This may be a trigger post.
Today I read a post written by a strong, inspiring blogger who describes what it is to live without her mother in her life. Despite what you might think her mother has not died or moved away. What she has done is unimaginable. She has chosen her daughters abuser over her daughter. I read this powerful piece, commented and then I sat back and thought about it. You can read it here.
I thought about it most of the day, if truth be told. I thought about the trauma of those early days, when I first told my own family about my abuse, and their various reactions. I thought about the writer and how lonely it must be to have gone through what she did, and then to have her mother chose her abuser over her own child. How strong she is to be able to write this article. As I went about my day I looked around me and wondered at those I passed, ‘Does she have a secret?’. I also thought about the number of those who are out there living ‘normal’ lives, who have picked themselves up and learned to live with their past.
Yet it struck me as I read it that I am still not ‘out’ about my abuse. I have no problem discussing it if I am asked, but I do feel awkward and embarrassed about it. I know I shouldn’t but I do. I am happy to write this post and sound all together and strong, but will I share it on my facebook page? I’m not sure. At this moment in time I think I wont.
I have written two posts here on my own blog, which spoke of my abuse. Two posts out of over 500. I don’t need a psychiatrist to tell me that it would appear that I am not comfortable writing about it. I agree I am not. I like to say to myself that I don’t want to write about it because it might upset my family, but is that the total truth? I like to say to myself that I don’t speak about it as I do not wish for it to define me, but is that true?
Having spent much of the day thinking about it I still do not know. I have a post written in the form of a letter to ‘the one who stole my childhood’. I submitted it two years ago to another blog (the name of which I cannot remember), to publish anonymously. Yes how brave of me. I have never published it here.
Tonight I will think about it some more. Maybe I will speak up a bit more. Maybe I will post that letter.
Then again maybe I wont.
photo credit: TraumaAndDissociation via photopin cc
40 thoughts on “Why do I not speak out?”
I understand why you’re not fully open about it. It is an uncomfortable topic. It’s much easier to write about…anything really besides that. I too was taken advantage of as a child, yet have never written about it and doubt I ever will. Have I forgiven him? Yes, and perhaps that’s why I don’t feel a need to write about it. But even so, people need to know that they are not alone and they should feel comfortable in speaking up for themselves and not hiding. I wonder how many we pass by do have secrets. Probably many more than we’d like to imagine.
Yes it is easier to write about..anything else yet knowing that others need to know they are not alone makes me think I should perhaps be less hidden.
I definitely have not forgiven my abuser. He destroyed the life of a lot of children and drove some to suicide. However I have ceased to hate him which has allowed me heal.
I’m sorry you too have a story, as you say I wonder how many others also have one, shared or hidden.
Love to you xxxx
Thank you Emily. x
I admire your courage for writing what you have. Wishing you only good things, Tric!
Thank you. It’s a start I suppose.
I hope you do what ever it is you need to do. That’s what is important. There’s no right or wrong way, in my opinion, to deal with it. Even though I feel I have dealt quite well with things that happened to me, that doesn’t mean there aren’t times that it doesn’t circle around in my head a bit more than other times. Just be good to you.
Yes I must be good to me in order to stay well, but I do sometimes feel it would be good to share in order to encourage others who were abused.
Like yourself there are definitely times when it hits once more, but thankfully not too many.
I think Tric, that there will be something that makes sense to you. A time, a way to share, that will reveal it’s self to you that feels right. And then you’ll be ready. And you will make that difference to the person/s that can hear your message and be helped by you.
I am glad you’re sharing whatever you are comfortable sharing. It’s not necessary to write more, and, what it sounds like is that a part of you really wants to. I think your questions to yourself are a great place to begin – who is it making uncomfortable? Who are you worried about? What is about sharing more that appeals to you?
As you know, I write about really difficult topic(s), and I know there are many who just can’t read about someone’s child’s death, from a personal perspective. I do it because it’s so healing for me, and because I hope that it might bring comfort, support and inspiration for someone going through something similar in their lives. I imagine the same could be true for you in sharing more of how your experience has affected you – it already has affected me to know that, and I feel a deeper connection because of your vulnerability. Thank you for that. with love, Lucia
Thank you Lucia for your thoughtful comment. I think your questions are spot on and I need to be sure of the answers before I am comfortable sharing.
Like you I would like to share in order to give comfort or hope to others but it’s not an easy topic, and I am not sure I am able to.
However never say never and maybe I am getting nearer to it. It’s a bit disappointing to be honest, as I did think I was further on than this.
Dont be hard on yourself. What you’ve shared already has been meaningful, and that’s enough, intil amd unless you are ready to sgare more.
Tric, I reached a point in my life where I decided it was too big of a burden to keep secret any longer so little by little I shared with family – I had that need. The funny thing is that some family were angry that I let the cat out of the bag, some did not believe me and some could care less. It did not matter to me how they took it because I no longer had to keep that secret of my mother protecting my brother all those years. When she died on Halloween 1996, it was over and I never even saw her buried and I have never been to her grave.
Oh my goodness Jackie, that was a hard time for you, although after all you went through maybe as you say it was a relief. Your mother really did let you down so badly, and yet from what I know of you online you seem to have got it very right with your own children.
You must be a very strong lady.
We survivors should hold our heads up high. but that’s not always easy.
I could not change anything from the past and I own the experience so I will do with it whatever I want. It took me years to stop feeling shame and when I realized it was not my fault as my mother said, everything changed.
As for my daughters, because of the abuse I experienced, I was overprotective and I never got over that. My grandmother told me once how proud she was of me, that I always kept my children with me… she died never knowing why.
I also brought my girls to be very savvy about their bodies and their body-rights. I think I did the best I could with my limited knowledge.
Thank you for your reply, Tric, I appreciate that. ❤
share as it becomes something that you want to do and when you are ready. every time you talk about it or share part of your story or thoughts about it, you take away some of its power. you make it into a statement of fact and not a bad fairy tale. and you help others at the same time to reclaim their own power. when you are ready –
I like that idea Beth that it loses it’s power. I do think you are right there.
I suppose yesterday when I wrote this I faced up to a few things. I’m not as far over it as I thought I was, and I’m still struggling to remember it or to share it.
Time to think a little more on it. I am not sure if I am happy that it still has some power over me.
I don’t think that you should feel that you have to share more than you feel comfortable with – I’ve been strongly encouraged to write about certain periods of my life “because it would help others”, but I haven’t been able to. I think you’re very brave to say as much as you have x
Thanks for such an encouraging comment. I think the fact I am not sure. is telling me I’m not ready. Who knows if I ever will be, but I do want to be, because then I feel, that will mean I own my past and not vice verse.
It’s not easy to revisit our past, and not always the right thing for us to do. You mind yourself too. x
Tric, for what it’s worth… being willing to show vulnerability is a form of courage. Like the post you read, your own words often echo with me long after they’re written.
You might not remember, but you once gave me reassurance in relation to something I wrote by reminding me that self-protection and privacy are also valid and important. I’m in no way suggesting that as an answer, but your words still resonate with me; and like the depth of emotions surrounding the legacy of trauma – they are ours to apply on our own terms. Giving way to words doesn’t undermine it. I’ll be thinking of you today.
Ha, I’m sure you can see where I dreamed up that piece of advise, but I’m delighted it meant something to you.
I am a bit overwhelmed to think my words resonate with you or anyone, but then I too often read posts, yours included, which live on for a very long time in my memory.
I think what struck me yesterday is how little I do share about it, something which has taken me by surprise as I really thought I was quite open about my past.
Thanks so much for your comment. I think I’ll take my time, and I’ll think on it a bit more. Isn’t it funny when we discover something about ourselves we didn’t know ?
Sure is. I’ve no doubt this discussion helped others get clarity, too.
Stay well, tric, and please go gentle on yourself.
I heard recently that blogs are the new diaries. I don’t buy it. Sure, writing about an experience can be cathartic. One of the most incredible works I’ve ever encountered was Eugene O’Neil’s masterwork, Long Day’s Journey Into Night. He wrote the patently autobiographical play to come to terms with the legacy of his dysfunctional family, specifying that it not be published or performed until well after his death. But what he did NOT feel the need to do was put it out there for the public, as though that would somehow make things better. He knew it wouldn’t.
For me, a blog is the same thing. Some people feel comfortable writing the most amazingly intimate, even painful, details of their lives. But that doesn’t mean my blog is necessarily going to contain those items from my past. There is absolutely no reason that you owe yourself or anyone else public access to your pain. If that were the case, why wouldn’t you just take out advert space in your local paper and print the whole thing? Why not? Because it’s none of their business.
What goes in your blog is what makes you feel good to have out there. And what it makes your feel good to have your family, friends, colleagues, potential colleagues, children, grandchildren, and even many-times-great-grandchildren see. And their friends. And people who aren’t the least bit friendly toward them. Because once it’s out there, it never goes away. And never is a long time.
Does that story still have power over you? Of course it does. Would putting it out there on your blog rob the story of that power? Maybe. But just maybe, time and love and your own inner strength will get that job done. Having seen the beauty and humor and strength in your words, I suspect it already has.
I suppose the reason I would consider sharing would be two fold.
One that recovering from abuse is a lonely road, and I and others like me speaking out, can make a difference.
The other is that I am slightly shocked to realise that I am not quite as ‘together’ as I thought I was. I would like to work through this and maybe in time when I am ready I can share. Sometimes by not sharing I feel I am perpetuating the silence I lived in, as if I am still keeping it a secret, still ashamed, still embarrassed, still protecting him by not speaking of him. If I am honest I think that is the truth, that is what I am still doing and realising that today has made me mad.
That post stuck with me all day yesterday too Tric, for different reasons. Mostly because I am lucky not to have any personal experience of that type of situation, and the insight the post gave me left me shaken. It seems to me that you are doing what is right for you – writing and sharing what you feel you need to share, and leaving the rest – and that is as it should be. Love to you. x
Thanks Lisa. Reading that post yesterday I thought how helpful it was to read, and how little I have helped others. I also was disgusted to discover I’m not actually ready yet, which I would have thought I was.
However that’s not to say I never will be.
Thanks again Lisa for your support.
Hi Tric, I don’t really know what to say except that it seems like a good idea to have a good think about what to share publicly. It always reminds me of adding sugar or salt to things. You can’t take it back out once you’ve added it so little at a time, if at all would be my sense of it.
How very true, that is why I don’t post after a drink! 🙂 However I hate the idea that my silence is continuing, or that i am ashamed. But that is the truth. I’ve a bit to go yet, but this realisation has helped me.
I’ve still some work to do to move on.
Thanks again for your sage advice.
Very thought provoking topic, Tric. I was molested by my step-father, but never came out about it until I was in my 40’s. My step-dad was dead by then. I chose to wait because he was in very poor health in later years and I didn’t want to contribute to his demise. It was only after suffering another divorce, severe depression and checking myself into a mental hospital that I told my mom. She didn’t believe me.
Long story short, I went though many years of counseling, lots of recovery work and talked, talked and talked about that painful time. It was only after I was “renewed” in the Holy Ghost that a transformation took place. Now, I don’t really prefer to talk about it – but it has nothing at all to do with being uncomfortable or embarrassed by it. I just choose to focus on the “new” me, rather than that “old” me. When the “new” me talks about my abuse I tend to compare it to picking off a scab. It’s painful and it bleeds. Why keep abusing myself that way?
Just my thoughts…I’m going to read the blog you refer to – my heart aches for those that still suffer.
I am so sorry for all that happened to you. The legacy it leaves can be the killing of us. Thankfully after such an awful ordeal and not being believed you found solace and healing. I am so glad.
I love your analogy between picking off the scab and speaking about it. You are right that is what it feels like sometimes.
Thanks for your comment, it has definitely given me food for thought and sharing your past. Hard to believe there are so many of us.
Sharing can help to banish demons that have haunted us, but it’s not the solution for everyone to share something so personal online. We live in a world where everyone is encouraged to open up, but it’s not the right answer for everyone in a world where a strange form of “voyeurism” is sometimes mistaken for compassion. If that makes sense…. I’d say you should listen to your gut feeling, Tric. Trust yourself.
Thanks MM. Sometimes I feel annoyed I can’t share as freely as I’d wish as it’s as if he still has a hold on me. However I am not able, yet anyway, and sometimes I have to face up to that, maddening as it is.
I am sorry to hear that you have suffered so and had your childhood stolen. Perhaps people share difficult things at their own pace, if at all, and one that is comfortable for them? Everyone deals with difficult incidences in their own lives in different ways and maybe it’s better to share a little than not at all?
I really hope that by sharing at your own pace, at whatever’s right for you, that it helps you a little. ((xx))
Thank you. I do think in time I’ll share a little more. It’s just not great to face up to the fact that I’m still not over it. However I’m really well and that’s better than anything.
Thanks so much for commenting, sorry for the very tardy response!
Yes, abuse from early childhood is something that I couldn’t talk about, all I could do was act out. Even now, several decades later, it’s hard to even type the words – incest, childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect. All of this is supposed to be kept under lock and key, the key which my mother took with her to the grave.
Yes recovery is not easy, and our memories are sometimes hard to live with, but we have survived, and I carry my scars with a certain pride. I hope you have managed to recover enough to live.
I have been walking down that road to recovery for many, many years. But I can wear my scars as well, and keep on going. I have help available 24/7, and all I have to do is ask Him.
I think that you should do whatever feels right to you and never feel that you should write about it any more than you want to. Only do it if it helps you. Don’t feel you have to because others do. You are already very brave – writing doesn’t make you braver. We are all in awe of you xx
Thanks a million. I’m blushing. I would never think I am brave, but I am pleased I am well as I have worked hard to get where I am. I suppose it just gave me a jolt of reality to realise I am not as ‘over it’ as I would like to be. Yet! 🙂