Archive for December 12th, 2008

While it was daunting for me to share my history of child abuse with friends, I have no regrets about doing so. Even the times that did not turn out so great were still worth it. Every time I share my child abuse story, I validate that it happened. I also educate others about child abuse, which is also important. Those who chose to pull away after learning about my child abuse history still had to face that child abuse happens. I hope that they will be more receptive the next time around if/when another child abuse survivor shares her story with them.

Fortunately, I have had many more positive reactions than negative ones to sharing my child abuse story. Those who know at least some of my child abuse history are amazingly loyal. I have been called all sorts of wonderful things, such as a “walking miracle.” I have had multiple people tell me that I am an inspiration. One said that, if I can have a good day and enjoy my life after all that I have been through, then she knows that she can handle her own issues that she is facing in her life today.

Revealing my truths has invited some people into a deeper level of emotional intimacy. I can be myself around them. When I am triggered, I can call and say, “I am triggered,” and they know what to do. I even provided one friend with a “script” so she knows what to say next time. I don’t have to deal with my pain by myself any longer. By opening up about where I have been, I have added resources to my life to help me deal with my pain when it bubbles up.

Each time I tell my story, it gets easier. Many of my emotional wounds are now scars, so they no longer hurt. I can talk about a lot of terrible things without crying or feeling pain. Instead, when I take a walk down memory lane with a friend, I can see what happened to me through my friend’s eyes rather than through the distorted lenses that I always used. This helps me to be more objective about what happened and accept, once and for all, that I was not responsible for the things that other people did to me.

The admiration that friends show for me for surviving all that I did is inspirational. When I inspire them, they, in turn, inspire me. Everybody wins.

A true friend is someone who knows all about you and chooses to love you, whether that love is despite or because of what you went through. Choosing to tell my story and reveal my pain has opened up doors in friendships that I never thought possible.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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