Psst. I have a superpower. And maybe you do, too.
There are many long term, far-reaching, negative effects that children of toxic parents endure, from physical health problems to emotional and social issues. Children of emotionally abusive parents often have the hardest recovery because it is so difficult to de-program all the negative feedback they received from their toxic parents. As adults, they must retrain their brains how to think, and it’s extremely challenging for a victim of abuse to even recognize how the negative feedback they received from their abusive parent has turned into their own negative self-talk. Recovery feels counter-intuitive, because their identity is formed in lies: “I’m worthless.” “I’m bad.” “Nobody could love someone like me.” “No one cares.” “I’m a screw up.” “I’m permanently damaged.” “I’m hopeless.”
Children who live in toxic environments in which they are constantly criticized, attacked, and blamed experience a shitload of stress in their daily lives, and they have a tough road ahead. However, many of them acquire an incredible superpower: resilience.
Resilience has to do with how well a person bounces back from adversity. Many abused children develop a profound amount of resilience as a coping mechanism. Instead of breaking down, they learn to carry the load. Many of them carry an elephant’s weight of stress that could easily crush an ordinary person. They become extremely patient, because they are used to waiting out the wild mood swings of their abusers. They become kindhearted, because they know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of senseless cruelty. They are honest, because they know what it’s like to be lied to. They are fair, because they know what it’s like to be unfairly blamed. They take responsibility for their own actions, and if there is an abuser in their midst, they will take responsibility for them, too. In other words, they become the opposite of the abuse they experience. Resilient people are peacemakers. They become like boulders in a river, smooth all over from the years of constant water rushing against them.
When a survivor of abuse is able the free herself from her toxic environment and eliminate the negative tape she acquired, resilience remains. For many survivors, the worst case scenario has already happened, so there’s no reason to fear the future. They know from experience that they can survive even the hardest possible situations. They are capable of incredible perspective. The petty issues of life don’t matter. Love matters. Truth matters.
Resilient survivors have the insight and power to go on to help others in need. They are capable of turning the tide of abuse that perhaps goes back for generations in their families. They are truly super-human in their capacity to understand the fundamental aspects of good and evil, and they possess discernment to detect what’s true around them.
Resilient survivors shine a bright light, and of course, abusive people hate and fear them. They feel threatened because they know their lies and bad behavior are easily exposed around them. Abusers will do anything in their limited power to minimize the power of resilience. They will lie and twist things around. They will feel judged, even when no one has said a word. They will make excuses and blame, but a resilient survivor knows that their light is bright enough to reveal all.
When a resilient survivor knows that she has value, is good, loved, cared for, strong, capable, and worthy of people who reflect these qualities, she is unstoppable.