I was at the salon today doing fun girly things. My nail tech Tracy (Not her real name) purchased my book and has been bragging it up, telling all the others she works with to buy it, borrow it and read it. Nice warm fuzzy feeling. Janey, (Not her real name) has known about my writing for a couple of years and has been very excited about the publishing of parts one two and three in a paperback. As she works on my hair she tells me about how Trace has gone on and on. She loved it.
Then she says, “I can’t read it. You need to know that.” So I ask her, “Why?”
“Well, I just don’t want to know that those ugly things happen in the world,” she sighs. “I don’t want to see it or hear it” She has said this so sweetly, earnestly and honestly that I am quiet for a moment contemplating my reply.
You have four lovely little girls. Statistically, one of them has been or will be victimized. She smiles, “That wouldn’t happen to them. They would tell me. Would they? She admits there has been no discussion with them about these “ugly things.” They can tell me anything.
I tell her what I believe. They know you don’t want to hear these things without being told. Your children know you. They probably even love you very much for making this wonderful perfect fantasy world. If you are not open to reality, and something happened to them, they will hate you for it later. They might even blame you. I urge her to have at least one conversation with those girls about whats ok, and what they can tell her. If only it were so easy. Ignore it, go deaf and blind. If I don’t see it then it didn’t happen. If I don’t ask and you don’t tell then it didn’t happen.
Conversations and comments fly all around us.
She hugs me as I leave and say, Hon, I still don’t think I can read it. I tell her, “Its OK! We had a conversation with a room full of women with scissors and chemicals and no one got hurt. We laugh about that. For 35 minutes, we all talked about the consequences of child sexual abuse. I call talking about it a winning day.
IF ONLY we didn’t live in a world that makes these conversations feel so necessary. Annie
4 thoughts on “IF ONLY…”
this is powerful and moving. we do need to talk about this stuff, it’s sad.
Thank you for your work.I believe this is the most important work to be done on the planet. I respect what you are doing and admire the fact that you can reach people on a subject that usually closes doors. It is what I believe to be the number one reason for mental health and behavioral disorders. It is the long reaching consequence of a situation that says something terrible has happened to you but you cant speak about it. This produces all kinds of negative effects to a persons mind & emotions. It skews thinking and sexuality, It throws people out of balance. Overwhelm, shame, gilt, anxiety, depression, an inability to connect to other people and form non abusive relationships, even suicide is part of the dynamic of sexual abuse violence. Often domination ( sexual / nonsexual) compounds the problem. Suppressed memories are common because people want to forget and just move on with their lives. They don’t want to keep reliving the trauma and shame, the brain protects itself from being re-traumatically overwhelmed by forgetting the event. These memories are locked away and the person is disconnected from the event… But the brain knows that these events affect survival and they are too valuable to be tossed out so the emotions are kept close at hand. You can escape the event but not the emotional effect. These emotions from the past are usually brought forward and added to the emotions of the present, adding intensity to the current situation, This is called an emotional flashback. This occurs especially during threat situations . This is known as hyper vigilance or “always on guard against threat” .
I started my own personal work in 1991 beginning with anger management. I started this work because I had a bad temper and did not want to destroy my life and the lives of my family. I needed to go to an outside source other then my family of origin to lean new ways of handling conflict. I did this work voluntarily, in group therapy, at Mens resource center in Portland, Oregon http://www.portlandmrc.com/ . I completed the program and took a break to process what I had learned. I went back for a second time as I still had inner conflict and turmoil. The program was good and helped me get the tools I needed to reconnect with my true feelings and emotions. It helped me to deal with anger in a way that allowed me to be a safe person around other people. I still had issues and emotional baggage because the root of my problems had not been dealt with, just the most obvious symptom, anger control. As a parting piece of wisdom, my counselor at the mens resource center, Glen Rose, said to me “Whatever it is you are most afraid of.. is your path” With that, I left and processed more of what I had learned and did my best to put it into practice.
After I left anger management I still struggled with anxiety and depression. I also had trouble sleeping and had a compulsive obsessive nature. In I997 I went to my Dr. to get a physical check up, I expressed concerns about my mental state, but did not want medication, I did not want to become a prescription statistic. After asking me a series of personal questions he gave me the business card of Donald Mann LCSW. http://donaldmann.net/ I started off with one on one sessions and then joined his group therapy group. This is where I processed my abuse issues over the next 14 years. I have now come to the point in my life where I do not struggle with depression or anxiety (emotional flashback). I am connected to my real emotions and feelings. I am free of compulsive behaviors that I once needed as a detraction from the inner pain of my past abuse. I can form close relationships because I can trust and do not have to always test relationships with bad behavior to see if someone really cares and will tolerate me. The healing happened because I chose to talk about what I was most afraid of… My past abuse. I did this in a safe environment and have come to the conclusion that God will always lead you to a place of healing if you ask and are willing to do the work he gives you.
If I can do it so can you, you just have to believe that enough to do the work.
P.S. Men (& boys) get abused as much as women. We just dont report it as much. The shame is too overwhelming to our self image. We dont like to think of ourselves as weak victims.
Post like yours mean so much. Thank you for sharing. There are so many out there, men and women who need the validation that life can be better for them. The healing does indeed come from talking, and some begin the healing because they hear us tell our stories and see the evidence for themselves. You are right! “Whatever you are most afraid of is your path.” I think I needed to be reminded myself of just that. Namaste! Annie
well maybe as people like u girls and others feel more and more confident to share openly,then it will become less nessisary.key word is”less”.also firing squads and other appropriate measures may lessen the evil.just my opinion.perhaps a genetic test at birth to identify emerging monsters too!