It’s time for me to come out. I wish there were rainbow flags and parades for things like this, because maybe it would make it more fun. When my friends who are gay come out, they get to say, literally, “I’m happy.” But the news I have to share is not happy. In fact, it represents a lifetime of overwhelming grief.
I’ve lived with it for over forty years, but it wasn’t until a few months ago that I could say it out loud: I was physically, emotionally, and sexually abused.
Over the course of my life, I spent countless hours ignoring it, minimizing it, and overcompensating for it, but I carried the truth in a heavy knot in my stomach. The terror, the guilt, and the shame I felt were not even mine. I was conditioned to wear the ragged, cast-off emotions of my abusers. It was not just the instances of abuse themselves, but the systematic piling-on of misplaced burden and blame that cloaked me in silence.
I physically escaped my abusers over ten years ago, but I continued to carry the responsibility of the troubled relationship on my shoulders. At the time, it was easier for me to say that I was “too weak” because of the panic attacks I experienced. I cut them off. I refused to “play nice.” I couldn’t handle them any more. I couldn’t blame them, because I would be perceived as spiteful and vengeful. It was easier to own it because my abusers insisted on blaming me, than to take any responsibility.
I do, in general, believe in living life with a positive outlook. Even though I knew the source of my negative thoughts, a part of me still worried that I was being “too dramatic.” After all, no one likes a whiner, right? Shouldn’t I just keep my mouth shut and focus on gratitude? Maybe it wasn’t that bad. I mean, I survived, right? Other people have had it worse… As these thoughts went on, I realized that a lack of positivity and gratitude were not the problem. I feared the kind of response I would have received from my abusive past. If I spoke up, my abusers would double down on their denial and threats until I was cowed into submission. I worried that if I went public, others would belittle my pain in the comments section, as if somehow their opinion of my life bore more validity than my own experience.
Admitting my abuse makes me visible. It also makes me a target.
The fear is palpable. The long term effects of abuse have made it very difficult to speak up. But in my healing I came to a place where silence can no longer have the platform.
I have something to say.
I started this blog as a way to keep myself accountable in my own healing and growth as a survivor of abuse. Will you help keep me accountable with your encouragement?