How To Shed An Old Skin

21 Mar 2007

A couple of weeks ago I was working with a young woman who
had just had laser surgery on her face. 

Neglected by her mother and father, she had been sexually abused by an
uncle. For want of a better way of
dealing with the experience at her tender age, she had taught herself to laugh
about it and told herself that it wasn’t that important in the great scheme of

She had laser surgery on her face to remove the scars from
the years when she had dug her nails into the skin over and over again.


Needless to say she had settled for bad relationships with
abusive men.

She hoped that once her face looked better, she would
attract better relationships. I said to
her that that was a forlorn hope.

Like so many other abused women, she was labouring under
the belief that looking good should buy her some consideration. In reality, it never does. At least, it never does beyond the first few
heady weeks of infatuation. 

What she wanted was someone to love her enough to take
away the hurt and the emptiness she had suffered, someone whose love would make
her whole. She was dreaming, in other
words, the heady dream of compensation; the dream in which the love you are
given is great enough to erase the rejections of the past.

It’s easy enough to understand the burning need that
produces and fuels that dream. Still,
the dream is pernicious.

It presupposes that what you need, will come to you from
the outside, that someone will pour industrial amounts of love and care into
the gaping chasm of your inner emptiness until they finally fill it. It doesn’t happen.

Even if someone comes along and offers endless,
unconditional love, it will not fill your inner void. Only you can do that.

Nor is it about being young or old, fat or thin, drop dead
gorgeous or not.  It is simply about how
you feel about yourself. 

Because only you can shed your abused woman persona. 

It doesn’t happen overnight. There are layers and layers of fear, self-loathing and doubt to

And it can be done. In fact, the process is a lot simpler than you might think. 

One key step is realizing that your past experiences need
no longer condition your present and your future. You only have to replace the old belief: ‘because of the way I
have been treated, I now feel X, Y and Z’ with a new belief: ‘I was treated in
a destructive way and I now choose…’ 

You can choose to make a new start, to find a new sense of
meaning in your life, or to become the best incarnation of the person you once
believed you could be. You can choose
to love your loving, battered heart, your endurance despite the odds, your
compassion for others despite everything you’ve been through.

You see, you can replace the old belief of having to
settle for the fag end of a life. You
can replace it with the belief that you can build a life so rewarding and
meaningful that there is no need to focus on the horrors of the past in order
to experience some sense of self. You
can replace it with the belief that you can enjoy a wonderful rich sense of
self and that other people, worthy people, will come to enjoy that self in the
same measure that you do.

And you can start to love yourself now, exactly as you
are. If you want unconditional love –
and who doesn’t? – you have to start by extending it to yourself. How could you possibly recognise it, even if
it came up and bit you on the bottom, if you haven’t already introduced it into
your own life? 

How do you start to love yourself? By telling yourself that you love and accept
yourself totally, exactly as you are, with your fears and your vulnerability
and your imperfections. 

Up until now you’ve done a great job of withholding love
from yourself. You’ve waited to show
love to yourself until you were perfect. What has it ever got you? You
have, actually, colluded with an abusive partner in reviling yourself for the
faults that make you human. 

It was when I was talking to my client who had felt it
necessary to laser off a skin, that I finally understood; the preoccupation
with perfection is actually an almost superhuman striving to be just good
. And it is nonsensical.

When you studied for exams, whether or not you were
academically gifted, success was never set at 100%. The pass rate generally came in at around 50%, give or take a bit
and excellence was set at around 70%. It left a significant margin for imperfection.

Also, as an ex-teacher, I remember that candidates were
awarded 5% simply for writing their name and one or two other basics. 5% may not sound like a lot, but I’m
guessing that it’s a long time since you even awarded yourself a paltry 5% of
merit for just being each day. Why

You never will reach perfection, because human beings were
never programmed for perfection. 

But you are more than good enough, right now, exactly as
you are. 

And you are the seed of what you will become. 

You may not feel like very much – in my experience a seed
never looks like very much. But with a
little nurturing a seed will grow into something alive and vibrant with its own
inherent beauty. It takes no more than
a little, light, water and some soil. 

For you to blossom into the amazing woman you truly are,
will take no more than a little self-administered kindness, reassurance and
loving acceptance. Try it in a spirit
of open-heartedness and trust.

I challenge you to prove me wong.



Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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