We are covered in scars, mostly on the inside, though some are more like scabs, really. I did not realize one was festering until church one night. The pastor asked people without dads or having problems with their dads to stand so they can pray with them. Then he asked that a safe man stand with the kids and adults. He bore down on the word “safe”, saying he would know if they were not.
I wondered if that applied to me. I saw one of the teens I look out for stand. Would I be told to sit down if I went over there to support her? It was not directed at me, but the voices of what Rory calls the “shadow community” in ConCom said “don’t risk it”, “you’ll be humiliated.”. They are deep in the brain, embedded by conditioning from trauma or historical experiences, requiring a tremendous amount of will to break.
I have two conditioned inner responses, both due to the accident and events afterward. One seems trite; I will start with it. I cannot remain clean-shaven or wear a goatee. Both because I do not want to look like that Vance. The second is the adrenal memory driven in by the hate and anger of others, the constant reminder of what happened as I served out the sentence because of the accident, and the possibility of being put on a child maltreatment registry. That manifests as guilt and self-hate occasionally. In those moments, I wonder if it is true- am I a bad person, do I deserve a second chance, and am I even worthy of being a dad?
I returned to a book I read last year, Freedom from Fear: Taking Back Control of Your Life and Dissolving Depression, which deals with adrenal conditioning. I will be posting quotes from it starting with Location 378:
“In other words, we are creating persistent and vivid adrenal memories of this negative event on the non-self-aware level of our consciousness. The result is that these memories stay with us. But, worst of all we may over time incorporate them into our own personal self-images. We may start thinking of ourselves as whatever the boss labeled us during the incident. We may begin to see ourselves to some extent as an unprepared or inefficient or even incompetent person. At that point the adrenal event has worked its way up into a portion of our self-aware minds and degraded our self-image. If a parent keeps telling his kid that he is incompetent, the kid will likely grow up believing that he is incompetent, and this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. As adults, when we are in fear, adrenalized by someone or some event, many of us become like that child again, vulnerable to the actions and belittling words of others.”
It is burned in, and it does not serve me; in fact, it is holding me back. It can be used against me, especially if my adrenaline response is triggered, putting me into a reactive mind. Particularly if by drawing attention to failures and shortcomings is someone trying to mold us into their idea of a better self-image. We can stay away from people like that; however, what if it is you sabotaging yourself? On Location 995, we find:
“Our personal self-esteem may fluctuate with circumstances, of course, but our inner feelings of positive self-worth must be fundamentally unconditional. No matter what we do or do not achieve, we must always recognize that we have value and personal dignity.”
In addition, Locations 1009 and 1038:
“We are continually re-programming our minds, too, through our daily experiences anyway. Yet, we are not often aware of this. A good deal of this re-programming of our mental processing can be called our “self-dialogues.” These self-dialogues can be rational and positive, or they can be irrational and self-defeating. For example, when we say to ourselves, “Judy turned me down for a lunch date. She thinks I am not worthy of her,” then part of our subconscious mind may echo, “I am not worthy.” Questioning our own worth is self-defeating.”
“We must internalize our strong, personal self-image. It must be made authentic by integrating it into our character. This means that our behavior is congruent with and reinforces and validates our self-image.”
This next quote from 2090 is important in my case.
“In addition to rational and self-reinforcing self-talk, we have another tool for dissolving self-limiting and self-defeating, irrational fear-based behavior. That tool is the rational analysis of our true motivations. What directs our behavior beyond what is occurring at a given moment? Analyzing each new stressful encounter teaches us more about how our brain has been wired and about what triggers our reservoir of stress.”
Despite the voices in my head, my motivation was to help. It has always been to help. I wanted my young friend to know I had her back. My adrenaline fueled irrational fears that were lies. I never intentionally meant to hurt anyone; this was backed up by the detective’s report when he wrote that it was an accident. DHS’s lawyer admitted they had no case with the registry. Truly, as it stands this day, there is no record being held against me in Heaven or on Earth. Now to get that through my thick skull. I will close with this final quote from Location 2663 of the book:
“If we can bring ourselves to a place where we are happy and accepting of ourselves, where we are directed more by hope than by fear, then we make it easier for others to be happy with us too. But, this feeling of self-worth must be genuine, and it must be predicated on reality. Our behaviors must be congruent with our positive self-image, or we are simply fooling ourselves. It is best to cultivate a genuine, reasonably healthy (but not narcissistic) spiritual love and acceptance of ourselves in order to find and enjoy the rewards of the love of another. This demands that we first come to honestly know ourselves and see ourselves as we truly are. Then we must shed the excess baggage that does not serve, just as a snake might shed its old skin.”