“No Tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.”Carl Jung
I have never been as connected to the girl I once was as I have over the past year.
However, this week was a hard week, I was overwhelmed with my 2 kids’ birthday parties, with work stress, with dishes and dogs. I was also potentially ‘triggered’ (I hate that word) by a movie I watched that had some pretty intense yet empowering themes of sexual abuse.
My body ran for days on what felt like a different frequency, on high alert, I knew it wasn’t me, not really and I knew that I’d been so good for the past year that something else was at play.
My body vibrated as though it was ready for a fight, or to run away with arms flailing in the wind. I could not control how it felt or the way my heart raced in my chest at any given time, nor could I control the feeling of dread and longing for the new kind of normalcy I had recently discovered. I was in fight or flight mode.
You see, I spent most of my life in this constant state of hyper alertness, my body ran on nervous tension and anxiety because of the trauma it endured all those years ago.
When I was a kid, I used to tell myself, “This is happening for a reason because everything happens for a reason”, I also told myself “What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger” and as cliché as that might be, it’s true.
A few days ago, I’d finally had enough of how I felt, I was crying for ‘no reason’ (theres always a reason) for a few days in a row and I was terrified my C-PTSD had forgotten the memo about it being no longer part of me.
So, I went and sat in the shower, closed my eyes and began my meditation, it didn’t take long before I was transported to what felt like a different time.
I was present in 4 main instances of my abuse, aged almost 6, 8, 10 and maybe about 11 or 12.
I sit by each girl, one by one, letting them know I am here even though they see right through me. I stroke their hair and sit or lay by them, letting them know they are not alone.
But one of the visits in my mediation has really stuck with me.
It is the first time my ex-step-father abused me.
I sit at the head of the bed, looking down at the little girl before me, her tangle blonde hair strewn across the pillow, a tangle that her mother frequently battles with. It’s all but dark if not for the crack of light peering through the door, I look over to where her mother sleeps deeply, breathing quietly in the double bed beside her.
I feel sad and desperation for all I know they still have to endure.
I look back down at the girl and she stirs in her sleep, not for dreaming but for the man that is crouched in his navy-blue dressing gown beside her bed abusing her small body.
She has woken, but she does not dare look at the monster that comes in the night.
I stoke her hair attentively as though she were my own and warmth fills me.
I place my face close to her forehead to whisper words I had not prepared. Quietly I tell her; “This is not your forever, one day this will mean something” over and over again until her heart stops racing, until her fear subsides despite what is being done to her.
As suddenly as it all starts it is over and I am back in the shower crying tears I didn’t know I was crying. I feel the tension drain from my body and a new energy takes its place.
It’s soft, kind, and forgiving.
I know how wanky it sounds and it’s all rather intense, but the part of this that stuck with me are the words I spoke to her/me.
So, I pulled them apart a little.
This is not your forever.
I am right, this was not my forever, this does not have to be anyone’s forever, and our forever has come so far that we have a forever now, there was a time in my life that I didn’t think I’d make it to almost 34, if it wasn’t for all this, I have no doubt I’d have done something stupid by now. It was not forever, the abuse did end, I did do the work to get better. I now have forever.
One day this will mean something.
Now,I know that survivors of abuse generally don’t enjoy phrases like “It all happen for a reason”, I don’t really mesh well with that either.
But… eventually all that I went through meant something to me.
What did it mean?
1. It meant that I had to work on my self-esteem and self-worth; because a woman’s true contentedness relies a lot on how she feels about herself.
2. I had to work on my relationships; because my idea of healthy relationships and friendships was skewed by my needing to serve people, emotionally and sexually, I had no boundaries, I didn’t know how to say no.
3. I had to work on my addictions; my trauma had spiralled me into a bit of a drinking problem, which eventually lead to prescription painkiller abuse, there’s a lot of strength to be gained in giving up something that make you feel ‘better’ before you are actually better.
4. I had to work on my skills as a mother; I became a mother far before I’d started even accepting what had happened or working on my trauma, I was unable to be present or a true comfort for my children as I was often depressed or running on high alert which made me irritable and aggressive and disassociated.
5. I had to work on my physical body; because nothing fucks with your body image as much as thinking its only there for someone else’s sexual desires at 5 years old. I had to start a whole new path with it and in time learnt how it functions, or doesn’t, and its’ cycles. I had to consider my diet and nutrition, and over time realised how much of the foods I ate was to comfort myself, not to fuel myself.
6. I had to work on my spiritual self; when you feel as though you don’t know who you are because your memories are either missing or just plain old traumatic, you kinda lose a sense of self. So, I had to start seeking answers that no one else could give me. I started meditation a year ago and it was one of the most helpful things for my healing that I could have done for myself. And the more I’ve done it, obviously, I’ve found more of the answers I was looking for.
7. I had to work on my sexual self; This is a big one, I love sex now but whileI had C-PTSD sex was nothing but difficult for obvious reasons. My husband andI pretty much had to reintroduce my mind and body to sex all over again. And when you finally get that sorted it does amazing things for your self-esteem, your body and your spiritual self.
While enduring Trauma as a child was incredibly damaging for so many areas of my life, now that I’m at the other end I can see so clearly that this is life. And this difficult life taught me lessons I may not have learnt in such a short time, or ever and continues to do so. Had I never endured the trauma, I may not have tried harder to be a better mother, wife, friend or lover.
I may never had had the opportunities I have had for personal growth and for that I am strangely grateful.
Do the work.