Good Day Bad Day.
Child abusers harm so many aspects of a person, and many of these harms will stay with the person throughout their lifetime unless there is opportunity for healing and the right people to stand by and provide the support. One of these ‘harms’ is the development of a negative Internal Working Model (IWM) of themselves, and a chronic feeling of ‘undeservedness’.
This IWM manifests itself in many ways, and is particularly tenacious during times of healing. It is the force that drives self-sabotage, ending good relationships and forming harmful ones, sabotaging success in career, sport or any other aspect, because the overwhelming internal drive is one that cannot tolerate success.
If you care for children who have been victims of severe neglect or abuse, and you are a good carer, safe, and offering good experiences, you will see them heal, and allowing themselves to have ‘good’ days. However, the IWM is powerful, and may subconsciously seek to ‘equalise’ the good day, with some kind of ‘badness’.
You may have a wonderful day with the child at the beach, shopping for clothes, playing sport. The child will be happy, but you may notice that following this, in the evening or the following day, there will be an incident, something that goes badly, that seems to negate the Good Day.
It is a common and erroneous mistake to think of this as the child being ‘ungrateful’. In fact by thinking this, we have played right into the hand of the IWM. What we must do in this case is understand that having experiences that demonstrate worthiness may be followed by a ‘bad’ day or evening.
Even as adults, if you are one of these children grown up, you may notice a similar pattern. That you have a great day, with good people, in which you do healthy and good things. The following day, you may feel inexplicably down, and seek unhealthy things or do something to make you say to yourself, “I knew I’d wreck it”.
One thing you can do for yourself is to be aware that this happens, and be aware how it manifests in your life. Then be very mindful, very intentional, even write something down that you can read the next morning. Perhaps you could aim for 2 good days in a row. Be forgiving when the bad days come and grow the good days in increments.
If you are caring for such a child, you can also pre-empt it, and empathically support the child through it. Eventually, the child will recognise this for themselves, and with insight facilitate their healing and self worth. If an abused child can through this phenomena, it could become the key to their successes for the rest of their lives.
If we are to be true Fighters Against Child Abuse, we must also fight and understand the IWM’s tendency to sabotage in ourselves, our children and our friends.