Monthly Archives: April 2011

less than

Today is one of those days.  You know- the days when you feel that no matter how much, how many, how often…it’s just not enough.   I could scale Mt. Everest in the morning, sail solo across the Atlantic in the afternoon and then leap ten skyscrapers in a single bound in the evening and still feel like I was not good enough.  (wow- imagine doing all those things??!)  I’d be looking at the person who did it better than me…faster than me…with more elegance or who added another thing to the list.  No matter what – I would feel diminished.  No matter what – I would just not be good enough.

It’s so easy to look outside and compare.  It’s so easy to feel pain and hurt.  It’s so easy to feel shame and disgust and ‘less than’.  Less than the other girls who got to give up virginity on their own timetable.  Less than the women who know what a healthy, loving relationship is.  Less than the women who don’t know what addiction is.  Less than the girls who had highschool friends who asked them to be a part of the ‘gang’.  Less than the women who don’t hide behind overweight bodies, eating to hide what ‘he’ found appealing.

I know there are many survivors who feel ‘less than’.  I know also that there are many who move through to a healthy stance.  A feeling of ‘okay’.  And yes- even to that place of healthy self-esteem where it does not matter about the ‘others’.  That place where who you are is simply enough.

I straddle the place between ‘less than’ and ‘simply enough’.  Where are you in your journey?  Do you have tips to share for those struggling to stay on the ‘simply enough’ side? 🙂

the ugly truth of what lurks inside

It was coming
It was bound to come
The ugliness seeking me out
It’s coldness surrounding me
My body so tired
Each limb heavy
Unable to move and yet
My heart is racing.
Out of control
my insides shake
Shiver

I can not stop the fear
I resist the giving in
I push away the memory
It will not let me go this time
The hurt needs out
It ricochets inside of me
Bouncing from gut to brain to heart to lung
This pain, this sorrow

Extreme
It wants to pull me under
It demands my attention
“LET ME GO”
I scream in anger
Release me from the torment
Or at least let me cry
Let me succumb to the sad
Let the tears fall

Sobs bursting forth
Propelled by the force
Of my anger
My pain
My disbelief that such a thing
Such evil
can exist within
such beauty

Checking a few items on the list…

There is a HUGE cost to society when a child is sexually abused.  Children become adults.  Sadly,  not all make it to adulthood but for those who do, there are numerous ways that the abuse manifests in adults.

Today I find myself thinking about the many, many ways that I have personally been affected.  I am also thinking about how what I experience(d) has affected other people in my life.  How my depression, addiction, anxiety, panic disorders, compulsive behaviours, eating disorders, truancy, PTSD etc.etc. etc.. (yes there is more) has affected the people closest to me.  How much I have hurt others by my self- abuse.  My inability to have a healthy love relationship.  The pain I caused through my years of addiction.  (Thankfully I am stronger now.  Mostly okay.  Self- aware.)

Take a look at the list below.  When you do so, think about the toll this takes on the individual who has been abused.  Think about the cost to society.

When you are finished, do me a favour.  Think about PREVENTING this from happening to another child. 

Common Symptoms in Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse:

  • Physical Presentations
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms/distress
  • Musculoskeletal complaints
  • Obesity, eating disorders
  • Insomnia, sleep disorders
  • Pseudocyesis
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Asthma, respiratory ailments
  • Addiction
  • Chronic headache
  • Chronic back pain
  • Psychologic and Behavioral Presentations
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms
  • Dissociative states
  • Repeated self-injury
  • Suicide attempts
  • Lying, stealing, truancy, running away
  • Poor contraceptive practices
  • Compulsive sexual behaviors
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Somatizing disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Poor adherence to medical recommendations
  • Intolerance of or constant search for intimacy
  • Expectation of early death

Although there is no single syndrome that is universally present in adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, there is an extensive body of research that documents adverse short- and long-term effects of such abuse. To appropriately treat and manage survivors of CSA, it is useful to understand that survivors’ symptoms or behavioral sequelae often represent coping strategies employed in response to abnormal, traumatic events. These coping mechanisms are used for protection during the abuse or later to guard against feelings of overwhelming helplessness and terror. Although some of these coping strategies may eventually lead to health problems, if symptoms are evaluated outside their original context, survivors may be misdiagnosed or mislabeled (5).

In addition to the psychologic distress that may potentiate survivors’ symptoms, there is evidence that abuse may result in biophysical changes. For example, one study found that, after controlling for history of psychiatric disturbance, adult survivors had lowered thresholds for pain (13). It also has been suggested that chronic or traumatic stimulation (especially in the pelvic or abdominal region) heightens sensitivity, resulting in persistent pain such as abdominal and pelvic pain or other bowel symptoms (14, 15).

Although responses to sexual abuse vary, there is remarkable consistency in mental health symptoms, especially depression and anxiety. These mental health symptoms may be found alone or more often in tandem with physical and behavioral symptoms. More extreme symptoms are associated with abuse onset at an early age, extended or frequent abuse, incest by a parent, or use of force (4). Responses may be mitigated by such factors as inherent resiliency or supportive responses from individuals who are important to the victim (4). Even without therapeutic intervention, some survivors maintain the outward appearance of being unaffected by their abuse. Most, however, experience pervasive and deleterious consequences (4).

The primary aftereffects of childhood sexual abuse have been divided into seven distinct, but overlapping categories (16):

  • Emotional reactions
  • Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Self-perceptions
  • Physical and biomedical effects
  • Sexual effects
  • Interpersonal effects
  • Social functioning

Above taken from: http://www.aaets.org/article120.htm

Look after YOU first

Lately I have been overwhelmed with a number of personal and professional things.  Some good, some not so good.  When I am in the moment of the experience I sometimes find myself reverting to old coping behaviours.  Stress and exhaustion seem to derail me and it’s so easy for me to beat myself up. The problem is that when I beat myself up for being human, it doesn’t do anyone any good, especially myself.

I started to reflect on this again today as I just finished annoying someone I was trying to help.  Help was not asked for nor really was it needed.  Sometimes the best thing you can do is simply just let someone express…listen and then  let them be.  I KNOW this. Intellectually I get it.  And yet, I continue to insert myself and try to help when really they’d just rather I left them the hell alone to work it out in their own way and in their own time.  (and yes…possibly come back and ask for help)  But oh no…I get it in my head that I am going to ‘fix it’…make everything better.  When I finally drive the person to a total state of frustration, I am crushed.  That little girl inside who wants so much to please and be good surfaces.

It’s a good reminder to myself that rest and self-care is really important as we heal.  Heck – it’s really important ALL the time.  When I am at my best, I respect other peoples boundaries.  I am a very good friend.  It is when I put myself second that all hell breaks loose inside of me and that does no one any good.  Especially me.

Thankfully my friends know about my abuse and the consequences.  They put up with my occasional childish ways.

Can you relate to this?  What do YOU do to take care of yourself?