As the youngest of six children, Angie was raised in a cult where members disciplined their children by spankings and beatings. She still remembers hearing her siblings’ screams from beatings while she was hiding in the closet for safety. Fast forward to her life as an adult, where she’s experienced a pattern of abusive relationships … and the closet is still her chosen sanctuary for safety.
Angie started therapy because she was experiencing anxiety and panic attacks. She had recently left a five-year abusive relationship and was noticing red flags in the behaviors of her newest boyfriend. In addition, Angie had started shoplifting again, a habit she was arrested for as a teenager.
Angie’s early sessions in therapy consisted of increasing self-care strategies and learning to manage her stress. As a part of this process she started to exercise regularly, went to a dentist and doctor for check-ups, quit smoking and was making a conscious effort to notice and challenge her negative self-talk messages. These strategies quickly gave her a sense of feeling of control in her life. The shoplifting stopped but she continued to struggle with anxiety and less-frequent panic attacks.
Using guided meditation, progressive relaxation and other techniques, Angie began to directly confront her abuse history. She decided letting go of her anger toward her dad would help relieve some of the underlying anxiety, but worried about how it would impact her mom. A talk with mom dispelled these fears.
Angie reports she hasn’t had any anxiety attacks over the past two months. She received an award for outstanding work at her job and was nominated for a special position. In addition, she is making plans to open her own small business. She shares that "in spite of the abuse and crappy childhood, I realize I wouldn't change it because of who I've turned out to be. I like who I’ve become and I’m proud of my strengths and my love for my mom and siblings."
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