Please don’t think this is easy for me. Speaking out. It isn’t.
I wanted to post something important today but instead of being filled with creativity and joy at finally putting my words down, I am filled with gloom and doom. That overwhelming, all encompassing black shroud that I know as guilt.
For each positive comment I receive and each click on my blog, I feel like I am letting someone down. Am I being disloyal to my Mother? Am I saying too much and am I unable to take any of it back? As Stephen King so rightly says, “A done bun, cannot be undone.” No doubt something awful will happen, as it always has every time I have spoken up. Retribution.
When people are thanking me for being so brave at speaking out, I am filled with fear and discomfort that I am finally being heard and somehow that’s going to result in bad things happening to me. Or should I say, “More bad things?” Retribution.
Or even worse; that you haven’t really heard me at all.
Those same people who are calling me brave are also congratulating me at finally speaking out. Maybe that’s what this incredibly ugly feeling is that is churning my insides up: anger. Anger that of all the many times I have poured my heart out to those I thought cared, it was never enough. I clearly got it wrong. I didn’t express myself clearly enough. I was never heard.
I have been speaking out and up about what happened to me since I was 14. Since I told my Mother and she turned her back on me. Since I was asked by a different mother figure, “What the hell is going on in there?” as I closed the front door of my home behind me.
Since I told my biological father what had happened to me in his absence, when I was aged 36, and he told me never to speak of it again. “People will think badly of you,” he said.
Guilt is the most damaging part of this. It swamps everything and seeps into every available weak spot and before you know it, you are drowning and are struggling to come up for air. Hope is also the enemy in many ways as all of the things you hope for never materialise and disappointment makes us weak. What’s the point?
I hoped my Mother would hear me and put her arms around me. Comfort me. Make it stop. But she didn’t. It went on for another six years and those six years were even more terrifying because now she knew and was doing nothing, as far as I know, to keep me safe.
I hoped the ‘responsible’ adult who encouraged me to open up would keep me safe. But she didn’t. After telling all of my secrets, I was then dropped back home for more of the same.
I hoped my father would do something to make up for the fact that it had happened at all. If I had had a father around, not a ‘stepmonster,’ perhaps I would have been safe.
It’s only now, as an adult myself, that I realise that age really is just a number. It does not magically enable you to take on responsibilities that you cannot shoulder. Everyone is carrying something that they would rather not be. Some people have coping skills and some do not. Who am I to judge?
So no blame here but just an enormous sense of disappointment, of loss of hope, of anger, frustration, of fear. Of guilt.
More than anything, I have hoped each and every time that I have told someone about the childhood sexual abuse that I suffered for fifteen solid years that I would somehow be lighter, that the load would be one confession less heavy and that eventually, if I told enough people, the guilt and pain would go.
I hoped that in telling people, in letting people know the burden I was carrying that they would realise that I am not like them. Or like anyone else. I don’t see the world through the same eyes. Our experience of life could not be more different. Your boundaries stand tall and protective. Mine have been trampled underfoot and the new ones have very weak foundations. Be kind to me.
Happiness doesn’t come into it. It’s not what this is about. Being happy doesn’t remove the slick of guilt that suffocates from the inside out. It doesn’t remove the lack of belief that the world is a dangerous place; that there is no one and nothing that can guarantee any modicum of safety for me or for anybody else.
The world’s lack of understanding does not mean that we are doing this wrong, or just not trying hard enough. God forbid a person with terminal cancer should be told to buck their ideas up and then they might recover, or perhaps a blind person might be able to see if they would only squint a little harder. We, through no fault of OUR own, have damaged brains – no easier for us to fix ourselves than a damaged spine, liver or eardrum.
Telling us about the time that you were groped once does not help. It’s patronising and clearly illustrates that you did not hear what you were told. It ends the conversation and sucks away all hope that you might be the person who will make the difference.
Just getting out of bed in the morning is a massive achievement.
Everything else thereafter is a bonus. That’s all you need to understand.
But I am still feeling guilty that perhaps it’s my fault that some people just don’t get it. I’m clearly not saying it right. I didn’t express myself clearly enough. I was never heard.
*For all the posts in this series, please click here: