It was so important for me to believe that my childhood had in fact been difficult. I had been brainwashed that my childhood was wonderful, normal and that I was one of the “privileged” people in the world. I believed that something was wrong with me because I had so many struggles with depressions and emotional issues. I felt guilty that I was so unhappy because I had been convinced that I was so fortunate to have grown up in the family I had. I believed that I had wonderful, hard working parents who did their best for me. I constantly looked to those “less fortunate” in order to beat myself up about how “ungrateful” that I was.
I bought their definition of “normal” hook, line and sinker. No wonder I always felt like I was drowning.
The way that I was raised was not healthy nor was it “normal”. But how was I to know that? It was my normal. It was all I knew. I had no frame of reference for any other way of life. I had to face that although I had been “told” that I was a liar and an exaggerator, I did in fact know the truth about at least some of the things that had happened to me and that those things were wrong. I had to listen to myself. I had to believe myself. I had to validate the pain that being devalued, dismissed and treated as “not quite valid” as a person had an effect on me. A lasting effect. There was damage done. TO ME.
I deserved to heal, but first I had to believe that I had something I needed to heal from. I had to believe myself regardless of the lifelong message that I had nothing to complain about. I had to validate my story. I had to validate my pain. I had to validate ME and stop waiting for someone else to validate me.
This was the beginning of healing for me.
I was in my early 40’s the first time I connected that the sexual abuse in my childhood had happened to me. I had effectively separated those events from myself. I dissociated (hence the term “dissociative identity disorder) and dissociating enabled me to cope.
(Regarding Dissociative Identity Disorder and Multiple Personality Disorder ~ not everyone who has dissociative identity disorder or dissociative issues, fragments into alter personalities. Many people who have dissociative identity do just that ~ they dissociate from their identity. They disconnect from themselves without developing other personalities to cope “for them”. The dissociation in itself is the coping method.)
I also developed multiple personality disorder (now known as dissociative identity disorder), which means in my case, that I fragmented or split into multiple personalities as a method of survival. The first time I realized that it was MY body that was violated I sat stunned, repeating over and over again; “That happened to me… that happened to ME!” I finally connected one horrible and frightening event to myself. I was shocked that I’d never realized that it happened to ME and in fact I was realizing it for the very first time. I had effectively disconnected myself and my body from the feelings and the pain and even from the truth.
Furthermore I convinced myself that because I had split into “more than one person” that the abuse did not actually happen to me, but instead, I believed that it happened “to them”. I believed it happened to “those alter personalities” inside of me. I personally disconnected from it. I disconnected from myself. Although as a child, having dissociative identity disorder was what kept me alive and it was how I coped and survived, it was also what was in my way as an adult.
In order to move forward and out of survival mode, I had to face what caused me to go into survivor mode. I had to face what caused me to fragment into multiple personalities. I had to shift my focus from being fascinated with my alter personalities, to realizing where they came from and that each of them was really me and that each of them held memories of things that happened to ME. Then I had to connect myself to the memories I had.
I was afraid of the pain. I was afraid to “go there” and take a look. I was afraid of the feelings. I thought I could just keep going forward and forget that stuff from so long ago. But my depressions increased. I was withdrawing from life more and more so my quality of life was poor. My children were beginning to suffer from my dissociation and dissociative identity issues and my children were getting old enough to realize that mommy was often “somewhere else”.
Deep down I thought the “truth” might kill me. But when I thought about it, all my life I had been taught to deny the truth. I had been taught that feeling the pain was never an option. That is why I dissociated. I was surprised that the pain of facing the past was never as bad as the pain that I had been living in for so long. I was exhausted from the energy it took to avoid facing the past. My depressions were getting worse because of all that denial! In facing it all, I found my identity and I was able to overcome all mental health issues.
It is so important to talk about abuse ~ ALL abuse. It was so important for me to talk about what happened to me. In talking about it I was able to hear myself and realize that it had been wrong. It was important to talk to an understanding person. Since my family had invalidated me all of my life, they were not the people to tell. I was careful not to talk with people that would tell me that I had to forgive. (because that was invalidating) I was careful not to choose people fond of expressions like “the past is in the past” or “just get over it”. (because that was also invalidating) The goal was to validate that what happened to me was wrong. The goal was to affirm that there was damage that there was a reason that I had been struggling. The goal was to realize that my chronic depressions came from somewhere. I found out and embraced the truth that my depressions and dissociative identity issues had a root cause.
By looking at the truth and validating myself, I affirmed that I needed to heal and that I had a right to heal. I needed to validate that the things that happened to me did happen and to FEEL the feelings that I tried to avoid most of my life. It was in facing, validating and feeling those feelings that I found healing, wholeness, and freedom.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and feelings here. I look forward to your feedback.
Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time
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