Telling My Story of Abuse
I told my story the other night on a podcast (info on listening to it below). And I was scared and nervous. I am used to writing about my life. Writing is my comfort zone. Speaking is not so much where I think my story comes across as well. But perhaps I am wrong.
I don’t know how my story comes across to other people. If I don’t cry (which I didn’t and I don’t, usually), does that make me seem cold and disingenuous? If I don’t remember the details, does that make me seem like I am not telling the truth?
There were so many insecurities flying around me before I started talking. Even while I was talking, there were those thoughts, what am I complaining about? It wasn’t that bad. And on and on it went. As I spoke out loud, the conversation inside my head was affirming my truth, pushing against the old programming.
Beginnings of My Story
What they would like me to start with is my first memory of abuse. I don’t know what memory is the first because I don’t have detailed memories like others who tell their story. I have memory gaps, giant gaping holes in my memory.
Even when I sit with the memories leading up to what I know are times of abuse, I can’t remember. My brain will not allow me to access those memories. I have access to the moments before and the moments after. But how much after? And how much before? I have no clue.
Not having those memories, at least the ones with my father, makes me feel like a fraud, like an imposter who is just faking abuse. I know that my father sexually abused me within my heart of hearts but without the memories, what do I know?
Awake with Memories
I know that I would try so hard to stay up during the night as a child so that I could tell him NO! I know that I would go to bed fully clothed and wake up naked. I either always fell asleep, or that my brain does not allow me to remember those times.
My inability to fall asleep, even as an adult, is directly related to trying to stay up as a child. Nighttime, sleep time is ingrained in my brain as a dangerous time. I used to stay up reading until I fell asleep, even long after my father was gone from my life.
Once I stopped drinking, I started doing the same thing, reading, trying to stay awake. Without alcohol to calm my brain, to cease the “Danger!” alarms going off in my head, I have gone back to the activity that used to help me; reading and not sleeping.
In Between Memories
The times in between the memories that are where I feel my truth is. But people want details so that they can hear the truth within those details. Is it from the idea of innocent until proven guilty? This need for evidence and detailed memories of traumatic events? I have no idea.
I have my truth, but not with the details. Those are elusive to me. My truth stems from the simple fact that I know. I know it within every fiber of my soul.
I was asked on the podcast if I believe that my abuse occurred before my earliest memory. My answer was, is, and will always be, yes. I know I was.
Even after my father left, when I was older and dealing with an emotionally abusive mother, the memories aren’t complete. I think it is a result of my brain trying to protect me at the moment. And me trying to bury those memories for most of my life.
My Story, Our Story
I remember at one point thinking that I should keep a journal, but then I quickly decided not to. I felt that I would sound like an ungrateful, whiny child. I was starting to incorporate what others said about me within myself and deny my truth.
This adamancy of my truth is a new feeling for me. I spent so many years running from that truth. Not denying, simply in denial, but still knowing that there was brokenness that lived within me. And that brokenness resulted from trauma.
As I speak and write this, I realize that there are other people, survivors of childhood abuse, like me. They know they experienced abuse but don’t have the details, and therefore denying themselves their truth.
And their friends, family, who are asking for those details, are denying their truth. Because when you ask for details and the person doesn’t have them or isn’t ready, it makes them (me) feel like those friends and family hear their story in disbelief. That is a travesty.
Old & Current Programming
I have written and mentioned it the other night in the podcast to change that old programming. For me, it is in part the old programming of denial of what I know to be true that both of my parents abused me in different ways. And that it hurt me. That hurt still affects me today.
There is another side of the old programming that needs to change. That is how others interact and react to someone who comes forth with their story. Instead of asking for details, acknowledge what the person is saying. They may not have the details, or they are not yet comfortable sharing those.
When you ask for details and don’t have them or aren’t ready to share them, DO NOT assume they are lying. They are not lying. No one lies about pain and trauma.
I think that last sentence is worth repeating. NO ONE lies about pain and trauma.
To Listen to Part of My Story
The National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA) invited me to share my story on their podcast, Stop Child Abuse Now. You can find their podcast on Apple store. Or click this link to listen https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/stop-child-abuse-now/id1460534676?i=1000529417555