So much is taken when a child is sexually abuse by a loved one, family friend, or anyone the child knows well and trusts. Of course the same is true if it’s a stranger but that is not usually the case.
Her world as she knew it stops. Trust- stops. Innocence? Gone. Of the many damaging aspects that follows me throughout life, some have lessened others increase. The constant feeling that anything going on is somehow my fault has mostly lessened.
That is called personalization. Google’s definition of the term in psychology: Cognitive distortions are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions — telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves.
It feels like living in a bad, dark box of wrongness. This feeling can descend at any time but I have learned to look at how the other person adds to the situation and often is more the cause of the problem than I am. I have learned to be on my side. I try to chase that thinking off quickly but sometimes get stuck and need help to like myself again and feel OK.
This is hard. I still feel locked in and remind myself often, You are free. You are free to feel, think and respond as you really do feel and think. Living within the confines of the silence that ‘family’ required is a box I still find myself punching my way out of. Just who am I? And how do I really feel? And what do I really think, even if it doesn’t please another?
PSTD responses continue, adrenaline rushes only a moment away. Anxiety an ongoing issue. Tiredness from living a life filled with too much cortisol being expelled on a daily basis due to the startle response, often several times daily, has depleted my body’s reserves.
There is a limited amount of energy available each day. This is a chronic permanent issue very hard to accept which means there’s a tendency to overdo because of a craving to keep up with others.
One of most disturbing aspects is the loss of my voice, taken at age 8 never to be found again…not really. Bits and pieces pop back when that voice surprises me when I firmly say, NO, or speak up naturally from my gut. But too often I am mute. I can speak up later on the phone, email or in a letter. Safer.
And why not? I was taught to love those who attacked me and to say nothing. I learned I didn’t matter, didn’t count and was less than. That is when the feeling of always being wrong took root…and grew as I grew. Roots have a way of never fully coming out. If I spoke up the risk is abandonment and loss of family, the only people a child has.
So I try to accept the frustrating fact that even at age 64 my voice for myself is often mute when I need to be very vocal in advocating for myself. I can be ferocious for others, like my children when growing up, but not for myself.
The work of being gentle with myself towards this very real loss that didn’t occur by my doing and other grievous losses continues. A gentle approach opens up an internal richness that offers softness, warmth and acceptance.