Tammy Lang: No Damaged Goods

People who are abused or neglected in childhood, or even as adults, are often left feeling that they are unworthy of love and belonging. The pain of abuse and neglect doesn’t go away on its own and often continues throughout life, but sadly, many people never come to terms with the events of their childhood.

The good news is that there is hope for the future. Abuse and neglect aren’t your fault, and it’s possible to build a life stronger and better than ever before.

This is the important message that author Tammy Lang offers in “Damaged Goods: Things You Must Know about Healing from Abuse,” written in 2011.

Lang is familiar with the pain of severe abuse, which for her, began when she was only three years old. She describes a cruel mother and a father who subjected her to sexual abuse at knife-point. The toxic, abusive environment was reinforced by friends and family.

The abuse resulted in self-hatred and a total loss of confidence that led to serious thoughts of suicide by the time she was 19. However, a simple act of kindness and concern by a stranger who offered her an umbrella in the rain was the beginning of Lang’s journey to self-love and acceptance, a process that took 20 years.

Love Yourself First

Everybody deserves love and everybody has a chance to begin anew, Lang writes, no matter how severe the damage. However, it’s impossible to love others without genuine self-love. This is a challenging concept for people who feel they are unworthy, or that they have to earn the love of others.

Lang writes that she feels compelled to share her experiences. “I can’t imagine not helping others recover from their pain by not sharing my experiences.”

Treating the Symptoms is not Enough

“Look at where the damage is created and what is at the root of the actual wound – not the symptoms,” writes Lang, who says that treating symptoms such as addiction, overeating, low self-esteem, anger or jealousy without addressing the root is like “putting a band-aid on a festering wound.”

Although dealing with deep-rooted pain is terrifying, she writes, failure to heal the underlying cause is the reason many people lack the ability to fully heal from abuse and neglect.

“Emotional healing is your job,” according to Lang. “Expecting others to fix or complete you, or settling to avoid facing the past is futile. “You must realize you are loved, worthy, valuable, and acceptable just as you are, in spite of your size, color, age, background, marital status or physical health.”

Lang writes that her spirituality and faith kept her alive during the entire healing process. She also comments that she carries extra umbrellas with her at all times, because you never know when a simple act of kindness will make a tremendous difference in the life of another person.

Seeking Help

If you need help coping with the aftermath of abuse or neglect, seek the assistance of a counselor or therapist who can help you work through your difficult feelings. Consider joining a support group, as it often helps to be in the company of people with shared experiences.

If you are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse or addiction, it may be time to contact a treatment center or rehab. Don’t wait. The sooner you begin, the sooner you can enjoy a life free of pain, guilt and shame associated with abuse and neglect.

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