When I was 10, I was sexually abused by a family friend. The story that follows may shock you all, and make you squirm in your seat. It may be your story too, or the person sitting next to you or someone you know. But sit tight, this story does have a happy ending, and that is why I have been honoured today by being asked to share this story with you.
As I said, I was 10. My brother and I had been sent to friends down the road for a weekend while my parents had some time away. Saturday evening had come and nearly gone, and everyone had gone to bed, except me and my soon to be abuser. I was allowed to sit up late, watching TV – a real treat. I was allowed to drink coke, and even bigger treat. I was wrapped in my dressing gown and warm pj’s, cosy on the couch next to my soon to be abuser. He put his arm around me making me feel comfy and safe. Then he started feeling me between my legs, under my clothes, make me feel that no 10 year old is expected, or deserver to feel, ever. Being discarded afterwards like a non-existing entity was perhaps worse than the pain. He went to make food, while I lay in bed wide-eyed and petrified, and he did not even wash his hands.
Years went by, I did tell my parents in my early teens, but nearly 30 years ago things like this were pretty much swept under the carpet. To give them credit though, which I only found out recently, they did their level best to find him, but he had disappeared and I hear his wife was viciously protective! But my belief through so many years was that I was not fully believed and that it was not such a huge issue.
My first sexual experience was at about 20. It set off 10 year of destructive behaviour. In a sense I became addicted to se, but it was never good, never really loving and fulfilling the way making love should be. Take this picture – you get spoilt, get attention acknowledgement, and then you give your body thinking that this is love, this is going to keep him, and this is going to make you happy. But then you disconnect, you see yourself partaking in the act but not being present at all. I would watch myself; it was like being outside of one’s body. And then after, the sense of guilt, feeling empty and being dirty overwhelm you. So to relieve yourself of this, you do it all over again. This picture is purely a repeat of the experience of a 10 year old, just as an adult.
I did get married, but my lack of self-worth and self-love led me to keep looking for it somewhere out there. As the years of my marriage continued, I found willing lovers, but no love. Alcohol, night clubs and bars, the illicit excitement of doing things that were not socially acceptable, blurred reality and the rational reasoning of a mentally health human being. And so my life continued in a downward spiral, and I was leading 2 very different lives. I was having quickies with the lover in seedy rooms-by-the-hour, the back of a steamy card, on an office desk. I was a whore, just not paid. Revolting if I think about it now!
To all of those in my family, my church, at work, my husband, I was a respectable, upstanding person who could not be faulted. But my marriage was falling apart, and even though it takes 2 to tango, I take full responsibility for the actions, and the dissolution of a sacred union.
Nothing happens by accident. Everything happens for a reason. And the day my ex never made a marriage counselling session, was my day of asking for real help. I broke down in floods of tears, words of self-loathing and hatred after being asked a question that to this day I cannot remember what it is. But this flood opened me to a new world and an opportunity to heal.
Heling though does not come without is pain. But I was so desperate to get out of hell that I did everything I could. Being in emotional pain affects all aspects of us – our physical self, our spiritual self and our minds. Next time you are ill , think about what may be going on in your life or your emotions and you will always find a relationship between the two. I was overweight, I suffered aches and pains, sever allergies and many other issues. I spent time with a reflexologist, a homeopath, my minister and my therapist. The combined mind body and soul healing that I truly believe helped me overcome my past quicker than having only dealt with one aspect, my emotions.
My motto in life is that there is no such word as can’t because where there is a will there is a way. Each day I had to force myself to put positive thoughts into my head and make active, conscious choice to do the healthy things in life. Through 20 years of my life, I had been behaving from the unconscious; I did not know why I was doing the things I was doing and what my triggers were. I just did them. I thought my antics were normal, that I was just a wild outgoing and gregarious character. The healing process brought me into consciousness. It was hard, like being an alcoholic or drug addict that needs to stay away from the substances that they believe make them feel better or cope. Because of all the destructive decisions I had made there were many areas of my life that suffered. But I stepped up to the plate, and was ready to take responsibility for my actions.
During this time I started setting goals. Job, car, house. Achieved…
I am by no means perfect and by no means happy every day. But I am choosing how I want to live my life, and do the best I can with the tools I have learnt. Here are some of them.
You cannot change your personality, but you can change your behaviour. I will always be loud, and outgoing. I love the theatrical, and being centre stage. But I know that people feel exhausted, so I changed my behaviour. My voice is lower, I talk a bit slower, I give others a chance to speak and I acknowledge them during the conversation, instead of it all being about me.
Remember that each person chooses to behave the way they do, and their behaviour comes from their own beliefs about themselves. So the next time your co-worker gets cross with you out of the blue, let it go, it’s their issue not yours. They chose to speak to you like that. You can now choose how you want to react.
Be conscious – take time to analyse and look at yourself and your behaviour and why you are like that. Don’t go through life completely unaware of the effect of yourself on yourself and the effect of yourself on others.
Allow yourself to feel the emotions – don’t run away from them. That will do more damage to you. But, don’t let it fester. Feel it, acknowledge it, and then choose how you are going to deal with it.
Ask for help. Just the other day, I broke down with a friend, admitted I had a problem in a certain area, and needed help. Wow, have the gates opened with support and love, and just asking has helped propel me to doing what I consciously need to do. If you need a therapist, find a reputable one, one that suits you, and be prepared to work and get to the other side quickly – 10 years in therapy helps no-one!
Don’t rescue people to the detriment of yourself. Yes, help others, but how much is it pulling you down or costing you time, money and emotions?
Each day, share your ray of sunshine, even if it is to the street vendor! But share it out loud with someone. By taking note of the good things, it promotes a sense of happiness, a positive feeling throughout the body that can carry you all day until your next ray of sunshine