I have always known that being open about my past leaves me vulnerable to sick and cruel or just plain ignorant people. I have had my share of evil comments here and I even had a stalker for a while. I handled them fine.
Just very recently, I wrote a short version of my past in response to something that warranted the explanation I gave. There was no response part from one brief comment. No one else commented until a woman did and all she could do was criticise my paragraphs! She said other things, all dismissive.
I cannot tell you how shaming it is to bare yourself like that only to have that sort of comment back. This type of ignorant cruelty still enrages me and I have realised that if I feel rage then I have been shamed first.
How can anyone read such a story and ignore it or criticise it in anyway? Why is their response not one of compassion and horror? I don’t know and I guess I have always had a problem with people like this. What sort of person can only criticise a person who is brain damaged, has serious body and pain issues, who has been able to communicate anyway, and who still WANTS to? I don’t know about you, I find that really callous and sick. This isn’t about agreeing with me or not saying you don’t. It is about not shaming me just because I find writing and typing a mental and physical challenge. All of which was clear in what I wrote. She isn’t the first and won’t be the last callous so and so I come across but this is the first time I have been honest about how it really makes me feel and what I think of those who do it.
No survivor is looking for pity. That does no one any good and pity is worthless and far too easy. Aside: would you believe the amount of women who say ‘ah, bless’ when they see me in my wheelchair? That is pity and it is patronizing and it means fuck all. It dehumanizes me.
The reason it takes so many of us such a long time to gain enough courage to tell our story is precisely because of reactions like that. We fear being shamed and humiliated. The abuse made us feel like that and we don no want more of it.
My first attempts were met with ‘you are too sensitive’. What do you think I felt? Yes, shame and humiliation. Another attempt was met with seeming understanding and I was invited to a prayer circle. I accepted, feeling that for the first time I was being listened to. That is until it began and they started to pray that I,(!ME!), be forgiven. Now what type of person is privileged to gain such trust only to throw it back in the face of the person trusting them?
I was taken by surprise today. I started to shake, my heart pounded. This despite the beta blockers and pain killers. One can safely assume by button was well and truly pushed!
Anyone who makes me feel shame, is out. I do not entertain having them in my life. I experienced the same shame, humiliation and anger with the person to whom I was kind and supportive yet they chose to interpret what I wrote as the opposite. I take responsibility for this though as I already knew what they were like but I had given them the benefit of the doubt only to be severely burned. (A situation another would have just brushed off I know but I am who I am.)
However, and this is what is important. I will never be silent. I will not acquiesce. There will always be victims of abuse who need to know my story and the stories of other survivors so that they know there is hope. So that they know that a semblance of peace is possible. That a good life can be lived regardless of how they feel in the moment. They need to know that happiness, joy, real friendship is possible. That love does not mean sex and violence. That love does not mean name calling, undermining ones confidence. Love does not have to be earned.
Most of all, they need to know that is not they who at fault. they need to know that they were abused (are being) because of who the abuser is and NOT because of who they are.
My experience of writing about my life on this blog has been hugely positive. In ways I could never have foreseen. At first I remained anonymous and I was writing just as away of ordering my story for myself, of making some sense of it. I had no idea how it was going to affect others.
I very soon got comments and emails from other survivors. From professionals in the field child protection. I was astounded. I was also scared. I then realised that if I was telling my story and stating that shame does not belong with us, why was I hiding my identity. So I came out. Obviously I made sure to never identify anyone.
What we all need to know about recovery is this: there will never be a time when we will be as if the abuse the never happened. I used to think that I would come out of recovery wholly new, with the abuse and it’s effects wiped away. Not so.
One learns to live well despite it. The severe PTSD symptoms do lessen. They do become further apart. But you will still have them. You will still have buttons that can be pushed, as happened to me today. There will be times when out of the blue, you will be plunged right back into that hell hole. Only now one can get out of it quickly and unaided, shake it off and carry on living a good and happy life.
Peace and joy do come but they don’t stay. They come and go. But instead of plunging back into darkness when they go, one just lives well. One feels, one enjoys, and some of what we feel will not be nice and some of what we feel will be wonderful. Overall though we will be content. We will know who we are, where we have come from. We will know we are loved. we will love ourselves and we will not be at the mercy of the whims of others and their opinions about us. Only you really know what you feel.
No person who has not been through this torment has any idea at all what it is like. Remember that next time some ignorant soul judges you, they have not walked in your shoes. They understand nothing. There are those whose ability to empathise allows them to understand that we suffered/suffer and they treat us accordingly. They are safe people. Sadly, far to many do not have this gift.
I know that when one is in the depths of the shame and humiliation, the fear and the pain, it is nigh on impossible to see that the shame does not belong with one. The light seems very far away and it also seems that it must be us. After all, that person seems to be living a functional life. it is we who are not. it must be our fault. It is often just easier to blame ourselves than to accept that yes, other people can be so callous. It is not a safe feeling, yet we are strong enough to deal with it. No everyone is not coming from the same place. there those who will seek to harm you. There are those that do not seek to harm you but just do not care a joy. But there are those who not only will not harm you, they will love you and they will hold you and help you. You will become strong enough to accept them too.