The amount of pain and suffering I have endured as a child victim of sexual abuse permeates my life. The forces shaping my life from childhood still leave me feeling small when I think about what I was forced to do. So when something large happens today, my responses have been shaped differently than other people.
It’s been about a week since Japan has experienced the earthquake and resulting tsunami. The devastation and loss are something I understand. Different events, same results. Just like Japan, I was a small body, surrounded by the ocean. Instead my ocean was other people who were larger than me, not an ocean of water. I, like the Japanese people and the ocean, co existed every moment with the source of restrained hell. Hell did break loose, bringing with it the feeling of being powerless, of being small. and later the awareness of having been living with a source of great evil. Those feelings never went away. They are imprinted on my soul. Sexual abuse is much like a tsunami, it drowns everything in its’ path regardless of worth, value, or preciousness.
How do we learn to live without the air other people breath?
As survivors we learn to live without what other people have. My emotional life is mishaped by the earthquakes and tsunami’s of violation. To make matters worse added to the earthquake and tsunami, is the nuclear power plants spewing radiation indiscriminately on the population.
My husband, whose life was shaped through different forces, thinks on top of all the suffering and pain they Japanese are experiencing right now, we are all at risk from dying due to radiation poisoning from the nuclear power plants.
I think, I have lived through worse.
I try to identify what inside me kept me going. Why didn’t I try to commit suicide as soon as I could, or at the least give up on living. Or turn out to be a person who ______( you can fill in the blank). I don’t know. There are parts I am able to identify. Like I had a rich fantasy life, that someday if my real father knew what was happening, he would come get me. I also could imagine that when I grew up I would leave as soon as I could and never come back. I do know I was paralyzed into inaction, but developed a core thought of “I will survive this minute” and applied it to every minute I encountered. I may have been forced to hold still while being raped, to not run, or tell or do anything that threatened his ability to do what he wanted. But I can now. I do now.
Now I remind myself, this is not the same danger as then. I will get up and get something done. Anything – the dishes, cook, take a walk, get up and move. Lately I have added to taking action in some way adding a bit of beauty. If I clean, add some flowers, take a bath and put on make up, some how, I must improve my environment, make it more beautiful. Its’ in effect a way to counter my own issues with being told I was targeted because I was pretty. I wanted to be pretty, I didn’t want to be violated. So I add some beauty to counteract the ugliness of the world. I will not sit paralyzed. I can move and reach out to others. I remind myself, I am no longer alone, there is a WE and we will deal with getting through this moment. We will repair the damage, grieve the losses, and recreate beauty in our worlds.
I know some stuff about surviving.