Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Effects of Abuse are Far Reaching…Long after the FINAL BLOW!

Just recently I was involved in a serious car accident where I slammed into the back of a semi going 75 mph. He merged into my lane and I did not have time to react. As a result, I totaled my car and was in extreme pain. Later, I was taken to the ER where they did a total body MRI to check for internal damage. I was in severe pain at the time and there was concern about internal bleeding or organ damage.

My mother was in the room with me as we waited for the results and when the doctor came in, he asked my mother to leave the room, I told him no she could stay. That comment bothered and scared me.

The Doctor then asked me if I had been in any prior major accidents, I said “No”, he then asked if I had been abused or a victim of Domestic Violence? I immediately thought to myself, “Why would he be asking me this?” I answered him, that “Yes I had been abused,” not going into detail as to how because my mom was sitting in the room and I did not want to give the doctor the impression that she was the perpetrator. He said, “Well that explains a few things, your joints, neck and back are riddled with arthritis and there are a few broken bones that never healed correctly.” He told me I had the back of an 80 year old. That disturbed me because I am only 44! When he left the room, mom and I talked about the past abuse and how all the physical violence we both endured has contributed to a lifetime of physical and internal pain. She too suffers from chronic pain, arthritis, inner ear arches, and joint issues from a lifetime of abuse. The effects of abuse are felt long after the final blow!

These are just some of the Effects from my childhood abuse. I can crack my neck and back at will, so badly in fact, that others cringe when they hear it. I am often reminded of that skit on Saturday Night Live, where this older gentlemen is getting out of bed and spends several minutes cracking every bone in his body, just to get out of bed, right down to his nose and ear lobes. It is a funny skit but one that is, unfortunately my reality. I have constant fatigue and chronic acute pain. I deal with it rather well, but as I get older I fear that It will get severely worse actually altering my lifestyle. I am a very active person and always on the go. It is a fear I now have after hearing the doctor’s comments on my physical conditions.

Other less obvious effects that have plagued my entire life are:

Fear; Inability to Trust; Low self-esteem; Difficulty with Intimacy; Poor Decision making; Guilt; Depression; Shame; Self –Destructive Behaviors; Suicidal Thoughts; Issues with alcohol. The list actually continues but these are the issues I have had to deal with at some point in my life.

There are numerous factors that contribute to how abuse affects an individual:

The child’s age and developmental status when the abuse or neglect occurred
The type of maltreatment (physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, etc.)
The frequency, duration, and severity of the maltreatment
The relationship between the child and the perpetrator

There has been much research done to explore why, given similar conditions, some children experience long-term consequences of abuse and neglect while others emerge relatively unscathed. The ability to cope, and even thrive, following a negative experience is often referred to as “resilience.” I like to think I am a very RESILIENT SURVIVOR! Even though my abuse started at age 4 and continued until I was 19, where I suffered extreme physical, emotional and mental abuse, molestation later and rape I still have tremendous resilience. My perpetrator for all of my abuse except for my Rape, was my father. I was Raped by a stranger when I was 16 years old. I suffered helplessly in coping with my abuse in much of my twenties and started to thrive when I entered my thirties. I sought active counseling and I refused to stay stuck in the past, wallowing in the emotions and paralyzed by depression. I have always been a “High Functioning” survivor and I am very proud of that!

Even through all the pain from my past, if you didn’t know my story--you wouldn’t have known my story! Most of my scars are on the inside. I do have several that are noticeable though, those ones don’t hurt as bad as the internal scars. When I think back over the course of the abuse in my life I feel so much. I have one major regret so far in this life, and that is that I never had children. This does anger and hurt me though, because all the abuse did linger into my adult life and it has robbed me of certain things where I now feel slighted at times, when I think about them.

There were three factors that contributed to not having children; one, I was afraid I would be abusive; two I have never allowed anyone close enough in to ever get to that point; and three because of the Fear of inheriting Huntington’s disease, which there is no chance of now, thank the Lord. Whew! My mom is safe and that now means my sisters and me are too! I have a good friend who has two younger girls that I love and adore. I just recently told her, “I am adopting your children.” Figuratively of course, but if they have a need I want to be there to help fill it. I feel I have missed out on this one important thing in life!

Another area where I feel I was robbed was my inability to trust people and form intimate relationships. I focused so much of my life on healing from the past and relearning destructive, dysfunctional patterns of operating, that the area of relationships has suffered. The fear of Intimacy has always been my “kryptonite.” I am strong in every other area of my life now except for this. It is here where I have little self-esteem; here that I feel my greatest fears of rejection and inadequacy surface, and here, where the last chapter of the past needs to be read and re-written. I have made great strides on re-writing this and believe that it is only a matter of time before I declare to the world, “I am in a HEALTHY, Loving Relationship” or “I AM Getting Married!” A few years ago, if I typed those words a great bolt of panic would have shot through my entire being causing anxiety, panic and fear, but today as I type them, I have a smile on my face and a pleasant expectation of the future with only a mild case of those feelings!

If I think about the past too long I feel anger that I had to waste so much of my adult life on healing and “Getting Well.” I regret that things didn’t come easy for me, that it has been a constant battle! Where my life has been tremendously hard! I sometimes have anger towards my father because he not only robbed me of my childhood, his abuse trickled into my adult life causing a daily fight to behave, act and feel “Normal” in this world. Those things which come “Easy” for others are so very hard for me and if you are reading this, you too are probably an Adult Survivor and you’re shaking your head in agreement right now because we all suffer in some form or fashion with the same issues.

When I start to feel angry over the past and think back on how hard the Journey has been to get to this point I have a choice…To get angry or to get motivated, accepting the past as the cornerstone for who I am now and what I am accomplishing. I have chosen to get motivated, accepting my past as part of my Journey to help others. It is now my responsibility to raise awareness and to help others through their pain, telling others my story and how I healed!

In writing “Shards of Glass” it has been my greatest triumph, the greatest source of healing and the greatest honor in knowing that others are reading my story and gaining hope and healing from it. I just read a comment on facebook, “I admire your Courage.” That courage did not come easy and it has been a lifelong fight. I am thankful for those that read my words and our comforted in knowing that you are not alone and that there is hope and healing from the long reaching effects of childhood abuse!

Please check out my memoir on here is the link.

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