I made a comment in therapy a few weeks ago that has really stuck with me. I said, "the 10 year old me was an idiot".
I always struggle with guilt and blame when I actually allow myself to deeply think about my abuse. How can one human child be the victim of abuse at almost every turn she made without having something to do with it?
I was raised in a loving, stable home with my parents, brother and sister. My parents loved us deeply, supported us, nurtured us, cared for us and provided us with everything we needed. It was pretty. Still is. On the flip side of that, I was in contact with people growing up, who I should have been able to trust, and who my parents thought they could trust.
I've shared before, on a previous blog, that I had multiple offenders. My best recollection of when the abuse started was age 7 and the sexual abuse continued for years until I was 12. When I think of how long it went on and how many people took advantage of me, I get nauseated.
Back to "the 10 year old me is an idiot". It's hard not to think things like...
-why did you let them do those things to you?
-why did you just say stop and no?
-why didn't you run out?
-why didn't you hit them?
-why didn't you scream?
-why in the world did you let them continue to abuse you over and over again?
-why? why? why?
My comment to my therapist was this. I told her that I could see a 7 year old not realizing that something was wrong when being abused. I could even see an 8 year old or a 9 year old getting confused with what was going on. But a 10 year old? In my mind, at 10 years old, I should have been smarter. That makes the 11 year old me and the 12 year old me even dumber. This is dysfunctional thinking, I know! But that's the abused part of me. I have not made peace with "little Stacie" yet. She's stuck in me and I dislike her. My therapist then asked me to think of a 10 year old I knew. How would I react to finding out that that 10 year old was abused? Would I blame her for it all happening? Would I shame her for just being a 10 year old kid? OF COURSE NOT! It's weird when the trauma happens to you and you hold the trauma, though. It's a negative scar and message that abusers give you. You have a warped sense of self. Does my adult self understand that children are not to blame when abuse occurs? YES!!! Would my adult self nurture, love and support that child with empathy and compassion? YES!!! I have grown to understand and partially accept that I was groomed over time to be abused. I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. This opened me up to being vulnerable to the next person who abused me, then the next, etc. Manipulation at it's finest. It's still tough to wrap my brain around, though.
The point is - nasty abusers take more than just the innocence from a child. They steal a child's self worth, self esteem, confidence, identity, and can sometimes redirect the child's intended life. My inner child or "little Stacie" and I still haven't mended things. I'm working on it.
Living with trauma is hard. I sometimes wonder who I would be if I didn't have sexual trauma in my past. Almost everything in my past and present have an association with abuse attached to it (parties, gatherings, games, sleepovers, school, holidays, movies, church, college, pregnancy, raising kids, intimacy, working as a nurse, communication, marriage). In each of those, there are beautiful memories too. I just wish I didn't have the abused memories to sift through.
I do know that living through, crawling through, clawing out of and peeling layers of extensive hurt have strengthened my spiritual life. I've said it before and I'll say it again...God saved me. My relationship with Him is THE most important relationship I have. My marriage and my relationship with my husband is second. Spouses of abused spouses are challenged as well. It takes a strong, loyal, empathetic, and trustworthy partner to support you through the ups and downs of abuse and healing. It's not easy and It's so hard on them too. They want to fix things and they just can't. I'm thankful for my husband.
I've recently been informed of others who have similar challenges from similar past sexual abuse. Unfortunately, most of the abusers get away with it while the victim/survivors are left with the repercussions of it (depression, anxiety, isolation, low self worth, blaming, shame, self mutilation, failed relationships, suicides) Survivors - you are not alone. You are loved and you deserve to be happy. Abusers have NO idea the damage they inflict on their victims. It makes me sick.
As always, thanks for reading my story. It's not always an easy read.