The need for protest

If we want to achieve mental, emotional and physical health it is very important that we have a sense of self from which we can protest injury.  One of the problems of being raised in a traumatising environment is that we don’t get to develop our “No” in a healthy way.

As children we have not yet developed the capacity to be aware of our emotions and to understand what our emotions are for.  We need the help of healthy parents to do this.  A healthy parent will be able to mirror our emotions for us when we are young, their ability to do this depends upon their ability to have a degree of emotional intelligence themselves.

And the sad fact is that many people who are parents do not have this, have never developed it.  Some parents may look old but inwardly they may be regressed at a far earlier age.  They may have never learnt to deal with their own sadness, anger, fear, hurt and pain in a healthy way.  They may have been shamed for emotions (narcissist) or disempowered from expressing them or become very confused about them and incapable of articulating except through rage and acting out (borderline).

Developing a healthy sense of self protection or protest is so essential for our health as it is what helps us to develop a boundary, to be able to act on what does not feel right for us.  In addition the protest needs to be received in a healthy way and this will only happen if we have a psychologically healthy parent. An unhealthy parent will not value our “No”, they may shame us for us, punish it for us in which case we will experience a backlash and backlog of painful feelings until we can find a place to articulate our “No” and have it validated.

I hope to write a longer post on this at a later date.  But this is just a quick post in response to others I have been reading today where people have shared about trying to protest with a narcissistic parent and not having the protest validated.


6 thoughts on “The need for protest

  1. yes yes yes! Relate very well and I am realising how difficult it is for me to say ‘no’ in even very simple instances. I am so used to looking outward, protecting others and worrying about them I did this when I was little and my father was abusing me, I protected his secret and I looked after my parents instead of the other way around. I did the same with my abusive husband, I took responsibility for his actions and just went along even though I was raging inside. The little me come out very often and just say yes, without the realisation that I am an adult now and can protest and say No without worrying about others. That boundary between me and the other was so severely violated when I was in my formative years that it goes very deep. Sometimes I am not even sure whether it is a yes or no, not fully knowing myself and what is ok and what isn’t. It is especially difficult for me to be assertive with men, I become a little girl again, so in many ways I am stuck and have been stuck developmentally and I regress at those moments where I am triggered. It’s a long difficult road to reclaim all those parts of oneself but I keep going forward.

    1. Its very hard isn’t it? I am just reading this wonderful book by Pete Walker and he says we regress all the time when we have been traumatised, and often it is unconscious. It takes time to know we are regressing. Then time to step back and have a dialogue with the traumatised self or inner child and often we really need support with this It just takes a damned long time to get to this point and then we meet the fear and its so big because we are regressed and don’t yet have experiences of saying “No” and feeling we will be okay.

      All I can say is that I relate and its taken me four years coming out of the last relationship where I would say yes because he would bully and manipulate me into it and get me to sacrifice my feelings to even know that was not okay. I have stayed relationship free for these years and have been practising setting boundaries mainly with family and friends. Its getting easier but like you I sometimes still get confused about what I truly want. Sometimes I just have to make a decision to do one thing before my body tells me more strongly what is right for me.

      As you said you are going forward and its like developing a muscle it only gets stronger each time we use it.

      1. That sounds like a great book and yes it is really hard to change old patterns that come from the unconscious.But yes facing it all head is the start of changing it all! It’s taken me over 20 years to be ready to face it all, there’s no going back now. I think though I am much less patient than you. A part of me wants to do it all overnight, that parts feels ready to have new relationships etc but another part believes that maybe I should just be alone and wait. I am not very good at waiting and trusting that it will come at the right time. How could I be good at this when I have had to earn my love and grab what crumbs I could to survive being sexually abused by my own father and my mother’s denial of it all. Thank you so much, writing like this to you, so openly and honestly helps me immensely. I admire that you were able to put yourself first and just give yourself that relationship-free time, that shows deep self-care and trust. I think you are right, about just deciding to do one things even when you are no so sure of it is the right thing. It’s better than being in a state of indecision and second-guessing.

      2. I think impatience naturally comes from the feeling of all we have lost. By the time we get all of this we have lost so much and so, of course we want to push. I feel grateful to have gone to AA because part of 12 step recovery is trusting what they call the Higher Power’s timing. What I think this really means is the recognition that we cant heal from a lifetime of trauma and hurt over night.
        When I separated from my last relationship I went internet dating and came badly unstuck. This only occurred over four or so months. It was enough to show me I had to pull back and work on me first and get really comfortable with that and I am so glad I have done it as I now feel no real need to have to be with someone just so as not to be alone. I trust that if I really work on myself things will unfold as they need too. That’s not to say though I haven’t in the past felt that desperate desire to love and be loved fully by someone.
        Keep writing to me as much as you want if you want to email me you are welcome too….

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