The Price of Abuse

photo by Patricia

Price tag? One life.

Thinking back on my life, and looking at it now,  the wonder is how this place was achieved with so much trauma and anxiety ruling each day.  The power of one individual makes me take stock, but with a sense of sadness at what was stolen.

My life is worth admiration. Yet I’m not in it enough to appreciate that fact. There it is beside me as if I’m living that life apart from the real body and being. Retreating to my safe place is where I still go.

Though work occurs now to be present in the moment, it is work. At least now there is awareness that I go elsewhere.

A therapist once said, “Just show up.”

What did that mean? Years later, after the book, and delving into the community of women survivors of childhood sexual abuse blogging on-line, I learned there was a real clinical word to describe being apart from the body during trauma, and for some, long after. What I refer to as ‘zoning out’ is called dissociation.

It happened without my conscious knowledge. No therapist ever told me, or mentioned the word. This unconscious survival tool buffered me from any more taken from me because precious little was left; an ember burning for life, one spec of fire buried under rubble, a kernel of hope almost extinguished by the hands of brothers.

They didn’t mean it. They were messed up. I was an easy target. It was never about me. It was all about me. Rage and dissociation took my life. Yet the work was diligent to have a life, forging on to fight for one, pushing through no matter what. That takes lives too, draining the already over-taxed adrenals so much it could kill you.

At the least it has gobbled up energy stores, unlike most others around me who go, go, go. The body takes many hits for psychological pain, pointedly traumatic pain where the family requires silence. Unprocessed traumatic pain inflames all body systems damaging them permanently, alone with the psyche, and spirit. Emotional growth becomes stalled requiring much work and many years to catch up.

There are many outlets to this unconscionable  pain running deep in the bones of little girls growing to womanhood…  those take lives too.

You did not mean to take my life. Yet you did. And the guilt ate you dead. Though I envisioned ways to chop you up, I did not really wish you dead. I wanted to love you. I wanted you to love me. I wanted a loving family, with loving brothers. I wanted warmth. Connection. A body to be in. You took that. You didn’t mean to, but you did.


8 thoughts on “The Price of Abuse

  1. This really moved me. Dissociation was such a big part of my life – it still is at times. It was how I survived. It was my protection from losing myself completely. For decades I felt like my life had been stolen. My innocence definitely was. I thought that I would never get to live the life I was meant to live had the abuse never happened. I always wondered what I could have become if I hadn’t been so damaged. But, now, I feel like I do have a life – albeit a small and simple one. I am learning to chart a new course, ever expanding as I learn to break through my comfort zone and fears. The more I heal, the more I feel like I am a part of life, though I still zone out from time to time.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Every single word. ❤️ I can’t remember if I put it in a post or saved it for my book but I said that sexual abuse is akin to attempted murder. Having been a therapist for over a decade and witnessed a variety of traumas up close and personal the one thing I noticed time and again was how nothing seemed to destroy the human spirit quite like sexual abuse. That said, all of us are fighting for our lives in one way, shape or form. I tend to think that’s part of the gift in adversity, the thing which makes us strong.
    Before doing EMDR (a modern miracle, I think) I literally begged god for mercy from my symptoms. Like I’d had enough days stolen and wasted being terrified, having nightmares, having weird physical pains, panic attacks etc. that made it impossible to relax. It was hell in earth but now, the little extra piece I’m feeling is like …hope. I might be normal someday, haha.
    Thanks for having the courage to write this. It’s validation for so many suffering in silence, the kind of honesty that opens the door of freedom for our fellow survivors. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I was petrified to try it and until very recently didn’t have the insurance or access to see someone trained in EMDR. All I can say is, nothing else I’ve done or tried has given me this much peace and freedom.

        Liked by 1 person

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