Do we Survivors have a responsibility to heal?

I am sitting in Circling being present to Matt and listening to him share. At the same time, I am consciously breathing and keeping my attention on the whole of my body. Something he says triggers a wave of sadness in me. He says that he finds it hard to own his masculinity because his mother hated all men. She had been abused by men in her young life and as a result, she didn’t trust men and somehow it has transferred to him.

So many questions pop into my head: What happened to her? How did abuse impact her? How did she manage to make her son hate his own gender? But I don’t want to ask a question that will get him into his story so I continue to sit with my sadness and his feelings as he sieves through his own maze of feelings and beliefs.

Something doesn’t sit right with me for the rest of the day. I am not sure what it is. I feel scared to delve into this feeling of discomfort. I am not sure what I would find. I am already struggling with the denial of my perpetrator and I don’t want to add to my woes…

But the discomfort continues… I know the question but I am afraid to voice it. It feels awful and necessary at the same time… so here it goes:

When we hold our trauma inside of us, how does that impact people around us?

For a long time, I thought that men couldn’t be trusted. When I met them, I was always cautious, always alert… I was trying to protect myself from the potential for abuse. During those times, men continued to show that my decision to not trust them was right as they continued to disrespect and abuse me.

Now I am not so sure. Was it that I always initiated the contact with “distrust”; these men felt it and naturally, protected themselves against that “lack of trust” that I exuded. What came first: chicken or egg?

I don’t meet these men anymore. The men in my life respect me, care for me and treat me with kindness and gentleness. How can that be? Where did all the untrustworthy men go?

OR

Is it that I now initiate my contact with men with an openness that allows them to open up too? Is it possible that now I respect myself to be able to set my boundaries and men feel it and they respect my boundaries too?

When I was driven by my trauma at an unconscious level, I continued to play the same game and I continued to attract men who played the same game. When I changed my beliefs; my world changed too.

and here is the crux of this question:

When we operate from our wounds; when we believe that we are not worthy; when we believe that we can’t trust anyone else; and, when we shut down so much that it’s hard for us to connect with our own feelings, what impact do we have on our children?

Do we do what Matt’s mother did? Do we unintentionally create adults who don’t trust others or themselves? When we don’t love ourselves, do we create children who learn not to love themselves too?

On the other hand, healing is no joke. It’s not a switch that can just be turned on. I have experienced and observed the paralysis that occurs in the face of extreme fear and anxiety. So it feels wrong to create a pressure for survivors to heal. And therein lies the conundrum…

Do we continue to live in our trauma and transfer it to the generations that come after us?

OR, do we find a force within us that helps us heal in the face of extreme fear?

Maybe it’s our responsibility to heal, because otherwise, we impact those we love. I don’t know the answer. I know that unless I healed, my world and my relationships didn’t change…

Maybe it’s good enough to just ask the question for now and let the Universe send us guidance so we may find our path…