Monday, June 25, 2012

Healing is Not for Sissies!

    I’ve been in and out of treatment since my first suicide attempt at seventeen, though I needed help long before that. I remember lying in my bed at the ripe old age of eight, praying for God to end my life. In my naivete, I tried to hold my breath until I died. Of course, I’d end up breathing again. I contemplated drowning but I was afraid of the water. One time, I tried holding a pillow over my face to no avail. Clearly, I was depressed for as long as I could remember. I always knew I wasn’t normal. Although I repressed the knowledge and memory of the sexual abuse, I certainly knew that there was something wrong with me. I was not like other kids. I believed that I was bad, shameful, sick and ugly, inside and out and I held this belief for more than forty years.
    Even today, I find myself wondering when I’ll feel normal. When will I be done? When will I be over it? When will it go away? I don’t think it ever really goes away. How can something so much a part of who you are just go away? Surviving an entire childhood of pain, shame and sexual torture at the hands of my own family is so much a part of who we are, that even in the most ideal circumstances and on the best of days, it’s there. It won’t always be so “in-your-face” as it is right now, but how can it not effect every part of who we are? Hell, there wouldn’t even be a “we” if not for needing to escape the reality! If you’ve spent your entire life being a “we” it’s impossible to know what being an “I” feels like. My therapist once likened it to being filthy rich while trying not to think about money. The abuse shapes our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs in such a profound and primal way that we cannot fathom anything else.
    Incest and the mind control that accompanies it is pervasive. It’s the foundation that even the most fundamental thoughts, feelings and beliefs are built upon. Healing requires demolition all the way down to that foundation and rebuilding brick by brick. Healing is not for sissies! You’ve got to commit to it for the long haul, otherwise it’s like a Band-Aid over a bullet hole. You will die a slow death unless you commit to it. I know this because I danced around it for twenty years before I made the commitment to my healing. I did some work here and there and I was willing to say that I was abused. I allowed myself to know it but no way was I going to feel it and I was definitely not ready to make myself vulnerable by allowing anyone to come into my inside world. I had to hit bottom. I had to wait until both my parents were dead before I could be strong enough to go there.
     I’ve been working on integrating for a couple of years now and I’m definitely blending. I feel more whole than I have ever felt and more “normal” whatever that is! I found the right therapist at the right time and I jumped in with both feet. I made the commitment and I haven’t given up. As excruciating as the process has been, it's still better than the depression I lived with for four decades! I have been working harder at healing than I ever have at anything else. I’m open about the abuse and resulting D.I.D. and have given the blame back to those that deserve it. I don’t carry their secrets for them anymore. I have given voice to the wee ones inside me and to all the parts of me that have been bound, silenced and kept isolated in the dark. I am all those parts. We are all me! None of us would be the same without the others and all of us are me. If you are a survivor, you probably understand that and if not, I hope you can respect it and respect me for surviving, thriving and being willing to make myself vulnerable to grow stronger. Dissociation is not mental illness, rather, a gift from God that allowed a helpless child to survive the unimaginable. I’m grateful for that!