Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Message To The Abused, & The Abuser

I write now to not only clear my conscience and ease my troubled mind, but to reach out to those who can relate to me, to those who know what it is to be hurt and mistreated by loved ones, and to those who either knowingly or unwittingly are perpetrating pain and violations upon their own children. Innocence is the one truth we are all born with, as we take our first breath on this planet, we rely upon grownups to nurture and care for us, and our first years are spent relying upon our parents, and our family to provide us with the basic needs and foundation for a healthy balanced life. When I posted yesterday about the memory of a molestation in my childhood, I did so to get it out, because the memory was sudden, vivid, and so very painful. But I need you to understand that this one painful act of betrayal was not the only act of cruelty I experienced as a child. I was a ward of the courts in my first four years, was in various foster homes, and was eventually adopted at age four by a couple who were related to my birth mother. My first few years with them was blissful, and a great deal of healing was done as they pampered me, lavished me with love, care, and compassion. Had it not been for those first years of adopted life, I may have fractured mentally, and become someone completely different than who I am today. Yet, as life went on, and the pressures in my parents life became more vivid to them, they both found comfort in the bottle; and my blissful life slowly transformed into a thing of fear and pain. Growing up in a world transformed by addiction, and alcoholism was volatile at best; anyone who grew up with alcoholics knows well how you walk on egg shells, fear the night and what may come, and learn to protect yourself by whatever means possible. For me, I learned to become introverted at home, to hide in my room, to surround myself in music, writing, and the arts. And where others bore it quietly, I never could, and would talk to friends, reaching out again and again, and yet never finding solace. I know my parents never meant to intentionally hurt me, yet the pain created scars I carry to this day. And I beseech you, reading this now, if you are struggling with alcoholism, depression, or addiction on any level, and it is affecting your children, please stop hiding, and get help. Because while you may think you are only hurting yourself, I assure you - you are dead wrong. Children are very sensitive to their parents needs, fears, and insecurities, and while the addict often gets to sleep away the trauma of the night previous, the child wakes up with full recall, and adds another psychic scar to the collection. And that collection  never dulls, never eases, and never allows the child to grow into a fully secure adult themselves. And in this way, the cycle of abuse is ongoing. While I myself do not drink or abuse drugs, I am honest about my depression, and panic disorder, which I have passed down to my beautiful little girl. She is now 14, and has depression and anxiety which rightfully are not hers to bear. And yet, she has always been sensitive to her mother, and unwittingly along the years, I exposed her to too much of my own pain, insecurity, and uncertainty; on some level she absorbed my self doubts, my fears, and they became her own. How do I tell her that these feelings she now struggles with truly are not her own to be burdened by? I simply cannot; she will not understand that by virtue of living with an emotionally raw role model, she learned how to internalize, and punish herself exactly the way her mommy did. She has never been abused, mistreated, or violated in the ways her mom has; and yet she lives with the same pain and sense of loss, and the only way I can explain it is to say that we are so close, so completely entwined via our hearts and souls, that she absorbed my pain at a very young age. If I had known, all those years when I thought she was fast asleep, and I cried quietly to myself or my husband, about things I could not let go of... I never wanted to leave her with this painful legacy. Depression is something I grew up feeling ashamed about. I was identified as depressed in my early teens, forced into psychiatric care, medicated, and labeled. And that was that, those who felt responsible washed their hands, feeling what I suffered was chemical and therefore no-ones fault. Everyone around me put me at arms length, and I learned to struggle quietly, because when I spoke about it I would ultimately end up feeling alienated from the very people I needed to accept and love me. They had caused so much of my turmoil and disconnection from strength, and sovereignty, and on a deep level they knew it, and yet it was just easier I guess, to put me into a program, and tell themselves they were doing all they could. But I am telling you, at the age of 42, I have not healed from those childhood traumas I lived through. I could recount tales of horror, the worst nights of my life, the words that were said that could never be unsaid, the physical abuse, the emotional acts of terrorism... but what would be the point? I relive it often enough in my psyche, in my dreams. And in this way, the victim often continues to victimize themselves, as they cannot find a healthy outlet for all the hurts they accrued growing up. So while you think your children will grow up and forget whatever it is they are experiencing right now, I am here to tell you that no - they will never forget. I have forgiven my parents, and anyone who has ever hurt me. It is easy to forgive, I have no trouble with forgiveness, it is as much for me that I am able to forgive as for those who have violated my innocence and trust. But forgetting is something I've never been able to accomplish. And that is where conditions like depression, panic disorder, and post traumatic stress come into play. If you have a problem, please stop making excuses, and letting your foolish pride convince you that you're doing okay, because you know deep within you that you are not. Get help, now, not tomorrow, or next week, but now, because it isn't your own happiness you are diminishing, but the happiness of the people you love the most on this planet; your children. Sure, you don't mean to hurt them, but good intentions are not equivalent to good behavior, and you know that too many times, you've allowed your own drama become their trauma. So please, for the love of your children's innocence; get help. If you have been abused, in any way, by anyone in your life, please know that it was not your fault. You didn't do anything to deserve abuse; no one on this planet deserves to be hurt, mistreated, or violated. And if you are an abuser, an alcoholic, an addict, and your pain is becoming your children's pain, then I beg of you, start putting their needs ahead of your own and get help, talk to someone, seek a solution. Because you do not have to keep living in this cycle of blame, pain, hiding, and excuses. It won't get any better until you decide to put an end to it, and in this way you have the power to transform your painful reality into a promise of something better for your children. For long after you take your last breath on this planet, they will still be here, trying to make sense of their own feelings, and trying to pick up the pieces of their own fractured childhood. There are only two absolute truths in this life; Fear, and Love. We are always operating from a place of one, or the other. When fear is in charge, pain is prevalent, abundant, and multiplies virulently. The only answer to fear is love; love is the only means we have of absolving our past transgressions, and cleansing the unclean places we hold so tightly within. Choose love, for your children, for yourself, it is truly what you deserve now. No matter how unworthy you may feel, love is what you were born to feel, experience, receive, and be. No matter who taught you to feel otherwise in your past, you must know that now, in this moment, you have the power to be strong, and do the right thing; do what love would do. If you are uncertain as to who to turn to, call your local church, or social services department, and ask to be put in touch with a counselor, or support group. Make the first step, it's the hardest, but I promise you, each step you take after that first one will be easier. Forgiveness begins within, please forgive yourself, so that your children can grow up with some semblance of security, stability, and pride in their parents.  

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