I Will Tell My Story

“Violators cannot live with the truth: survivors cannot live without it. There are those who still, once again, are poised to invalidate and deny us. If we don’t assert our truth, it may again be relegated to fantasy. But the truth won’t go away. It will keep surfacing until it is recognized. Truth will outlast any campaigns mounted against it, no matter how mighty, clever, or long. It is invincible. It’s only a matter of which generation is willing to face it and, in so doing, protect future generations from abuse.”
Christine Oksana

I will not go back to silence, to a time when not proclaiming my truth made me complicit in Pat and Ed’s lies.  I. Will. Not.

This blog has given me catharsis and solace – and an unmitigated view of the events that shaped my young life and led to a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder.  It is my story, and I will tell it.

For others – the perpetrators of abuse, this blog is a stark, cold, bleak mirror reflecting the darkness of their soul. It has led to embarrassment, shame, and even confession. It has brought fervent denial, offered in vain; disbelieved by those who matter most.  It has exposed character flaws and vile, repellent acts committed only by the cruel and depraved. It has shined a light on generations of abuse; morally bereft parenting practices that have led to estrangement, alienation and mental illness.

It has brought me peace.

I have been fully well for a long time now; my thoughts clear, my feelings and emotions tempered only by what is real and true – it is good, so good.

I do not do this out of a need for revenge – nothing I could ever do would be enough anyway.  I do this because it is right, and it is true.  I offer no apology to those who would be far more comfortable with my silence – I did not ask to be Pat and Ed’s child.

“So often survivors have had their experiences denied, trivialized, or distorted. Writing is an important avenue for healing because it gives you the opportunity to define your own reality. You can say: This did happen to me. It was that bad. It was the fault & responsibility of the adult. I was—and am—innocent.”

The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis 

When we give shelter to those who have abused and tortured, when we cloak their sins and embrace their lies, can we really believe in our own goodness and integrity?

Shattering the Silence

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Silence is a big part of the problem – silence in families, silence among friends, silence in society.  Silence allows abuse to continue generation after generation. Silence allows Abusers to get away with their crimes.  Silence keeps victims locked inside their own internal prison.  Silence is dangerous – and for me personally, silence is now equal to moral bankruptcy.

Telling the story isn’t easy, especially true because it involves facing the stigma of mental illness, but it’s easier than feeling powerless the way I did every minute of every day of my childhood.  I was silent for a long time, and when I was silent I was angry because I still felt victimized … and this anger eventually became the source of the psychotic rage that deeply hurt my family.  No child should ever see their father as mine have seen me, and no wife should have to live through what mine has.

Silence led to self-destructive thoughts and behaviors — it even led, briefly, to suicidal-ideation.

Silence is inherent to the condition of the Abused Child – we know better than to tell anyone anything.  Even today the thought of the beating Ed would have given me for telling someone what he and Pat did to us fills me with profound anxiety and paralyzing fear.  Beatings were not only painful physically and emotionally, they were humiliating … Silence was the only option.

And that fear of Ed – it is unreal how alive that phantom feeling can be, even now.  It isn’t logical, and I know that, but it lingered and tied me to silence for a long, long time.

The shame and humiliation played their part, too.  Silence as an adult is rooted [in part] in protection of identity and ego; I didn’t want people to know my mother abandoned me, or that she beat me or threw water in my face – those things are degrading and demeaning …

And I didn’t understand how talking about it could help.  It was bad enough to have lived through it once, I didn’t want to relive it through discussion or analysis …

What I’ve learned:

Silence protects … the Abuser

Silence further damages the Survivor

If I’m courageous in breaking the Silence, I am courageous because I have to be.  Silence was eating away at me, devouring my soul and my humanity bit by bit. I was apathetic and withdrawn – trying to avoid remembering my childhood consumed all my emotional resources.  Flashbacks leaked through and into my loving family relationships, causing me to act in shameful ways.  I became someone I didn’t recognize and didn’t care to know.  Silence was all there was to being me for a time …

And breaking that Silence set me free to heal and recover and share; there is catharsis in telling your story.