consequences of childhood sexual abuse

Despite all the healing and therapy, despite the passage of time and realization that I’m safe, there remain moments of near terror for me.  There are certain smells, objects, situations or personalities that strike almost paralyzing fear.  Fortunately I am able to move through the fear relatively quickly and rarely is anyone around me cognizant of what has happened.  I have learned to cope…to take deep breaths…to talk myself through…to ground or refocus.  Only the few people who know me intimately well would notice the change in me and fortunately these people also know how to soothe through a certain touch or word.

A few of my personal challenges…

Going to the dentist.   I realize this is a tough thing for many people and I guess it is lucky for me in the sense that when I shake or otherwise show my fear that I am not considered abnormal.  Dentists and hygenists are accustomed to the ‘chicken’ in the chair.  For me it is more than being nervous.  My experience is pure terror that has often manifested itself in complete panic attacks and/or numerous canceled appointments.  I can not have the regular freezing put in my mouth because the epinephrine triggers panic and so I get plain anesthetic which doesn’t last long meaning …well…I have to get a heck of a lot of needles throughout any procedure.  Some of the other triggers from the dentist are;  being alone with a person who I perceive as more powerful than I am, being in a horizontal position, objects being put in my mouth, being unable to swallow, feeling a total loss of control and anticipating the pain.   Feeling small and vulnerable.  I thought this was just how it felt to go to the dentist and I used to be so hard on myself for being such a wuss.

Aggressive or controlling people.

I think this is something that is common to many people whether they have been sexually abused or not and so most reading this would say…just ignore them.  I’ve learned to do that somewhat but where it is really difficult is in the workplace.  I had to deal with two very challenging personalities in my career.   The first one I did all I could to find a way to work together.  I forgave his abusive behaviour many times and  did all the appropriate HR things.  Eventually there were enough complaints that he left.  The toll this took on me emotionally was horrific.  I would suck it up all day at work and then go home and dissolve.  I did not understand why I allowed him to make me feel so little.  The next situation was worse.  Not only did I have an uber controlling and abusive boss but it was during that time that I had significant personal challenges with death and illness in the family. This woman was not intentionally mean but her behaviour was intolerable to me.  I was falling apart in so many ways and so unable to manage the situation professionally.  When the company laid off people there is no big surprise that I was on the list.  I had been a really strong performer but my inability to deal with this person undermined my confidence which in turn affected my ability to work effectively.  I take responsibility for that but had I known the WHY…and understood the WHY…I am certain that I would still be there today.

As I am writing this I find I am allowing myself to go back to places in the past that I really do not want to revisit.  I’ll write more at another time.  For now I am going to end on a really high note.  At least it is a high note for me!

I was never been able to look in my eyes.  Never.  When I looked in the mirror I would look at my face while I put my makeup on but did not look in my eyes or at my face for longer than necessary.  Two years ago I took a chance and glanced in my eyes.  It was a difficult but empowering moment for me.  Glances were all I could manage for the longest time but at least I was getting there.  I began to notice that my eyes were quite expressive.  That there were flecks of different colours.  That the shape was quite attractive.  I’ve had compliments on my eyes before but I never payed much attention thinking it was just a nice thing for someone to say.  As I began to love myself I guess that what I felt inside was being reflected.  More and more people began to comment on my eyes.   How they sparkled…how expressive…how beautiful.  About 6 months ago I started to look – to stare into my eyes.  Most times this would make me cry but the more I did it, the more I began to see what others see.   I DO have beautiful eyes!  I really do.  I went out yesterday and got a new hair colour to show them off even more.  My transformation is ongoing.  The woman I really am…the woman who is buried inside of me…well she’s coming out!  Stay tuned.

Pic is one I took on my macbook after my wonderful hairdresser gave me my new look!  I LOVE IT!

photo-2161

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One thought on “consequences of childhood sexual abuse

  1. […] Cynthia is able to truly see herself, literally as well as figuratively. She describes in a blog post how she finally met her gaze in the mirror in 2009. Speaking to me, she recalls that “I was kinda scared to do it, but I started just having […]

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