When you blog about being intentional, and Living Life Intentionally, and how you have/want purpose in all aspects of your life…you don’t always envision where that will actually take you. But to be true to having purpose, and living life in all aspects fully, I share my experience in this also…scars, abuse, and life.
This is going to be a very personal and long blog, something that I personally have dealt with and then realizing that others in my “circle” have dealt with…and how profoundly it can affect someone, though we think we have dealt with it. I personally have only told two people my story (and one of them not fully). My goal is to let people know you don’t have to be silent.
Scars. I have written post before about scars. It mainly focused on the loss of my aunt, but also on the fact that we all have ‘hurts’ or situations that have affected us. We all have them, we think they are healed but then something will happen to reopen the wound or make the area tender again. The new song by Scars, ‘I Am They‘ says, “I am thankful for the scars”, “I’m not who I was before, I don’t have to fear anymore”. Most definitely my scars have made me who I am. Mentally, physically, and emotionally. They are the reason why I have trust issues, why I hide behind self deprecating humor, and why I have a hard time allowing anyone beyond my bubble and allow them “in” to the inner me. When one has been told through actions (and sometimes words) that they are not enough, or good enough, then they start believing it. It only takes one person to break an individual.
Abuse comes in many forms. Physical, emotional, verbal, sexual. The physical is the most easily seen — there will be bruises or other marks on the body. Though people in the situations are still afraid of voicing the obvious, so they make excuses like “I fell down”, or “I ran into the door”, or “it’s the first time it happened”. One of the biggest failures of society is not letting people know it’s not o.k. to allow people to hurt you. It is o.k. to not be perfect, and it’s ok to have flaws and talk about them and TO GET HELP.
Emotional abuse is harder to ascertain. A lot of the time it can be seen when people are remote, or they do not show emotion of any kind. They are used to blocking what they feel, so they don’t feel. It can be caused by an outside party, or even by oneself. It can happen when the person is hurt in relationships, when the trust is broken. When a best friend and the guy one is interested in/dating go behind your back and date one another, and both lie to you. When trust in someone is ripped away, the whole foundation is ripped out from under the person; so blockades are placed to protect from that type of hurt ever again. There are so many things that can make us to block oneself from further emotional hurt (abuse); it makes us lose out on some aspects of life but it becomes our life. If someone is having a bad day (especially children) try to find the root of the emotion they are feeling, and allow them to talk about it — regardless of how “crazy” it seems or how “trivial”. At that moment in time, it is not trivial. It allows people to understand that emotion is real, but that it also has a root that can be dealt with…so it becomes healthy emotion. When we inadvertently ignore the ‘why’ and just push it off as a ‘bad day’ we do emotional abuse to ourselves. We cause children to grow up not being emotionally healthy, because they were taught to ignore it all and ‘go on’.
Verbal abuse can lead to emotional, because it makes one question everything. If someone is continually yelled at, or told things about their appearance or actions — telling them they are stupid or ugly. It can affect them physically, mentally, and emotionally. But it is all ‘hidden’ because no one can see the affect and never hear the words. Yet the words are on repeat in the mind of the abused. Sometimes when in a store, or working at the hospital, and hearing parents scream at their kids or cuss at them the tell them they are stupid…I want to tell the parents to please stop talking. They do not realize the affect they are having on their child on so many levels that cannot be seen. Also, parents, let your children know that it is NOT OK for their peers to say things to them or to others (body shaming, name calling, being ugly); the have a voice and it can be used for themselves or for someone else.
Then there is sexual abuse. It can be found in so many avenues. From parents, aunts, uncles, teachers, neighbors, peers (young/old), people in authority positions, basically anyone can be the perpetrator in this form of abuse. Some only picture the creepy neighbor, or the ‘guy’ that has a record…but it can be male or female and sometimes it is the most unexpected ones that abuse individuals. So unexpected that you don’t warn your children against these individuals, and you trust them to protect and cherish your child as much as you do…to only later find out that they did not.
With all the coverage of the Catholic church lately, it’s in the forefront of everyone’s minds. It’s being sent out on media waves, and their reputation is being tarnished. Unfortunately, it is not only happening in the Catholic church…but it’s not being publicized so individuals are being overlooked. I was recently told by a friend that they were a statistic of the Catholic church saga. It happened when they were younger, but with all the hype recently it is bringing back all the memories and what truly happened. They never went to counseling, they never told people that it happened, they lived with it and dealt with it how they saw fit — not always a good method, but it’s how many previous generations were programmed to deal with things. At the time of the abuse it wasn’t as open to be vocal. When they told me, I wanted to just sit and hold them for the child they were at that time in their life, letting them know that it was not their fault…they did NOTHING WRONG. I also wanted to tell them that I understood, that I knew exactly how they felt…but I held back. Because it’s just not something you talk about…or that I talk about…but it’s time.
My story…of the abuse, scars, and life afterwards. I was 4-5 years old, and it was our landlords son, Eric. I remember two occasions vividly, if it happened more than that I do not remember them. I remember watching cartoons, I remember being in the shed. I remember it being a ‘secret’ and being told not to tell anyone. It was our ‘game’. I remember then playing the ‘game’ with a boy that my mom babysat at the time…but mostly I remember not telling. It wasn’t until I was older, a freshman in high school, that I truly understood what happened to me. I was filling out a survey for a statistics paper for a fellow classmate when the light bulb came on and I realized I was a statistic. I later googled the name, Eric Moon, and tried to see if he had been caught or what his life had turned out to be like. I did not find information on him.
I grew up in a christian home, where sex was known but it wasn’t discussed. It wasn’t an open topic. Nothing against my parents, they are awesome parents — who loved me and raised me with the best thing ever to have — GOD. The saying “But God” rings true in this situation…without Him I have no idea where I would be. Looking at others who have went through similar situations and how they coped with them, I am beyond thankful that I was raised in the church.
I feel that sometimes in our guise to protect our children in the church that we do an injustice to them by not being open on the topic of sex. We shroud it and make it a mystical thing…which then causes them to want to experience it, or not to talk about anything that has a remote connection to it…even abuse — when they are touched inappropriately or even talked to suggestively.
I did a life map while in college at Gateway (Urshan), that was to show where we came from and what we felt “shaped” us into the person we were. I placed this experience on my life map — the first time I acknowledged it to anyone. Then later, when I was seeing a therapist, was the second time I acknowledged this and how it affected me.
Did it leave scars in my psych? Yes. I am a private person, who does not share information with anyone, rarely my family. I’m not one to “tell on people”, if I see someone in situations that are not always 100%, I do not share this information — that is that person’s life and theirs alone.
I have shaped a life where I help others. I was going to be a teacher, but decided that parents wanted their children alive when they came to pick them up. I was then going to work for the highway patrol to assist in being a 911 operator; but they wouldn’t allow me to work there and wear a skirt (I grew up doing everything else in a skirt…but I couldn’t sit at a desk and answer the phone in a skirt <face palm>); so I went into nursing. I can assist people when they are at their worst, when they are hurting — physically, mentally, emotionally. It apparently gets me in trouble for spending to much time with my patient…but sometimes people need to know that it’s ok.
It’s ok to feel, it’s ok to cry, it’s ok to tell the story, it’s ok to ‘tattle’ on adults that do things that are not right, it’s ok to embrace the bad and build on it to be good, and it’s most definitely ok to be vocal. There are scars, there is abuse in the world (in all kinds of forms and fashion — unfortunately), but there is also LIFE. We can live it fully. To those who have been hiding behind the ‘secret’, that have a story to tell, that will be free from the past with a word to a listening ear — I am here for you. I have been there.
I live with a past that is mine alone, though I know that I walk the road with others who have a version of the same experiences…let us show the scars, tell the stories, and live life to a point where the demons do not have control. And more importantly…let us let those coming behind us know what to watch for, when to tell, and what to talk about.
Love to all of you…