If you have seen me speak or heard me share my story you know I am a survivor of child abuse but I want you to hear a new piece of my story.
I want you to hear how the community, my family allowed the abuse to continue and how it has actually been easier to forgive my actual abuser then the people that turned their backs on my truth.
Until I was 16 I had to hide a secret.One that never really allowed me to be me. One that took built my foundation.
At 16 when I finally spoke up about what was really happening it's not like my trauma, my pain, the abuse ended.
A broken system, people in my family and community would now take the place of my abuser and continue to cause the continual abuse and trauma that would build upon a broken foundation.
The broken system would make me face my father in a court room and I'd have to beg for my belongings.It was hard enough that in the moments that I spoke the truth that I lost friends, the life I knew but now I faced him again begging a complete stranger for the things that I called mine. My collections, my mementos of friends, my clothes, the things that every teenage girl's life is built upon.
As I walked through the court house lobby a women that raised me approached. She belittled me and broke me even more.How could I ruin her family? How could I tell such lies? You will never see us, your brother and sister again, you will regret this.
Over the next few months I would have the woman I faced in the lobby call time after time when my mom was not around reminding me how I broke her, her family and ruined her life.I would have grandparents, friends, and family members, reach out just to tell me they no longer wanted to hear from me.
A foundation that had been built upon secrets and brokenness was now building layers of silence and shame.Over the next few years I would stuff. I would stuff the brokenness of my new normal the one of no longer seeing friends, family that had turned away, had forgotten me and the ones that were very present in my life but never really acknowledged what I had been through what the aftermath was doing to me daily.
Then one day the past that I had been stuffing resurfaced.The same women that faced me in the court house lobby reached out to me.My father's episode finally put him over the edge and he took it out on her.
This moment was finally the moment I thought I'd be seen. That people would connect by past story my warning to what was currently being walked out. Over the next few years it would be a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. A moment that I thought would bring freedom a connection to rebuild brokenness became a new layer of silence and shame.
There was never an apology of my loss, what had happened to me from her or from others so there was this awkwardness of being present and trying to rebuild a family, relationships but yet no one wanting to take responsibility so the silence began to build a new layer of what had happened to me was not as important as what had happen to them. My reward for this new silence was seeing them, being a part of a family no matter how broken it looked. Trying to yet again fit in and be accepted but only in my silence of not being seen, not being heard.
New layers of shame and silence would build a child that was once broken was now a woman that was broken. I would break people's dreams of what my life should be. I'd be pregnant at 19 and the new layer of shame a repeated cycle would build.I'd be alone raising him not good enough for his father and a new layer of being unworthy, not seen and unwanted would build.
Silence and shame the continued trauma, abuse and not facing my triggers would eventually start to break my now family.
I had carried each layer of shame alone.The years of being truly unseen, unheard, unworthy.
Would my shame, trauma and triggers repeat breaking my now family?
This was the time I would take back control.Where I would face each layer.My hope was in the breaking I could rebuild.Find out who I really was.
When you live a life of silence and secrecy for so long you no longer know which parts of you are the real you or the ones you have built to hide the truths, to protect yourself and others from.
I would learn that my layers of rebuilding would have to come with loss.As I spoke my truth and faced my fears as a grown woman each loss that it brought also allowed the layers that I had been building for years to be pulled back.
The family that I had wanted for so long had been holding me back.Her not acknowledging my pain was a trigger.It became my crutch to people please so I would be seen, so I would be heard because my truth would make people turn away and run. As I shared with them the second layer of his abuse her cycle repeated. She would turn her back on me. She experienced his abuse firsthand what he was willing to do to her as a grown women but would not believe that he would be capable to do the same to me so many years prior. She would use my family as a weapon a tool again. She would cross lines and tell my husband to walk away from me, his family because I could not be believed.
This is where my layers, my shame, my loss would start helping me rebuild.
New boundaries, learning what triggers, understand that trauma can cause addictions that are not always seen, not always something you can name.
We as a society think that trauma can be healed quickly. As though there is an on and off switch that is assessable. That because I have named my problem, my trauma that now my healing should fit inside this box of normalcy of what looks right to you.
We think that my coping, my fight or flight skills that have gotten me to here are now something that can be unlearned overnight and should be packaged in a way that makes you feel comfortable.
So now as a grown woman trying to face her silent addictions and past demons a new layer of shame and silence is built. The ones that you the community say my feelings are not justified; my boundaries are not safe because it may call out your behaviors that are triggers for me.The ones that wants to get uncomfortable because in that place it allows me to walk through the other side the place where healing begins.
We as a society talk about change wanting to help, heal and yet in our silence we continue to say you are unseen, unheard and your trauma is not worth my uncomfort.
My abuser is no longer present in my day to day but you as a community, we as a society picked up where he left off.
This is where we need to do better.This is where we as a community, as foster parents, Christians, a society in whole need to start showing up in the now.Start showing up in the very uncomfortable to allow others to be seen, healed and heard.
Boundaries, healing, triggers these things are not about what you need to see others but what others need to be seen.It's understanding and knowing that in our uncomfort we are allowing a piece of ourselves to break and be rebuilt.
It's allowing others to see that my comfort is not worth more than your healing; your healing is something that I am willing to risk my life for. You being seen, you being heard this is how we stop the cycle this is how trauma is healed, this is how we no longer carry the abusers message and continue the years of abuse and trauma on those that speak up.