I am pleased and excited today to welcome my friend Fi Macleod. Fi is a fellow blogger and an amazing survivor of horrific abuse. Fi has a passion for writing and the subject of spiritual abuse is close to her heart. Please help me welcome Fi and her with her second guest post on Emerging from Broken! As always, please we invite you to post your comments and participate in the discussion. ~ Darlene Ouimet ~ founder of Emerging from Broken
“YOU’RE NOTHING BUT TROUBLE! YOU DESERVE EVERYTHING YOU GET” by Fi Macleod
This statement was used many times during my childhood. As a result I developed deep self-blame. I bore responsibility for things which were actually nothing to do with me. The self-blame is combined with deep shame and guilt. The self-blame came through a combination of verbal and non-verbal messages from my abusers and messages from the abuse itself.
“You’re nothing but trouble, you deserve everything that happens”
“You deserve it because you’re a girl, we didn’t want a girl”
“You deserve it because you’re evil”
“You deserve it because the bible tells us you deserve it”
“You deserve it because….”
“You deserve it just because we say you deserve it”
I never knew when they’d decide I “deserved” a beating, or I “deserved” to be thrown across the room or I “deserved” to be starved or I “deserved” locked in my room or I “deserved” whatever they chose. It was very oppressive. I asked myself many times “what it is about me that is so horrible, that makes me so bad that it doesn’t matter what I do or say, it’s always bad and deserves punishment?” The abuse was “all about me” because my abusers made it all about me. I was taught grown-ups were always right. There was no-one to tell me otherwise. I had no way of knowing anything else.
As a result, the word “deserve” is a loaded word for me. I’m in a place now where there are people in my life supporting and working with me on my healing journey. I hear from them “you deserve to heal”, “you deserve good things”, “you deserve to be happy”, and many other positive “you deserve…” statements.
But whenever I hear the words “you deserve” I hear them through a negative filter. I hear the words “you deserve” spoken severely and feel really bad. I start getting ready to flinch. I have to take a very deep breath, deliberately stop and examine what actually happened. I’ve been able start to do that only very recently. Each time it happens I stop and examine what the person actually said, and more importantly, how they said it. I then filter their statement through a more positive filter of “hang on, wait a minute, I’m not sure but I think they may have meant that positively, they weren’t sounding mean or nasty, so I guess they were actually saying I deserve positive things in my life”. I may not actually believe I deserve positive stuff in my life but a seed was sown.
It helped me immensely to begin to take things apart and look at what actually happened in my childhood. In so doing I am on a journey back to my childhood, back to me as a child, back to what I felt and thought. I’m beginning to look at it from an adult’s perspective and to see things from a different angle. I’m able to start to see events differently and come to different conclusions. As I do that I’m informing the child me of what I’m seeing and learning and helping her realise it wasn’t all about her, there was other stuff going on and there are other ways of seeing and understanding what went on.
It was a HUGE step for me when I began to realise the abuse was not really about me but about my abusers and the abuse says more about my abusers than it does about me. That was a massive shift in my thinking and began to turn the self-blame around.
It’s was hard to look deeper than the bigger picture, partly because the big picture was so horrible and painful. There was a part of me which didn’t want to zoom in to look at the detail. But it helped me a lot to begin to look at specific incidents I remember which helped cement my deep self-blame. From very early childhood from birth I was abused in every way by my grandparents, their paedophile friends and other relatives including my parents and brother. There was no respite from the abuse, it was everywhere in my childhood. My life was full of abuse, confusion and mixed messages.
Here are a few incidents I recall which helped to develop self-blame in my child’s mind.
– I remember being called in from the garden because “grandpa wanted to play with me”. “Play” was a pseudonym for sexual abuse. I didn’t want to “play”. I wanted to stay in the garden chasing butterflies and hunting for ladybirds. I was 3 the first time I remember this. I was called into the house by my mother. My mother set me up to be abused so it couldn’t have been wrong then? I went into the room where my grandparents and mother were. There were two paedophile friends in the room with them. There were 5 grownups in that room – my grandparents, mother and two paedophile friends of the family. None of those 5 grownups saw anything being wrong. Instead the impression was what was happening was ‘normal’, nothing was wrong, except for me, everything about me was “wrong” or so I was told often enough. So if I was surrounded by grownups who all thought nothing was wrong then I must be wrong to think it’s wrong. I knew it was wrong in my gut. It felt all wrong and I didn’t like it at all. I seemed to be the only person to think and feel that so I must be wrong. But I knew I was right and it all felt wrong, very wrong! I messed about on my grandfather’s knee, making it obvious I didn’t want to be there and didn’t want to play grandpa’s “games”. Eventually my grandmother said very severely, “stop this nonsense, be a good little girl and do what grandpa wants”. Woah, did she just say that? I’d had it drummed into me that the abuse happened because I was bad and deserved it all. I was being told to be a good little girl and comply but if I did bad, painful, horrible things would happen. So if I was bad the abuse happened, if I was good the abuse happened. That was so confusing.
– My godfather dropped dead from a heart attack when I was 10. After that it was forbidden to mention his name and there was no contact with my godmother or her 3 children. I was never told what happened to any of them. I was not even told he was dead. They just disappeared, vanished out of the life of my family. I thought it was my fault because I got on really well with two of my godparents’ children. My godfather sexually abused me and his daughter, together with my father. I wondered if someone other than my father and godfather found out and I was being punished. It was my fault my godfather abused me because he said, “he really liked me and found me attractive and I was good at it”.
– A few months later my grandfather had his first heart attack. We had to visit him in hospital as a family. I didn’t want to go and communicated that every way I could. I didn’t care he was in hospital and maybe dying. My grandfather had done terrible things to me and I hated him but we had to go see him. Right up to going in that hospital room I made it clear I didn’t want to go. I don’t know what happened at the hospital or if anyone witnessed my reluctance to be there and my parents’ response to that but after leaving I was told by my mother “never ever speak outside the family of what goes on in the family.” I’m not aware of having spoken to anyone, I was scared silent, but her words sowed a seed of doubt in me. I don’t know what happened in that hospital, maybe people saw stuff and realised what was happening? I really don’t know. After that I never saw my grandparents again. I never saw or heard from any relatives again. I don’t know why that split in the family happened but felt it was “my fault”. I must have said something to someone and was being punished.
Believing all the things that happened in my childhood were my fault coupled with the belief that no-one would believe me kept me silent for many years. Only through finally breaking the silence did something wonderful happen. I was believed which was powerful! I began to realise how much my belief that I wouldn’t be believed was built on my abusers lies. I then began to think “well, if they were wrong about that, then what else were they wrong about?”
That was the beginning of me starting to look at the beliefs about me and my life and realising it is possible to begin to believe other things.
In so doing, without realising it, I began to validate myself, my memories and my feelings, and my gut intuition. I began to stop feeling bad about the way I am, think, feel, or react.
That I guess is the start of the end of self-blame.
Another Post by Fi MacLeod ~ Spiritual Abuse ~ The confusion of False Teaching
Fi’s blog ~ You can fly with Broken Wings
BIO:- Fi Macleod is 45. She lives alone in a seaside town in Devon, in the South West of England. Fi is a survivor of severe ritual abuse and incest by all family members during the first 20 years of her life. She was also abused as part of a paedophile ring run in her grandparents’ house from birth to age 8. It took 25 years for Fi to break silence and report her abusers. There was a police investigation in 2010 which ended with all charges being dropped against her abusers. Fi blogs about aspects of the abuse she endured and her healing journey. Fi has been building trust with a support worker in her local Community Mental Health Team since October 2010 and is just beginning to talk about the sexual abuse within that therapeutic relationship. She is also being supported by a mental health recovery worker and a counsellor. Fi is on a waiting list for specialist group therapy .