Being abused as a child crosses the wires in the mind in a myriad of ways. Just a couple of the casualties of abuse is a normal sense of self and a growing confidence. Those of us who were abused knew we were different. We knew not everyone was being abused, and we sure knew that being abused was a bad thing. Why us? Why were we being abused? Our little child minds were egocentric, which is normal for little ones. Being egocentric meant that we thought the world revolved around us, that we were the cause of the good, the bad and the ugly around us. And something very ugly was happening to us. Obviously (we thought) it was something about us that caused it. We thought we weren’t as good as other little girls.
We were Less Than.
Less than what? Less than “normal.” Less than loved. Less than pretty. Less than acceptable. Less than human. As we grew, being Less Than began to define us. We struggled to relate to others, to be acceptable, but we didn’t know how, because we were Less Than. We even believed that God saw us as Less Than.
If you were like I was, you created a persona you thought would make you acceptable to the world around you. For me that meant becoming an over-achiever and striving for perfection. I wanted to feel better about myself, so I tried to overcome my feeling of being Less Than. I ran from it. For you it may have meant embracing that feeling and living according to the low standards that being Less Than set for you. So perhaps you became a rebel or tried to become invisible. We were desperate to find acceptance somewhere. No matter how we looked on the outside, inside we were dying from feeling Less Than and always wondering why.
The truth, of course, is that we were and are precious beings created in the image of God. The problem was never with us but with those adults whose perverse actions took advantage of the vulnerability of one who was small and powerless.
If you still struggle with feeling Less Than, try to remember it is just that: a feeling. It is not reality. Give the responsibility back to the true owner: your abuser(s). It’s not yours. You are not Less Than. Especially not to God. God sees the truth. He knows you were hurt and who is responsible. He longs to see you heal and recover to lead the life He planned for you. God has provided people who have the wisdom you need to heal. Look for those people. Go to your church or synagogue. Find a skilled counselor experienced in the care of trauma survivors. Accept the love of your friends. Devote yourself to your own care. Give up the habits that weigh you down and cause you to continue to feel Less Than. You are worth more. You are worthy of the best. Seek it out for yourself. That means accepting responsibility for your care. You have more power than anyone else in proving to yourself that you are worth it. The Bible says that as you think, so you will be. So you tell yourself the truth about yourself, especially about your God-given qualities and talents. Soon you’ll find yourself being real and being OK with being real. The feeling of being Less Than will take time to subside, but it will subside as you starve the lies and feed the truth. You are worth it. You are not Less Than! You never were.