*Names changed to protect privacy*
Among my circle, it’s no secret that I am a survivor of child abuse and neglect. The abuse began when I was 6 years old and it continued into my teens and until I moved out of the house and in with my husband.
I suffered, but I will admit I suffered less than my younger siblings. I was picked on less, abused less, engaged less. I’m not sure why, perhaps it was because I was the oldest, but I would’ve taken on more for my siblings if I could have.
I’m not going to dive into every type of abuse I suffered and the trauma I’ve had to recover from. My focus in this post is what my focus is in my daily life. How I survive the hard days and thrive in the good ones.
I’m not an addict. I’ve never tried any kind of drug. I don’t drink alcohol (except that one time that you can read about here). I have never tried to kill myself, (though I’ve wished my ex step father would). I have never been diagnosed with anything and am not on any kind of medication. I had a recent event occur which disrupted my system and has caused me to face my childhood again and though I embrace it, I embrace it with great reluctance. It’s time things be turned over to the law and this means a lot of sharing and resharing for me.
I’ve been open about my abuse with friends and I don’t try to hide it when questions about my childhood eventually come up in new relationships. I see it as a part of me and my history, and I accept that. I also prefer honesty and transparency as it prevents any big dramatic revelations that can distract from who I actually am now vs what was done to me as a child.
I’ve been in non-professional counseling settings such as church groups, talks with friends, and talks with counselors in a non-counseling way (friends, etc.) I’m currently seeing what my church calls a “Stephen Minister”. Basically this a trained and empathetic listener. She is absolutely wonderful. I have gained so much from our time together and it’s FREE! (See if your church offers something similar. So worth it.)
I’m 27 years old. I am married. I have 4 of my own children. I have pain in many situations that I should be able to enjoy, but that’s okay! I’m happy to be alive and I know I can navigate through my pain.
Here are the main ways that I cope with my past and continue to love life (even on the dark days):
Podcasts, trusted friends, people I look up to, pastors, motivational videos, you name it. I have listened to it and taken notes. I knew I wasn’t going to get any good, solid, or trustworthy information out of the adults in my life from a very young age, so I listened to other ones. I watched Oprah, I poured into TLC, I took extensive notes in church, watched classic films. Whatever I could as a child, youth, preteen, and teenager. I continue to do this. Thank God for YOUTUBE! I know it can be a real breeding ground for trolls, but there are some very motivational and helpful videos on there that keep me going! I’m always listening and adding to my emotional “Tool box”.
- Embracing the memory
I have a few trigger words, smells, and sometimes situations that arise that I’m not expecting. These situations bring back painful memories. I’ve suffered from what I can only assume have been symptoms of some form of PTSD, but I’ve never been treated or diagnosed. I use to cry and have break downs or near break downs involving tears and panic, but as I’ve gotten older and done a bit of research, I’ve learned to not resist the memory when it arises, and instead, I embrace it. I recognize when I’ve been “Triggered” and I think through the memory logically and remind myself of a few things. “Tom is okay now. He’s not being abused. He’s no longer a child. I don’t live there anymore and that is in the past. I am safe now. I’m okay now.” Acknowledging the pain in the memory, accepting that it happened, and reminding myself that is is a part of my past only takes a minute or two and then I’m okay.
Faith in God started early on for me and before my step-dad entered the picture. The only reprieve and rest I eventually found was in Christ, the church, and the best friend I made there. I became a Christian during an extremely dark time in my life when I was about 12 years old, and God changed my life. I felt his presence, truly. He protected me and changed me from the inside out. I’m not perfect and I rely heavily on His strength.
Don’t give up! Never, Ever, Never let them win. Never. Get knocked down, get back up. I always got back up and eventually I stopped getting knocked down. Create a playlist, pray, meditate, whatever it takes for you to keep going (that is healthy and legal), do it. Read more, gain more knowledge, sing, write, whatever it takes! Never give up and never believe the things that have been negatively screamed at you or said to you. You are worth everything to God and you are worth a life of love in this world. Keep. Going!
- Future focused
One of the biggest things that helped me while I was living in the abuse was being future focused. I enjoyed reading and thankfully had access to books (my mother enjoyed them as decor and I chose to read them). I was able to use my imagination and envision what life could be. Though I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted my life to look like, I knew what I didn’t want it to look like. I’ve made some mistakes along the way, and I do have regrets, but overall, I’m proud of where I am (especially considering where I came from).
“Teach us to number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom”
- Self care!
I’m a stay at home mom of 4 children living on one income in a house that is a bit smaller than I’d like. With or without my past of childhood abuse, there are days I need to make me a priority! Figure out what makes you happy and what helps you to relax and incorporate those things into a REGULAR SELF CARE ROUTINE! I mean it. Regular. Even if it’s just 30 minutes to yourself once a week, so it.
- Recognize nobody will save you
Sure, there will be those God places in your path to help you up, but nobody but you can decide it’s time to be rescued. There will be no white knight, or fairy godmother. There may be people who come in to your life and hold those roles for a slight time, but you have to take what they give you and keep going. It’s unfair to put the pressure on your spouse or partner to continue to be your only source of happiness. My husband and I both come from abusive backgrounds, so I think we understand this better than some people. Had my husband come from an entirely/mostly healthy and happy childhood, he might victimize me and elevate himself as my “Hero”. No worries on that in this home! Ha!
- Tell people
If the first person doesn’t listen, tell somebody else. If they don’t listen, tell somebody else. If they don’t listen, call a hotline. Never stop telling people until you’re listened to. Never. Somebody will eventually listen.
When you hide something that has been done to you, you’re shaming yourself and hiding pieces of you and by doing this you are unable to show people all of yourself. Speaking up also helps you develop community. sense and you’ll often find other friends and peers have been through similar traumas (it’s unfortunate how many people I have met in my short life that have had stories similar to mine).
When I began really sharing my story, I was pregnant with my 2nd child and was 22 years old. My husband new, and I had been lead to believe that everybody around me had known while I was growing up. With age, maturity, and more stories of abuse from those left at home getting back to me, I began to realize I had likely been manipulated as a young girl and slowly began opening up to family members. That blew the lid off of the “Martha Stewart Fantasy” (as it has been recently called by a distant relative) and it allowed me to be more specific and detailed when telling my story. Secrets and sheltered existences are where troubles breed. That’s why the fundamentalist Mormon community has been working so hard to legally come out of the dark.
I have been working on this post for so long, I can’t believe I’m about to publish it. I have no idea if anything I’ve said will be helpful, but I pray it will be. Being a victim of abuse is terrible, but so unbelievably common in our world. I pray wherever you are, that you get the help you need. Reach out to those around you and come up for air. There is hope! I promise you. As long as you’re here, there is hope. Never give up. Never ever give up. Let it make you stronger, don’t let it defeat you.
Love to all who read this. Please feel free to reach out to me on social media. I’m on instagram, facebook, here, and more! Here is my link tree. It’s pretty disgusting you guys. I’m on everything … and I love it! Ha!
Thanks again and I’ll see you on the internet!
Lauren of HildysHome (The blog about my life, thoughts, goals, ideas, and the occasional ad … my kids gotta eat and I make no apologies!) 😀
** I 100% support the use of mental health services such as therapy or counseling in addition to the use of medication! I haven’t taken it because I have never been diagnosed, seen the need, or been given the option. Not because I don’t agree with it’s use.**
Hotline for suicide prevention: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Child abuse hotline: https://www.childhelp.org/hotline/sponsor-hotline/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwpcLZBRCnARIsAMPBgF0Fd18S-x-zALwvTsrIXJW7clhHeuGOUMvTm69DpheZCiSmvSMFt-caApKrEALw_wcB
Christian mental health network: http://cmhnet.net/
My current “Keep Going!” song: