Category: Survivor Stories

An Open Letter to My Abuser’s Former Victims

An Open Letter to My Abuser’s Former Victims

I’ve oftentimes wondered if you exist. I find myself sometimes, combing through the young women in his life, wondering if he ever did the same things to you. Maybe you don’t exist. Maybe you’re just my imagination running wild, my yearning to find someone else who gets it, creating stories in my head. Sometimes I imagine you coming to me, and whispering in my ear, “Me too,” and I would instantly get it. Sometimes I imagine a message sent from miles away because it is just too painful to say out loud. Whether you exist or not, I have a few things I want you to know.

1. I don’t blame you

I never will. I never have. And it doesn’t matter if you never say anything to me, or if you do tomorrow. I don’t blame you. The only person to blame for my abuse is my abuser. Not me. Not my family. And certainly not you. And if you honestly don’t believe me, I want you to repeat the words “It’s not my fault” to yourself every day until you know it in your head and in your heart. It’s not fair to put that kind of burden on yourself every day. Lighten the load, know that I don’t blame you, and keep moving forward with your own healing.

 

2. I believe you

I’m reminded of a story I heard, where a young girl told her mother that her father, who had abused his niece years earlier, also abused her. Her mother didn’t believe her, just thought she was competing with her cousin for attention. Because that’s the kind of attention we want, am I right? I will never understand why people treat you like you’re riding a bandwagon, trying to get your fifteen minutes of fame, why we can’t believe that an abuser may have hurt more than one person. I believe you, like I believe every survivor, with every fiber of my being. I believe you because, if he did it to me, it just makes sense that he may have done it to you. And I’m sorry, because no one deserves it.

3. You are brave

Do you know that? Do you believe that? Because I do. I know that any person who endures this particular kind of trauma is brave. If you are out there somewhere, breathing, alive, thriving, then you are brave. If you have to push away the thoughts that creep into your subconscious like I know I have to, then you are brave. If you never told anyone, you are still brave. If you have stumbled a few times in your healing, you are brave. Don’t ever let someone tell you that you aren’t, especially if that someone is you.

4. I love you

More than you know. And I want you to know, from one survivor of sexual abuse to another, I support you.

The Void

“It is not easy to stay conscious during a painful and frightening process. We would rather turn away, drug ourselves, or feign indifference. It requires a delicate blend of curiosity, fortitude, and patience to trust in the wisdom and the purpose of pain.” ~ Elizabeth Lesser

I would like to try to explain the place I have been over the last several months.

I sometimes refer to it as the dark.

The Dark is the place I find myself falling into time and time again, no matter how well it seems I am moving through life. Appearances are deceiving when it comes to my particular type of self-loathing. I’m a superb actress. I can nod and smile, say all the right things and go through all the appropriate motions when inside I feel absolutely nothing.

Continue reading “The Void”

Trauma and Meditation: An Open Letter to the Community

Warning: May contain triggers for survivors of childhood sexual abuse

Dear “Awakened” Communities,

Yes I mean YOU, Buddhist and Non-Buddhist alike. I am angry with you. Yes angry, oops am I not supposed to be angry? Well buckle up, you may not like this ride, or just jump off and avoid all these “negative emotions” if you can. You are good at that…unless of course you are wielding them at others while they are all dressed up as truth and passive aggressive compassion.

Yes, I am angry…but YOU are dangerous.

I am angry because I was raped when I was an eight year old little girl. You are dangerous because you tell me that I should live as if this didn’t actually happen.

Continue reading “Trauma and Meditation: An Open Letter to the Community”

Today

There is this constant feeling of not fitting in. Of disassociation. It takes monumental effort to speak. To get me to come out of the corner I have been hiding in my whole life. Then after all the work to reach me I’m gone in a fraction of a second.

Terrified of being noticed or exposed or heard. Ashamed of anything I said or shared.

Why am I still so afraid?

Silent screaming.

I have nothing to hide anymore.

Continue reading “Today”

How Sweet the Sound

Originally published 3/3/2018

I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.

I am still getting used to writing those words.

Admitting to my past and sharing my story has led to multiple moments of what I can only describe as tiny fracture breaks within what I thought was my semi stable reality. I thought I was doing okay. I saw no reason to reopen those old, pulsating wounds. I felt they had been stitched up adequately enough.

The ability to see beyond where I was and imagine where I could be was nearly impossible due to the inflicted abuse from my childhood. Survivors of trauma know this feeling well. There is a darkness that takes up residency. It becomes so much a part of us that we wouldn’t recognize ourselves without it. Maybe we don’t even want to. Who are we without this pain?

Sometimes the hurt from past experiences is so achingly unbearable it immobilizes us, rendering us powerless. So many people are locked deeply in the clutches of pain from past events or encounters. Agony and shame intermingled and running so deep in our veins we cannot fathom being able to fight it.

Recently I starting exploring the terrible, irresponsible and hurtful choices I was making as an adult. Choices I was making myself, not something that was being done to me or against my will like when I was a little girl.

I decided to take some accountability for my very real and incredibly fast fall from grace. I started to dig, unearth and attempt to reconcile with the actual reasons leading to my abysmal life choices. I started confronting the shame that lived inside of me. The things that are and always will be a part of who I have become today.

I decided to accept them.

Sometimes it is the very worst things that have happened to us in the past that can in fact be our most empowering tool of hope. How can we ever authentically relate to and make real, honest connections with those that need our voices the most if we don’t claim our most horrific moments?  The ones we attempt to hide, forget, deny or numb away?

Understanding that your past actions do not and will not determine your legacy begins with not trying so strenuously to will them away. It begins with acknowledging that those pieces are a part of you and they should be nurtured, not dismissed.

John Newton and William Cowper are two voices from history who perfectly help convey the message I am trying to deliver. Newton, a reformed atheist turned Ordained Minister challenged Cowper, a crazy misunderstood Christianity loving wordsmith to a hymnal duel.

Write a new Hymn to a familiar tune in time for each Thursday’s bible study.

Newton and Cowper made change happen by owning who they were and sharing their pain with others. Easier said than done but it eventually led to penning Amazing Grace, a song undeniably powerful in the simplicity of its message and one most can readily identify with.

They were from different backgrounds but they lived with the same ghosts so many of us struggle with. Pain, loss, confusion, sorrow, anger and the desire for redemption to name a few. Through their salvation and their ability to forgive, they each felt a desire to grow from their past experiences and become better because of them.

I’m guessing that neither of them ever would have expected that a former atheist slave trader and a suicidal poet who had been institutionalized for insanity would someday be the ones to collaboratively write a world changing, soul reaching and universal identified with hymnal lyric.

Somehow that happened.

What better voices than those who have come from complete darkness to help others see the light that can be found within it?

As I struggle with my own past and attempt to make amends with the abuse I endured and survived as a child I am often overwhelmed by emotional ferocity of it. Facing these experiences and sharing them with others is terrifying.

I am grateful for each and every prayer I have been blessed with. I do believe in a higher power. A force larger than myself. I just don’t think that simply putting my trust in any given faith blindly will help me or any of us find the answers.

Step outside of what you think you know and listen to the people around you.  No matter what you believe or who you pray to or what you have been told. Honor your personal truth while trying to embrace the truths of others. Explore ideas you may be less comfortable with and try to discover what is causing the aversion behind those thoughts.

Fight.

Talk.

Understand.

Listen.

Connect.

Heal.

Forgive.

Make change happen because of your experiences. Don’t stand around and wait for it to happen or place blame when it doesn’t happen the way you thought it would or use religion as a way to not see what is right in front of you.

Use your voice; however it feels right to you.

Shine your light.

Embrace your dark.

Tell your story.

Write your song.

Challenge your best buddy to a hymnal writing contest.

You never know what could happen…

My Middle Way

Warning: May contain triggers for survivors of childhood sexual abuse

Today I sit constricted
My waistband tied too tight
Until I sat down I had not noticed it
Digging into the forgotten flesh
Just below my belly button
But this time
I do not allow myself to fix it
I decide instead to feel it
An irritation around my middle
I hate this
I have always hated this

Continue reading “My Middle Way”

I am a 73 year old male
I am a 73 year old male. I discovered my abuse in my late 60’s after 3 years of therapy I was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. It was quite an ordeal to recover these memories. I was abused by my mother and male friends of my family, my male grade school principal. The abuse happened from when I was approximately 4 or 5 until I was 12. Both my mother and father denied this was happening during those years. This denial and punishment did as much damage as the actual abuse.

 

The Impact 
Although I have a very successful business life. CEO of a large company for over 25 years. Underneath I was never happy and felt I belonged. This hidden trauma caused family and marriage issues. Although my marriage has survived 42 years.

 

What I want others to know/understand 
It is never to late to face and find the truth no matter how frightening and terfying it is
How Sweet the Sound

I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.

I am still getting used to writing those words.

Admitting to my past and sharing my story has led to multiple moments of what I can only describe as tiny fracture breaks within what I thought was my semi stable reality. I thought I was doing okay. I saw no reason to reopen those old, pulsating wounds. I felt they had been stitched up adequately enough.

Continue reading “How Sweet the Sound”

Gone. But never forgotten.

When I received a phone call informing me my abuser had died, I can’t remember if sorrow or relief won as my initial emotion.

I would like to say it was sorrow. Maybe to make myself appear as if I’m not completely desensitized to the death of someone I loved. I honestly believe it was relief that flooded me first though. Relief and then anger. Sorrow coming in a distant third.

Anger because there would never be any closure for the death of my childhood. No apologies for what was taken from me. How do you mourn the murder of innocence? Put to rest the death of what I could have been?

I do strongly believe that sexual predators cannot apologize for their actions. They do not feel that they did anything wrong and build their lives on lies and manipulation. Admitting guilt or feeling apologetic for any acts they have committed is not part of what makes them tick. Even knowing that, there will always be a part of me that yearns for that admission of guilt. Knowing I would never receive that closure made my hatred come back full force, regardless of whether or not those words would have come when he was alive.

 

I still don’t know how to mourn his passing, though it has been well over a year since he has been gone. None of what I have expressed above negates the fact that I did love this person. The emotions expressed by others that it was better for him to be gone or that his lack of remorse should release me of my feelings of sadness did nothing to lessen the fact that it was incredibly painful for me to say goodbye. That was my reality and it was valid, regardless of how others may have felt when they experienced the news of his death.

The rational adult that is somehow able to coherently express any of this will always be at odds with the scared and defenseless little girl that just wanted someone to save her. To love her without hurting her. That child will always miss her father. The woman writing this now is grateful he is gone. Feels safer knowing he will never be able to hurt anyone again. Both of those feelings are valid and neither is easy to live with.

The Void

Originally published April 4, 2018

“It is not easy to stay conscious during a painful and frightening process. We would rather turn away, drug ourselves, or feign indifference. It requires a delicate blend of curiosity, fortitude, and patience to trust in the wisdom and the purpose of pain.” ~ Elizabeth Lesser

I would like to try to explain the place I have been over the last several months.

I sometimes refer to it as the dark.

The Dark is the place I find myself falling into time and time again, no matter how well it seems I am moving through life. Appearances are deceiving when it comes to my particular type of self-loathing. I’m a superb actress. I can nod and smile, say all the right things and go through all the appropriate motions when inside I feel absolutely nothing.

I can never predict when the dark will take over.

Sometimes it is an obvious buildup of emotional exhaustion, fear, anxiety and illness. Sometimes it stems from lack of sleep and a general feeling of not being seen or heard or appreciated. Sometimes it is isolation or loneliness. Usually though, it takes me with no warning and no obvious explanation. It hits and consumes me, completely and devastatingly and I’m no good for anyone, especially myself.

Saying the dark is scary is inaccurate and doesn’t give it the justice it deserves. I can’t feel terror when I’m there because I don’t feel anything. I’m sure there are myriad clinical terms for the dark. Medically accurate, professionally studied and justifiably applied terms. Labels like disassociation, bi-polar, mood dysregulation, PTSD, depression. The list created to pacify the mass population by “naming” the dark could fill volumes, but calling it something doesn’t make it better and telling me what it may be does nothing to help lift the veil. To bring me back when I’m there.

Success does nothing to break down the wall.

If anything it makes it worse. “Who are you to think you deserve anything good?” my shadow self asks. My only companion in the dark. The other me that knows who I really am. A used up kid, already worn out and damaged before I was 10 years old. Worthless.

Past experiences in the void have taught me that the only way out is to self-destruct in some way. To negate any positive growth I have managed to precariously scrape together. To destroy any positive I have managed to create in the worst way possible. To feel hatred for myself is to feel something and that is when the first pinprick of light finds me.

I know how dysfunctional this sounds and yet I also know from years of intimate time spent in this place that the worst must be honored before I can come to the surface long enough to hope to feel the best again.

I don’t like this part of myself.

This person lost and willing to do anything, no matter how painful, to bring me back so that I can smile and laugh and make others feel better. To love and not feel a black void. To have faith that I’m worth not being in this place. I don’t want to stay stuck in the dark for so long that I embrace it as permanent, never able to care again about being productive and available and present. Not able to make a difference. I hope that expressing it honestly helps me to come back in a semi positive way and that anyone reading this who can relate knows they are not alone.