Writing about the after-effects of childhood abuse is difficult. It’s hard to figure out where to begin. I have no desire to share my personal horror stories but I do want to share the aftermath.
I’ve spent many years feeling like I couldn’t talk to anyone about what I experienced. Child abuse, or abuse of any kind, seems like such a taboo subject. I felt like I had to hide a part of me. Hide it because it was painful, hide it because I couldn’t let people see me vulnerable and hide it because I’m ashamed of the fact that that happened to me. Hiding myself made it impossible to heal.
I know that I should not be ashamed of what happened to me. My intellectual mind knows this, but there is this little part of me that still thinks I am a bad person and I should be ashamed. In counseling, they say that part is the child inside who learned a long time ago from the abuse that she was not worth it, that she was a bad little girl who no one would love. Now I am supposed to give the love and nurturing that my parents failed to give me to my inner child. I thought this was the strangest concept when my counselor first presented it. I’m still struggling with it. I guess though, that if I can’t love myself, who else is going to be able to love me?
It’s funny how hard I struggle with seeing myself as a good, kind and deserving person. It’s even funnier how my parents can’t understand why I struggle with that. That’s the other hard part of recovering from this; the fact that my parents take zero responsibility for what happened. It’s still all on my shoulders.
I’m starting to realize that I cannot change my parents because they will never change. I have to change how I interact and how I think of them. It’s hard letting go of the hopes and dreams of how my family could be if my parents just did this or if they just did that. It makes me so angry that I have to make another concession to them. Except, this time it is my choice to make that concession.
I will never have a better childhood. I will never have parents who put my needs before their own. I will never have parents who care about how I am doing emotionally. I will never have parents who won’t think that they could do better with my life than I am. I will never have parents who understand me and accept me as I am. (Mom if you’re reading this, it isn’t all a knock at you. You’re doing pretty well with me now.)
I will have a life that is full. I will be mentally healthy. I will find friends. I will allow myself to be successful. I will love myself. I will allow myself to love someone else. I will let myself be loved. I will learn to enjoy life.