I have been on a wait list for a permanent therapist for ages now
Got it. Good for you however for making the effort to seek support elsewhere, such as SI. I can second "Rising Strong" but if reading is not your thing, there are also excellent videos you can try. Brene Brown has a clip on youtube where she discusses vulnerability, it's worth a watch.
I grew up with constant trauma that I thought was normal. There was emotional, physical and sexual trauma at every turn growing up
You and I share this same background story. If you are like me, you may have taken all that stuff and "shoved it in a box" somewhere in the back of your mind, then dismissed it as "not important" and figured it was over and done with. I did that for 50 years, then out of the blue and without any warning, it exploded. And the result was not good.
You never really had a childhood. You weren't protected like a child should be. When a child grows up with that kind of constant trauma and lack of protection, you don't end up establishing healthy relationships, and as you said so well... trauma and abuse just becomes your "normal". And we always seek out our normal in life, no matter how awful it was. It can be very confusing to understand both why and how someone else could love us and what actual, healthy love looks like, because growing up, we learned that we have no value unless we give someone else what they want. We don't set healthy boundaries. We take risks when we shouldn't. We lack true empathy. We don't have these things because they were never modeled for us to begin with. Sadly, these are the tools we used as children in order to survive. We learn to compartmentalize everything and please others. But those skills that kept you alive as a child are now killing your relationships and your quality of life.
Take a person who was sexually and emotionally abused as a child, remove all boundaries and empathy, add in a sprinkle of being able to compartmentalize sexual impropriety, and top it all with a big scoop of self-loathing and a constant state of never feeling "good enough"... and you've got the perfect recipe to create a cheater.
I have a small exercise for you, if you are willing to do it. I want you to do one small thing every day that makes you feel like a good person, and that doesn't benefit you in any way. Hold the door open for someone else. Let that other car get in front of you. Tell someone they look nice. Call someone you love but don't talk to often. It doesn't matter what you do, but make sure to do something every single day. And every time you do it, I want you to stop and give yourself a little acknowledgment that YOU just did something that makes you feel good about yourself. You can loathe every other part of yourself if you need to, but this one thing... be proud of it. Feel good about it. Understand that by doing this one small thing, you actually did something to love yourself and to be a good person, and didn't require anyone else to validate your worth. When you are ready, do 2 things a day. Then 3. And so on, but just make sure that every time you do it, you give yourself credit. That part is really important.
Over time, you will see how this becomes a habit, and changes how you define yourself. You've lived most of your life feeling devalued. This is how you counteract that. This is how you change the messages in your head. The end result is a new lease on life and a start to better relationships.
I would still strongly encourage seeing a mental health professional, but until that opportunity arises, this is a good way to start.
Good luck, and keep coming back.
[This message edited by DaddyDom at 1:13 AM, Monday, July 10th]