"This is Who I Am" black letters on white sign

I am Who I am Despite the Abuse, Not Because of It!

Todd Baratz nailed it in his newsletter today

Saying that trauma made us who we are can also be disempowering. It attributes our growth, strengths, and achievements to our past trauma, rather than to our own efforts, determination, and resilience. It’s crucial to remember that we are not the sum of our traumatic experiences. We are much more than that.

We are, indeed, so much more than our abuse. I want to scream every time someone says that about me. While I understand they are trying to pay me some compliments, they are taking credit away from me. I’m not a kind and understanding guy because I was abused. I’m a kind and understanding guy who also had to overcome abuse.

Learning how to be kind doesn’t require a trauma history. Having a trauma history doesn’t make you kind. The two are not one and the same.

I understand that childhood abuse impacts who I am at every level. That is true of any life experience. We are all incorporating new experiences into ourselves all of the time. Part of us is the sum of our experiences, but part of us is also our reactions to those experiences and the choices we make in life. Being abused as a child is my reality. Any positive personality traits I may have were my choices and a result of my work. The abuse didn’t gift me with those things.

There was no gift involved in child abuse, no silver lining, and no reason for it to happen. It was abuse inflicted on me by another person. Period. That experience is part of me but not nearly the sum of who I am. I refuse to let anyone define me that narrowly.

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