal spirit, we learned how to exist by responding to our abuser. The guiding force of our insights got lost as we denied what we knew or felt. To keep our secret, our truth could not be embraced.

We leave our abusers in the past, but we very naturally build our futures with our built-in need to react rather than take action on our own behalf. We shape our lives with the lessons we learned and continue believing this is who we are. Healing is a journey to discover who we are without the shadow of who we became to survive.