Dedication: Every single girl and woman who doesn't know how infinitely powerful she is!
I am going to tell you my full story. There’s several people who know different chapters of this, but not a single soul that’s ever known the whole thing. Why am I doing this? Well, I am hoping to inspire and help. I am 29 years old and the past 8 years of my life have been dedicated to healing myself from within. If you are easily triggered by mentions of (child) sexual abuse, self harm, depression and other mental health problems, please consider whether you want to read on, although I am going to end this on a positive note, which maybe you can just skip to.
My childhood has been very traumatic. It all started at the age of 2 1/2 when my parents split up. My mother and I moved in with my grandparents and although I don’t remember much from this time (2 1/2 to about 6 years), I know from stories that my grandfather was an alcoholic at the time and my mother’s new boyfriend was addicted to heroin. Shortly after she got pregnant with my younger half brother, something happened that made her break up with him and ban him from ever coming near our house ever again. According to what I’ve been told, it was the result of a fight they’ve had over his drug addiction. He never got to see his son and committed suicide a few years later. I will get to why this is important at a later point.
So I was 5 years old, my mother was a stressed out single parent who was carrying her own burden of PTSD, and our relationship deteriorated. I experienced her as cold, unloving, physically violent at times, verbally abusive, untrustworthy and unreliable. She would threaten to abandon me in the woods or at the orphanage and actually drive me there in order to scare me and make me obedient. This deteriorating continued throughout her new marriage, which took place when I was 10 years old and worsened from this point on. My step father, an ex veteran and also heavily traumatised, tried to discipline us by putting us down, because he believed this was the only way to motivate us to prove him wrong. Mental health issues were a big taboo, because for him they were equal to weakness, so under his influence my mother never thought about taking me to see a therapist or getting me the help that I needed. I remember passing a lot of my pain and anger on to my younger brother by hurting and teasing him wherever I could, which is something I feel deeply sorry for nowadays, whilst at the same time now I have profound compassion for the hurt child that I was. My second and youngest half brother was born and I felt like such an outsider to ‘their’ family. Throughout all these years my father was my only point of refuge, however due to his own struggles with mental health and panic attacks, he was unable to look after me full time. I first started suffering from depression at the age of 13. Shortly after I was having suicidal thoughts and began to self harm. I remember keeping a little glass bottle under my pillow that I would collect my tears in. My feelings of being unloved, unworthy, lonely and fundamentally flawed seemed to be eating me up alive, this is the only way I can describe the amount of emotional pain I was in.
I went to a very prestigious school, technically, although I used to skip lessons all the time, until I quit in year 10 (= age 17 in my home country). I just couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t care about my future, because I had been taught not to care about myself. After all, no one else seemed to care about me either. I had made my fair share of experiences with bullying, but nothing compared to the bullying at home and the frequent, humiliating physical fights I would have with my mother. Being dragged around by my hair or with her hand like a vice on the back of my neck and pushed down the stairs to my room. When I was 18, I decided to move as far away from home as I possibly could and got my own apartment in a city halfway across the country. My plan was to get my high school degree and turn my life around, instead the unresolved trauma issues caused the following (almost) 3 years to be a blur of drugs, alcohol, physical self harm, attracting the wrong kind of boys and letting them use me as some sort of sexual doormat. Some of these encounters were technically rape, but at that point in time, I didn’t care. I was desperate for love and was willing to do whatever it took to get some attention. I had suicidal thoughts all the time and endangered my life willingly on more than one occasion. Things seemed to go uphill when I met my first real boyfriend, by real I mean, the first kind of relationship that was built on mutual feelings and respect for each other. It was an on / off thing and when he finally broke up with me, I was so heartbroken I felt like I was actually dying.
Back to my mother’s junkie boyfriend and me as a 5 year old… for so long I have struggled to understand why exactly I had been suffering with all these mental health problems until a few years back when I was starting to have a strange suspicion that some form of sexual abuse took place during that time which I don’t seem to be able to remember. Adding up all the little clues from my adult perspective, my alarm bells went off immediately. Suddenly everything seemed to make sense. I am not just talking about everything I mentioned above, I am talking about unusual sexualised behaviour that is not normal for a child of the age that I was then, so maybe 5 to 10 years old. It seems obvious that I was trying to tell people what had happened but couldn’t put it in words back then. I don’t really want to go into too much detail here, but if you took every list of tell tale signs for childhood sexual abuse any psychologist has ever made, I would have ticked most of the boxes. So a new problem arose for me, especially after the big debate of false abuse memories and whether it’s possible to completely block out something like this. Could it be possible? After years of inner work, self reflection and research I can say, yes it is 100% possible, it isn’t even uncommon. Our brains have their own inbuilt self protection mechanism. I was faced with the question of how to deal with something I had zero credentials for, something that if I told anyone, they wouldn’t take me seriously for, because after all, how can I claim something I cannot remember? The only solution I could find for myself was the one to take myself very seriously, yet not without questioning my own factsheet. I have spent years wondering, then pushing it away again, calling myself crazy. All I can say about this sort of dilemma is: Check the facts, listen to your intuition, don’t jump to conclusions too quickly, listen to how certain things make you feel. I read somewhere once that if you suspect forgotten abuse, it most likely happened. So, I am going to say it: I have been abused as a child and I don’t remember any of it. I am not alone in this. It is a real thing.
On my way to a balanced, happy life, the first time something in my head clicked, was a few months short of my 21st birthday, when I was randomly in the shower and a sentence from a TV series popped into my head, ‘Whenever I feel sad, I just stop being sad and be awesome instead!’ I was so sick and tired of feeling depressed all the time that I thought, wait, what if I have the power to change this? And this was the first moment, the first little step towards realising that I alone have the power, that I am in control of my own life. Fast forward 8 years, I have attained quite a bit of knowledge about psychology and developed a much bigger understanding for why I acted the way I did. I think this was a profound trigger on the way to healing myself. All that you need to do so is already within you. I stopped looking for help outside of myself, stopped feeling like a victim, practised self care and compassion, read hundreds of books on spirituality and dug through all the layers of my mind and soul to unearth the roots of my trauma in order to eliminate its effects. I still am, every day, it’s an ongoing, very slow process, but I have already come so far, I never would have thought this was possible even for a second. That I could feel at peace and in love with myself and the world around me.
I have never had therapy, which is not something I am promoting in any way, I would always recommend seeking help if and when you need it. It’s just that the protective walls I had built around myself were so massive I was unable to let anyone through to me or ask for help, which is actually something I still struggle with a little bit these days, but I’m working on it. My biggest goal is to cultivate all the good things I was lacking before within myself and to one day, once the wound isn’t so fresh anymore, make it my mission to support others who need the help and input I so desperately needed.
I guess, what I want to say is, if you are going through or went through anything similar, just know that you are worthy in your very essence as a human being, you are energy in a body, how amazing is that, you are so worthy of all the love in this universe, look after your inner child and BE the very person you need the most. I love you! I really do!