After writing publicly for more than a year, I received the first blog comment that attempted to deny the truth of my story. I have never received these comments because I am telling the truth. Truth is easy to spot. Survivors know it. Clinicians know it. Everyone knows it. And honestly, why would I make this up. Why would I leave my entire extended family, raise my children without any familial support and write for hours each week for no pay? If I wanted attention, there are millions of more pleasant approaches I could take. I am a good writer. I could write a parenting book. And I have always wanted to work on my singing voice. I would love to win a Nobel Peace Prize too. If I wanted revenge, what would I want revenge for? Abuse?
When I first read the comment, I was a little confused. The commenter claimed to have a Ph.D, but they were making uneducated statements. And why would they care enough to take the time to write a comment denying my understanding of my abuse? Why would they care? And if they cared so much, why did they leave an email address that was fake? And why would they make up a name like Georgia England? And why do their comments sound exactly like my own family’s denial of my abuse?
Sometimes I receive emails from acquaintances I knew in my early years. They usually start by expressing their deep concern for me and what I went through. Each message like this is healing because validation and concern for my situation was something I desperately needed as a child. But their next questions are more challenging. “Should I have known?” “How did I miss the signs?” The answer has always eluded me. I really have no response.
I know I was an extremely anxious teenager and young adult. Even when my children were toddlers, I remember having panic attacks. Anyone who was paying attention would have noticed I was anxious. However, most people aren’t paying attention. That is why this work is sometimes referred to as “building awareness”. In addition, there are so many anxious people in the world. And in high school, I am sure I behaved like the average teen. Continue reading →
After a childhood of severe abuse, I am a walking web of defense mechanisms. The most destructive mechanisms were developed when I was a younger child. Because of their devastating impact on my adult life, it was absolutely critical that I identify and work with these defenses. The most notable defense was the dissociative response which manifested as memory repression. From the point of repression, my unconscious past ruled my life. And it was as disastrous as it sounds.
I also learned some other helpful tips as a child. I learned to hide who I really am and what I really want. I learned to meet the needs of others while ignoring my own needs. I learned to ignore all feelings. Emotions were definitely a problem in my childhood. I numbed out. It was the safest and best response to an abusive childhood from which I had no escape. Continue reading →
There is a problem with the human experience. We don’t have a point of reference. We have only known one reality. And that one reality may not be the best way to live a life. I am finding that despite all of my efforts to recover, and the progress I have made, I still have some habits that aren’t healthy. They aren’t conscious habits. In fact, I didn’t know they were a problem. But lately, I am starting to realize that I need to make changes … fundamental changes to the way I live.
First, I have to start breathing. I know that sounds a little crazy. I rarely think about it. I don’t think many people do. But I don’t breathe … not really anyway. I probably use about 10% of my lung capacity. I know there are several reasons for this. When I was a colicky baby, my father would suffocate me to stop my crying. I was also strangled a few times during my childhood. As a defense mechanism, I learned to take in as little air as possible. As a child, it seemed like a good way to stay alive. If I am not breathing, but still living, nobody can hurt me by taking away my ability to breathe. It seemed reasonable. Continue reading →