I was not heard for most of my life. My voice was silenced in many ways. I was sexually abused from a young age. I don’t remember if I “told” or not in those young years, but there were signs. There were physical and mental distress signs that went unaddressed. That is a form of not being heard.
My mother used violence to vent her anger and frustration. My father either didn’t notice or didn’t care; he never tried to stop it. Who could I tell? The way things were in my family was “my normal”. In my survival mode, I only knew to keep trying harder to be “good”, to be what those manipulative people wanted and to be quiet because it seemed to me that I was causing a problem for them.
I don’t know how I kept going.
I know I told about a teacher who was emotionally and psychologically abusing me in grade 5. I told but I was ignored. I was shushed. I was silenced. I was lectured about “respecting my elders.” I was not heard. When I finally got so sick that the pediatric specialist asked to speak to me alone (without my parents) he ordered my parents to take me out of the class I was in. My parents didn’t want to do it and the Dr. said he was going to get a court order if they didn’t remove me from the presence of that teacher.
That doctor heard me. But my parents did not hear me. I felt I was “wrong” for telling. I knew that I had caused my father embarrassment. I felt ashamed for bringing this to light with an “outsider” who confronted my parents. I knew that my parents had been “told.” They had been reprimanded for not listening to me. I knew that they had been “forced” to act on my behalf but perhaps more importantly, I also knew that they didn’t want to. They didn’t take action because it was right or because it was best or because they loved me. They did it because they were threatened with a court order. Today I know that that was the bigger damage to my self esteem; the fact that they didn’t “want” to listen to me or take action on my behalf.
And in order to save face, my manipulative parents told people the story in a much different way than what had actually happened. The doctor was never mentioned. And in doing so, the message that was communicated to me was that I was invalid. My illness was invalid and the abuse I had suffered was invalid. My father became the hero with his version of the story that he “marched into that principles office and demanded that I be removed from that “bully” teachers classroom”. I kept silent about that lie until I was in my 40’s because I knew that I would not be heard. I didn’t matter.
My new teacher was nice but the guilt I felt made me feel as though she was afraid of me and didn’t trust me. I felt like she was only nice because she was afraid I would complain about her. It felt like I was in the spotlight; the problem child that reported a teacher. I was full of shame and completely believed that I was the problem and that I had caused a huge problem. I disconnected and dissociated further from myself.
Somehow I kept going.
So I learned not to talk. I learned that my voice was not important so I stopped using it. I learned that I was not going to have any impact so why bother trying? I learned that other people were more important than I was. I learned that my value was in how good I could make other people feel.
I learned that even if the truth were exposed, the people in power could change a few details and make it about them.
I learned to discount myself exactly the way that I was being discounted.
I kept going but I was a puppet. I was going through the motions. I was living in survivor mode, doing things according to what I thought those manipulative people wanted and not from living with a mind of my own.
And I got depressed. I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know that I was worth anything. I didn’t know that I was lovable or that I was an individual. I didn’t know that perhaps there was a reason I was on this earth. I couldn’t figure it out.
I kept going.
And I accepted the blame for the things that happened to me. I accepted the blame for the abuse that was perpetrated against me by evil and manipulative people. I accepted the blame for the fact that I was not heard and unloved.
I was offered to men. I was told that my virginity was a small price to pay… I was taught that my value was only in the way I was viewed by others. I lived in fear and sometimes in terror.
I kept going.
I tried to find love, acceptance, solace and escape. I tried to find it in drugs. I tried to find it in alcohol. None of that worked. There was no answer in those things.
I kept going.
I tried to find love, acceptance and self esteem in men. I had been taught that romantic love was the answer. Again I was not heard. My voice did not matter. I was valued for what I could do for them, and how I could listen to them and how I could make them feel. I did not find my self esteem in them or in those relationships.
I tried to find it in the bible. I tried to “give my life to Christ” but the false and dysfunctional system was there too. I was taught that I was “good and acceptable to Christ” when I was obedient and compliant to what the teachers, pastors, leaders and elders said. I was not encouraged to let the bible speak to me. I was taught to listen to men and women (manipulative people) who were wiser than I. I pointed out things that I was reading in the Bible, things that I thought spoke of a different kind of love, but I was not heard. I was shushed. I was lectured to “respect my elders”. I was shut down and silenced. Even there my voice was unacceptable; I was unworthy, and I was silenced.
I kept going.
And one day, I listened to myself. I heard ME. I realized that what I had been trying to say and trying not to say was valid. I realized that my value was not in those other manipulative people or how they defined me but that it was within me. I realized that I could validate myself. And a little seed of hope grew. I nurtured that little seed each day, I listened to myself and to my pain and I learned to stop discounting it. I learned to stop discounting ME.
I went back to some of those events that communicated the message to me that I was invalid, unworthy, and less important than the adults in my life and I realized how wrong those messages were. I looked at the truth and I told it to myself over and over again.
Perhaps the adults in my life didn’t fight for me, but I can fight for me now. I can overcome those false messages that I received in the past.
I listened to me. I validated me. I kept going.
Out of self validation grew self love. Out of self love grew self esteem. Out of self esteem and self love grew self respect and an understanding of what real love and mutual respect in relationship is.
It doesn’t matter anymore if other people hear me or not since I started to learn to hear myself. I don’t need those dysfunctional manipulative people to hear me or agree with me anymore. I can do this for me now. I can love me now. I can validate me now.
I know me now ~ not who they said I was and not by what they define as worthy and acceptable about me; they disregarded me, they didn’t protect me, they blamed me for attracting the abuse or accused me of lying about it. They refused to hear me. That discounts their credibility, NOT mine. I know that it wasn’t “me” that was the problem. I have found “the truth”.
I still keep going.
Please share your thoughts.
There is freedom on the other side of broken;
Related Posts ~ Please click on the sentences in coloured bold print within the blog post itself
~ My power tool for Rebuilding after Abuse by Christina Enevoldsen from Overcomeing Sexual Abuse