I don’t want to be ‘defined’ consistently as an incest and date rape survivor. Not that I’m ashamed.
Do. Not. Mistake. This. For. Shame.
The shame is not mine. Why should anyone be ashamed for what has been done to them with complete disregard for their well-being?
No, this is not about shame.
I don’t want to have every emotion, or lack there of, to be because of what had once been done to me. But the ugly truth is – it does.
It’s like when someone gets diagnosed with breast cancer, they go through the chemo, fight the good fight, get a clear reading and then 4 years later get cancer in the brain. It’s not brain cancer. It’s still breast cancer. Breast cancer that has come back and spread to the brain.
We can heal from the effects of abuse. Absolutely. We can live normal lives. We can thrive. We can be happy, healthy, God-fearing upstanding men and women in our communities and yet the underlying effects of abuse remain in the thread of our being.
I consider myself confident, self-secure and aware in most areas of my life. However, I am insecure in my marriage and lack the ability to accept unconditional love.
Sounds crazy right? Well, maybe for those who have never been abused in such a way that obliterated the ability to trust completely which hinders intimacy on all levels.
I desire attention and affection but subconsciously run and hide when I receive it. I push away. Cause fights. Listen to the enemies lies so I can feel ‘comfortable’ in a state of internal chaos.
My soul cries out, “Choose me!” “Pick me!” and “Tell me I’m enough.” But when I’m chosen, picked, and praised I question it. “Do you?”, “Am I really?”
Plagued with feeling selfish I internalize a battle of wills ‘not wanting to’ and then ‘overdoing’ because I have to make others happy – because it is that ‘effect’ (aka: cancer) that lays dormant inside – what I want doesn’t matter.
I find it hard to cry or feel in the most tragic situations. I laugh at the most inappropriate times.
Often when I struggle with the return of this ‘cancer’ it is not always accompanied by a trigger or memory to make me aware, “Hey! This is a dormant effect caused by the abuse that seeped into the delicate lining of your emotional make-up.”
No. Too often we survivors of abuse go through all of these crazy emotional roller-coasters feeling like we are losing it because we’ve worked so hard at overcoming and forgiving the moment(s) of abuse.
The key is in acknowledging our feelings on all levels, at all times, and learning to express them so little by little we can ‘treat’ the affected area appropriately.
I know there are many out there who could be reading this thinking, “Seriously? Why can’t you just get over it?” Now, typically (just typically not 100%) men tend to lean more on the ‘compartmentalized and get over it’ side of ‘dealing with it’ which could be why we hear less from male survivors than female survivors. Yet, I will say I have met a good number of men whom I am very proud of that have stepped forward and acknowledged ‘this happened to me and it still affects me’, and they get help to better themselves.
Abuse is ugly. Overcoming abuse (in all forms, sexual, physical, emotional/mental) and remaining a thriving, healing journey is complicated but absolutely doable.
Never ever give up because you are worth it!
I would remise if I failed to acknowledge and thank the man in my life who has lived through my crazy (which led him to ‘crazy’ :D) for 22+ years. Thank you Neal! We are both a piece of work but together we can make a masterpiece. (It might look like Picasso…. but still…)
If you are a survivor of abuse and have yet to speak of it or seek help I strongly encourage you to reach out to someone close and tell them your story. If you don’t feel you have a family member, spouse, pastor, priest or friend you can trust please reach out to us. We want to listen and we want to help you on your healing journey. email@example.com
Get your copy of Shannon Deitz’s personal story, EXPOSED for only $1.99 on Kindle.