Leave your isolation behind you.
ONE OF THE GREATEST BARRIERS to healing from any type of abuse or addiction is isolation. You may be like many survivors or addicts who have learned that by isolating, you feel safe, or at least may convince yourself you are safe. There are many myths about isolating that I’d like to invite you to challenge today.
Myth: When I isolate myself, no one can hurt me.
Truth: Although this myth seems true on the surface, all of us have to interact with others, and if you remain emotionally isolated, you are much more vulnerable to being hurt from not having practiced any emotional coping skills, or learning to engage in healthy conflict or setting boundaries, except for the absolute boundary of “leave me alone.”
Myth: By isolating, I’ll protect myself by keeping my abuse or addiction a secret.
Truth: What if by sharing your secrets, you allowed another person to give you support and acceptance? Many survivors and addicts have received support when they shared the truth about their abuse or addiction, even though they were afraid. While it’s possible that someone might use this knowledge against you, it’s much more likely that others will become closer to you. It’s quite possible that they will respect you even more rather than reject you. In 12-step programs, there is a powerful saying that “we are only as sick as our secrets.”
Myth: I’ll do no harm to myself by isolating.
Truth: Isolation prevents you from taking any risks. It’s harmful because it makes you much more vulnerable to depression, suicide, anxiety, and staying loyal to the lies you learned such as that you don’t deserve compassion and support. Unfortunately, survivors and addicts often believe they are comfortable practicing isolation. If you can risk acknowledging the truth, it is more likely isolation is what is most familiar to you, and being alone is lonely and uncomfortable. By risking discomfort and asking for help, it is likely you will take important steps toward healing and receiving the support you deserve.
Here is an important thing to remember:
Truth: Anyone who is abused or assaulted, or struggles with addictions, deserves support and understanding.
Myth: No one will understand and it is likely they will judge me as being weak and defective.
Truth: Intimacy is risky and can be scary. It is possible you may be judged negatively, but if you choose safe people to share with, it is much more likely you’ll find acceptance and the support you have always deserved. There is a bigger truth for you to consider: healing is best done in community. Joining forces with others who struggle with similar issues as you in an online or in-person support group may be one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
Here’s an affirmation I’d suggest you practice:
Today I dare to dream I can leave my isolation behind and risk reaching out for the support I need and deserve.
Howard Fradkin received his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology in 1980 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has been licensed as a psychologist in Ohio since 1982. Dr. Fradkin has counseled more than 1,000 male survivors in individual, couples, and group psychotherapy and weekend workshops over the course of his career.