Don’t Rob Yourself Now (Childhood Abuse & Borderline Personality Disorder)

In my Distress Tolerance DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) class today, one of my classmates said that her distress this week was triggered by something she read in a self-help book. According to her, she had been doing very well, feeling stable and upbeat, and her reaction to what she read really took her aback.

The author of the book she was reading stated that children who were victims of abuse were “robbed of their childhood.” All at once, her thoughts spiraled. She got angry and sad. Tons of “what if” questions ran through her head: “What if I had never been abused? Where would I be now academically? Where would I be now in my relationships with others? How much more would I be ‘normal’ emotionally. It’s not fair. I was robbed of my childhood!”

I felt my heart begin to pound and race. I felt anger toward my parents. In the past, I’d wondered the same thing. But, in this moment, thinking about it again, my Wise Mind kicked in.  There is no way to undo the past. There is no magic time machine. There is no way to make it not have happened. It sucks. It was wrong. We were robbed of our childhoods. Plain and simple.

But, now what? What happens if we Radically Accept this? Not APPROVE of it, but ACCEPT that YES, it did happen? What if we accept how wrong it was and how it has made us feel?

I raised my hand after other patients had joined in, some crying, some very angry, all agreeing that they were hurt and upset about the abuse they endured.

“I can totally relate,” I shared, “My heart is pounding in my chest right now. Racing. Our childhoods were robbed. But, you know what? My Wise Mind is kicking in, and I will NOT rob myself NOW of the life I want to have – the life I can have – that no one else can take away. I will not revictimize myself. Once around was enough, thank you.”

Other patients smiled and air high-fived me. 🙂 The doctor smiled. She reminded us all of the bumper sticker that says, “It is never too late to have a happy childhood.”

Thank you for reading. More soon.

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