Who controls you? Do you have an internal or an external locus of control?
Those who believe outside forces completely determine what will happen to them, have an external locus of control. They view obstacles as insurmountable and believe they are unable to change their life circumstances.
Those who believe they can impact their life through their own actions, have an internal locus of control. They are not immune to unfortunate events, trauma, or other obstacles. However, they focus on finding solutions to their problems.
It is important to notice, bad things happen to people in both groups. The difference is in how they view negative events and in how they deal with the problems created by those events.
A few years ago, I began treatment for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I suffered with the disease most of my life, but was not able to talk about it. I couldn’t even tell my previous therapist or psychiatrist about what happened to me. It was a destructive secret and it was killing me.
My current therapist believed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy combined with antidepressant medication was the best option for treating my disease.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) involved talking about the trauma and reevaluating my thought processes in regards to the trauma. I wasn’t sure CBT would help, especially since I had physical reactions whenever I talked about the trauma. My body would shake, my muscles became very tense, I was sweating, I was breathing rapidly, and I felt extremely nauseous. In spite of the physical symptoms, I kept talking.
Eventually, I was able to talk about it without having a physical reaction. Then a strange thing happened. Things that used to trigger my PTSD symptoms, were easier to handle.
CBT didn’t cure my PTSD, but it made the disease easier to manage. PTSD is no longer controlling my life.
According to the Oxford Dictionary: forgive means to “stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for an offense or mistake.”
What if the offense caused a lifetime of pain? What if the trauma was so horrible you are left suffering with PTSD and depression for the rest of your life? Do you still forgive the offender?
I spent most of my life refusing to forgive a pedophile that tormented me and my brother. I wanted revenge. I used to daydream about finding this man, so I could hurt him as much as he hurt me. To be honest, I even thought about killing him from time to time.
Even though my mind was constantly dwelling on what happened to us, I refused to talk about it. Two years ago, I was finally able to tell my story to a therapist. I told the therapist everything that happened to us and was able to deal with the emotions that were festering (like a nasty infection) all those years.
I still think about that sadistic SOB that abused us, and I just can’t bring myself to say I forgive him. He caused so much pain that our lives would forever be affected by his actions. However, I am willing to let go of my anger (which is basically the same thing, but it’s easier to say). I am ready to move on with my life.
I have been plagued with reoccurring nightmares for years. The nightmares are rooted in childhood traumas that caused me to develop PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder.
I dream that one of my abusers returns to victimize me again. I try to call for help or to defend myself, but my attempts to stop the abuse fail. The dreams may be slightly different, but the endings were always the same. I become a victim again.
I spent years trying to hide from the trauma. I tried to suppress the memories. However, the past always returned and created havoc in the present.
For the last two years, I have been seeing an excellent therapist. He helped me to be able to talk about what happened and taught me how to overcome my past.
The other night I had that same reoccurring nightmare, but this time it was different. The abuser walked into my house, but I was no longer afraid. I went up to him and told him to get out and never return. I yelled at him and told him I would exposes him to the world. I was going to tell everyone what he had done. I will no longer keep his secret.
Eventually, the abuser left my house. He was angry, but for the first time I saw fear in his eyes. I finally defeated my demon.
In 1987, on Halloween night, our house caught on fire.
The fire started in the attic, because two hot wires touched and set off a spark. We didn’t know about it, until the neighbor started banging on our door and yelling about flames coming from the roof. We all ran out of the house, about ten minutes later the ceilings caved into the living room and dining room.
The local volunteer fire department arrived to battle the blaze. While they were working, my brother and I sat in the front yard and watched. I don’t remember much of what I was thinking or feeling at that time. I was a bit numb. I guess you can say I was in a state of shock.
I was 14 when this happened. Every Halloween night, I still think back on the events of that day.