Why is it so Scary to Share the Truth about Child Abuse?By
Sometimes I get emails and comments like the one that I got this week on the post “Mom and Grandma had a Dysfunctional Mother Daughter Relationship” expressing feeling overwhelmed about sharing stories of the past. The comment said: “I am feeling lost right now. I feel like I have shared way too much here, and I’m feeling very vulnerable. It hurts.”
Sharing feelings, our pain, our abuse and rejections and stories and sharing about our families makes us feel really vulnerable. This comment got me thinking about how I felt so vulnerable and scared that I never told anyone about my first blog. There were very few comments, it had very little traffic and even though I was already speaking in mental health seminars, I never gave the name of that website out to anyone. I was afraid of something. I didn’t really think that much about what it was.
Sharing in the first few months of this blog was also scary but it gets easier all the time although once in a while, sometimes pressing the publish button still makes me feel a little uneasy.
Sharing some of my deepest and darkest moments makes me feel exposed AND it makes me feel like I am in danger. Continued……
In my healing journey I’ve learned to ask myself questions as a way of digging down into my belief system to find the roots of where these feelings and fears come from on any given subject because in doing so it usually helps me to understand why those fears and feelings are still there.
Incest survivor, Patricia Singleton from the blog “Spiritual Journey of a Lightworker”, also shared her view on this topic. Her comment came in when I was almost finished writing the first draft of this post, so I thought I would take it as a “hint from the universe” and share it; it is amazingly similar to what I was believe about this particular topic.
Patricia wrote: “When I share something new like I did here yesterday, I face some more of the fear that the abusers put into me to not break the silence of what they did to me. I think, at least for me, that is why I feel overwhelmed with what I share sometimes. I will continue to break that silence and share more and more of my story if it means that it might help another survivor to feel not alone. When we share, it gives someone else the permission to share their stories too.”
For many of us, both as children and as adults, we were not allowed to tell the real truth. We may have had some family secrets that somehow we just knew that we were not supposed to say anything about to anyone else. There were all kinds of things that we just didn’t talk about. I thought that was being “loyal” to my family. The mere thought of saying the wrong thing was very very scary.
There were a few things outside of family secrets that I did try to tell. Like when my grade 5 teacher was emotionally abusing me. But when I told just a few little things I was discounted, unprotected, called a story teller, and exaggerator and a liar. I was not protected because I was not believed. Finally a medical doctor had to step in.
Then there was the time that I told about my mother’s boyfriend sneaking in my room that night. I only told because my Aunt caught him and she told first and still I was discounted and then later accused of doing something to have caused it to happen.
Sometimes I said things and I was ridiculed, sneered at or glared at. Those were warnings. I was afraid of what might come after those sorts of comments and looks.
When I cried, I was told that if I didn’t stop crying, that I would be given something to cry about. (Do children really cry for no reason? I don’t think so, but when I was told that l cried for no reason enough times I believed that I did cry for no reason.) What that taught me was that my feelings were invalid. That my pain was invalid and that I was not allowed to have feelings or pain. My tears were wrong.
So when I decided to share my life and my past with others, it triggered fears. It triggered fears of rejection; fears of being called a liar, story teller and an exaggerator. Sharing secrets triggers fears of being humiliated, discounted, dismissed and laughed at. Fears of being proven that maybe I am not valid. Maybe I am not worthy. Maybe no one will love me or even like me. Maybe the abusers were right about me.
It also brings up feelings of being in danger. That danger is close. As I child I learned to guard against danger and not to bring punishment upon myself. Feelings of being in danger bring up specific fears; that I might be punished; I might get hit, hurt, sent away or all of these things at once. These were the consequences of telling when I was a child.
And all those fears and thoughts can flash through my memory very quickly. Familiar feelings from the past, flashing, terrifying and tearing down my self esteem, all in a few split seconds and until I really began to understand where those fears were born and raised, I was not able to stop them.
Please share your thoughts about the fear sharing or the feelings of being exposed. Were there consequences in your childhood for telling the truth?
Exposing truth, one snapshot at a time;
Note: Click the blue highlighted sentences within the body of the post to read the stories I am refering to.