Apart from my biggest fear of being abused again, my second biggest fear is being abandoned. I have serious issues around trusting anyone and I have to take enormous leaps to be able to trust someone. It takes me months to open up to a professional or a friend. I automatically expect them to leave me or to abuse what I have told them. It takes gargantuan efforts on their part to convince me that they won’t abuse anything I have imparted to them and they won’t leave me.
I was constantly abandoned as a child and teenager by my abusers and parents. Promises made by groomers and forever broken. Beliefs shattered daily when I so wanted to hope things would be different and I would be offered a different life as they promised but they only made pledges to make me compliant and in my desperation, I clung to the persuasion that they would follow through “this time” only to be let down yet again. My Mother’s promise that she would come back the next morning or her not to return for four days with food.
When I started with my Psychotherapist she realised that trust was an issue by the third session and realised we were on a tough road if we were going to get any therapeutic work done. She assured me she was not planning on leaving the area, having only just established her practice there. She was fascinated with my case and was very committed to seeing me heal. It was going to take a lot more than that ! Boy, did I test her. I put her through the ringer. I used to text her between sessions to check that a she was still going to see me at the next session. She would patiently also reply that, yes, she was. She had the patience of a saint. She is Indian and when she when she goes on her trips to India I used to fall to pieces. Her answer. She emails from India and creates a dialogue between us from there assuring me that she lives in Australia now and is coming back. As she packs her bags she sends me a text of a picture of her packed bags. Way beyond the call of duty but she has won me over I now trust her with my life and there is nothing I would not tell her. She has worked wonders for me. We have come a long way on the healing journey using EMDR, processing many painful, traumatic memories. She copes with my repeated self-harm without judgement and understands why I do it. Does not condone it in any way but never judges which is so important.
It was just as much as rocky a road with my Psychiatrist but we got there eventually too. It’s was a different relationship with him. It’s not as close but I did trust him so when he said he was moving out of area I was devastated. The new Psychiatrist hasn’t kept to his word of returning phone calls or keeping appointments so that relationship has not worked out which has been a big blow, really shaking me up, bringing up serious abandonment issues all over again. I am currently looking for a new Psychiatrist which is not easy to find and having been once bitten, I’m now twice shy. It’s appalling that some professionals do not realise the damage they do by not doing simple things like following up on phone calls to Complex PTSD patients.
I have some wonderful friends who have been faultless in their support. If they say they are going to do something they do and never let me down. I have been able to share with them how serious it is that they stick to plans and promises, that abandonment is a serious issue for me. They acknowledge that they understand and I now trust that they do. So if abandonment is an issue for you build trust slowly and carefully. Share with a small group of people and let them know the importance of the issue for you. Leave them in no doubt.
Learning to build trust with friends and professionals has been a huge step forward in my healing journey and in the area of validating myself. It is very important to feel validated. Validation is a simple concept to understand but difficult to put into practice.
Validation is the recognition and acceptance of another person’s internal experience as being valid. Emotional validation is distinguished from emotional invalidation, in which your own or another person’s emotional experiences are rejected, ignored, or judged. Self-validation is the recognition and acknowledgment of your own internal experience.
Validation does not mean agreeing with or supporting feelings or thoughts. Validating does not mean love. You can validate someone you don’t like even though you probably wouldn’t want to.
Why is Validation Important?
Validation communicates acceptance. Humans have a need to belong and feeling accepted is calming. Acceptance means acknowledging the value of yourself and fellow human beings.
Validation helps the person know they are on the right track. Life can be confusing and difficult. Feedback from others that what you are experiencing is normal or makes sense lets you know that you thinking and feeling in understandable ways. Your internal experience does not have to be the same as anyone else’s but it helps to know that your experiences is understandable. Or not.
Validation helps regulate emotions. Knowing that you are heard and understood is a powerful experience and one that seems to relieve urgency. Some say it’s because when we don’t feel understood it creates thoughts of being left out or not fitting in. Those thoughts lead to fear and maybe panic because of the importance of being part of a group is critical for survival, especially in the early days of mankind, and of the potential loss of love and acceptance which is a basic need. Whatever the reason, validation helps soothe emotional upset.
Validation helps build identity. Validation is like a reflection of yourself and your thoughts by another person. Your values and patterns and choices are highlighted and that helps people see their own personality characteristics more clearly.
Validation builds relationships. Feeling accepted builds relationships. Some research shows that chemicals related to feeling connected are released when someone is validated.
Validation builds understanding and effective communication. Human beings are limited in what they can see, hear and understand. Two people can watch the same event occur and see different aspects and remember important details differently. Validation is a way of understanding another person’s point of view.
Validation shows the other person that they are important. Whether the person being validated is a child, a significant other, a spouse, a parent, a friend, or an employee, validation communicates that they are important to you and you care about their thoughts and feelings and experiences. Validation also shows the other person that you are there for them.
Validation helps us persevere. Sometimes when change is very difficult, having the difficulty of the task recognized helps people keep working toward their goal. It seems to help replenish willpower.
A simple to understand concept, validation is powerful and often more difficult to practice than it might at first seem. In my experience, the results are well-worth the effort.