The Woman's Garden
India Arie (Acoustic Soul)
(By Ann Weeks)
You need to know that the second you make the decision to ask about, explore and tell the family's darkest secrets, you will start to see people clearly, both within the family, and without. They will show you their true colours; where they're at, and what you mean to them. You may lose people - and gain others. At least you will know where you stand. And you'll be free.
Discovering child abuse in your family history is devastating - on all levels. It's like suddenly you're that person, that family, caught in the blaring, glaring headlights of the evening news, to stunned to speak, to full of rage to be silent.
And when you're discovering that you are one of those who were abused as a child, it's almost beyond belief. Everything changes - whether you acknowledge it or not.
The purpose of this journey for me, into these darkest of realms, isn't about attacking, punishing or judging. It's about seeking my truth, and speaking my truth. About Healing the wounds within me that remain hidden and bleeding, affecting every part of my life. Of course I want justice for the abhorent things that were done to me, but the reality is that the man who violated me may never be held accountable, here on Earth. This is the sad but true situation that many survivors of child abuse find themselves faced with.
And so I made a decision; I wasn't going to let this man take one more thing from me. I was not going to let the rage that I had not had an answer for my whole life, continue to poison me. If I depended on my happiness coming from him being brought to justice through the legal system, I may end up being bitter and disappointed. I was going to free myself, no matter what the legal outcome with this man was.
And so it began.
So - How Am I Expected To Handle This?
An excellent self-help tool is the idea of talking to yourself -of taking those negative, judgemental thoughts that pop into your mind, and replacing them with positive, affirming ones.
It was about this time that I really started to practice this discipline in earnest. I realised that having a nurturing voice/presence in my head/life - ie, me - was going to be absolutely essential if I was going to get through this. And I believe that it wasn't just me in my head either - something beautiful and graceful was coming through, holding me in calmness. This is an example of what was coming through:
"There's no right or wrong way to do this. It's ok. There's no right or wrong way to feel. There's no right or wrong way to be. You just take one step at a time".
It helped me immensely, brought me back into my body. This was all bigger than Ben Hur, and for me, having a strong connection with Spirit was what was going to matter most as this family story unfolded. You see, I had true, strong friends to lean on, access to compassionate and talented Healers and years of my own healing experience and tools to draw on - all of which I was very grateful for. However, you can have all of the loving support in the world around you 24/7, but you are ultimately going through this experience alone. It's one of those "little deaths" - the transitions we go through on our way to our final passing from this Earth. If I didn't have a deep belief in a Higher Purpose to all things, I'd have been cactus.
Another term entered my vocabulary around this time as well - "the abuse stuff". It was my all-encompassing term for what was going on, and I used it when talking to others - even my closest friends. It sounded so detached, like I was fobbing it off. And it WAS detached - a way to talk about it without always talking about it. I needed that, or I would have drowned in the sorrow of it all.
I was realising that I was a member of "the survivors of child abuse" club, and that I didn't have a copy of the club rules. I didn't know the correct way to tell other people about what I had been through, and was currently going through. I didn't know how much I was "allowed" to reveal to people, including members of my own family. I didn't know this new territory, and I had times when I felt this deep, incredible sadness - for me, for my family, and for our relationship. All I could do was heed the advice that came through me. This is my experience, and all I can do is talk about that. I can put research from other experts in this field into my article, but ultimately this is my story. And to the best of my ability, I will share this story truthfully, and with a clear conscience.
What Comes Next?
A good question. This all depends on your current circumstances, and beliefs. For myself, the number one thing that I tried to do was cross out all of the "shoulds" that were on my list of things to do next. I had family members exerting a fair amount of pressure on me trying to make me do what they felt I should do, and I realised fairly quickly that I had to just stop; to slow down in order to make sure that any decisions I did make were ones that were indeed mine, and that I was happy with. Anyone who's been through and survived any kind of abuse, will know that control is a key element in the situation. People who've been abused have had control taken away from them. In the case of a child being abused, there are all kinds of other power dynamics at play as well. So for me, when I suddenly said to myself - "Hey, you're an adult now. You're in charge of how you handle this", I took back a little of the control and power that had been stolen from me when I was a child.
I decided that I would find myself a good counsellor - someone who could help me navigate all of my feelings and emotions about being abused by a family member. I also needed someone who could help me to remember all of what happened to me, as, though I remembered part of it, there were other parts that I was still blocking out. They were coming back to me in dribs and drabs - flashes of memory, some so sickening to me, that I immediately stopped the returning image. They were not only visual - I could remember how things smelled, and tasted. Sense memory - said to be one of our strongest ways of remembering. Another crucial thing that I am still unable to remember is what he said to me to silence me; all abusers will threaten those they are hurting with some kind of comment, intended to make them to scared to tell anyone about the abuse. Remembering this comment, this threat, is hugely significant in releasing me from whatever is still, on an unconcious level, binding me with fear to this terrifying time in my life.
As soon as I had started to question this family members' place in the family, things had started to come flooding back to me regarding what he had done to me, and because of my psychic and empathic abilities, I was able to receive information around my abuser that concerned other young girls he had hurt, besides myself. I don't know who all of them are, or where all of them are; I feel very strongly that every person who has been abused is entitled to say whether or not they want to share their story, or to do anything about it. As I said, I can only speak to my experience. But if telling my story helps to clear the way for someone else to be able to tell theirs, and to start to take back their power, then this is something I will never have any regrets about.