Monthly Archives: December 2010

Silent Night…..

A special guest post from Mary C.

It’s Christmas time. The time of celebrations, of traditions, of family togetherness, of ushering in a New Year. All is merry, all is bright…except when it’s not. Imagine a house full of laughter, full of people who have known each other through the seasons of life’s many changes. Aunts and Uncles, brothers and sisters, cousins, all gathered for an annual sharing of the holiday season. In the kitchen, food laid out enough to feed the masses, enough to assure that nobody would go hungry or without a treat. In the dining room, a table with a punch bowl and wine, and of course, the whiskey that all good Irish ancestors still enjoy from time to time. In the basement, youngsters of many ages gathered and chatting, perhaps a game of cards underway. In the living room, the hum of voices engaged in story sharing, catching up on news, just being together again. Wouldn’t you want to be in that house on that night? Doesn’t it sound idyllic, wonderful, secure, festive?

Well, for one girl in the house that night, it was the beginning of a new and scary journey that would take a lifetime of learning to adjust. She thought she was safe too. In this home where so many happy times had been spent, where she was surrounded by extended family, where her parents were just down the hall. They were in the living room totally relaxed, safe in the knowledge that their children were all together in the heart of their family, off scattered happily throughout the house mingling with their aunts, uncles, and cousins. This girl would learn that night that people may be right down the hall but that doesn’t always keep you safe. And she would learn that even when someone was family and had been so nice to you all the times before, you could never know that they wouldn’t hurt you. So many ‘lessons’ were learned that night. That something was wrong with her because she was the one he picked. That she wasn’t very smart because she should have been able to figure it out, should have known something was wrong. She would learn that things are not what they seem and that she was not who everyone thought she was. As the music played, and the laughter provided the backdrop, his hands taught her that her innocence was ended and a world she could no longer figure out was where she lived. And she had no words to explain any of it.  So after he was finished with her, she walked back down the hall and into the living room, and nobody noticed a thing. So she also learned that her pain was invisible and she thought she could hide that terrible, dirty secret, that had turned her whole world upside down. It was the beginning of a new year, of a new reality.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could open our eyes and see, really see, what is literally happening right around us? If we could look past what we want to believe to what is really happening? Child sexual abuse is epidemic. It happens inside warm houses, where trusted adults are present, in situations that are familiar. Abusers are often trusted individuals, well known to the family, or part of the extended family. If only someone had told me that then. If only someone had noticed.

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Want to know the facts?  Want to learn how to PREVENT this from happening to the children in your life and in your community?  Here’s some information on Stewards of Children Program that is available from Voice Found in Ottawa, Canada:

https://voicefound.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/prevent-childhood-sexual-abuse/

Shape shifting

A number of years ago there was a semi-fictional best seller titled ‘A Million Little Pieces’ by James Frey.  At the time of its release I had just started to face the reality that I had been sexually abused at the age of 5.  The title of the book resonated strongly with me as it so perfectly described how I felt.

Much of my life to that point had been spent functioning as an incomplete person.  Bits and pieces of me seemed to be spread all over the place and I never felt whole or even present.  In order to cope I had effectively disconnected my head from the rest of my body and spirit and lived my life from a self-directed fantasy.  My mind was (and still is), a very powerful tool that allowed me to create a world where I could function.   There were many iterations of ‘me’ depending on the circumstance.  I realize that most people wear different faces  in life but this was deeper…much deeper than that.   I was blissfully unaware of the disconnect and incongruency.  Like some kind of ‘shape shifter’ in a sci-fi movie, I unconsciously morphed into whatever the situation required.  It allowed me to do things that a whole, healthy person would not ever do or consider.

Guilt and shame are two feelings that survivors know very well.  There are so many things I did that had I been ‘normal’ I would never have done.  I feel such shame for some of my behaviour and actions but yet can not go back and change them.  I did what I did because it was all I knew at the time.  I knew no other way to cope.

Part of my healing journey has been to find all of these bits and pieces of myself.   To identify and name behaviours that served me well and those that did not.  Rather than looking at them as broken pieces of me, I imagine them as coloured pieces of thread.  Gorgeous, rich shades of various textures that I weave together to create a most beautiful tapestry  that gently settles around the light or core of who I am.  That stardust… that purity that exists in each person. At times my beautiful light felt very small and near extinction but by some magnificent grace it remained strong.  The torn or ugly bits somehow get lost in the beauty of the whole.

I can’t change what happened or who I am.  I CAN change the self defeating and destructive  behaviours.   I no longer feel like I’m a ‘million little pieces’ but rather a whole woman made up of many colours and textures.  As for the guilt and shame? Well there are still moments when I feel them but they no longer have a stranglehold on me.

Next post I will talk about some of the ‘common’ coping strategies that many survivors use.

 

 

whatever gets me through the night..day..year

How does a person cope with the fact that they have been sexually abused as a child?  What do they DO to get through the day…the year…a lifetime?   When a childhood is stolen and trust is shattered, how can someone go on to have a happy, healthy, whole and productive life?

There are some coping behaviours that are seen as ‘healthy’ and ‘good’.  Witnessing a young girl who prides herself in being ‘perfect’ and striving to  overacheive is socially acceptable.  After all – this is the girl who excels in school, takes care of siblings and is a great friend to others.  She’s easy to like.  She’s coping in a socially acceptable manner.   This does not mean that she hurts less.   The fact is, she  hurts just as much as the girl who chooses promiscuity, drugs and alchohol as a way of coping.

This is the introduction to a series of posts where I’ll discuss some of the coping strategies that survivors employ.  I hope that by reading them you will get to understand how much guilt a survivor carries from the very thing that helped to get them through each day.   If you are a survivor, I hope the reading of them will help you to HONOUR yourself and what you did to survive.

One of the many beautiful gifts we are given as human beings is the ability to choose.  We can choose to continue with destructive ways of coping OR we can choose behaviours that are healthy and that lift us.  We can choose to move from survivor to that of a THRIVER.

Minimizing. Splitting. Denying. Forgetting. Isolating. Self-mutilation. Busyness. Addiction. Lying. Stealing. Compulsiveness.