I think I finally feel some anger.
It has been seeping through the cracks and bubbling over the surface for a while now, misdirected and unresolved. Thing is, it is not the actual abuse I am angry about, nor do I feel any anger directed towards my abuser.
Please do not misunderstand, I have plenty of feelings about my abuse and my abuser, but anger?
I know that I should be angry. What adult would not be horrified and angered by sexual child abuse? I definitely think about being angry a lot. I just do not feel it, not any actual anger about the abuse or at my abuser (perhaps that will come in time).
I’ll tell you want does piss me off though:
#1 I am pissed off about the magnitude at which the abuse has affected my life and my relationships.
I have spent the last 22 years disassociated from my abuse, from my emotions surrounding it. I never forgot what I went through, I just did not think about it. I bottled it up, packed it away, disconnected from it completely, and created my own narrative, my own reality. However, in doing so, I set myself up for a lifetime of extreme emotional responses due to my shallow understanding of what emotion is and how to process it. I either feel nothing or I feel everything and cannot control it. My trust is hard to come by and easy to lose; same with entry into my life. It is tiring living a life on alert.
#2 I am pissed off that I survived a childhood of abuse, it is over, and I still have to live a lifetime of emotional affects.
When I touch the connection between the adult me and the little girl I used to be, it takes my breath away. Now that I no longer have the protection of a disassociated mind, I have been on an emotional rollercoaster of chaos and confusion. I have been diagnosed with complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, and Adjustment Disorder (a pretty term for anxiety as I face and process my trauma). I do not get to shut this off again. It hurts, and all I can do is learn to live with it.
#3 I am pissed off that it takes me more self-awareness in high-stress situations than the average person because I live with hardwired negative emotional triggers.
Negative thought processes have been hardwired into my self-perception. ‘I am not good enough’, ‘I am not worthy’,’ I cannot trust’,’ I do not deserve’ … my self-confidence is shot. Of course, the adult mind knows these things are not true. Of course, I can still be mature and professional, giving an air of confidence when needed; but deep down, it’s a constant struggle, an internal conflict. Due to this, the average confrontation, even constructive criticism, is interpreted by my brain as one of the aforementioned cognitions and it triggers heightened responses from me. I have lost jobs over this, relationships strained, and the mental fatigue of hypervigilance is hard to describe. Now, as I learn to navigate this, I realize, it will always take a little extra on my part.
#4 I am pissed off that at any given time, wherever I am, whomever I am with, I can slip into a flashback that leaves me shaken and anxious with a mental hangover for days. And I am angry that all I can do is learn to cope with flashbacks, not make them stop.
What do I even say about this? It is self-explanatory. My mind highjacks me and then drops me with no regard, wherever I may land when it is done. Most of my flashbacks are just images that interrupt me during normal daily activity, occasionally I have lost time. I never know when they are coming, or what will cause them. A smell, a song, a passage in a book, a scene on TV; there is no stopping them, there is only coping. It is no way to live.
#5 I am pissed off that statistics show changes in my brain, and living a life in a heightened state of stress may shorten my life expectancy.
I had no choice in the matters of my childhood. I did not get a say in the abuse I endured, or the physiological changes happening in my developing brain as it rewired itself to protect me from dangers I didn’t understand. Now, I am left to pick up the pieces and live with the long-term health effects of a life lived in hypervigilance, pumping adrenaline and cortisol through my veins, stressing my heart and my arteries. My chances of heart attack and stroke are increased; my body’s natural responses to the abuse I survived, may very well shorten my life.
• • •
I have suffered enough, and now, as I learn and heal, I realize my suffering does not end. Greif over childhood trauma does not go away. The weight of innocence loss leaves a mark on the soul.
So, I am angry!
I’m downright pissed off!
I grieve my lost childhood and the abuse I was subjected to; I feel betrayed and unloved, exploited and damaged by my abuser and the family that protected him – but my anger, my anger is at the unfair lifelong effects that I now have to learn to balance in order to live a fulfilling life and to be the mother my children deserve and need.
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Hi, I am Shanon
I am a trauma informed, trained, and Certified Peer Support Specialist in the state of Wisconsin. I am also a survivor with years committed to my own trauma healing after being diagnosed with (C) PTSD due to childhood abuse. Additionally, I have a professional and personal history of community facilitation and peer work.
I specialize in helping survivors like you make connections between real time experiences and past trauma wounds, identify and communicate boundaries, create self-care plans that work, navigate big emotions and trauma responses, reparent your inner child, and embody your own self-worth through the healing process with confidence and personal empowerment.
These support groups and 1:1 peer support sessions should not replace professional therapy; they will however provide additional support and information.
What you said about the long term health effects and constantly being in a hyper aware stressed out state resonates with me….I don’t think I related my stress and anxiety to my abuse until I read that…so thank you…
Also, Old Spice Cologne sends me into a tailspin…so I relate to that as well…
Thank you for sharing~
I’ve nominated your blog for the Blogger Recognition Award: https://goddessingheart.com/2017/12/06/blogger-recognition-award/
I relate to this. Your understanding of what you face is admirable. It took me a very long time to understand the challenges and begin to show myself gentleness.
Love this post!! It’s so hard to recognize that the anger is completely justified. Mine comes out once in awhile, usually as sarcasm or a string of profanities directed at no person in particular. I’ve always found anger to be one of my scariest emotions. Good job on you!! <3
Anger has been one of my more difficult emotions to reconcile as well.
Such a meaningful post, I really recognise it, especially the strange lack of anger towards the abuser.
I’m a male survivor of male sexual abuse, thank God I got some counselling. I know what you mean about the life you could have had….I take solace in the fact that I was able to maintain a “normal” life (from the outside) but my family and friends all know there’s something very “wrong” with me…(“Everyone knows you’re always been weird”)
As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.
Get over it!
I go back and forth between those two realities. Everyone assumes a grown man is a grown man, well, some of us have parts of our personality that were destroyed and cannot be repaired. We compensate and move on.
I honestly take refuge and solace in the fact that I am still alive, it could have gone another way.
I mainly hate that the better man my children and wife deserved will remain a dream. Abuse affects the abused’s family as well, it’s over and done, too late to go back and fix things, so I’m hoping that they and I can leapfrog over this mess to a clear and balanced outlook.
Clue…its hard to a properly functioning male when you HATE and were ruined by the essential male act…
Hope…the present moment is always there to be experienced clearly, and memories can’t touch it…
Thank you for sharing with me. I am so sorry for your pain, but I am glad my own struggles resonate with you. I have found great healing in the connections I make with other survivors, both giving and recieving a level of understanding that only we have for each other.
I can’t imagine what you go through coming to terms with your experiences and I imagine they do spill all over, into every day relationships and into intimate and personal relationships. I often grieve my lost potential and wonder if now that I am aware, can I get there? And if I do, how will I know?
I strive for it. Right now I am knee deep in recovery and processing of my childhood after spending over 20 years disassociated, so I feel like my past is defining my whole life – but I have hope that it wont always be this way, that eventually I will be able to move past this and carry it with me while living a fulfilling and happy life.
As you said, our abuse also affects the people closest to us, I am very thankful that I have an amazing husband and wonderful children who are extremely supportive and as understanding as they can be.
Wishing you peace. 🙂