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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I realized last night that I rarely agonize anymore, over the things that used to keep me up at night. In the past I would post fairly regularly about the things that happened to me at the hands of my cousin. A couple of times I went into more detail about the actual events--those posts were left visible for awhile and then removed. I suppose I felt that the information in them are not the things I wish for people to remember about me, but however briefly, I wanted it known. Often I have discussed the aftermath of abuse--what I have lived with and things I now encounter as a consequence of rape and related experiences. Those linger, and some days are better than others, but they do not go away.

So life has become a series of learning to recognize symptoms. If I notice the bothersome emotions, or identify behaviors of others which trigger them, and take steps to deal with those things in the early stages, life moves fairly smoothly as my feelings remain level. If I ignore them, I become frightened, certain that I will be betrayed or hurt, but with no logical sequence of events to validate those feelings. Their illogical basis becomes one more catalyst for paranoia and I begin to experience severe side-effects which spiral quickly out of control. It sucks, to say the least.

Lately I've noticed that my blog entries have focused on the above mentioned phenomenon. Therapist reminded me last week that I should not lose sight of the reasons those things occur. He said if I say, "I have PTSD. I'll focus on learning to manage that in my life," without remembering why I have it, eventually I'll make PTSD the villain in my life and the reasons for managing it will seem less compelling, rote, purposeless. It's not that he's encouraging me to dwell on the acts which brought PTSD into my life. He's simply reminding me that this is an after-effect of something real, and as much as I'd like to forget the real events, doing so will never help me heal completely.

I've often believed that those who read my blog will forget, in time, the real reason for it's origin. I wanted to tell the world what had happened to a sad, hurting young girl. I wanted to shout it. I wanted to tell her story--but I wanted no one to know the shameful truth that the young girl was me. I have since recovered from feeling ashamed of the acts I did not ask for. Realizing that there was nothing I could do to prevent those acts both freed and enslaved me. I was not to blame for the abuse I endured--neither was I the master of my fate. I was, and always had been, vulnerable. I have since learned to live with the fact that I was once forced to bow to another's will, but I am now grown, and I understand how to recover and live.

In the process of my recovery, I have lost the constant need to tell my story. It has been repeated more than once, in many different circumstances. I have mentioned it to friends, siblings, and loved ones. I have had opportunity to briefly recount it from pulpits and in teaching settings. I do not dwell on details, nor do I reveal that the worst aspect of the abuse was the feeling of utter abandonment, the desire to have someone love me in my wretched state, that overwhelming need to be held and touched in a loving, healthy way. Those are things most people do not wish to know. They understand feelings of anger toward a young man or a mother who misused a young girl who wished nothing more than love from them. They understand wishing for retribution or vengeance. They do not understand that my true need lies beyond this. I need simply to know that there are people who will love without hurting me, who will never knowingly betray my trust, who can comfort me when the agony is nameless.

I told Tokien Boy last night that, in time, those who have come to my blog will forget the reason for its existence. They'll remember a story I've shared about my children, or a cartoon I posted, or something I mentioned that resonated in their own lives--a conflict at work, or a gospel principle I couldn't stop belaboring, or perhaps something about a plumber or Johnny Lingo. But they won't remember that the author of this blog once sat on the bare tiles of the bathroom floor, wrapped only in a towel, rocking herself because there was no one she trusted to comfort her, confused because her body was bleeding and wracked with pain, wishing there was someone--anyone--who would hold her and protect her, knowing that the next night she would be there again...

All who read this, statistically, have experienced sexual, physical, or emotional abuse. If they have not, they have a loved one who has, even if they are unaware of it. This will always be the case until we learn to safeguard and value each human life. And so, today, I will no longer agonize over my own experience. I will allow myself to continue to heal and become whole. But I will not forget. And here is what I hope those who think of my blog will remember:
1. A shattered life is not hopelessly broken.
2. Beauty can be found, always, even in the midst of pain and despair.
3. The human spirit can be unconquerable--but sometimes it needs to borrow strength from other human spirits.
4. No one should have a broken heart before age twelve.
5. Abusive behavior can find forgiveness, but never acceptance or tolerance.
6. Letting go of the past does not mean it didn't happen, it simply means one will not allow it to continue to taint the future.
7. Sometimes, when we're ready, a loving Father in Heaven leads us to the people who are willing to help bind our wounds, hold us in their arms, or just let us talk. There is no greater way to learn that just as human beings can hurt, so can they heal.
8. Nothing goes away. Something is always left behind to remind us of each event that happens in our lives.
9. Sometimes people need to rest. Some of the greatest acts of love shown to me, are when people who care about me have shared my burden briefly, and allowed me a moment of peace.
10. When I talk only of the funny, or the beautiful, or the smoothly running machine of my life, remember how far I have come, protect the people you love, and always offer to help heal a broken heart. And maybe one day there will only be tears of joy, and no more innocent girls or boys will be left confused and hurting--wishing for someone hold and protect them. Please don't forget. Never forget.

1 comment:

  1. This post reminds me a lot of holocausts. (Hitler's Regime, the Khmer Rouge, and certainly others I haven't heard about or don't remember right this second). I'm sorry if that seems an inappropriate comparison, but I don't believe it to be. Holocausts were when people were tortured and murdered. They're horrible to think about, but I think they're also necessary to think about.

    I think it's important to remember that things like that do happen and have happened. If we forget that, we may not be quick enough to keep them from happening again. That's part of why I read your blog when it was really horribly sad. Aside from the fact that you, as a writer, are so engaging, what you were saying is something I so seldom hear about first-hand. But sexual abuse happens so appallingly often and to so many people. It's important to hear from those who have suffered from it and it's important to remember that it still happens. So that we will do what we can to keep it from happening again.