When forced against my will as a child to suffer egregious acts upon my body, over and over, at any time the attacker felt like it, then afterwards (for life) forced by other members of the family to keep quiet about it because it makes them uncomfortable or ashamed if it leaked out… what does that do the little girl attacked?
I can tell you. It leaks out anyway in the form of sarcasm, of remarks disguised as OK but holding all sorts of hidden meanings even to me. Being judgmental and critical also keeps others at bay. It has taken decades to begin to look at what my real feelings are, or who I really want to be, then be her.
It is a hard job when so much of my life had to hidden away, hidden from me too. My mother once said while raising my boys, “This is the best time of your life.” She could read me even when not wanting to be read. And much of those years were fraught with depression, struggle, and great anxiety, an anxiety that has followed me doggedly.
But she was wrong. Those years were the hardest. To be there for my kids when I couldn’t be there for myself? When my safe place was zoning out, what others call more appropriately, disassociation. It never felt safe to be present because what else might happen?
But my sons gave me purpose and kept me fighting, if not for me, at least for them. Once grown it is possible to see that something must have been done right amidst all the wrongs, because they are the most empathetic, sweet, hard-working human beings as any of the best.
But it is only now these past few years where I’ve felt peace, and that maybe, just maybe, I am of value, and really feel OK. Delving honestly into my odd behaviors, which often are still quite adolescent in nature, I am able to look more kindly at my flaws and quirks.
When looking at what is really there with compassion, acceptance and gentleness, the possibilities of self-love, then changing or growing into a deeper, wiser, version of myself occurs. Looking, exploring, accepting what is seen with open eyes, and loving myself anyway…. instead of running, that is the path to peace and freedom. Acceptance.
It has not been easy. The gunk had to scraped out, but first talked about. To begin to talk about what the family had deemed taboo, was near impossible and took great courage. Family, who speak of love, yet confine me to a tomb of silence. Is that love?
But forging ahead, year after year, my insides that had rotted from what they did and what I had been forced to contain, came up bit by bit. My tender interior bled with loss, and grief over what had been stolen. Who I was, or was meant to be? Gone. She shattered at the first attack when no one came to stop the internal bleed. I was left to sop up the mess myself. And it needed mopping up for the next 60 years.
The work doesn’t stop, it just changes, from survival, to keeping the peace.