On my blog entry entitled How Do You Let Yourself Feel the Depths of Your Pain?, a reader posted the following comment:
I am not only unable to express emotions, but I can’t even find the words to express what happened to me. I constant struggle with flashbacks, relive horrible memories but unable to share them or give my memories a voice. Because of that inability I so often feel like I am a lair, that things i see in my mind have never happened. All I do in therapy is sit there unable to talk, and since I am a horrible artist I cannot even draw pictures of what I see in my mind. I feel so alone in this and completely hopelessly stuck. Am I alone? I know my abusers trained me not to talk, etc. I don’t know how to get unstuck. Have you experienced this or do you know of others who went through this and have been able to come out the other side. If I don’t talk I can’t heal. If I don’t heal my rage and anger will eat me alive and I will lose my loved ones I don’t ever want to affect those I love with my anger. I wish I can talk about my abuse so I can heal. ~ Matreshka
My abusers also frightened me into silence. I was so frightened to talk about the abuse that I actually lost my voice (quite literally) with five days of laryngitis after my first therapy appointment. My therapist said it was a wonderful metaphor for my childhood – that I had “lost my voice.” However, I would “find my voice” again through therapy and talking about what happened until I no longer felt the need to talk about it anymore.
I am an extrovert by nature and have a loud, strong voice. However, in the early years of therapy, my voice would feel so “thin” whenever I talked about the abuse. I have performed in plays on a stage in front of hundreds of people with no need for a microphone, but my therapist had to strain to hear my soft-spoken voice in those early months of therapy.
My process was to write about the memories first on Isurvive. I always received an enormous amount of support there, which gave me the courage to speak the words either in therapy or with my one trusted friend back then. I would eventually talk with both of them about the latest memory, but I sometimes felt more comfortable talking with one of them first versus the other.
I was in therapy for roughly a year before the first glimpses of the ritual abuse started to emerge. They were so scary that I would just see flashes of a bonfire way down below from the perspective of the treetops. While I got through talking about my mother’s abuse, beginning to face the ritual abuse memories triggered multiple bouts of suicidal urges and the emergence of self-injury in the form of head-banging. In 35 years, I had never self-injured, but I started doing it when I started talking about the ritual abuse memories.
Once again, I had to find the courage to talk about it. I found the courage by building upon what had already worked (talking about the other forms of abuse), taking a leap of faith that I would be okay, and pure stubbornness to allow anyone else to tell me what I could and could not talk about. It p@$$ed me off that my abusers had “programmed” me to self-destruct rather than tell, and I was not going to let them win. I pushed myself past the strong desire to kill myself several times by the sheer force of will, telling myself that I will be d@#$ed before I let my abusers force me to end my life.
Healing from child abuse is not for the faint of heart. It is one of the most difficult choices you will ever make, and you will question yourself many times about whether you can do this. You have to make a resolve that you are going to heal no matter the cost.
Photo credit: Hekatekris