Saturday, 17 September 2016

Why I can never be fully healed from my abuse

I believe trauma from abuse is impossible to forget or heal from completely. Friends and family sometimes suggest more counselling but they don’t understand. You see, there will always be triggers; smells, noises, places, words, music, lyrics, voices, TV programmes, dinners, restaurants, gifts, outings, even Olly Murs new single and more. Sixteen years on and I am still triggered but the size of the trauma from the trigger has reduced over time but will never dissolve completely. How can it? In life something always pops up (just when I think I have cracked it) as a reminder of the suffering, so how can I truly forget. I still can spend hours sobbing over a movie or a number one hit, whose lyrics hit the spot. Or have a terrible down day remembering an evening out, dinner in a favourite restaurant or for no reason at all.

Personally, there is only so much counselling and therapy one can take in one’s lifetime. Do I want to keep going over the same ground sixteen years on in counselling session after session? Do I want to regurgitate my story every week or month? No, I don't. You see there has come a point in my life when no amount of therapy can ever help me to forget completely and there is a part of me that doesn’t want to anyway. The abuse has been part of my life and has made me who I am today. On reflection I have learnt so much from that period of my life about myself and others (good and bad) and I couldn’t do the work I do today without that education.

I know what it feels like to be coerced, controlled and gas lit. I know what it feels like to be duped and lied to. I know what it feels like to become a hostage in my own home and isolated from friends and family. I know what it feels like to live with someone leading a double life. I know what it feels like to be suicidal and so depressed you live in a fog. I know what it feels like to lose trust in someone who should love and take care of you, respect you and support you. I am lucky to be able to feel these feelings and emotions deep in my soul in order that I can understand and empathise with victims whole-heartedly.

The only way I can explain to you is like this: at the base of my brain, smaller than a tiny fresh "Birds Eye" garden pea is a minute nugget of pain and trauma that will go to my grave with me and it’s OK. OK because I can't change it, I can't help it and I have reconciled with it. OK because I can’t live without that little nugget, it keeps me safe. It reminds me to take care of myself, to never submit myself to be abused again. It reminds me to respect myself. It reminds how to recognise abuse and the abuser. It reminds me to be careful who I trust and when to trust and that is not often, I can tell you.

Trust is a big issue for me and I still get triggered all these years on and I don't expect anyone to tell me "that I should get over it or get more counselling" because I will never lose the nugget that keep me alert and safe. Every day gets better and easier but forgetting is not part of my plan. Have patience with me as I work hard on the triggers and memories although some might go to the afterlife with me. No one can forget the abuse they suffered and there is nothing wrong with that. Acknowledging you have the right not to forget is a huge step forward in healing. Even acknowledging it happened is a massive step forward. I can do both now, but it has taken me sixteen years to be in the place I am now; some can never do it and that is ok. We have to remember everyone heals differently, at different places and from different perspectives and that is all ok too. If you have never suffered any form of abuse, you may struggle to get this, I believe you can never understand the coercion, control and manipulation I have suffered; you have to have felt it to get it, which is an irony because I wouldn't wish what I went through on anyone.
I am now a survivor of that time, I bear the scars of an abusive past although not visible. I am now a warrior as I strive on helping other abuse victims but I can never forget what happened to me (and nor should I have to) but now my past does not cloud my day or every move. The majority of the time I am at peace with my fate and have forgiven my abuser(s) but I can never forget.

So don't judge those that cannot forget, don't just those who still get triggered and don't judge me because I get upset sometimes as memories come flooding back. Don't judge my tears as weakness. Praise me for my strength for surviving the abuse and the resilience me and my fellow survivors have dug deep to find in order to make new lives for ourselves. Many have not survived. For many years I had to dig very deep and I know others who have had to dig deeper than me and some who are still digging. Don't judge any of them because until you have walked in our shoes, down our paths, on our journey you have no idea how it feels to live with the memories, triggers and trauma of abuse.

The best thing you can ever do is listen, empathise and believe, sometimes that is all that is needed to release the blackness that hangs over a victim or survivor of abuse. Being believed is the best gift you can ever give a victim of abuse. The justice system often doesn't. Disclosing the most traumatic episode in your life to police, agencies or a therapist and then not being believed, is abuse on top of abuse. And never stay silent, silence is the abusers best friend and by staying silent you are complicit in the abuse. Abusers use fear and abuse of power in the hope that the victim will never tell. It becomes this big dark secret and the elephant in the room. Abusers manipulate those around them into believing they are an eminent individual and no one will ever think or believe they could commit such an insidious crime. This is called The Charming Syndrome. Believe me anyone can be an abuser behind closed doors, abuse does not have to be physical and leave marks, it can be emotional, mental, financial, verbal and much more. Abuse is abuse when there is an imbalance of power; even a bully is an abuser who is abusing their power over another who they consider vulnerable.

But through it all I believe I am where I am meant to be right now and my tiny nugget can stay right where it is, buried in the base of my brain keeping me safe. Popping up every now and again to remind me to be cautious, careful, to not trust certain persons or situation, to not believe someones bullshit and to ensure that I am never abused again. It keeps me safe.


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