I WAITED! (trigger warning)

book cover (2)

I recently moved and,  like anyone else who has ever moved, I came a cross a box I had forgotten about.  Before I knew it I was lost in the past;  reading and reading and reading and remembering.  I sat there a couple of hours later shaking my head at a past that should never have happened to me or to anyone else. This time though I am reading it as a mere observer and I give many, many thanks to many years of good counseling and therapist and hard work  for the ability to do that.  It was still painful.  I still felt the loss of a childhood I never had.  It was not the trigger it would have been a few years ago.

Therapy notes, letters, and many written words that never made it into my book, Can You Hear Me Now?  made a surprise appearance in my garage that day! Just as the past makes its surprise appearance for survivors of child sexual abuse, physical abuse, and yes even war veterans everywhere.  Post traumatic stress is for children too.

There are approximately 315 million people in the United States and  approximately 95 MILLION of them are adults “abused” as children.  There are an unspeakable number of children experiencing what you are about to read.  Children live this for years.  Can you really turn away because it is too difficult to see? Hear? Acknowledge and say…  NO MORE! I guarantee you looked at a child this week who is living with sexual abuse.  I guarantee you looked at an adult who is sexually abusing a child.  Did you recognize them?  You would be surprised at who they are.

This was written many years ago in counseling when I could not bring myself to talk aloud about my own life.  I think it’s worth sharing.

I WAITED!

I waited in the dark.  I feign sleep terrified of what the darkness will bring to me.  I waited for the hushed viciousness of a voice that is no longer human to my ears.  I waited for the face that becomes grotesque and monstrous in the dark. I waited, for hands that will crawl over my body like the slime of snakes and worms and rot.   I consider poking my eyes out so that I can’t see when it comes into my room.  I know it will come.  I waited in the dark like a hunted animal sweating and shivering.  It’s not cold. It’s summer.

I can’t scream out for help as I hear more than see the door knob turn.  I try but it dies, dry in my throat, not even a croak.  And then, stealthy, it comes to me.  I wait knowing there is no escape.  I wait knowing there will be pain.  I wait knowing no one cares.  I wait knowing no one can stop this. I waited while it chuckles quietly at my compliance.

Now I wait for the screaming I hear in my head to stop.

We all wait for that.

Relationships and the Survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse

 

Where did our roadmap into the future come from?  Who taught us how to navigate? How to love? Who to trust? When to trust? Secrecy and keeping thoughts and feeling to ourselves became our true reality.  Imagine yourself as a child, seeing the world through a child’s eyes, and then being introduced to a ferocious and violent act—an act that serves to not only damage one’s physical body and mental/cognitive mind-set, but also disrupt one’s spiritual being.  And yes, it is all these things without being beaten.  I believe violence compounds the problem.

Wounded attachment is an insidious component that I have seen repeatedly in my work with adult survivors of childhood sexual assault. What is wounded attachment? It’s the unconscious way of being attracted or attached to someone or something that reminds the survivor of or reinforces the wound/trauma, or in this case the sexual assault. At its core, it’s the way in which survivors subconsciously seek out relationships that reinforce the wounded aspect of themselves. (Valerie Kuykendall-Rogers, MA, LPC-S, June 2013)

A neglected and abused child often develops a confused attachment style when they are raised in an environment of inconsistent or unavailable attention.  This is especially true when the parent or caretaker is abusive, intrusive, neglectful or otherwise dangerous.  These children can go on to become adults who make poor partners later on in life since they are prone to acting out against themselves or others.  We (survivors) often have such high levels of abandonment and trust issues that without intervention relationships become caught in a revolving door of different version of the same relationship.

Survivors of Childhood Sexual or Physical abuse also learn to ignore his or her own needs.  As adults survivors tend to be fiercely independent and will not admit to needing others. Early training that our needs, wants and requirements don’t matter or are no importance are difficult to overcome, even when you are aware of the faulty thinking.

There can be great frustration in trying to be perfect and not getting what you need, often times not knowing what you need.  A relationship can then end in a self-fulfilling prophecy of the very abandonment the survivor fears most.  Partners leave in frustration.

They might also remain single and avoid relationships altogether. (Note: singleness does not imply a person is avoidant; finding a good partner takes a certain measure of good fortune!)

This avoidance is where I’ve been finding my own self the last few years.  It’s lonely. There is so much pain in a failed relationship.  And failure.  Society doesn’t look at you and say, oh that person wasn’t right for you.  They say things like “Too bad you couldn’t make it work.”

Then there are your own children.  Are you saying enough?  Are you saying too much?  Should you say anything at all?  What are the boundaries?  Who is showing me how to be a good parent? What if they grow up and never talk to you again?

Relationships are based on how we attach to others.  Expressing your feelings, ability to nurture, comfort and feeling connected.  Some of us struggle with the connectedness part.  If you spent your formative years running away from feelings that overwhelmed you, who tells you that you don’t have to run when you don’t even know your are still sprinting away from the very thing you want the most?

http://sfhelp.org/gwc/wounds/bonding.htm  is a marvelous self-help site that talks about the wounds you have as a grown wounded child.

Instead of relationship issues many articles and those in the mental health field call it an attachment disorder.  It’s a painful label.  However it seems that without labels no one knows how to talk about what the problem is.

I like to think about attachment/relationship issues and my dog.  My dog, Simon, was a 15 month old rescue.  He’d been poorly fed, abused and beaten up not only by the past owner but by the other dogs.  Simon was on his way to being euthanized.  No hope for him.  He was terrified of people, other dogs, cats and even puppies.  A look his way and he would cower and urinate where he stood.  My heart went out to this creature.

I took him home for 5 days.  “Only 5 days,” I said.  “If there is no improvement I can’t keep him.”

I bought him some chew bones, food and a ball.   He stared at the chew bones.  He didn’t eat.  He didn’t know what to do with the ball.  I stayed with him for those five days.  He jumped when I moved.  He watched everything around him and whimpered when my cat went to check out the house quest.  I spoke to him quietly and played soft music in the background.

I kept Simon. He will be 8 years old this month. I had him for two years before he let me scratch his belly.  He learned to trust and he learned to love.  If my English Shepherd can do, I have to hope we all can.

We need to be able to set healthy boundaries, understand and respect them.   It matters for our personal safety, and growth as well as healthy relationships whether it be family, friends, co-workers, or partners.

We were given a bad roadmap to our future.  Let’s lose it and get a new one. We’ve been alone too long.

 

Annie O’Sullivan

Author, Can You Hear Me Now?

 

TELLING IS HEALING, by Guest Malisia McKinney

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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

We hold everything within ourselves to change our lives…

Profoundly simple and profoundly difficult.  Is it really just an idle thought on a Sunday night?  No! Not at all!

Consider this thought from Andrew Carnegie:

Any idea that is held in the mind, that is either feared, or revered, will begin at once to clothe itself in the most conveinient and appropriate form available….

Key words are feared and revered.  Why are both words key to us as survivors?  As children we feared and indeed revered our abuser(s)   They shaped our beliefs about ourselves. They controlled our belief of ourselves and to survive we clothed ourselves in the most conveinient and appropriate form available.  We also did it out of innocence.

What do you believe today?

It’s good to be back!  Annie

http://www.blogtalkradio.com

 

I WAITED! (trigger warning)

I recently moved and as is common I came a cross a box I had forgotten about.  Before I knew it I found myself lost in the past.  Reading and reading and reading, shaking my head at a past that should never have happened to me or to anyone else. This time though I am reading it as a mere observer and I give many, many thanks to many years of good counseling and therapist and hard work  for the ability to do that.

Therapy notes, letters, and many written words that never made it into my book, Can You Hear Me Now?  made a surprise appearance!

There are approximately 95 MILLION adults abused as children in the United States today.  There is an unspeakable number of children experiencing what you are about to read.  Children live this for years.  Can you really turn away because it is too difficult to see? Hear? Acknowledge and say…  NO MORE!

This was written many years ago in counseling when I could not bring myself to talk aloud about my own life.  I think it’s worth sharing.

Daddy

The “REAL” Daddy

I WAITED!

I waited in the dark.  I feign sleep terrified of what the darkness will bring to me.  I wait for the hushed viciousness of a voice that is no longer human to my ears.  I wait for the face that becomes grotesque and monstrous in the dark. I wait, for hands that will crawl over my body like the slime of snakes and worms and rot.   I consider poking my eyes out so that I can’t see when it comes into my room.  I know it will come.  I wait in the dark like a hunted animal sweating and shivering.  It’s not cold.

I can’t scream out for help as I hear more than see the door knob turn.  I try but it dies, dry in my throat, not even a croak.  And then, stealthy, it comes to me.  I wait knowing there is no escape.  I wait knowing there will be pain.  I wait knowing no one cares.  I wait knowing no one can stop this.

Now I wait for the screaming I hear in my head to stop.

We all wait for that.