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.