Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A Day In The Life Of An Incest Survivor

Daybreak - Meditations For Women Survivors Of Sexual Abuse written by Maureen Brady and copyrighted in 1991 is one of the books that helped me to heal from my incest issues. I would highly recommend it to any survivor of sexual abuse to use in your healing.

From Daybreak February 5 reading:

"As I go through changes, I notice how much more readily I see gifts and opportunities than I did before beginning to heal.

Change is not easy for us. We want something to hold steady. We have difficulty reconciling with the notion that all life is dynamic and that things change. Much of our pain comes from our resistance. 'Oh, please, please, don't let this be so,' we plead when we've been given information we know will have to be absorbed. We may have started crying out like this at the time of our abuse, hoping that we could put up a shield that would let us cling to the sense of safety we had before.

In my healing I realize I can turn my forces to being a participant in change rather than a resister to it. I discard old notions of how long a change will require me to suffer. I discover there is excitement in change that I no longer need to push away. I remain present for my life today and look forward to and appreciate change as part of my unfolding."


As I read the above page from Maureen Brady's book, my mind went back to images of the first time when I was 11 years old that my dad raped me in the hayloft of the dairy barn where he worked.

The whole experience was surreal - like it was happening to someone else. This was about two months after I had been molested by an uncle - my mother's oldest brother. My mind could not accept that it was happening again and, most important, that my own father was the one doing it.

As Maureen Brady quotes above, a part of my mind was saying, "Oh, please, please, don't let this be so." The shock is so much to handle, especially if you are a child. I can easily understand how some children split into different personalities in order to deal with the physical and emotional pain of this betrayal and ravaging of your physical body.

My way of dealing with it was to go inside of my head. I would close my eyes so that I wouldn't see what was happening. I would go inside with my thoughts. It was many, many years before I reconnected with my body. I never made a sound, no matter how much I was hurting physically or emotionally. With my ears, I would become so hyper-vigilant to sounds around me because I was so afraid that someone would come and see what was happening. I didn't see that discovery as a way to stop the abuse. I saw it as everyone then would know my shame. My fear of discovery was so intense that I would feel sick to my stomach.

I feel that today just writing these words. No matter how much work I do to release the shame, a part of me still carries that shame even though I know I did nothing wrong.

What surprises me as I am writing this is the intensity of the feelings that I feel right now bubbling to the surface. It is difficult to let myself feel these feelings in my body. For so many years, I refused to feel anything. My first reaction to these feelings is to stop breathing. I have to force myself to breathe. Breathing tends to stop when I am in the middle of these intense emotions.

I want to be real and stay with the emotions but I can't. My stomach hurts. I want to throw up. I have to stop. I don't know how to deal with what I am feeling.


This is a day in the life of a survivor who is making an attempt to reclaim her life as healthy and worth living. Sometimes she can do the necessary work and sometimes all she can do is run away from the feelings. I honor any survivor who reads this. I honor the support of my many friends who have been there for me as I do my own work.

12 comments:

jumpinginpuddles said...

we remember when we first admitted to anyone we had been abused it was the most painful scary experience of our lives, we thought god would strike us dead for sharing it, but then we were given a book by Jim Freison and it changed our lives we knew we werent alone and it was ok to share, and slowly we have bene doign that with help of a great therapist and good friends.
Well done for getting this far

Patricia Singleton said...

JumpingInPuddles, Thank you. Can you tell me the name of the book? I am not familiar with Jim Freison. It might help others to read it as well.

Deb Estep said...

Dear Patricia,

I sit here in sort of a stunned silence. With words you have shown us the wounds of your childhood and the hope, strength, AND power that you have today. !!!

Gezzz I think you stunned your readers too. I am not saying that in a bad way, I mean usually 2 days after a post you have more comments.
Please don't take that as a bad thing, for everyone that read this message, I have NO DOUBT they offered up a prayer for you and the path that you are on.

I wish you more days of standing tall and strong, so you can continue to be a beacon to those who have not found the voice that you have.

I thought I might find some comforting poem about child abuse and when I did a Google search, one of the first few hits was a link to your site. :))))))) HOW cool is that, it means you are getting the word out and making a HUGE difference.

{{{{ Patricia }}}}

Love
Deb

Patricia Singleton said...

Deb, I am not offended by anything that you say. I know that you are my friend and only send love and caring my way. I am Thinking "WOW!!!" myself to the Google search. That is great to know.

I wasn't sure how this particular article would affect my regular readers. I knew those readers who are survivors would understand, so thanks very much for your comment.

I was in shock myself at the intensity of my feelings as I wrote the first handwritten copy of this article.

My goal in writing these articles is to inform others so that they have the awareness to stop the abuse in the next generation. The statistics say that 1 out of 3 children are sexually abused. That is a very large part of our population that learns to deal with their pain or learns to medicate their pain in some way so that they don't deal with their pain. We have to stop the abuse. Ignoring it doesn't do anything except pass it on to the next generation. That is not acceptable. Why do you think we have so much drug abuse today? Because of issues that aren't being acknowledged.

Deb, thanks for your continued support. My next article won't be so heavy. It is about my India trip. Love and blessings to all.

Marj aka Thriver said...

Yes, remembering to breathe is the first thing. I still have to remind myself to do it, too. As hard and painful as it is, feeling the feelings is so key. I'm really working on that this week in therapy.

You know, this is like the third blog post I've read today about the difficulty of change. Maybe this would be a good post to submit for THE BLOG CARNIVAL AGAINST CHILD ABUSE. It's obviously an important topic.

Safe hugs (((((Patricia)))))

Patricia Singleton said...

Marj, thanks for your support. I will definitely submit it to the next Carnival. Thanks for the hugs. They are appreciated.

Angela-Eloise said...

Patricia, I've been reading your comments at Shift Your Spirits for a long time and always admired your insight and thoughtfulness. I'm not sure if this is exactly the right place to put this comment, but I wanted to share something and let you know that you have been a help to me as I've struggled with a personal issue recently.

I'm not a victim of sexual abuse, so while I could always appreciate your writing about the hard work you've done and how far you've come to grow away from that place, I had no personal point of reference to your experience. And I feel silly equating what I've been through to the kind of abuse you suffered because it seems that nothing could be worse than the kind of betrayal that you endured. But betrayal comes in many forms, and they all hurt.

For a few years I've been caught in an entangled circle of a relationship with a man I loved but who didn't treat me well. He cheated on me, lied to me. But I kept forgiving him and saying yes every time he asked me to come back to him. He was very good at convincing me how much he loved me and how much "this time will be different." I didn't realize that what was going on was a pretty classic case of an abusive relationship. I fit the pattern perfectly. And when I realized that, I was so angry at myself because I had always told myself I could never be one of those women. Maybe I didn't see it because he wasn't physically abusing me. But as one of my friends said - you are just like the woman who gets punched in the face at night and wakes up the next morning to cook the bastard eggs.

Well, I finally saw this man for who he really is and the situation for what it really was. I'm not making any more eggs. I do, however, feel like I have egg on my face and that's the hard part to deal with some days.

This comment of yours sums up what I've been feeling most of the time lately:

"This is a day in the life of a survivor who is making an attempt to reclaim her life as healthy and worth living. Sometimes she can do the necessary work and sometimes all she can do is run away from the feelings."

I don't want to identify as the victim because, as a witch, I believe that attaching to that energy will manifest the wrong things. I've tried banishing work to separate myself from this man, but it doesn't work. I'm also coming to terms that sometimes we have soul connections to people who are just not good for us or meant to be with us in this particular lifetime. The best I can do is make peace with this and move on. I'm trying to find a spiritual box to put those old feelings and experiences in so that I can put them away on a shelf and walk away from them.

I have great hope that the space I create by putting those old things away will make room for someone who will be truly loving and deserving of the gracious woman I know I am. In the mean time, I just keep breathing.

Patricia Singleton said...

Angela-Eloise, thank you for leaving your comment. No one can say that your pain is any less painful than my pain. My sister taught me that. People would look at her and say, well, she was only fondled so she should recover from the abuse with little pain and side effects from the abuse. That is so not true. The abuse has influenced her life and her choices much more than it did me. She is still choosing to live with men who abuse her. She is only now beginning to see the patterns of abuse from our childhoods and how they are still affecting the choices she makes. She still believes that she must have done something wrong for these men to be in her life.

The only thing that I can tell her and you is to learn to love and respect yourselves and the men that you attract will do the same. She is finally beginning to hear me when I tell her this. The most important thing that I have ever done for myself was to learn to love me.

Thank you for telling me that my writing has helped you and for the courage that you had to write your comment. This is the perfect place to say what you want to say. I honor that. I hope you keep reading and comment again if I say something that helps or if you question something that I have said. Blessings to you in your journey.

Mark said...

Patricia,
I love this that you said:
"Why do you think we have so much drug abuse today? Because of issues that aren't being acknowledged."
And as Darlene menitoned, we have so much depression because of these same ignored issues.
Interesting, that I grew up in evangelicalism, with those ex-druggies giving their testimonies of being freed from drugs, but the abuse of people by people is NEVER mentioned. The cause is NEVER mentioned!! The addiction of power over others is never mentioned, only the addiction of the abused is mentioned.

Patricia Singleton said...

Mark, thank you for your comment. In 12-Step meetings, people talk about dry drunks. That means the person isn't drinking but they aren't working on their recovery issues either. I believe that if you don't look for the source of your issues, then you never become healthy. The same is true with ex-druggies. They may not be using but they aren't healthy if they haven't worked through their issues of abuse or neglect from their childhoods. Religion can also be used to abuse children.

Sheryl said...

Patricia,
I know of two sisters like you and your sister. I love it that you can observe and comment to this.
Somewhere else, (2007) a male reader wrote and dated someone who was sexually abused. I did, too. For that reason, I have read several books on the issue many years later. Also, another of your readers wrote that she wasn't sexually abused (in the same way, I would add) but that her husband cheated on her multiple times. I had that same experience. Funny thing is that I know call that sexual abuse. He gave me stds. What else would you call that??

Patricia Singleton said...

Sheryl, I almost spelt you name with 2 r's. A close friend of mine spells her name Sherryl. Not too many people spell it that way.

Abuse is abuse whether it is sexual, physical, mental or emotional. The characteristics are the same with any kind of abuse. That you were abused in those ways saddens me. Thanks for your comment.