I’ve often felt sadden when I heard of stories of men and women whom were physically and or sexually abused as children. I never considered the courage it took to come forward until I began to face the reality of my own childhood. At 34 my memories and the trauma from the abuse caught up with me. The world I had built for everyone to see started to crash and I could no longer pretend. I read stories about survivors because, in fact, I was one of them. Those stories were a link to a world I tried to keep secret,but, within those articles I found a little of myself in the story of each man and woman. Each story brought me closer to letting myself out of the cage my abusers had placed me in.
From the beginning the abuser gives us a crash course in keeping THEIR secret and what might happen if we tell . I was sexually and physically abused by my mother and other family members. My mother use to say to me, “If you tell anyone they will take you away and kill you. They will believe your evil and (you) made me do it! I grew up thinking people would hate me if I told.
When we hold the secrets of abuse it pours out to many aspects of our lives. For example. I was very distant in my relationships and often found myself alone. This was due to holding in such deep emotional pain I was unable to give to anyone else. All my efforts were spent trying to just hold myself together.
I remember the first time I told. I was shaking on the inside and wondered if my world would end. In fact, my world did end! My posture changed! I no longer had severe headaches! The world my abuser built for me came down and I slowly crawled out from the rubble. I began to grow into who I was meant to be before the abuse shadowed everything in my life. The best thing I have done for myself was come forward with my abuser’s secrets.
I stress the fact the secrets don’t belong to us. We did nothing wrong.
The abuser forms the bond of secrecy by making us believe we caused the abuse and/or we should protect them if we love them. I’m now 39 and looking back I see great change. When I told my truth, my story and released myself from my abuser’s secrets I have grown into the woman I was meant to be. I have been able to have a relationship for the first time.
Telling is healing. As long as I held the secrets I was unable to have emotions in fear all that I was holding in might burst out. The hardest thing for me was not loving another,but being loved. I didn’t believe I deserved to be loved like everyone else. I can honestly say 4 years after telling for the first time, I am able to receive love. As I write this tears of humbleness roll down my face. At 39 for the first time I was able to lay my head in the lap of the one I love and sleep. It felt like the first real sleep I ever had. Being a survivor of abuse you struggle with being able to trust, that’s why it is so important to find a healthy support system. No, it’s not going to be easy, but I promise the outcome is worth the effort. If you at first don’t get what you need when you disclose the abuse keep telling until you find those who will listen.
It’s so important to have our pain validated because for so long we had to pretend it wasn’t happening to survive. Remember you are not alone there is a group of courageous men and women survivors on the same journey who will gladly take your hand and lead you out of that cage. We spent our childhood carrying someone else’s secrets and lies,but as adults we can unpack what doesn’t belong to us and embrace life on our terms without fear. Malisia McKinney October 2014