Anger

Where am I today? I am at a point in my recovery/healing journey where I just have to be honest. I cannot hide from those who love me. I cannot downplay the depth of feelings. I cannot be afraid to show my fears and anxieties. I am at a point where the rubber meets the road, and this all becomes real. I can no longer live in a state of denial or semi-denial. It’s the time where I have to say it over and over, I was trained and sold. I was a slave. I was trafficked. I was forced to do things that no person, let alone a child, should ever have to do.

I am at the point where I have to trust in bits and pieces, that those who are in my life want to know all of me. They want to know me even on the bad days. They are not afraid of the darkness because it has always been there and it is not me. They may choose to put up boundaries for their own sake but that is not a rejection of me. They really do love me, and by choosing continuously to deny them access to my life, I am shutting off the very reason I have undertaken this journey. I want love. I want to love, and to be loved. I want intimacy between relationships, not in the sense of a physicality, but in the sense of two souls sharing life.

I am coming to terms with two realities that I am facing. I am angry. It’s ok to be angry. I have misunderstood anger my whole life, and it took this process to even see it. Last week, I discovered that my latest bout with emotional numbness had nothing to do with sadness, fear, or a new memory. My numbness came because of anger. I couldn’t figure out why without my counselor’s help. He helped to put words to it, but mostly he helped to slow down and really try to track the emotions to where the hang ups were in my past. When I thought of anger, I saw in my mind the cold cruelty of w who enjoyed my pain. When I thought of anger, I saw in my mind the uncontrolled verbal rage of my dad. Those were options when I thought of anger, and, in defense, my mind didn’t want to be either one so it chose to go numb.

Neither of those is true anger. Anger is not rage. Anger is not cruelty. Anger is not pain. Anger is a proper response to injustice. It is a righteous response to handle those situations in life where injustice happens, from bullying to cruelty. Anger is about standing up and speaking out in this world. It is not meant to be a weapon used against one another. Anger is not an emotion to fear; it is a path to courage. Anger is not about tearing down another or proving my point. Anger states that is wrong, it is not ok, and it must be fixed. Anger can change the world especially when tempered with love for myself and also for all those who are my neighbors, near and far. A neighbor is not a physical description, but an emotional one.

I have found as I journey that my family is more vast than I have every been able to appreciate. As the walls fall, as my heart breaks and heals, as my mind is opened, as the scar tissue falls away, I am able to see how full my life has truly become.

I am angry and it is a thing of beauty.

Turtle is my spirit animal

I would love to say my spirit is a tiger or a mountain lion, an eagle or a hawk, a deer or a horse, but they are not realistic. I am a turtle in pretty much every way. I have carried my home with me everywhere with the baggage as well. I retreat within my walls at the slightest provocation. I am soft and gentle wrapped within a shell that can withstand any force. I survive. I know how to do that.
I have survived by hiding and keeping secrets my whole life. I have hidden the secrets so far within myself that finding the roots of my fears and worries is like going on an archaeological dig Indiana Jones style, only it’s all adrenaline and very little of what most people would call reward. My rewards are tears streaming down my face as I speak words no little girl should ever know. My rewards come in torrents of memories that beat my mind and body and spirit as I trip through my acceptance journey. Rewards are days when I am fully present at an everyday event, and even when I am triggered I do not retreat but allow others to see my reality. Rewards are experiencing the wide variance of emotions and not just the extremes.
I have carried my safety with me since I was little afraid to set aside the thick protection crafted from my survival. There has really never been a person I have allowed past more than a few layers. There are layers upon layers built upon each other until my shell is diamond strength from years of pressure and fire. I cannot even penetrate the depths of my heart. The secrets even hide from me. I seek them out, and pursue them one by one. I chase the roots of my pain to find the end that I may rip out the poison and release a little more of the light shine in the dark. My shell is not as whole as it was once. I have opened many wounds and ripped the roots from deep inside. I still carry my shell, and seek to retreat within whenever my heart or pain is exposed.
I have recently begun sharing my truth. I have told several people I was trained for sex at the age of 4 and trafficked by my Pastor and his wife. I say the words or type them in a forum, and as soon as they react, I must run away. It is not that I am not heard or that they are not supportive. It is that I cannot believe they believe. Why would they believe? How could they believe? How could they say my how that must have been hard? How could they believe it was bad? It couldn’t have been that bad. It wasn’t that bad. I would rather deny my own validation, my own truth than believe it is on par with all survivors truth. I run from it. The more I speak, the more my heart runs wild wanting to escape. Secrets have been my life. But secrets are not easy to hold, and they become heavier with the passing of time.
I am the Turtle inching my way forward in my recovery and my healing. I am slow and steady. I am brave. I walk forward not able to see very far, taking each step in hope and faith that I am going the right way. I am strong from carrying this weight for so long, and I am able to handle the work as hard as it is to face. I still carry my walls with me, but there are fewer than ever before. My journey is continuing with each truth told, and the love I am shown in return, even when I run from that love. There will come a day where I will stand and take that love and accept it as my own. That love will be more worthy of my time than all of the secrets I have carried for too long. That love is lighter than air and relieves the force of what has been holding me down all these years.
My spirit animal is a turtle, and it truly is a thing of beauty.

Ownership

**TRIGGER WARNING**

 

One of the ideas that I have struggled with the most this past year is that I was a slave. I was owned. Words that are hard enough to type and still stumble and bumble off of my tongue. My heart clenches, my hands shake, and my mind screams NOOOOOOOO every time I delve into this subject in therapy or on my own. I still ask how? why?  Questions for which I will never really have answers.

We lost our home when I was about 4, and my happy little family ended up in the care of our pastor and his wife. I’ll call them W, wife, and P, pastor. We had been a part of this small church since before I was born. As an adult, I have had many conversations with my parents about the circumstances of being a part of this church and to my understanding, like any abusive relationship, W and P didn’t start off with control of my parent’s lives and by proxy mine. They made them doubt themselves, what they thought, what the believed, until all decisions went through W and P for approval.

The long story short, we found ourselves living in the crowded parsonage with W and P and several others. I was left there a good bit while my parents both worked.  don’t think they had to put a lot of work into the grooming process, for now, I’ll say maybe a week or two, to break the initial barriers and teach me to keep their secrets behind the mask they helped me create. A couple of weeks to undermine my faith in my parents ability to rescue me. A couple of weeks to turn me inward, so I would never look outward and see hope. It took them a bit longer to break my spirit.

In the beginning, I fought every demand every time, and then I fought only in the mornings or until right after lunch. Then I stopped fighting all together, there was no point. There were no superheroes or anyone else to notice. W and P trained me in all the ways they preferred to be serviced. I would have to earn my meals, sometimes each bite. I would have to earn the right to go to the bathroom, and sometimes that was their way of punishing me. Humiliating and shaming a child so young is really not hard when they are not seen as anything more than a plaything. W and P could be particularly evil in their punishments because they did not want to leave obvious marks for my parents to notice, one of their favorites was leaving me in cold water in the bath tub.

Along the time that I stopped fighting is the time I learned to stare my way into paintings that adorned the walls of every room. It did not always work, as they derived a lot of pleasure out of my reactions. They would make me come back by pinching, cold water, or simply smacking me every time my eyes would glaze or stare into the distance. They wanted me to look at them, in their eyes, at all times as they had their way. Sometimes they wanted the tears, sometimes they wanted the whimpers, sometimes they wanted faked cries of pleasure. My job was to figure it out if I ever wanted that particular activity to end.

I soon learned that I was not to be just for their use. I was trained in how to do many things because I was to be special. I don’t remember the cost paid for my services in dollars and cents, I do know the pieces of me that were carved and walled off from the rest of me in order to survive. I was special, this girl I became for them, the girl who was not a girl but a construct of their will and desires.

As I come to terms with these memories, I have come to realize the number of times that I still behaved as if my value could only be derived in services whether cooking, cleaning, volunteering, or time sacrificed for others. I couldn’t and wouldn’t do it for me because I was invisible and unworthy of this effort. I couldn’t derive value from my own services because my only value was the worth to others. I have had to withdraw from so many things not because of what I was doing or for who, but because my mindset was all wrong. The activities, the things I chose to do with my time, were draining me of everything because I was still becoming whatever was needed without ever seeing that what was needed was me. I have been a chameleon my whole life, and I didn’t even know it.

I am discovering me. I am claiming ownership over myself. They sold my body, but they did not own it. They stole it for their uses. I am learning what I really feel, think, like, and love. I am finding love for myself. Healing comes slowly, and often with a great many tears. Healing comes from the inside out, and the ache it brings is often difficult to bear because with it comes the acceptance that my skewed view of my reality needs to change. It does change. It becomes clearer with each click of memory in place, each understanding of what happened and how it links to my now, and each time I choose to love and accept myself.

Thank you, until next time……

Day 1

I have wanted to start this blog for quite a while, and I find that now that I am here it is harder than I expected. Why am I here, writing a blog? I am a writer. It is one of the few things I have known about myself with little doubt. I am also trying to come to terms with severe abuse from my early childhood. I am able to talk about and share my recovery journey with my friends and family to a shallow extent, but there are a lot of things that I downplay or just don’t talk about because I feel it would hurt them.  I still have not been able to share what happened to me while in the care of those they trusted.

It started coming back to me last year. I had been through therapy before because of some abuse when I was a teenager and adult. As soon as the memories started to surface, my emotions lost all sense of reason. My body started to feel like it was beyond my control. My depression resurfaced almost immediately throwing me into a trench where I could not see the light of day. Flashbacks overtook my present making even the simplest task nearly impossible. My health got worse and worse. I got help right away this time, and yet I was still unprepared for what I was about to uncover about my own life.

These were different from anything I had ever known. I couldn’t talk about it from my perspective, I could only say she or the little girl. I didn’t want to associate with what I was seeing, hearing, or feeling. I didn’t want to believe the things I remembered. I didn’t want to feel the emotions. I started to shut down. I stopped being able to do all of the things that I used to do.  It felt like I could barely breathe through all the pain.

I kept moving, kept going, kept shoving it down. I still went to therapy, and I would purge the poisonous memories each week, but I did not want them to be mine. I kept asking my counselor if I was crazy. I didn’t want to believe my own mind, my own body, my own experience. I didn’t want this to be my tale. I had known that I had been molested from the time I was 11 or 12. I had known I had been raped at 17 and then again as an adult. The things I remembered at this point were far harder for me to deal with then the memories I had always known.

I don’t want to diminish my experiences from when I was an older child because I have come to understand that abuse is abuse. I cannot deny the long term effects these few experiences had on me. The new stuff, the new memories were far more numerous. There were now hours upon hours, days, weeks, years that chronicled the breaking of a child’s mind, body, and spirit all without my parents noticing. All without me remembering. The child forgot in order to be a child when she was finally free. The child was me. I was broken intentionally by adults who didn’t give a whit about me as a person, but only saw me as  a thing to be used and sold and traded.

I almost gave up when I finally reached that level of acceptance after months and months of denial. It took over a month of therapy twice a week, staying in touch with my family doctor, and quitting pretty much all extra-curricular activities before I reached a point where I could live with the knowledge.  It’s still quite suffocating at times. My mind will shut down now when it gets to be too much. Some days my mind shuts down and shuts off my emotions at the drop of a hat, and other times I make it to the level of understanding before it gives me a break.

I found twitter while scouring the internet for any and all resources dealing with childhood sexual trauma. I found Trauma Recovery University, and I joined Twitter for the Monday night Q&A. I find I need community, and I need to know that my experiences while unique to me and my story does not mean I am alone in this world. I can and do find healing in a chorus of me toos on a you tube video or twitter feed, even in my anonymity.

This is my blog about the truth of my reality as I rarely get to share it, without censorship by me or others, in my preferred format, writing.

Thank you for reading.