“It takes time to persuade men to do even what is for their own good.” Thomas Jefferson
I was dissociated. I grew up having dissociative identity disorder which means that I effectively disconnected from myself and from the events that happened to me. That is what dissociative identity disorder is. That was how I protected myself, how I survived, how I coped. In recovery it was extremely important that I eventually connected those events BACK to me. I had to realize that those things really happened and they happened to me.
This isn’t as easy as it might sound. For one thing I didn’t realize when I talked about certain abuse situations, that I didn’t connect them to me. The first time I connected being molested as a child, to myself, I was stunned. Shocked actually. I had had the memory for years. But I didn’t actually relate it to something that happened to me as a person or to me as an individual or to me as someone who was violated. So when I talked about it in therapy this one day, it was just like I was talking about something slightly uncomfortable, like driving in bad weather. Like I was talking about an event that was slightly awkward but not the devaluing and terrifying sexual assault that in truth is what actually took place.
It doesn’t help if you are told constantly while growing up, that you are dramatic, that you talk to hear yourself talk, that you exaggerate. Or if you are told statements like “we don’t talk like that” or “we don’t talk about things like that”. It doesn’t help if you are brainwashed to believe that your memories are wrong. That your memories are false, because the memory is horrifying enough. It doesn’t help if you are told that you deserved it, that you asked for it, and the worst one of all ~ that you liked it. It doesn’t help if when you got older that you have become so sexualized that your body responds to something awful. It is really confusing when you are told it didn’t happen AND you are told you deserved it and to forgive. (If it didn’t happen why are you told you deserved it or to forgive?)
It might be nice to believe that it never really happened. Like witnessing a fatal car accident. Your mind will often try to tell you that it didn’t happen the way that you saw it happen. Your mind will try to figure out all sorts of ways that it might have happened differently and with a different outcome. I could have done this or that differently. I could have stopped it. Your mind will try to protect you from the horror of what you saw. Well my mind tried to protect me too, so it split into different memory banks and separated one memory from another. My parents gladly assisted with this process by not validating me and by convincing me that my dramatic personality was full of shit.
When I finally connected that first event to myself, I was able to connect other events too and accept that these things happened to me. I had to accept more than just that certain abuse happened to me, I had to accept that I was not validated at the same time. I was not heard, I was not protected. And although my parents were not my sexual abusers, they didn’t listen to me, my mother had a violent temper, my father was emotionally unavailable, completely detached and disinterested in me and all of those things are also abusive. I had to realize that. All of this was part of the picture of who I was and what happened to me and how I dealt with it or didn’t deal with it.
If I was to recover, if I was to heal, I had to put myself first for once and really look at this as a whole picture. And I had to realize that I had been abused, mistreated, not valued, heard or protected, and that those things happened to ME, that it was wrong, and that I didn’t deserve it. I also had to realize that I deserve recovery; that I deserve to have a full life. That I deserve to know what love is and to be loved and to know my own value. I had to stop comparing my life and my past to everyone else’s and I had to stop believing that how other people defined me was TRUE. I had to realize at the depth of my entire being, that I WAS NOT who “they” said that I was and that they don’t get to define me anymore.
I fought for my life when I was abused, but I fought even harder to get it back. and THIS truly is “the good fight”.
Written with more love then I ever knew I had or imagined that I could ever feel;
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Facing and Speaking the Awful Truth ~from the blog “you can fly with broken wings ~ by Fi MacLeod