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I Am Healing-*Trigger Warning*


I truly believe this, by far will be the hardest Blog Post I will ever do. It is riddled with horrible details and negative feelings that many people cannot even imagine or comprehend. It encompasses many triggers that some cannot handle including child abuse, sexual abuse, violence and many others. If you cannot read past this first paragraph, then I hope that someday you will be able to understand those of us out there that are constantly dealing with these situations and emotions. 

Currently I am full of anger. It bubbles up inside of me whenever I even think about the past situations that I have been exposed to. First comes fear and then anger. I have been in denial at first, totally unable to comprehend the facts that were presented to me as truth, my logical mind just kept saying: How is this possible? Why? How could they do that to me? Who else is involved? And while I would like to get all the answers to these questions, sadly I may never actually get an answer or a reason to help put this behind me. So I need to strive to move forward and heal without getting answers or even remorse from the person/people that subjected me to such childhood trauma during the most impressionable years of my life. 

It all started as a personal journey years ago. I cannot remember a time in my life that I wasn't full of fear and anxiety. I've dealt with feelings of inadqueacy and low self-esteem my entire life and felt that it stemmed from my childhood fears of being physically abused. My father in fact did more than spank me and my brother and many times crossed the line into child abuse and hurt us on many occasions. It was quite normalized in my daily life, we were always told that 'if we just behaved better' or 'listened more' he wouldn't hit us. But alas, no matter how hard my brother and I tried, we still got hit. Day in, day out, again and again.

Although my perception of the physical abuse may be skewed, I always felt that I got the brunt of his anger and was hit a lot more than my younger brother. I was shamed growing up for being born a girl and always felt that being a girl wasn't as good as being born a boy. My brother received preferential treatment compared to me for many years and although I didn't resent him for this, I resented my parents. But that could also just be my perception, and not how it was, it is so hard to tell now 33 years later. 

Me and my younger brother with our father around the time when I stopped having childhood memories. I believe I am 5 or 6 years old here.

Up until last month, I had absolutely no memories of my childhood from age 7 or 8 until about age 11 or 12. I cannot remember any time in elementary school, any birthdays, any holidays, NOTHING. Periodically I would have one small, slight inclination of a memory that fit in that time frame, but it is relatively insignificant. Which in itself is odd since it wasn't a large focus of memory, why did I remember the time my mother made fish sticks for dinner and burnt them, but not anything about attending school for 5 years? And strangely enough, I have virtually NO PHOTOGRAPHS of me during that entire period of time except maybe a handful of school pictures. No candid birthday pictures, only maybe 1 or 2 Christmas pictures, no Easter or Thanksgiving, nothing. This photograph of me and my brother with our father was taken as a Mother's Day gift for our mom and I believe I am around age 6 here. It ended up winning a prize in a local contest for being the cutest photo in a contest. Little did they realize how cute my family really was. 

This is where I began to try and heal through EMDR Therapy. I have tried so many different therapy techniques over many years with no results. Nothing seemed to work to help me calm my anxiety and keep me from getting angry at the drop of a hat when things upset me. Thankfully I have been able to find a great Social Worker out of Calgary that is trained in EMDR Therapy and has been very successful helping others with severe traumatic events in their lives. So I took the plunge and started seeing her last year. It took quite some time for me to accept that I was in a safe place and I can trust her to help me. But once I did, my memories began to come back to me. And boy oh boy did they start coming back. This family photo is one of the rare family photos we actually have (I believe I am about 7 or 8 years old here) and photographic evidence of one of the many photos where I am exhibiting a black eye. One memory I do recall at this time is my parents being upset with me for having a black eye and how it may ruin our family picture. And yet, my parents are the reason I had the black eye in the first place. 

The best way I can describe EMDR Therapy is that it's like being hypnotized but you are awake and remember it all. It's like when I am 'under' I am watching a bad movie of my childhood life with me as the star at age 7 (or 10 or whatever age I am at the time of the current traumatic event) and me as an adult watching and cannot do anything, or sometimes I feel as if I am back to being 7 or 10 and I even speak and act like a 7 or 10 year old. While I am experiencing my old traumatic events again, I speak with simplistic words as if I am a child, I have basic 'kid feelings' of being petrified/scared/confused and wanting things like the police to help me or wanting to go to my Grandparent's house. It is all very surreal. 

When my childhood memories started coming back, I went into shock. For days. Things that I couldn't even fathom and comprehend were presented to me and I was in partial denial, and having a hard time accepting that was the reason why I blocked all my memories. You see, not only was I physically abused as a child, but my first memories to come back were those that included being held down, being restrained, being confused and feelings of being hurt, badly hurt by someone (at that time I did not know who it was and I didn't want to make any assumptions). My very first traumatic memory was me being sexually assaulted in my own bed in my room where I grew up at about age 7. Without releasing many details, (even though I recalled it like I just happened to me again) I remember feeling very confused as to why this person was doing this, and when they would stop, and how much it hurt me. It felt like it went on and on forever. And once it was done, I had this feeling like I needed to go to a doctor. And that I was alone. No one to protect me, help me, care for me or rescue me. 

Many other memories quickly followed, and they are quite diverse. I have horrible memories of almost every room in my childhood home at many different stages of my life. I recalled being assaulted in my basement before it was finished on the cold, concrete floor, I remember how dark the spare room was downstairs, I remember the feeling afterwards of being 'allowed' to go back upstairs after it was over. One severe traumatic event came back to me where I was violently sexually assaulted in my kitchen at about age 11. IN THE KITCHEN. I remember fighting back, so hard. With the feeling that if I just fought a little harder, a little longer that he would just beat me and get angry and give up trying to take my pants off and let me be. 

You see, I know my attacker. It has been the same person all along, all these years. And as the memories come back to me, I started making connections that I didn't know were there all along. How I always had a yeast infection/bladder infection growing up constantly, and had multiple visits to the doctor. How I was a chronic bed-wetter well past the age of normalcy. How my mother used to tell me not to change with the other girls in the gym change room and go to the stall by myself to change or the police would take me away. How I was never allowed to go to sleepovers at friend's houses EVER. How secretive my parents and family were and how they still are. They put up aires quite well and even once convinced our local priest at the church and the police (I reported physical abuse 3 different times to the authorities during my childhood) that our family isn't troubled and they were isolated incidents and we would all go for family counselling. Our family dynamics never changed, and yet it would still continue on. 

I remember wondering as a child if any of my friends, schoolmates were dealing with the same situations, if anyone else's parents were like mine. And when I would visit their homes seemed unreal, like a dream or a perfect TV show where they would hug their kids and tell them they loved them all the time. I remember multiple times of situations where I tried to find joy in my life and having it taken away from me the minute that I expressed pleasure, whether it be trying guitar lessons (my guitar was taken away after a month or so because I was told all I did was make noise with it), or attending Air Cadets later on (I was not allowed to go to away trips once I said how much I liked it. They even stopped driving me there so I started catching the city bus and going myself until they realized I would still go, then forbid me to even leave the house). 

And now I can see everything. I can see that maybe it might have started with hitting me and my brother (for what reasons I'm not sure) but I now recall that although I got hit when I was younger,  I was beaten much more when I started fighting back the sexual abuse. That's when the hitting got more and more violent and the sexual abuse got more severe. I don't remember much about my mother during this time. It's as if she's completely absent during all of my attacks. So I cannot be sure when/how they happened, I only grew up with the feeling of abandonment and how I felt she never protected me or saved me like she should have. Pure resentment. 

And yet, after all this I feel sorry for her. So sorry. Because in a way I can understand. If she has been living this way for over 45 years, she is a victim. She has gotten the wrath of his anger during this time, she feels like she has no choice, nowhere to go, and I'm sure she is full of shame for knowing that she wasn't able to protect her daughter, her children. She may even be currently blocking it out herself or doesn't recall the events like I have. Maybe she feels like she is trapped and cannot get away, I have felt that many times. Which would explain why at age 8 or 9 I wanted to kill myself. I just hope one day she can find peace. Because right now I know there is no peace in her life. And it's a horrible place to be. 

Currently I see images constantly, have deep rooted feelings of anxiety, panic and fear that I need to continuously focus on something else entirely until the images and feelings subside. My body still feels things as if they just happened to me, I can feel the pain in my wrists and ankles of being held down, my face hurts where I have been hit and given black eyes in my youth, my pelvis and tailbone have seized up this past month with severe muscle tension and I am seeing an acupuncturist multiple times a week currently for combatting the pain. I cannot sleep in a dark room anymore and have issues with being overwhelmed and facing crowds in public. And I just hope and pray that it will get easier as time goes on. I can only cling to that right now. 

I will continue to use the resources available to me, my EMDR therapist, my family counsellor that calls me at home during the week to check on me as well as my friends and a few select relatives that accept me and believe my story. And my husband, my dear sweet love of my life who is stronger than I could have ever imagined and is my rock, my support no matter what happens to me. He has been my sounding board through all of this and is my solid foundation for what I have built my life upon these last 15 years. 

I have seen the local billboards about Sexual Assult and how I BELIEVE YOU is rooted in their campaign. And up until recently, I never really thought much about it. Now, I understand. It's so hard to live through, and re-live through traumatic events only to have no one believe you. Having your fear ignored or disregarded and even being told that I am making it up or I am wrong. I will stay with those who support me now, and stay strong and if anyone tells me about a time they were victimized, no matter how small or long ago it was, I BELIEVE THEM. 

And after all of this, I am taking back my voice. Taking back my own power. They cannot hurt me anymore. I am not 7 or 10 or a child any longer. I do not need them to protect me, I have my own immediate family and friends that are in my very small circle right now and they support me full heartedly. I will not be victimized any longer, or made to feel like I am the one who is in the wrong. I know the difference between right and wrong and what happened to me was wrong. And I will not let it continue to haunt me and affect how my life is today. I will use the tools I have now to calm my fears and anxiety and be a better person for me, my kids and my family and friends. I cannot get back a happy childhood, but I can make a happy life NOW. I will move on and live the life that I deserve to have.

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