I haven’t been writing in a while but I have some time at work today and a topic popped into my head that I really wanted to discuss; minimizing.
I’m not talking about the way us survivors sometimes minimize the impact the abuse had on us, pretending we’re okay and that it “wasn’t really that bad” (recognize yourself??), rather, I am talking about the way others react to our disclosure of the abuse.
As I have mentioned in an earlier post, during the first few days of remembering (for most of my life, I didn’t remember my childhood and my mind had hidden the abuse and all the memories away, until about 5 years ago when I suddenly had a flashback) I could not think about anything else and all my thought processes revolved around the memories.
I told immediate friends, who were supportive (although after a few days I felt that some of them were trying to say that they want the old me back, and I should just “get over with it”). I did have a horrible experience with the wife of my pastor – I had gone to church and with the encouragement from friends, I went to have a chat with the wife and I just could not believe when in the middle of my disclosure – while I was crying – she said; “well let’s pray that you forgive him” :O
I did try, but I was in the middle of post-traumatic stress disorder, confused, disoriented and desperate, and to say the least, I have hated her ever since.
Since then I have kept my mouth shut. I tell some people, but usually it comes after a little while, when I think they can handle it and can give me the kind of reaction I need. I don’t think I want pity, but sympathy and some sort of understanding or acknowledgement of my pain.
The best reaction my honesty about my past ever elicited was when I told a guy who I’d met – who turned out to become my boyfriend – he was just super sympathetic and real about how my pain made him hurt, and that was just unbelievably emotional for me. I really wish that all of us survivors were able to have the same kind of experience because it did make me feel like my pain is justified, and what happened really was disgusting, painful and unbelievably horrible.
I haven’t explicitly told my family; the day after the flashback I called my mother crying saying I had memories from my childhood, and she started crying and asked if my father was in the memories. I said yes, and she said that she always knew. And then we cried a bit and never talked about it again. We have never mentioned the words abuse or sexual abuse, and rarely if ever even mention my father; it’s like my past and he don’t exist.
My brother knows, but has never acknowledged that he knows. His fiance heard from me, and said she could imagine that my father would do something like that. My older cousin was horrified, and must have told her mother, my aunt from my mom’s side. The rest of them probably don’t know now, and never will. I will forever be the black sheep of my extended family, the one who had anorexia and then escaped to America and never came back, who now visits once a year talking about her “great life” in London. If they only knew….
I wanted to reach out and find out your stories, has anyone ever had a really good reaction when they’ve disclosed trauma and abuse? Anything inspirational to share with the rest of us???
With much love,