The standard go-to for most people who have not experienced trauma is to encourage people to talk about it or to write about it. Which is an excellent suggestion, but not as easy as it sounds.
Speaking up is scary. And let’s be honest, how do you articulate a childhood of trauma, abuse, and neglect? It’s not exactly afternoon conversation over lunch … “This burger looks great, please pass the ketchup. Oh, and by the way, I was molested as a child by a family member”.
I have a hard enough time hearing my own voice say some of the horrible things I have experienced; how uncomfortable and confusing it must be for someone who has no idea how to relate.
What so they say when someone tells them their grandfather molested them and then took the cowards way out and shot himself rather than stand trial for the crimes he committed?
Or when they hear about a girl who lost her mother at birth and whose father protected her abuser, sending her off to live with different family when things got too tough?
I’m that survivor, and I don’t even know what I want to hear when I share my story. I just know I need to share it. Life is pointing me this way – towards personal healing, growth, and connection through sharing.
It’s not easy. I hope anyone who reads this understands how hard (yet liberating) it is to share such personal pieces of my soul. These are parts of me that still feel the unrelenting weight of guilt and shame, of innocence lost, and a shattered sense of self.
As a survivor of childhood sexual assault, emotional neglect, and abandonment I have discovered as I age and mature, that there are many emotions brewing under the surface that I need to meet head-on and work through. 20 years of bottled up feelings to be specific.
It’s hard to explain how the brain works at rationalizing the choices I have made as a survivor in order to protect myself from the pain and depression of fully accepting my reality.
I’ve spent the majority of my adult life justifying how I shut people out who hurt me, hold people at a distance if I think they might hurt me, and turn off my emotions to those situations completely in order to simply move past them. As dysfunctional as this sounds, these are some of my most basic defense responses; behavioral manifestations of a young and immature mind trying to cope with and reconcile the loss of innocence and the emotional pain of a broken childhood. They are hard-wired into my thought processes and perceptions of any given situation. And they aren’t easy to undo and rewire.
Sometimes I wonder how I am still sane, how I managed to keep my mind from breaking. But I did. And now I am on a journey to heal myself and to stand with other survivors of childhood trauma.
If you have chosen to follow my path to recovery, you are going to journey with me through all the chaos as I process and work through my recovery. It’s a daily process, this healing, and it isn’t linear, nor is it flat. It is cyclical and it is constant.