It’s in the little things, that is where I see it the most. Small occurrences that most people wouldn’t notice or have a second thought about give me cause to want to run and hide. Dropping a raw egg on the floor and feeling that icy grip of terror as it cracks is a good example. I will become anxious and nervous if the TV is too loud because I need to hear as much as possible in the house. My stomach turns when someone raises their voice or slams something down on a table. I do not like to be touched; casual hugs from friends, someone leaning over my shoulder, someone cutting my hair, and so on. I have a hard time being comfortable with it. I have been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and this is how I live my life.
I am a survivor of child abuse. You name it; I can safely say I have been through it. Small things like insults and put downs to big things like being held hostage at gun point. It is strange how these things shape you as an adult. Most of the time I feel like I am on the outside of society looking in, like I'm playing a part in some strange theatrical production. My emotions are deep, broken and tormenting.
What I find to be the most odd, is that I know these things have happened to me but to look back on them is like hearing a story of someone else’s life. It is like a fictional tale about a kid who seemed to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But the story becomes reality when something happens and all of the emotions I learned to bury as a child come flooding over me.
I was good at buring it all. I was raised by a person who felt the need to hide every bad thing from the world. She taught me to lie and conceal the truth at all costs, even if it meant I had to return to a bad situation. When I would let her know someone was hurting me she would immediately defend them, or have me repeat “it didn’t happen, it didn’t happen, it didn’t happen” over and over again in hopes I would forget. It would not be until the abuser turned on her would she be willing to talk about anything and usually it was talking about how to save her from the situation. My parents divorce was so bad that I was court ordered into therapy, each time I was dropped off for a session; I was coached on what to say and what not to tell. I learned to protect the abuser at all costs, and I did it beautifully. Now that I am an adult, I no longer have to keep anyone’s secrets. I can instead be honest with anyone who cares to learn about it, I can tell the truth about what happened to me. And THAT my dear reader, is the most liberating thing I have ever experienced.
This is information that I do not generally share with everyone. If you know me well then you probably know some of the stories. What I often find is that people are so impressed at how easy I am to talk too and how much I seem to understand what they are going through. It amazes me how much everyone needs to talk. I just listen, I'm not comfortable with telling too much. It can be off putting. Like I am sure at the beginning of this post when I said I was held hostage at gun point, you considered clicking away. Thinking surely she's making this up. I wish I were. But it is what it is and it's made me who I am. I am not ashamed of my past and I hope that if you experienced the same you are not ashamed either. You have no reason to be. You can not be responsible for what happened to you when you were a child. That was their flaw, not yours. As a kid you have no rights, and even less of a voice.
If you know of a child that is in an abusive situation, please speak up. Too many people saw what I was going through but did not say anything because they didn't think it was their place. If just one person would have come forward my childhood could have been very different. It is easy to find resources for reporting child abuse online. Protect the child not the abuser.
The last thing I want to say is please do not pity me. I am not a victim, I am a survivor.