Say Something. Tell Someone.

From the outside looking in, we were a happy family. How could we not be? All three of us, smiling cheery faces, eyes barely showing the cracks within us. And for a time we were happy. I’ll not deny that we had happy moments as a family. Moments that weren’t besieged with fear, with watching every step, every word.

From the outside looking in, you would NEVER have known what happened behind closed doors. You would never had known what fear the young girl was experiencing, what anger the mom was trying to control, or that dad was unaware for most of it.

That’s the thing about abuse. You don’t know. An abuser excels at hiding in public. A victim learns to shut up and become as little as possible. To not bring any attention upon themselves. Bruises can be hidden/written off/explained. You don’t truly know until someone says something. And a lot of times, when someone speaks up others don’t believe them. Especially in cases like mine, when we appeared to the world as a happy family.

But that’s one of the keys to healing, to moving forward. Say something. Tell someone. Speak up.

Living with abuse, or even living after the abuse has ended is like living with a constant weight. The weight of this enormous secret. Something that you’ve never talked about. It is a weight on your shoulders, a weight on your chest. It governs your every move, your every word, your every decision. Your every breathe is tainted by the weight of this secret. Even if you have left the situation where the abuse has occurred, your abuser still has power over you with this weight.

That’s the thing about abuse that no one really talks about. You leave, get out, walk away and it still follows you. It follows you mentally, emotionally, and physically. The weight of this secret is usually a big factor in the healing process, a big factor in all three of the ways abuse follows you.

Talking about it, telling someone, starts to lift that weight. It allows you to feel as if you can breathe again. You don’t have to tell the world, you don’t have to make any crazy public display, just tell one person. A friend, a stranger, a loved one. It doesn’t matter-just someone. Start lifting that weight off of your chest and start taking back control of yourself.

In fact, from my own experience, I had some folks who knew us as a family be shocked when I first spoke out. It was a surprise to some, not so much too others, but overall if I had never said anything no one would ever have known. I also knew though that I wanted to take back control. I wanted my voice back. I wanted to be “normal”.

While I’ll never be “normal”, I have become a person that I like again. I am no longer a shell, scared of the slightest thing. I’ve no longer got a weight on my shoulders/chest controlling everything. The first time I told someone that weight started to lift.

Talking about it, sharing my story, even just to one friend who already had an idea that something wasn’t right, allowed me to breathe a little easier. And slowly, ever so slowly because the healing process takes time, I started to take back control by talking and by writing.

I’ve faced some backlash, and I know others who have faced even more backlash than I have, but the freedom that we feel, the relief, that’s feeling of being able to breathe-that feels better than the backlash that comes. You may lose friends, you may face some backlash, BUT the freedom that you will get, the feeling of relief, the ability to breathe again without this weight. That is something amazing.

Dealing With Forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of those tricky things to figure out and incredibly hard to do. A lot of times, to forgive is to give up a lot of bottled up emotion, to open yourself to feeling that emotion and then letting it be “free”. That is hard. Without even realizing it, we can become dependent on that bottled up emotion and use it as an excuse to other issues that we may have. We fall into a trap of holding on to emotions, to bitter experiences, toxic relationships or people, and letting that dictate our future. 

It is hard to believe how much our past experiences can play into our future decisions and life. Well, maybe not that hard to believe when you think that everything we have gone through as an individual makes us who we are. Every decision, conversation, experience, person we interact with, plays into shaping who we are. When we have a negative experience, or experience a level of trauma caused by another person, that leaves a whole pot of emotions that then factor into everything else.

Forgiveness is essential to healing, to moving forward, to letting go of those emotions that cloud our future. This doesn’t have to apply to any major trauma or event (although it quite often does), this can honestly just be forgiving someone of a mistake they made or for what they said when they had an off day. Without forgiveness, those emotions (and that person) hold power over you. You may or may not realize it, but it is there. It factors in to every decision you make, and you’ll see that one day. 

However, how do you forgive someone who never “admits” to what they have done to you? Never recognizes the harm? Never even gives a thought to what happened or how it affected you?

Sure, in a perfect world, this would never happen. And we can all sit and say, “If I’m wrong, I’m wrong and I’ll own that” and while most of us would, not all would. When you are trying to cope with something that has happened to you, and the person who did it doesn’t even recognize or admit to it, it takes a different kind of forgiveness to occur. That forgiveness is truly for yourself. It truly says that you are ready to move forward, to free those emotions, to free yourself from your past. You aren’t doing it for anyone else, because in these instances, there isn’t anyone else to do it for. 

At its core, forgiveness is for the person doing the forgiving, NOT for the person being forgiven. This is so so so important to remember. When you are working through your own hurt and trying to move forward, that is for YOU. It is not for anyone else and when you are at that point of forgiveness, you need to be sure that YOU are ready to forgive. To let loose those emotions. To truly be free. Not because someone is pressuring you, not because you feel like you have to do it. 

Forgiveness is more than just saying “I forgive you”. It is more than just uttering words to yourself or someone else. It is a promise to yourself to let go of what happened. To let go of the emotions attached to whatever it was. When you are ready to forgive, you are truly saying, I am done. I let go of what happened. I let go of my feelings around what happened. I am letting go of what happened. 

Forgiving does not mean that it didn’t happen. It does not mean that you be perfectly healed. It does not mean that you will never remember or never have flashbacks. It does mean that you are ready to take that next step in healing. That you are ready to lose the chains that have weighed you down. 

For me, forgiveness came naturally once I took stock of where I was at in life. I had realized that what was done to me was not done out of hatred. It was done because that person simply did not know better. That person loved me, still does love me, and they simply did not know any other way to be. Forgiveness became my way of taking back my life. Freeing myself from what I was, where I was going, who I was turning into. I didn’t say anything to that person, I didn’t feel like I needed to. At the end of the day, I did it for me and I was the only one that needed to do it. 

Friday Morning Cups

IMG_6872 3.JPGI’ve been trying to think of a good caption for this photo. One that would accurately represent all the things I want to say. Truth is…I don’t have that caption. I don’t have all of the words (and if I did it would make for a really long caption). What I do have is this: This was a shot from a few weeks ago. When I was overwhelmed. When everything just kept triggering. It was a rough night- Probably the roughest I’ve experienced yet as a mother. This is just one image of what being a survivor is. There are numerous smiling happy pictures to match our numerous smiling days. I’ve never shown this side (just like I’ve never spoken publicly about my past), the tough moments. The times when I’m curled up in a ball, just trying to breathe. Just acknowledging what is and what was. Being a survivor, healing, forgiving, moving forward doesn’t mean that all those memories, all those reactions and fears go away. Those are still (and always will be) very much there in your body and memory. And some days will look like this. Some days will bring you to your knees, but not all of the days. And as you continue to heal, continue to move forward those days will become fewer and fewer. 

A Peak Into My Past

I have never shared this story publicly. I have never talked about this part of my past with anyone, outside of a couple of close friends and family. All of my healing has been done privately, in and out of therapy. Figuring out what works for me and how I would even begin to piece my life back together after the rug was pulled out from under me almost 16 years ago. I’ve finally reached a peaceful place in my life, partly due to finding love in someone else, partly finding the ability to love myself. The biggest part of my peace being the forgiveness I have given. 

Finding the peace within myself has allowed me to reach a point where I want to talk with and help others. When I first entered therapy I had sworn that once I had made my own peace, I would help others in any way that I could. I thought it would be something that I could do within a little bit of time and then I could get to helping others and speaking about this trauma that simply isn’t spoken about. Here I am 12 years later, only just now feeling like I can share this story. Only just now feeling that peace, that urge to share, and finally being comfortable enough to share. Finally at the point where I really feel like I can help others. Help them find their healing, help them see the light at the end of the tunnel. To be that person that I needed.

I’ll get into more of that at another time, but I want to give you my story. I want to publicly share the part of my past that I’ve never shared before. You may have read this already, if you read the linked article in Friday’s post, but I wanted to address it here. Directly on my blog. So, here we go…IMG_4702

I was emotionally abused for 10+ Years and physically abused everyday for 7 of those years (everyday for 5, off and on for 2) by a parent. The person who was supposed to be my guide, my champion, supposed to be everything, was instead my tormentor. I went through my childhood with the expectation of perfection placed on me (and criticized, put down, insulted if not) and my adolescent years with an unthinkable amount of fear. Child abuse is not just being scared, it is a traumatic event that changes everything. Everything about you, everything about your life, and everything about everyone you come into contact with. 

Before I even had the opportunity to have a voice, it was taken away from me. Before I could even understand what was truly right and wrong, what I wanted to be or do, what true happiness could be, I knew what fear was. Not just being scared of something, but true fear. True terror. In some ways I can’t put to words what I was feeling, but in other ways it is crystal clear. 

As I said to start this post, I have reached a good space. A space where I can handle the tough moments, when all of those emotions, fears, and moments come back. I feel like I am at that light at the end of the tunnel, when you know that the tunnel is coming to an end, but there is still a bit of darkness. It has been a long and tough road to get here, and it is a road that will continue for the rest of my life. I have also recognized that having gone through this, having worked through it, and having come out on the other side, I am a better person for that. I am a better wife, mom, a better person all together. 

I want to end this by saying that I will be starting to talk more about trauma, child abuse, and dealing with both of these factors a little more frequently on my blog. There will still be plenty of my usual happy go lucky content (as I am that happy go lucky, keep all things cosy, find the silver lining kinda girl), but I want to start sharing more of my story. I find that Childhood Trauma and Abuse is a topic that doesn’t seem to get enough attention (unless it is a major event) and it is something that is more common than we think. 

Friday Morning Cups

IMG_6413This morning is kind of a special morning. I am sharing something that I have NEVER spoken about “publicly”. I’ve told a small amount of family, a couple of close friends and that is about it. I’ve never spoken about this publicly as I’ve never felt like I was in a good place to really talk about it. I think once you read the linked blog post, you will understand. I will talk more about this in a future blog post, but since this has been published, I want to share with you.

The truth is…it has taken me 10 years to get to this point. To get to a point that I was truly ready to talk about this, to share my story, to help others. 10 years to feel like I have finally reached a point in my healing and recovery that I can actually help others go through it, get through it, and come out the other side. I will be slowly starting to introduce this topic into this blog and my own social media.

Click HERE to read the post.

Thank you for reading.