Tomorrow, June 1, is World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day and the hashtag #IfMyWoundsWereVisible is the rally cry of us survivors. For each of us, the recovery journey is entirely unique, and yet the similarities and the choruses of me toos cannot be denied despite how much our abusers want us to feel utterly alone. This is my journey and my story about my wounds and what might have been and still what can be.
#IfMyWoundsWereVisible, my skin would be scar tissue on top of scar tissue. Her words were so long ago, and yet they have resounded through my mind and my body every minute of every day since they were voiced. W was my beginning as a survivor. Her cruelty knew no bounds, and her words were sharper than any knife. She was not just satisfied by speaking the words herself; it was far more pleasing to her ears to have me repeat the horrible words over and over during each punishment. So, her voice speaking of my mistakes, frailties, weaknesses, humiliations, and idiocy has been replaced my own. Long after I had hidden the memories so I could live, the words still rang throughout my life in my own voice.
#IfMyWoundsWereVisible, you would not question why I find it so hard to stand up and speak with confidence on even the most basic of things like my name. You would not wonder why I shake and tremble in a room full of loud noises that overwhelm my senses to the point I cannot determine whether I am really in danger or not. You would understand why the simplest failure and fault in my memory makes me want to hide instead of stand and continue. You would know why I both prefer to remain unnoticed and crave to be loved and accepted.
#IfMyWoundsWereVisible, my heart would be laid bare before you. There are no secrets when the wounds are seen. It would not be just a matter of vulnerability, but a level of truth that even the most honest person cannot achieve. You would know my shame. You would see my pain and my despair. You would witness the strength of will, hope, and faith it takes for me to do everything. You would also know my empathy for your pain is real and not just empty words from an empty vessel.
#IfMyWoundsWereVisible, you would know that you are not alone. We would know that we are not alone. I would know that I am not alone. The greatest weapon, the greatest lie, and the hardest wound to heal is the one of isolation. The secrets kept on behalf of our abusers force us to put up walls and barriers with the outside world. Without those walls, it would be too easy to slip and tell. Those walls and barriers protect us from others noticing our pain, our horror, our stories. Our cages are forged with secret upon secret, lie upon lie, and fear upon fear until the world around us is at such a distance it feels like we cannot be seen or heard. I feel like I cannot be seen or heard. I feel like I don’t even belong in this world, like I cannot touch it, or taste it, or feel it for the distance is too great.
#IfMyWoundsWereVisible, I could cry the healing tears that I so often deny. I will hold them back, hold them in until I am fit to explode because who am I. I have no value. My pain is small, it doesn’t matter. I look and see the pain around me, and the words I speak to my damaged heart are not ones of kindness. The words I speak to my damaged heart are words of blistering criticism. How dare you break? what is wrong with you, my heart, that you cannot just move on. If I could see for myself, I could not deny my own damage. I could find the healing in the tears, in feeling the pain, in acknowledging and accepting, that I can release it all and begin to put those pieces into a beautiful mosaic of the love I so desire.
#IfMyWoundsWereVisible, I would have been a little girl. I could have been a child. My innocence would not have been perverted because their secrets would not have been kept. It rarely starts with the physical pain. It begins with the words. Its always the words that snake and sneak deep inside of us laying eggs on the way into the inner sanctum of who we are in our core. The eggs hatch and spread laying roots that twist and twine with other roots becoming stronger as they are reinforced over and over. If the words are not a secret, then the actions that follow are not either. I lived a double life. My life with W filled with pain and humiliation and things that have words that I wish I didn’t know. I also lived a life with my parents and brother where my mom used all the voices in the bed time stories, and my dad would carry me on his shoulders and in his arms of strong protection. I could not have carried the secrets from my dark life into my light life.
#IfMyWoundsWereVisible, I would not be who I am. I will not trade who I am because there is good that has come from my hell. I will find my voice that I may stand for you so your wounds may be visible where mine were not. I will be resilient and strong for a future where the wounds won’t have to be visible because it will be a different place. I am a survivor, and today that is enough for me. Today, the weight is not so heavy I cannot breathe. This moment is not so bad and that is because in this moment you can see, and it is not a question of #IfMyWoundsWereVisible. You can see the wounds; you can see me.
Until next time, thank you, and good night.