I’ve written many posts about my PTSD (childhood sexual abuse); which was a ‘dirty little secret.’ Have you ever held on to secrets for years and years?
Also, who are we protecting? The abuser? Our parents or caretakers who were supposed to be caring for us? Why were we supposed to be the ones to “keep the secret”? We did nothing wrong. Seems so unfair and convoluted, doesn’t it?
As I recollect my past, at around eight years old, as my friends and I freely played in our front yard, the evil predator would either sit next door on his veranda, relaxing, puffing on his cigarette or in the driveway repairing whatever under the hood of his old car.
I felt panicked for both my friends and me, wanting so badly to warn them of this sexual deviant and express to them of the sexual abuse at the hands of this man, yet at the same time felt compelled to “keep the secret.” I had a secret; an ugly little secret, to something that I didn’t cause – or did I?
There was the distressing apology, forced by my parents to blurt out and recite with sincerity to this predator for abusing ME. That sincerity was met with confusion and bewilderment while apologizing to this revolting man, wondering how I wronged him in the first place. All kinds of feelings swished around: hate, helplessness, and frankly, I was humiliated. My parents, warning me, never to tell anyone about this.
A 30-year-old man is forcing sex on a child. Would that warrant an apology?
Perplexing and head-scratching also was permitting this predator into our home for Sunday dinners. What were my parents thinking? Were they attempting to soothe the predator’s feelings for being wrongly accused or attempting to “keep the peace” between neighbors? In hindsight, I suppose so.
Seated directly across from him, as he eagerly gulped down his Sunday meal, I would gaze down at my supper sensing a stomach turning into knots. Most times I felt like spitting out the food and vomiting, or screeching my brains out, but, I was a well-mannered little girl sitting wordlessly.
That was the obstacle, I was a noble little girl and kept this ‘dirty little secret,’ not uttering a word to anyone. Who was I protecting?
Later, throughout my high school years, I endured silence about the sexual abuse. The memories dwindled slightly. However, there were signs that impacted my life with inexplicable suicidal thoughts, bouts of depression, the absence of self-worth, and self-esteem. I continually felt guilty, dirty, shameful, and filled with self-blame.
The ‘secret’ disclosed its facade in my personality also; I reflect in clinical terms a “C” Cluster type personality. Sensitive, with the lack of confidence and worse of all, never believe you’re good enough; forever looking at the negative side of me, and never anticipating a positive future.
I felt degraded and most of all betrayed.
Years passed by, then unexpectedly flashbacks initiated by triggers. I enlisted therapy (from an inexperienced therapist), which wasn’t the wisest idea, and the beginning of the descent into hell.
This started the ball rolling on a new life; a black, muddy life spent the better part in hospitals, followed by suicide attempts, ECTs and a myriad of medications. Earlier posts will explain.
Any of us who have traveled through the therapy journey to conquer our demons were dealt a crappy set of cards.
It’s been a long, long healing journey, and with an Experienced Trauma Therapist, I was able to deal with sexual abuse. In my opinion, if you can talk about your abuse without falling apart or bursting into tears, then you have healed enough in your journey to at least function. I consider myself a survivor, yet I still have moments of triggers, but less often.
This journey was a long road, almost 20 years for myself. Upon discovering the catalyst of my suicidal ideation and preoccupation with dying, depression and worthless feelings, I found that they were primarily instigated by my narcissistic mother.
The harmful emotional abuse from her stinging words, lack of empathy and constant criticisms have had such an impact on my life. I question which abuse was worse. Sexual or emotional?
I decided to go NO CONTACT with my mother for five years and it’s been five years of bliss!
We are all Warriors and Survivors!
Written and copyrighted by Deb McCarthy (March/2019)