Early Denial of Feelings
Abuse survivors spend a lifetime keeping their childhood secrets, denying their emotions as unworthy and trivial. Often when abuse occurs we are told it’s our imagination and not happening. When our body responds, we feel shame and confusion not recognizing a body is a body and if touched sexually it will respond as such. Our abusers use our emotions to manipulate us for their means and it takes extensive healing to own and accept all our feelings.
I remember the day my oldest brother turned 18 and bought his first car. It was a silver Pontiac Sunbird. I remember with mixed feelings as he took me, his younger and only sister out for a ride through town to show it off. It was exciting, and I felt proud as we rode down main street, but the feeling of trepidation and anxiety came to me when he turned down a lonely, unused road. I knew only too well the outcome. Daily from the time I was 6 until 16, my brother sexually and emotionally abused me. I learned years later he only stopped when he realized I could have become pregnant.
Unselfishness or Abuse?
My mother marvelled at his unselfishness because he always volunteered to walk me to my baseball games or swimming lessons. We lived in a rural area and she worried something would happen to me if I went on my own. Unfortunately for me, something always happened, but it wasn’t by a stranger. I remember being 8 on my way to a baseball game and my brother sexually abusing me in a neighbouring farmer’s field. I worried the cows were watching and feared they would somehow repeat what they saw to someone. It is just this naiveté abusers prey upon!
Also, my thought processes were misaligned. I thought what I was doing with my brother was normal. I thought I was better than my friends because I had had sex with multiple family members.
As I aged and became an adult, I continued to invalidate my feelings. I didn’t wake up one day feeling empowered or valuable as a human. It was just the opposite. I put myself in dangerous situations, and I discounted the warning sirens that went off. I constantly put myself down. If anyone paid me a compliment, I knew they wanted something or were feeling sorry for me. I was not worth the breath it took to speak it. I didn’t feel like I belonged in society, many times I felt I should be locked up and the key thrown away.
The energy required to live with these secrets and deny how we are feeling is paramount. We reach a point where just surviving day to day is a daunting task. We turn to self-destructive measures, so we can feel something we can control, no matter how detrimental it is to ourselves.
I Will Survive!
The good news is survivors are resilient. We survive against horrendous odds and even when we are fighting ourselves, somewhere, deep down, the drive to live and thrive is present. It is often hidden away, but it is what has kept us alive all these years. Survivors refuse to give up! And when we heal, we are a formidable bunch to reckon with!