The Woman's Garden
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Kate Ceberano (So Much Beauty)
ALL THE FEAR
I've been told different accounts over the years, of people's experiences of the moment they remember when they were abused. The walls encasing the suppressed memory, keeping it tucked safely away in "the past", start to crumble, and suddenly the memory comes
rushing back with full force, smashing into and around the person doing the remembering, causing them to react in near hysteria, and sometimes, hospitalising them. I've always had the greatest of sympathy and compassion for people who've gone through this experience. Always felt I understood; my empathic abilites are extremely high, and have always allowed me a deeper insight into a person's situation than is afforded to most people. Let me tell you - I was only scratching the surface of what they were experiencing. This situation in definitely an example of you don't know until you know.
I haven't had my full on break-down moment yet - there's a part of me that's still thinking I'll get away with not having to have it. That isn't to say that I'm not having my times of raging and crying at the drop of a hat, it's just that I know I'm still skirting around the black hole because it feels SO enormous, so terrifying, that I need to take it slowly, at a pace I can handle. Why put myself through this, some have asked me. Because, THE PATH TO HEALING LIES THROUGH THE WOUND, NOT AROUND IT. And once those floodgates open, there ain't no turning back.
HOW TO DEAL WITH THE FEAR
Ok, let me say again that this is my story, and I'm just sharing with you how I'm moving through it. There were a lot of different actions I took, (am still taking), to help me to work towards healing myself, but these are a few of the crucial ones.
One of the first things I did was write a letter to my Uncle (note; not just "family member" now, as on page 1. I'm in a different place now in regards to feeling supported, and I feel safe enough to say "Uncle" out loud, although the word still sticks in my throat, and I'm still afraid that I'm going to get into dreadful trouble for "telling", and that other family members will be livid. Again, the intention of writing and talking about this abuse for me is for Healing purposes, and I'm not responsible for how others may react to my telling the truth. I simpy refuse to protect this man any longer, as family members have asked, and are still asking, me to do. When I'm ready, when I feel the time is right, I will say who those family members are, but for now, it is a big enough step to say it was my Uncle who abused me).
Writing a letter to your abuser is very empowering, if you feel that you can do it. It allowed me to confront him in a safe way, to speak my truth, and to take a giant step towards reclaiming the voice he took from me all of those years ago. It let him know that I am no longer afraid of "telling" anymore, that he has no say or control, anymore. I let him know that if he tried to contact me in any way, I'd have a restraining order placed against him. (It is worth noting that it's a good idea not to say you'll do something unless you're prepared to follow it through, otherwise it is simply a threat. Also, don't feel you owe your abuser any explanations about what it is that you're intending to do next, for example, pressing charges. These are your decisions to make, at your own pace, and he, or she, has no right to any information about you in any way, shape or form).
Another decision I made was to step back from my family, from the whole way they were handling me bringing up the abuse. This was an extremely painful decision to make, but one that became necessary. I began to realise that this was most likely it - the way that my relationship with certain of my family members was going to end. I cannot begin to tell how sad I felt about this - still feel. A part of me still believed that I could fix it, but a greater part of me knew I could not. Indeed, it wasn't my place to. All I could do was accept how things were, and allow it to play out. Healing, I was reminded, doesn't always happen pleasantly.
Another big step I took was finding a therapist who I felt could go on this journey with me. It's not always possible to choose your therapist - depending on your circumstances, you may have limited options available to you. However, if you are able to do so, I suggest sitting down and making a list of the qualities you are looking for in your therapist. For example, it was important for me to have a female therapist, somone who was experienced in the area of abuse, and somone who was not going to "pathologise" my sensitivity, my psychic and empathic self. Thankfully, I was able to find a person who I felt good about, and we have now started our sessions together.