Internalized Grief

Grief is a broad topic. It is not just losing a loved one but it applies to any loss, mistake, response to negative events, a change in circumstance or any significant adjustment you may need to make. You grieve the loss of a job, your last apartment before moving into a house, a co-worker leaving, a loved one moving away, a decrease in health or significant illness, a child leaving home, your best friend getting married, an unwanted change in the work environment or any other event that causes you to adjust to something new or different.

For our topic today we refer to internalized grief as any instance when you were neglected, abused or mistreated and you chose to blame yourself instead of the person truly responsible. This happens because it is easier to blame yourself than to blame someone else. You will continue to accept responsibility despite the obvious facts that you were not at fault.

Many abusers will blame the victim. It is a character trait of this type of person. Any victim, whether it is a child or an adult, may be conditioned to believe that they are responsible for their own mistreatment. This may happen over time or it may be one instance but the victim is eager to feel inadequate, unlovable, unintelligent, “bad” or weak.

Your response to being a victim may depend upon who is mistreating you. It is far easier to blame yourself rather than blame your parent. You need them and they provide for you so you may accept responsibility because they are in a position of authority. Often, you find abusers are immediate family members. Again, they are your elder and you are expected to have some amount of respect for them. You will neglect to tell someone to protect them or they will condition you to protect them.

This may be any type of abuse or neglect. You may believe that We are speaking about sexual abuse but this is not the only way that others victimize you. Your brother may beat you, your friend may steal money from you, your boyfriend may push you around, a son or daughter may withhold your money and keep you in substandard housing… Any type of abuse may prompt you to blame yourself.

This type of grief is fed by depression, isolation or feelings of responsibility. “I am not worthy,” “I did something wrong to deserve this,” “I must be unlovable.” In some way you misconstrue a lot about the situation and believe that you somehow brought all of this upon you.

As a child or young adult you did not have the proper experience or maturity to function during abuse and understand that the abuser was at fault. In your childlike mind you internalized it and made yourself to blame. You didn’t know another way. Now that you are older and more mature, it may be possible to revisit some trauma or abuse and place it in better perspective. As a child, you were incapable of keeping yourself safe. The adults or responsible people in your life failed to protect you. This was not your fault.

Now that you are grieving some pain, injury, losses or even guilt you must place it all in proper perspective. Your anger may have unearthed some grief. This is natural. We might say “of course it did!” There is a lot that needs to be unearthed, managed and released. Do you have to understand it? It would help.

Face the anger and release what is causing it. Face the grief and release what is causing it as well. There is no going back unless you pursue the Inner Child exercises. There is no literal way to go back. You may not undo the pain and injury but you may understand that others neglected to protect, nurture and educate you about possible mistreatment from others. No one gave you a heads up or taught you how to block or avoid trouble.

Now that you are grown you may resolve all of your emotional baggage. You can set a goal and resolve and release your injury. Place the blame where it belongs. Resolve yourself of any wrongdoing when you were too young, immature or unfairly left unprotected. As a child or young adult you were unprepared to shield yourself from abuse. Simple.

There are many reasons why you would choose this path. You may want to help others you have suffered abuse and using your own experience as a guide to help someone else. You had a painful divorce but now you may help others who are experiencing one themselves. Perhaps you suffered the loss of a child but this will also help you empathize with others dealing with the same loss. The examples are never-ending. What We are encouraging you to do is remove yourself from the actual pain and suffering of your experiences and change it to your personal survival and willingness to help others.

Behaving as a victim is the origin of much of your anger and grief. Choose to embrace your past and view yourself as a survivor. This is what will heal you and push you to grow stronger. It is your choice to stand tall and strong or to cower in “fate.”

There is a purpose for everything. Reacting in anger is not fair to the people who are close to you. “Misplaced” is a powerful word for this. Lashing out is something that will not manage what you are feeling. Depression won’t help either. You, accepting your past and embracing the lessons learned from it, will help you to release the unnecessary emotion you still associate with it.

It may help to cry. It won’t help to become destructive or depressed. It REALLY won’t help to harm someone innocent in response to what you experienced. There are many ways to deal with your painful past. Choose the ways which are proactive, positive and healing.

Give yourself your best advice. Envision knowing someone dealing with the same pain that you have just unearthed. What would you say to them? What are your best words of support and encouragement? How would you help them to feel better? Say all of this to yourself. You deserve to heal and be comforted just as much as others that you know and care for. Looking at their experience, you would definitely be able to place blame where it belongs. Please do this same thing for you!

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