Tag Archive: Child Abuse Memories

Another thought occurred to me this morning that I’d like to share in relation to this topic of “abuse” and “abusive” behavior. For many of us who have struggled with understanding these terms, one of the biggest “lies” we accept is that just because we do not have “many physical scars,” somehow that means we were not abused or our abuse wasn’t severe.

In conjunction with this, we also struggle because many adult survivors of child abuse do have happy memories of their families. We ask ourselves how can people who created such good memories in our childhoods also create such heartache and violence. There are no easy answers for the survivor.

We minimize the events of our childhoods, sometimes blocking them out all together in our effort to survive. We press our feelings down so far that the events become like pebbles in our mind. In reality, they are large, jagged boulders, but we have believed the lies so long that we cannot see the reality of our past. Often times, we are not ready to see it for what it was- tragic.

When we come to counseling and begin therapy, the process is painful. We are asked to bring in pictures of us as children, to confront and reassure our inner child, to dredge up the past bit by bit. The pain seems endless, robbing us of functionality for a time after each memory surfaces.

Therapists gently push us through this stage, for they understand what we cannot- to stay in this state of recovering memories would render us incapable of living. It is an ugly, heart wrenching process, and so to spare us additional pain, they prod us on week after week until we are empty of the memories, the purging complete. Only then can we begin to tackle each brick of our past and find healing. Only after we have acknowledged the horrors and owned them as our own, can we begin on the journey to wholeness.

Acknowledging the abuse happened to us, and not some detached version of our former selves hurts, because with this acknowledgement we feel, perhaps for the first time, the pain as our own. It didn’t happen to the child we were or the stranger from our past, it happened to us. Feeling this is both essential and cruel. The pain would be unbearable if it were not for the hope of recovery and healing. Admitting that we were abused and understanding the gravity of that abuse produces in the survivor both sadness and acceptance. From this place, we begin to move forward….


Systems Fail- TRIGGERS!

Basically all my life, I have dealt with the “system.” In foster care, I had to work around the system to live a somewhat normal life. I wasn’t allowed to drive; I had to work a part time job to save for college; it was required that I attend so many hours of therapy during my first year with my foster family. Visitation hours with my abusers, supervisions at the visitation center, forced family therapy and a plan for reuniting us under one roof.

The system failed me. After nine months of working towards stability, the court ordered me home to my family. It was right before Christmas when I got the news. I felt devestated and betrayed. My life was starting to turn around and they pulled the scaffolding out from under me and sent me back into a toxic environment.

About six months later, I was once again removed from my biological home. My sister was as well. The details of why are horrible and I won’t share them now. Suffice it to say, things were worse, not better. Under some sort of crazy luck, we were put into the same foster home I had been with previously. And we were placed together. As fate would have it, my sister had strong loyalties to my family. Of course, she was the favored one. When my foster parents told me they were leaving the state, I felt like a knife had gone through me, but they had an idea. They could get custody of me and take me with them. So we prepared for battle, one which we never had to face. My parents signed papers, no questions asked, to give my foster parents joint custody of me. It was probably the one loving thing they ever did, and I still believe to this day that my dad forced my mother to. My sister returned home and I moved 16 hours away.

Finally, a chance at a new start. In highschool my self-injuring and eating disorder continued, but always hidden under a guise. I also felt very suicidal during this time and struggled greatly with depression. I didn’t understand it. Here I was with this nice foster family, living a relatively normal life, and yet I felt like I was walking around dead all the time. Oh I played the part well- I made good grades, stayed involved in extracurriculars, and even earned a full-paid scholarship to the college of my choice. On the outside, I had it all together,  but inside,  I couldn’t have been more of a mess.

Things deteriorated rapidly my freshman year of college. I was struggling to find myself, to control my circumstances, and to not be triggered by the phone calls from my birth parents, calls that always plagued me and manipulated my emotions. These people were fatal to my healing. Tragedy struck my birth family, some whom I was close to, my great great aunt and grandfather passed away within the same year. I found it hard to cope. I began not eating, sleeping all day, and injuring myself in countless ways. Looking back, my depression was out of control, but I didn’t know I was depressed or suffered from untreated mental health issues then.

I fled the state, got married, and continued to have breakdowns and dark depressions on a regular basis, but I always managed to survive them and keep my dark secrets hidden. My self injury was less invasive during this time, but the mental scars are far greater.

Six years later, I had another break down and reached out for help. That was two years ago. The state system gave me a care support worker, put me on the waiting list for counseling, and provided a psychiatric evaluation for which I was prescribed medication. I never filled the prescription because the psychiatrist wrote it after 20 minutes of being with me and I still had questions. I never saw him again to ask. My care support worker was great at using distractions to get my mind off my issues, but nothing was ever solved. Not two months later, the state revamped their mental health services and I was dropped from their system. It failed me again.

Here I am now, struggling on my own yet again. Reaching out however and whereever I can. I have the number for several local helplines, and call them when I need to. But what I need most, and what the system has failed to provide for me is counseling on a regular basis. Sure, maybe medication might some, but I’m a firm believer that medication should only be dispensed under the watchful eye of a psychiatrist, and only in conjunction with therapy when said therapy can benefit the patient. For me, working through my shattered past and coming to terms with a childhood I vaguely remember, setting healthy boundaries, and learning coping mechanisms are just as vital, and perhaps moreso, as being on medication to control my moods.

Oh yah, that diagnosis I received: major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder with agoraphobia, and post traumatic stress disorder. I also struggle with self-injury and eating disorder tendencies, and a few other compulsive behaviors. Sounds great, doesn’t it.

So, I’m going to contact the Mental Health organization within the next week and see where I can get help for a low fee, because we don’t have health insurance and my spouse is out of work. I’ll keep you updated on my progress.  Best wishes in your journey towards healing.