I grew up with the feeling that whatever I wanted to say would be dangerous. To myself, to my mother, to my brothers and sisters, to anyone who was around me and clearly to the perpetrator. It still seems true to me even now and I hold back because of this twisted way of thinking. I was taught though out my years of abuse that it was important that I do not talk to others about what happened, not cry during it or afterwards, not speak up when someone is treating me wrongly. There would be a sure and painful punishment for doing so. It would be dangerous. All of these rules he enforced to protect his criminal sickness translated to “no trust” for me. Because I was so secretive, other people couldn’t get to know me or trust me. I surely did not trust other people. The sexual abuser in our family told me lies all the time. Lies that were all designed to protect his perverted secret. My survival depended on not trusting anyone (or at least I was lead to believe it was so). If the secret was exposed my Mom would not want me anymore. She would know what an awful, stupid little girl she had living with her, who was crazy and lied about nice men that Mommy loved. Since I already knew my biological Dad rejected me, it was easy to see she might not want me either. So, I did what seemed right at the time. I didn’t tell.
Then not talking to anyone over time became a habit. I could talk to others about superficial, everyday stuff . I learned professionalism. I didn’t volunteer information in friendships. If I liked someone I avoided being around them. As soon as I was old enough to legally leave home, I did. I escaped to Florida, (far from the Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee I grew up in) getting as far away as I could and never went back. If my family was going to protect the abuser, then they could have him.
I needed safety and it came in the form of strangers. I moved to Florida, joined the Army and transferred to my permanent duty station in Germany. It was wonderful for me in so many ways. Not just because it was Europe. There I met and married an incredible man, gave birth to a baby boy, got therapy and did really well for several years. We tried to have another child but nothing happened. After visiting a few Doctors, I ended up with a diagnosis of Endometriosis. This blow to my progress so far, made it possible for my core belief to reassert itself. I clearly was damaged in ways that others couldn’t see. I returned to distrusting myself, believing I was physically and emotionally damaged beyond repair. Then I took my twisted incorrect belief even further, with the end being I could not be trusted to raise a child. Thinking I was a damaged person kept me afraid and I wanted to protect my son. So I left, abruptly, with no warning to either of them. Since I didn’t disclose how I felt very much, my husband was shocked and surprised that I had abandoned the marriage. Not because of him. But as a direct result of the abuse (that I can see in hindsight). The silent but deadly effects of a childhood filled with abuse would not be undone in a few years of group and individual therapy. I remained untrusting.
Even to this day, I regret my choices I made at the time. They have hurt people I loved. The best I had in loving skills was not enough.
My growth has come through stretching my ability in trusting others. It’s a struggle. Learning to trust myself, my own feelings, my own thoughts and my sense of danger has been amazingly difficult. Working on relationships shouldn’t be so hard, but they are in the world of healing from childhood sexual abuse. they are where I take the biggest risk. They are my risky business.