All of us encounter dreams nightly whether we remember them or not. They normally occur during rem sleep where the body is completely relaxed almost to the point of parallelisation of the muscles. Its where the mind is at its most active without our control and we have entered our subconscious. There are so they theories debated as to the effect that our dreams have upon us, but what can’t be argued is that they occur so why do some people remember their dreams whilst others don’t? It’s said by scientists that people who tend to remember their dreams also respond more strongly to their emotions during the day. That not everyone recalls the mental escapade on waking it is also believed that emotional dreams are far longer more intense and easier to remember.
If a dream has a psychological trigger there is so much more for us to consider. A trigger is something that sets off a memory or a flashback, transporting that person back to an event of his or her trauma. They are always extremely personal and completely individual, and the intensity of it is felt and relived just as strongly as when the trauma occurred. This trigger creates a multitude of things such as sleep deprivation and an all-consuming fear that even the thought of sleeping can invoke a cold sweat. I could never adequately convey here the intense distress that can accompany child abuse survivors each night when ascending those stairs.
When we consider all of the above we are now connected with that in which every child abuse survivor can and may need to encounter nightly.
Before I continue I’d like to share here that all of the above for me is still experienced even though I am now standing within a place of recovery. As with all of us I had to complete my journey and the experiences that came with it. Its the one thing that has always alluded me so it seems that it’s not so easy to gain any control over my subconscious. The word itself speaks volume and is so closely linked with the word suppression. I am still required to descend into that world of revisiting my past trauma often.
The difference now is that on the other side of recovery I can deal with those nightmares in a way I never could before. I am now able to untangle the web of those painful emotions and torment that were weaved within the dead of night. In all truth, whilst writing this piece I recognise every syllable written from my book of life. It seems that I am to be grouped within those of remembrance and my dreams are almost always within recall even if not completely.
For a survivor, dreaming will never be something that they would like to enter into mindfully when they are armed with the knowledge of being swallowed up within that darkness. They are never quite sure what the night will bring as they lay in their bed full of apprehension. They can spend hours just trying to avoid what others may call peaceful sleep because they know far too well that for them that is never a guarantee. To be within the darkness trying so hard not to close your eyes with the fear of knowing only seems to feed the trauma. They are taken to a place of visitation even before they enter their subconscious which sits there just lying in wait. They are so aware that any control they may now have at that moment will soon be overtaken by the terrifying journey throughout the night.
To understand the affliction of the night for a child abuse surviving adult can never be fully understood without the experience, there is no control over those painful emotions and reminders. As they rush towards the past and out of the present just as if the abuse had never ended, with every remembered touch they feel the crawl of their abuser’s hand across their body. They are consumed within a cold sweat unable to awaken on this roller-coaster of trepidation. Each turn or movement they make seems to be towards their abuser and not in the opposite direction. Any understanding escapes them, any effort to take back control alludes them, they are onboard a ride that can only be explained as a runaway train with no way in which to stop it.
Not to forget the night terrors they are in a completely different league than any nightmare experienced, they are the big guns and there impact is formidable. They can awaken you abruptly from a deep sleep which is thought of as non-dream sleep. They usually occur in the early part of the night and they can be encountered several times, they are a prologue before entering dream sleep otherwise known as rem sleep. If we think about that statement by the time rem sleep arrives that child abused recovering adult can rightly feel that any resistance is futile. Of course, this judgment is always taken during the darkest of hours which can be without remembrance or choice.
If they remember on awaking the effect upon them is absolute, as they set about trying to distance themselves from the night and embark on the day in front of them. The anguish they feel burns within that remembrance and it is so overwhelming it can induce sheer panic. They are never refreshed within this place of disturbed sleep and the exhaustion only increases the situation. For them, they are engaged in a struggle within as to how they had even survived to see the morning. Living life this way and not being able to see an end in sight is beyond comprehension. There is a great need for trust to be found from an external source until they can stand alone. But trust is more than difficult especially so if the abuse took place within that in which they called home. They feel as if there was never anyone within that home that they were ever able to trust in which should have been their haven.
Nightmares and night terrors leave them powerless and out of control in a fight for their existence, and it will only ever be reconciled when they can confront that real-life residue without the painful confrontation. But just how do you confront the night when the night is a place that is so completely feared? Abuse leaves without explanation and there will never be any found by an abuse survivor, simply because there is no explanation for abuse just devastation. The world of dreams will forever be a fork in the road for a child abused recovering adult, with no forward knowledge of which road to take, when they are no longer able to stop their eyes from closing. Given time, it’s possible for every child abused recovering adult to find that place in which I now occupy, where it’s possible to rearrange those nightmarish dreams so that they will no longer continue to occupy the wakeful hours.
Recovering adult abuse survivors may never fully find a place of complete release from the abuse or be able to find complete control, but control is always relative when control has never been within their grasp before. If a way can be found to move forward even if the progress may seem slow, in time they will find that courage to enable them to face each morning with hope. Once achieved the impact is immense and in doing so the difference it makes to that life I would find myself struggling to express. It will feel like finally finding wings when life has always been flightless. Being able to take back any control is a huge achievement and to have input where there was none is life-altering.
For me, the journey I embarked on now allows me to be a small part of that alteration, as I connect with other child abuse survivors throughout the use of countless avenues. On seeing that strength when it begins to emerge from within that adult child abuse survivor it never fails to leave me with my remembrance, which in turn then becomes an exchange and one that they may not even be aware that they are making.
If we each give that of which we are able together we can give everything……..
When we think about the word imprisonment we naturally feel it represents incarceration, but that is not the only way that we can be within a space of imprisonment. A place where we are still held within its walls that are completely invisible to an onlooker. I’m talking here about a place where there will never be a daring break out staged, where there is no parole or any early release for good behaviour. A place where there was never any crime committed by that individual, but still it seems, it was their fate as abused children which holds them within that imprisonment for a lifetime.
An adult child abuse survivor knows that place well because it’s within them and to remove themselves from that incarceration will take time. They will need to endure the pain that can’t help but accompany them on their journey on that road to recovery, and so the question is asked, is it not far less painful to stay within that imposed Imprisonment? It’s so very difficult to break down the walls surrounding them and it may take many attempts. They are fully aware more than anyone just what they will need to encounter once that breakout is attempted. It will never really matter in totality others offering the sledgehammer in which to do so, they are the only ones able to take that deep breath within and take that swing.
The one thing that we know with complete certainty is that each one of them has lived within the horrors of sexual child abuse. It’s an impossible task for us to sit within another’s child abuse experience, in all truth, our involvement should be in guidance alone simply because we aren’t able to take this journey to its conclusion. On this, they stand alone.
So let’s just think about the tormented mass of abuse within that has always dominated their memory, the walls have been built so high they will seem impossible for them to climb. But what we need to remember here those walls were constructed by themselves to contain the past, and many years have passed for them to do so. The child abuse they suffered was inserted into the mind of that trusting innocent child by another, and the walls were a necessity to live life in any way that felt normal. So breaking them down? Well, we can see that there would be more than a little resistance. It would seem preferable to them not to disturb those walls and why wouldn’t it?
To be imprisoned from within there is just no escape just how you can you run from yourself? To be able to look towards the result of controlling the memory of their abuse and its effect? The walls at this moment in time for them they feel are still standing fast, even if with great difficulty and their input daily for it to be contained. But at least they are there they feel familiar and the work required to contain their abuse has become part of their life. Why invite that in which could proportionately undo that which took them so long to build? During the daylight hours, it’s somewhat achievable to hide behind these walls. But during the feared darkness of the night within those twilight hours, it’s a very different story. The abuse takes over within their subconscious and it becomes a place where all control is lost, its where the fight is always lost to them regardless. To be imprisoned within is unparalleled and surrender during the darkness of the night seems to be the only thing possible.
Here we find a space where nothing seems as if it fits overlapping with confusion and still there is no escape. The night sweats and the terror of thrashing around without any feeling of movement and always accompanied with the inability to awaken, its where they relive the pain of each abusive touch but somehow as if they are paralysed. Asking for it to stop becomes an endless loop within an echo in the distance as if it was being asked by another, the words ricocheting from wall to wall as every request returns to them unanswered and hollow. Incarceration, when measured against this torture, will seem like a preferred option. There is no mandatory time away from that cell or the giving of access to the exercise yard where they can at least feel the suns ray on their back. There is nothing remotely resembling my words above within the mind of an adult recovering from child abuse. It’s always dark whilst within the sun has no access their freedom just doesn’t exist
There is never any code of conduct that has to be followed by those implementing their incarceration, if it were ever so they would think that they have somehow entered fairyland. For an adult child abuse survivor, everything they encounter will be far less accommodating, there were no written rules their abuser had a free hand to tear their lives apart at will.
To live life within that dark imprisonment was never as a result of their actions and to experience this isolation is devastating. To look for that key enabling them any access to see the way out is achievable but for them its a huge undertaking. So do they take a sledgehammer to those walls? or stay within the maximum-security within and that cell eagerly waiting for their return. Somehow as if it was aware that leaving the cell behind them had never been a possibility.
Their liberty was taken without any wrongful deed and for that, there can never be any justification…….
Our memories bring us to pleasure fond remembrance and joy to state but a few, but on the other side of life, they can bring us to pain a feeling of desertion and deep isolation. Either way, neither will ever be able to aid us with the gift to predict the future and as for the past? Well, that can never be altered because it’s somewhat set in stone. The past is set to stay with us as we journey through life, and we can only ever make the best of that situation in which we are able. This journey is one that all of us need to make because within the acceptance of life it needs to be lived. So we endeavour to take the bad along with the good, as we continue to experience, the ride on the roller coaster called life. If we are lucky the good will always outweigh the bad, which in turn, gives us the strength when required to shoulder the bad as and when it arrives.
But what if we were to turn that statement on its head where the bad has always outweighed the good? What if finding any good has never seemed possible? Well, we are then destined to travel a completely different journey, on the roller coaster into hell. Where the downs are always present and the ups seem to be impossible to reach. They just don’t seem to have any influence or contribute at all within that ride into the dark side of life.
For a child abuse recovering adult, the paragraph I’ve written above is no great mystery. In fact, all that I have achieved whilst writing that paragraph was to randomly tear a page from within their book of life. So let’s stay with that analogy and I will endeavour to use it to emphasise my meaning.
If we were to think of life as being much like a book, we pick it up at birth where every book begins on that first page beneath its front cover. Then there is the intrigue of what may lay within each chapter which sits between both covers. Its where we really don’t know where we will be taken as we plough our way through the pages towards its conclusion, At times, we may have already somewhat guessed its ending, but that doesn’t deter us from continually turning to the next page with enthusiasm. On reaching its conclusion we reflect upon its content and mull over the story and any effect it may have left upon us.
Even if it was so very far-fetched and off the scale we still accept that it was only trying to reach within our imagination. If it was distasteful within its content, well, then we could have easily chosen to put it down. If it was a love story then we are washed away within the romance and for most, the girl always gets her guy, or clearly, she was not destined to be with him. There was no one standing above influencing our choice of whether to read on or not to do so, as we choose to pick it up or put it down at our leisure. Whatever the above triggers within you they are still very much scenarios of choice by their very nature they can be no other.
But if we were to pick up the book of life of a child abuse recovering adult none of the above relates. There is no beginning that they remember, there are no chapters that they can recall within totally recall, in truth, it’s just far too muddled. Most certainly there has never been an end in sight even if the book’s author has now departed. Indeed there is no conclusion that can be made on this now unfinished unedited manuscript. If we were able to pick up each and every one of the books I’ve described above tear them into tiny pieces, before once rearranging them without care. They would still make more sense combined that way than the book of life for a child within abuse. They were given no other choice other than to read on whilst holding on to their emerging book of life alone terrified confused and controlled.
The front and the back covers, well, they were always open on demand with a force that unless you have experienced child abuse is impossible to understand. There was never any second guessing its ending because there was no end to be seen, at times, they can’t even remember its arrival it just seems as if it has always been there. Controlled by discipline and by exterior elements, and the content of the continuing chapters was always written in another’s hand. There was no foreword page outlining the story and their abuser as sure as hell did not want any recognition for their work. Or ever contemplate another’s contribution to the book of life they were heinously destroying. That abused child would have been the only one to ever glimpse within its open pages, although completely, without the art of understanding or being able to read from the devil’s pen.
In all truth, our memories are the foundation for the book of life that will form from within us as we grow, it just hasn’t as yet reached its end until the end comes to us all naturally. We could say that on birth all of our pages are just blank just waiting for the input of life where we start to accrue our memories. As they arrive they are mentally jotted down within our memory because we are a manuscript in progress. The content within the chapters has many years in which to formulate our story and its unavoidable that the end will at some point arrive.
But for a child abuse recovering adult, those chapters between the covers from beginning to end will have no distinction, they are all within the same unaltered and extended manuscript. Scrambled, confused with no access to the oncoming yet unwritten pages. As they rapidly and continually turn over each day without any real sense to be made, without compassion and without any aid from any direction. Their book of life experience could never be put aside or discarded there was never any finality, even if many years may have now past them by.
As I have stated above the past can never be rewritten, but let us hope beyond hope, that in time they can at least begin to edit those already written pages within. Enabling them the ability to at last pick up that tarnished book unaided, and start to rewrite their future within recovery for the first time in their life. Choices that was never theirs before are now in full view and on there arrival it will take some getting used to. In its entirety choices will need to be made, and oddly for the first time, they may feel that they are completely alone. That is quite easy to understand when abuse has always been an integral part of who they were, they now have the real challenge of acceptance of the past which will never mean to forget. They will need to really look inside to find the answer to so many of their questions but at least they now have some idea of just where to look.
Change brings with it so many obstacles in which to encounter and the view from their standpoint can all on its own can bring chaos, it’s not surprising because the work required at times will be extremely painful. Getting to know who they really are is an odious task when the trauma of abuse is unearthed and encountered, in a way in which they have never needed to hold their abuse before. When face to face with that abuse the image can be less than pretty but now at least it’s honest. Looking in the mirror for all of us is not always pretty.
For a child abuse recovering adult, the image they are faced with is something that they have never seen, and for it to be overcome it will always take immense strength of their character and without the act of self-judgement. Honesty at times for all of us is not always favourable but to ourselves, we can never lie. For a child abuse recovering adult honesty has never been theirs so just how can they judge? The answer for that now recovering adult is within time and practise. For that child who is within every one of them embroiled within so much pain and deceit, have they not yet earned that privilege? The answer to that question should be on the tip of your tongue without the need of adding my own.
There is a book inside of us all just waiting to be written and each and every one of them are more than able……
I don’t normally add or share more here other than where each of my pieces take me whilst writing. But I shall do so today. I was requested to be a guest last night on live radio as the expected guest was unwell. In this situation you are never armed with any answers to the questions, neither do you know the questions you may be presented with its a case of holding on to your seat.
A lady caller rang into the show to ask me how she could outrun her past abuse and be able to feel as being whole and good, she continued, trying to outrun her abusive past was just too difficult for her and she would never be able to find any acceptance.
That question really wasn’t very long but sometimes they hit a nerve and this time was one of them. I took a moment to digest her words because they really touched me. My reply could only ever be given from my own child abuse experience, whilst moving into the position of a recovering adult myself. The answer may seem to be a simple one but on reflection, it felt huge and so extremely personal. I had to re-enter that place within me and seek an honest answer and when it came it was met by silence but hopefully it was still heard.
Today, it’s so very clear to me, that I was never able to outrun my abuse, I was always trying to outrun myself which is an impossible task, I can only hope, that by sharing a part of me the light had been shone upon her but I’ll never really know…….
Lawful prosecutions will never really be healing for a child abuse surviving adult although it may be looked for and rightly so. Every child abuse recovering adult, without question, deserves that atonement. But when I look around me I don’t see a world that’s lacking in retribution, quite simply, it can only ever be acted upon in law if easily proven. In so many cases of child abuse, it is so very difficult to prove that the said abuse is beyond any reasonable doubt. Simply because it requires the art of reaching back over many years that are past gone within childhood to be able to do so. As the years go by time seems to shift and the memory can become confused, this happens because the lines have become more than just a little blurry during that shift. There is also the fact that these memories are extremely painful, and over the years they may have become as one. These now blurred timing of events and the effect upon their vision of recall is only ever the inability to separate each event.
Memories have become diluted and mixed within and it is never going to be easy to shine a light upon the experience, if it ultimately means, they will also be required to broach the dark and its shadow. There is a world full of souls out there that are still suffering within their childhood abusive past, many, still feel too afraid to shake it up and reawaken that pain. Simply because of the familiarity of holding that past abuse seems to be the safer option. Can they really face that in which for so many years they have kept buried out of pure necessity? The fear of the effect in the here and now will almost certainly cause immense pain and upheaval. It is so very daunting without a clear path ahead that feels safe enough to be able to be tread upon. The question is asked of themselves from deep within is it less daunting to sit with the devil they know? Rather than the devil in which they feel could ultimately emerge?
Just how can a child abused recovering adult really relay each and every abusive act going back over so many years? How can they remember- times? Dates? Places? Where the initial abuse took place? How often? Did you tell anyone at the time? The list of the questions asked of them are so deeply felt and the painful answers required seem to be endlessly. Just how will a child abuse recovering adult untangle all those years into separate incidents? As that child they once were even if they were asked could that child relay that secret to anyone? The answer to this question is very simply no they had to keep it that way, a secret, or lose their world and it is an abuser’s ultimate weapon. As that child, they lived within the fear of rejection and the total dominance that they were continually subjected to. In all truth, during that time whilst children, the abuse would rightly have been received as continual and there were no separate incidents. Fear of the impending abuse was always present how could it not be? It was only ever a matter of when.
The consequence in the here and now is that so many answers from to those penetrating questions, well, they seem to elude them.
Their life is somewhat of a jigsaw puzzle that has been stored away somewhere at the back of the cupboard, each and every time it’s taken out, somehow, weirdly, more of those pieces seem to be missing. Recall for a child abuse recovering adult may even be something that they have strived to avoid, and it may have taken many years in order to be able to block those painful memories. It is enough for them to survive each day as it arrives within those painful memories that nevertheless are still alive, those in which however hard they tried they were never able to block. They arrive within the depth of sleep where the subconscious has all the power, what’s more, they are then carried throughout the day that is still waiting to emerge.
Recall for an adult survivor will always need to rely upon that child’s given recall so just where do they start to unravel those nightmares in full clarity? That adult survivor at the very onset is compromised by that child’s recall, to be able to supply the answers to those heart-wrenching questions. It must never be forgotten that during this attempted recall at another’s request towards the adult, the answer is still deep within that child, who doesn’t even what to comprehend those painful questions. It is little wonder that the adult survivor will then find themselves at a loss. At the time of the abuse they were just children, overly more, they were terrified children without any access to the answers. As much as it may be required or requested within complete clarity, well, it is more than a little difficult to catalogue those events in sequence.
In all truth, as that abused child complying a diary of events would have been the very last thing on their mind. Sadly, with those answers seemly missing or muddled some may interpret the lack of total recall within these heinous acts as being untruthful. They may feel that a response to their questions should be lined up and ready to go. Well, if only it were so easy to do so. To comprehend that a child abuse survivor would invent such atrocities against themselves, well, that truly escapes me.
Justice for so many will never be achieved whilst looked for through the considered lawful and proper way, justice is often left begging and inaction is so very often all in which is received. As talked about above the onus is placed upon the child, in order to support that adult survivor, and to present a flawless case. Wow! just how wrong does that sound? There can be no separation they are as one although apart desperately trying to find that unity whilst both are severely damaged. It may seem that over time they may both feel and share the loss any real of hope of redemption.
So very often all that any child abuser really needs to do is to do nothing just that and no more!
They rely upon the years that have passed by with that secret intact, they rely upon the ordeal that any adult child abuse survivor will be faced with if lawfully reported and investigated. They know that it is a huge ask for that adult to return to that place of horror and still be able to protect the child. Child abusers are fully aware that if any action were to be taken, that abused child will once more need to stand within such fear as if it were yesterday. Some adult child abuse survivors will never be able to do so, which in turn, will mean that so many child abusers will fall through the cracks. Within a justice system which only ever requires just a smidgen of reasonable doubt for it not to be proven, with the result being that the said abuser will never receive any atonement for their crime.
How can a child that has been sexually abused prove to others that which they could never tell of at the time? For a child abuse adult survivor it may feel that it is the only way to justice within that courtroom but is no place for the child, even within that place there may still be no peace to be found. Even if justice were to be found within the letter of the law that inner peace may still not be achieved. But ultimately, at times life can bring with it that in which was not expected and that peace will be found in another direction. I guess what I am trying to say to you today is that at times life can be trusted to find its own truthful direction, enabling that journey towards recovery and atonement in a direction in which they never knew existed. Their hands will be no longer tied and the peace in which they crave will be found within. That direction can be found and achieved by everyone, without exclusion, and rightful so.
Incarceration of an abuser is always hoped for but even if achieved the abuse is still forever felt, it is now part of the fabric of who they are and still within the struggles of today. As a sexually abused recovering adult incarceration is a familiar concept, as children, they were always within that situation. Yes, the prison cell may not have been invisible to the naked eye, but still, they were continually held within abuse and the bars proved to be formidable. The incarceration of any child abuser will rightly seem to be as if justice has been served, but that could, or never would, heal the terror of those childhood nightmares. But maybe it is just enough to recognise that every journey has its own path and timing, and that ultimately, life still holds a real possibility for everyone in time to become complete with their inner self.
Justice may not always be on view to us but it pays us to remember that justice has many guises……
Growing up with the horrific memories of child abuse is unimaginably and not easy to comprehend for those that have never experienced its devastation, a child abuse survivor has for so many years been within the dark side of life. Finding any light within their abuse was never possible and oppression was the order of that life, for many, even today, it can be felt that it is just not possible for them to find that light.
We think about the light and the dark in many ways, i.e. the daylight hours in which to occupy our minds before the arrival of the night, there is the light that just appears simply by the flicking of a switch. The light which is talked about spiritually, the light in which we see others differently denoted by their actions. If we look upon it from the other side of that spectrum whilst within the darkness of the night, it is seen as a time in which to relax the day away to sleep and to recharge. It is regarded as a quiet time within that peacefulness where we awake refreshed and ready to start another day. Both bring with them those experiences in which we encounter a difference simply known as day and night.
What I’m talking about above is the cycle of the 24-hour clock and our planetary position in relation to the sun, or a spiritualist finding peace within their belief, and the invention of electricity. We can use these examples and so many others to compare and explore the difference between the light and the dark. But there is a completely different kind of darkness that cannot be so easily explained, although I will try my best to do so here within my own experience.
What if that has never been your understanding or consciousness with regards to the light and the dark? What if those differentials were never experienced? What if the clock never altered-ever? What if peace could never be found or love was never felt? What if Spiritualism was unknown without the experience of life? What if prayers were never answered no matter how practised? Well, we have now moved so very far away from the example of the suns presence and the arrival of the moon or any other noted veritably.
If we are to think about those “what if” questions above as being someone’s reality? Well, then we are about to enter into the mind of a child abuse survivor. A dark place in which they were forced to remain where the sun never shone, night or day, it really mattered not. Within that place any explanation or comparison between the two, well, it was simply not present they were always experienced as one. How do you explain remaining within the darkness when there is no escaping it and the light is never present? No matter how many years continually pass you by, just how can that darkness be escaped or any perception of the difference be altered?
For a child abuse survivor striving to find any differential between the two just where can that differential be found? Quite simply, wherever the sun chose to be, they were locked within the darkness that goes far beyond my explanation above. They have always been within the darkness because they were placed there by their abuser, and that darkness could do no other than to follow them into adulthood. Peace was something that was never felt and any belief that it could be found amounted to nothing, only an unanswered recurring dream. Every day, living within such a dark place of complete terror that at times even the dark was not enough in which to hide. The only hope would have been to search for the shadows surrounding that darkness, a short revival if found but only ever experiencing a glimpse before the darkness returned.
I’m going to use an analogy here that may aid my writing and its purpose, hopefully, I will further create a deeper understanding of child abuse and the damage it creates for a lifetime. That pain is forever felt continually burning within, creating so such devastation, in which a forest fire would look upon with envy.
So let’s stay within that theme.
When a firefighter enters a building until that moment in time they can only see the flames and the smoke from their outside vision. It is not until they enter that building that the true extent of the destruction is seen. To gain control of those flames is their mission but just how do they gain that upper hand? There are so many variables which will need to be taken into consideration, with an inferno which could at any time switch direction. The smoke surrounds them and the heat is felt throughout even with their protective clothing. But the fire is dealt with in unison through acquired knowledge their training and their colleagues. They are prepared for all that may be in front of them, but still, there are times where they have to withdraw regroup and reassess the situation. Many heads are better than one and they look to the chain of command and those of greater experience.
At any time that building may collapse and the way they went in may now be closed to them it is no longer a safe exit, there they stand locked within the heated smoke and imminent peril because the situation that they had been facing has altered. But they were never alone and this situation has been considered their safety is always paramount. It was always a professional career choice and they understand its perils, there are many safe hands in which to rely upon. They are all working towards the same agenda to take control of the situation and put out the flames.
Moving away from the real-life today situation of the above I will now hopefully arrive at the point I’m trying to make within this analogy.
A child suffering within the heat of sexual abuse will of course never have had the experience of a firefighter. But they had never needed to stand within the flame to feel it burn. The protection and aids in which to keep them safe were just not there, within that place there is no one in whom they could rely upon, guiding them out of the impending devastation and formidable danger. The smoke stinging their eyes and no matter which exit they choose they cannot escape the flames. There is no access to any breathing aid as they continuously choke upon the smoke, there is no clear way forward because their vision is always obscured. They walk alone in the ever-expanding ashes as their world continues to burn and they are as always unaided. Whilst always aware that no one is coming to help nobody ever did.
They are trapped within the solitude and gagging for breath just as if it will be their very last-which it may, within the haze of that swirling smoke hanging above them. They crawl around on the floor where any available air may still be trapped below that ever-increasing toxic cloud, but even if they were able to find it they know that it is just a temporary reprieve. That it will only be a matter of time before another fire ignites and the process of their survival will once again need to be repeated.
At times, we can be forgiven for asking if escapism from the dark is ever really a reality for any child abuse survivor? How can that be the case if another fire will ultimately implode? So will there ever be a complete retrieval for them? The answer to that question without hesitation is a firm yes. I have been humbled to witness many journeys were child abuse survivors have done just that and continue to do so. In truth, the continued succession of this repetitive painful scenario can be halted, by simply taking back control of the matches. I’m sure that you are fully aware that I am not talking here about being handed the box. In truth, all child abuse survivors, when ready, have the ability within in which to do so. Simply by taking back the control of the life in which they still have to live, but it will never be done as so easily said until a point is reached where it is felt. With the passage of time that fire dominating their mind will become nothing but a cinder. We are also no longer talking here about bricks and mortar in which to rebuild a structure, but the inherent strength which exists within every one of those child abuse survivors. No matter the pace or passage of time in which they have travelled-extinguishing that fire is possible for all.
Child abuse is not so very different from my choice of analogy above because every child abuse survivor has been so deeply seared within, and they carry within them the scars of that entrapment within the fire. Creating the effects that any fire would leave in its wake when there was no clue as to how to put it out. For the child abuse surviving adult it was never a job choice to be within all of the variables given above. But just like those firefighters within this comparison, they continually transverse within the heat and unclear vision that their child abuse has created. They were never able to touch anything tangible or real without being scalded or expect help from the outside, as they transverse from one place to another trying to outrun the flames. Gingerly at times placing their hand blindly towards the darkness to find something, anything, with the bellowing sound of the fire which surrounds them and its ever-changing direction.
So much time is spent trying to address the atrocities that child abuse has created but what is surely needed is to find a way to put out the fire……….
It is so very difficult to see beyond our child abuse and move on to a place of counting our blessing, but I have had the privilege of being witness to just how child abuse survivors can and do turn their life around. It is quite rightly felt that all life is lost within the legacy of child abuse, but each and every one of us has the ability to change that thought process given time.
So just where do we start that process? In truth, the only thing required is for us to be open to that possibility. Those allusive answers as to how we do so, are only questions that until now haven’t been asked. So they say that time is a great healer? It is also true to say that at times, time can be anything other than healing. When it holds back our progression of movement because time will always keep moving by its very nature with the real risk of leaving an adult survivor behind.
In order to make that start, it requires the art of us being able to look past our abuse and recognise the blessings that may already surround us but are going unnoticed. That is not said glibly, because it is another difficult battle in which will require real work from us to triumph over. But just like the other preceding battles that we have already mastered in time, we will be triumphant. I speak to you today from a place that took me many years to arrive at and I never cease to stop learning. To feel that life can alter after so many difficult years required great vision and it will take time and practice in which to do so, but if I were to look back through the years at my own journey, at that time, I myself never thought it was possible.
So just what is to be considered a blessing? For each child abuse survivor, those requirements may differ and that is much the same for anyone of us. It is also true that we all look towards that in which we have belief and to that which is personal. That in which we are all blessed will never really be recognised until the clearing of that fog in which child abuse binds us.
In truth, that which will be required comes from within us a change of vision and the ability to find the good amongst the bad but rightly said, I know that will be easier said than done.
A blessing can be found within those who show us love and where that love is exchanged, it’s within the miracle birth and the joy of watching our children grow. It’s within the joy felt and the blessing of our grandchildren and their joyful rhythm of life, it’s within our home which provides us with shelter and a sense of safety that it brings with it. It’s within the friends that enable us to share our happiness or pain with. It’s within the world of our present where we are no longer mired within our past abuse, it’s within the beauty which surrounds us as that adult abuse survivor today. It’s within the magic of all life if we no longer allow the past to define who we really are.
All of the above will continue to stay hidden and unseen never recognised as a blessing until we find that trust and strength to let go of our child abuse. In turn, opening a door for us to where all of the above can be embraced, and once explored that which we may ultimately find within can be infinitely more.
Blessings have the ability to surprise us but only if we find the vision in which to count them……
This emotion is a real tricky one to infiltrate just as the picture above illustrates and it won’t be easy to gain access into this mindset. But it is an emotion that is so often visited within adulthood by child abuse survivors. On arrival, they will be so very far away from an open position of acceptance. This emotion is one of the hardest to move beyond and is usually addressed within therapy once accessed. The need to defend that damaged child at that time will now be so very paramount, but that emotion does not arrive or ever stand alone. Rightly, or wrongly, for many, they will also feel the need to embrace justification alongside it. It is a knee jerk reaction felt towards a non-reactive parent, a staunch defensive emotion, towards a parent that they are now being uncomfortably quizzed around. There is no escaping this subject and the ever-burning question of did they know? Advancing towards the inevitable and that until now unspoken painfully reality will be extremely difficult. Accepting that which they have spent their life avoiding, well, just how do you process the fact a parent may just have stood silently by? By reverting to that which they have always done they defend.
This defence may be completely flawed and difficult to understand, but for that survivor, it is so very much easier, than embracing that the said parent had full knowledge. This choice will have been made so very long ago, the choice to believe that ignorance was the only culprit that withheld a valiant rescue. Within that place and time, for them, it just had to be. That belief has to hold fast, of course, there would have been an intervention if only they had the knowledge. Whether that sounds completely deranged within any clarity of thought today, at that time of choice, clarity of thought would have been nowhere in the equation. Things may not always make sense to the onlooker, but within child abuse can there really be any sense to be found? All be that a much mused over atrocity and the dark question that we may ask ourselves, for that child within that said abuse they had no hope in hell of correlating any reply.
In truth, to gain any acquired vision or access into the mind of a child abuse survivor it needs to be at their own request. With the understanding and requirement, that we can only ever enter where we are invited. In all truth, we are only ever accompanying that survivor on their journey, and as for our own vision and staunch emotions around this subject Well, they matter not and they will always be required to take a back seat.
The need to justify the actions of a none reactive or passive parent happens, simply because it is much less painful than to accept the opposite choice. That opposite choice requires difficult self-questioning entering a mind field of emotions. If this were to be chosen just where do they start? Was I ever really loved at all? If they knew why did they allow it to carry on? Was I just invisible to them? Was I worthless? Was it my fault? Was it a punishment? If so what did I do? In all truth, this list could become endless. Even before they start to question the truth of that parental protection that they were never given, as you can imagine it is a painful place in which to choose to go. It is inevitable, that in time some way needs to be found to deal with that conflict of acceptance and staunch resistance to the truth, but it is a process that will never be easily travelled through. That said, recovery will never really be constructively worked towards until acceptance of that truth is recognised by that child abuse survivor themselves. Within that achievement once arrived at, we can expect a very painful accompaniment. A painful realisation which can no longer be avoided and that said parents own truth will be staring them in the face. But still, all is not what it may seem.
It would be acceptable to think, that every child abuse survivor is filled with hate for that none reactive parent. But it will never be so very black and white, or even explainable to the onlooker even when shared within therapy. At times, it is so very difficult to separate emotions within this place because they are within that very murky colour of grey. As an abused child defending themselves was never possible, but the pain that will be immensely felt is that none was ever given in their name. At the time of visiting this defensive emotion, the child is no more, and the response that may be expected is that of an adult reaction. But what should never be forgotten is that this healing process is still very much being directed by that child.
What is seen in front of us at that time is an adult prop, a mannequin, because it is the only thing in which is visible is it not? But what is seen at that time is so very far away from the engagement which is taking place within. What is happening within for that child abuse survivor at that time, is so drastically different from any expectation. Within we find a child who is drowning, unwilling to feel that painful reality, a child that still needs to believe that they were loved. A child still trying to hold on to any memory where they believed that they mattered. That quizzical questioning child within immense pain, who in truth, never really experiencing anything that resembling love whilst subjected to their abuse. So just why would they want to return to that place voluntarily within the acceptance of betrayal, if the outcome of that journey would leave them wide open to another mountain of pain? Somehow, right there and then, denial doesn’t seem all that bad. It is only through time and patience that we will ever be able to yield any fruit in this place, enabling that healing journey of connection to take place.
When looking towards recovery all child abuse survivors will have two foes in which to face, the pain of their abuse, but also the pain of acknowledgement surrounding that said parent’s inaction. At that time an endorsement may even be looked for from another, because of course that said parent couldn’t have known right? Desperately looking for any confirmation that indeed they couldn’t have known. Just how can a point of apportioning the truth of reached within that mindset? How can they hold that said parent accountable, if they hold on to that belief that there was no knowledge? Denial can continue to be an active emotion within therapy for many years because it is rigidly defended within that belief. The smallest amount of recognition within any kindness remembered from the direction of that inactive parent, well, it is held on to tightly with a grip of iron. Even the slightest remembrance is felt like an endorsement of that said parent’s love, only aiding and confirming to them that they are right. It has become a life raft that they are unwilling to let go of easily.
When a child has never felt love within childhood and only the abuse, imagination is all that they have at their disposal. Suddenly, they are being asked to let go of that image, the one in which they had created to survive, just how can they do that easily? It is still a huge part of who they are today and it is a part of themselves that is still greatly needed. That child is still very much alive and within all adult child abuse survivors, the uppermost reasoning and understanding must be made whilst making any connection. Within that image, they were loved and protected even if that was never really their reality. Removing that segment within where they imagined that they were held is never going be easy for them, it is easier not to hold that parent accountable than to feel the pain of true acceptance and admission brings with it.
Of course, I hope that it goes without saying, that there are many child abuse survivors in which the situation above was never their own. That the assumption they hold within regarding their own abuse, and that the said parent was oblivious is completely right, but that is so very far away from being a reality for all.
Every child abuse adult survivor has their own story to tell and their own demons to address. But for many, it is still within the realms of their imagination to choose to stay within the need of that belief. A place where they created a picture postcard memory, one in which was sorely needed to have had any chance of continuing to exist. To allow any escape from the abuse they were experiencing because not doing so was not an option, Being thrust forward enabling them to put down that abusive situation within a very dark corner of their mind. It was somewhat a necessity at that time in order to achieve any balance of mindset, because what was seen felt and experienced had to go somewhere. Or that although faltering balance, could never have been achieved at all. Any life would have then ceased to exist completely. As that child which may be contrary to belief when faced with this situation they may choose that inventory life.
It is easy to see that holding on to that belief has merit just what do they have without it? Whilst processing through a child’s eye at that time it is easy to understand their motive, but sadly, it is not so very different when seen through the eyes of that adult they have become. In every essence, that child is still where it has always been still desperately seeking a way out. The difficulty in understanding and recognising such a misplaced defence, is that they are trying to find acceptance and understanding in adulthood. Whilst still being directed by that emotive and deeply pained child. Make no mistake, that child at the onset of this stage of therapy will always be the one holding centre stage. We will never really have any hope of reaching that desperate to recover adult, until we are invited to do so by that child, that said, it must always be on their terms.
An Untruth? Well, it would seem that statement very much depends on the direction in which your life had been taken……
Understanding the effects and assessing the damage caused by child abuse can take many years, sadly, there will be those that are never able to do so. For those that remain within the pain of their child abuse, life will always continue to be a struggle. Albeit the child abuse adult survivor themselves, or a loved one, and at times both. It is important for us to remember that child abuse is not only felt by that child abuse recovering adult. Understanding, or connecting, is painful. At times it may seem easier to avoid. Looking into the face of that painful abuse to achieve that understanding, for many, is something they will never be able to do in unity. But if we were able to dissect each set of their emotions independently, it would be extremely enlightened. Quite simply, we would find two very different set of emotions. Although inexplicably linked. For that child abuse adult in recovery, they may still be struggling to go within. They may not as yet found, or possess the strength in which to do so. For their significant other, well they have only ever seen their loved one’s abuse from the outside looking in. Which is unfortunate, because at times the difference can unwittingly create an unintended impasse.
That child abuse adult may have openly chosen to stay hidden and withdrawn from the world, they just can’t face that experience of movement. I’m talking here about a movement, which will enable them to dig within their shadow self. On the flip side, we also have to understand, that the subject matter is so extremely sensitive for their partner to address. Their loved one’s child abuse is of course within their realm of acquired knowledge, but how can they truly understand? How do they approach that conversation within a margin of complete safety for them both?
It must feel as if they are about to enter into a dark hole somewhere out there in the abyss. Ever present at the forefront of their mind is to comfort, by saying just that. They understand. But in all truth, they are fully aware that they really can’t. That of course, is not a failure to consider on their part it is just the reality of the situation. The subject matter they are facing was never within any mainstream curriculum, just where do you go to experience such knowledge without the experience? That doesn’t mean that they are not trying to understand. They can plainly see the pain that their loved one is consumed with, that has never been the problem. But trying to support without real knowledge is extremely difficult, at times, even the professionals put their hands up in desperation.
If an adult child abuse survivor has chosen not to look towards their own recovery, or to share openly with their loved one. For the most, they have convinced themselves that it is safer not to do so. This can be for a multitude of reasons, and those they feel they can only share, with their broken child within. For some, a choice is made to stay within denial. Well, that of course, comes with its own set of concerns. In time, they will hopefully find that strength in which to address their shattered past. For the person that is sitting on the outside of that abuse, still searching for the knowledge of understanding. There is the pain of not knowing how.
It is a huge challenge, to be able to sit and converse within this painful subject. Because in all truth once entered, it will be without the aid of any safety net. They’ve arrived there without the experience of child abuse themselves, and for most, they will feel, that whatever they say it could never make a difference? If their loved one is completely within a self-enforced positioning of exclusion, how can any movement be made in addressing their pain? Surely, they feel, this is of their loved one’s choosing. Maybe they wish to stay within that place, other than to painfully address their abuse. Could that be right? So what can be achieved if they have chosen that for themselves? Clearly, they don’t want that painful interaction? But don’t they?
Just maybe, they are acutely aware and can recognise, the adverse effect on the person that they love. They may even feel, that the knowledge of their abuse alone, is already too much for their partner to hold. Holding is so very difficult and they are so very aware of that. They have become masters in doing so when they were forced to hold that secret. All the while being told that not holding it alone, would bring immense pain to those that they loved. They can’t do other than to be so very reluctant to pass that measure holding on to the one that they love. Holding hurts.
They have never really shared that secret in its full capacity, they are just so used to holding it alone. As an adult survivor, they may also feel, that they can’t, or that they won’t, put their relationship in such jeopardy. There will always be an underlining feeling even if it is not explainable. A legacy left to them long after the abuse has subsided. Just how much can they divulge within their approach to that loved one? Should it be head-on letting the pain escape? Commit to full expression. For many, they truly feel, that the end result of doing so, may mean that they lose everything. How can they judge what is too much for their partner to digest? Will it change how their loved one sees them? That feeling is simply felt, because of how they see themselves. They have no chance in hell of knowing their full reaction on impact. Just maybe, they can’t find the trust within themselves in which to try. Because once out there is no putting it back in the box.
To lose more within their salvaged world, well, that is something that they are not sure they could survive. It is important to realise here, that we are looking at the situation through their eyes. Not our own. That feeling remains alive and it is so very real and deeply felt. If we were to analyse this a little further, there are questions they ask of themselves often. Can I really dispense of my pain in that place? How could that be fair? Should I ask if it is OK to do so? Will the reply only be obliging? That list is endless. The reaction from their loved one is unknown, even armed with some knowledge. It is the unknown which is feared, that is a place in which they once had to survive. That place they will never forget to return to it. Well, that may seem unthinkable. A tirade of voices within never seem to stop asking the questions, whilst they are never quite able to correlate any reply. We also need to recognise that this stance can also be used as a great tool for avoidance, in the convincing of themselves towards abstaining. Let’s not forget that it can also be the direction that they themselves prefer, in essence, it is their choice, and that is a rarity. For some, that avoidance has been in place for so many years that it has become an art form.
For that significant other, yes, of course, they are aware of their partner’s abusive childhood and their memories. Even so, they may feel that there is no real need for full disclosure. What would it achieve? Somehow, they are afraid to look towards any real answer. Is it not safer for them both if they let it stay where it sits? In all truth, often, they just can’t or don’t want to dig within that painful place. OK, I’m aware that may seem as if they are being somewhat callous, or uninterested. But that will be their intention. Believe me in that. It is fear which guilds them towards that place because getting it wrong is a huge weight to carry, by choosing to abstain. Well, that weight has been removed. They may feel that if the said abuse were to erupt beyond all control, they would then be consumed. Deep within an overriding feeling of helplessness. So do they then choose to carry on like nothing is wrong? Do they stand toe to toe with it? Their thoughts at that moment in time are a disjointed mess, only able to revolve around that particular day. Is it easier to convince themselves that tomorrow will be different, that everything will settle down? But will it?
For a child abuse surviving adult within this relationship, the altering turn of events in order to defuse will be completely confusing? Yes, they don’t want to look within themselves, because it is still painful. But equally, they just can’t understanding why their significant other is choosing to withdraw. Yes, I know, that may make little sense. But whilst embedded within their past abuse and those painful memories. Well, there was never any real sense to be found in which to rationalise. So here it is that we find them both. Facing each other whilst trying to control the situation, but what that so immensely difficult, is that they are also trying to control their own set of emotions. Both or either may feel at that time that talking about the said abuse, well it would only serve to inflame, the already igniting situation. They have reached an impasse. No movement can be felt in either direction, whilst neither may really understand why. It is the elephant in the room as large as life, taking up all the space. It is far too huge emotionally to push it into a corner.
They are within deadlock. Any entry into each other’s emotions remains firmly locked it is just too difficult to share. Whilst in truth, they each hold the key in which to unlock that shared suffering. That elusive locked imagination truly exists. Imagination, we know just where that can take them. Sadly, they just don’t know how to approach the other. They are both locked within the fear of bringing pain to the other. So why? To be emotionally held within a place of unknown fear, whilst gripping tightly on to your own world. Well, that fear is unimaginable. Fear will always override everything else so completely. It is as much as they can do, just to hold on to their own life raft.
So they say that love makes the world go around, so does it really? Sadly not for all. Not when that emotional turbulence is still so deeply bedded within, and the memory of abuse seems to be the only thing within their world. Well, sadly then even love somehow seems to stand alone in the shadow. Within a journey towards recovery, there are real needs which will need to be addressed, alongside that said emotion of love. A place of understanding, a place to understand, a place to feel held. To know how it feels to hold without the pain. Before that point of achievements, then there is not much which will compare to these requirements. Love, of course, is seen and recognised in their here and now. But it still stands alone. Those accomplishments are sorely needed, to reach a complete place of healing. For a broken person, desperately trying to become whole, there is a real deep-seated need to be loved. But just what is this thing they call love? To be standing on the precipice looking towards a sheer drop into oblivion, for that abused child, the understanding of the word love within any natural state. Well, that said love had so very long ago fell off the podium.
Whilst writing this article today, it is within all hope, all of the above will be achieved for every child abuse victim. To feel nurtured and loved in life is so very deserving, for every one of those child abuse survivors. Life has already tormented them for so long within their wakeful hours, within their sleepless nights. Within their childhood and beyond. My hope is that peace love and understanding in every way, will one day reside in a place where there is none. Love in all sense for a child abuse recovering adult. Well, it has not always been something that was looked upon with joy. Their abuser will have almost certainly used that word so many times throughout their abuse. They are left questioning themselves endlessly, is that really love? For them, it would have seemed extremely preferable to be unloved and not abused. We can’t help but see their confusion around this emotion called love.
That confusion, is also easily understood, within the mind of their significant other. Although very different nevertheless there is confusion. It will never be a walk in the park to watch someone that you love within a world of pain. At times, there will be a real need to reassure that love felt towards them. Nor is it easy to get the balance right on the tight rope of what if? What if? That is so very daunting. What if the choice made on approaching their loved one’s abusive past is not the right one? Just how do they enter a dimension that for themselves was never experienced, and feel confident that their input will be well received or even helpful? Wow, that is a tough one. But nothing in life is unachievable if given time. Well, that may be the one thing that they have in abundance.
The sorry story that surrounds child abuse is that no one will ever have all of the answers. As for myself, I can speak from my own understanding. I also have the experience of my own child abuse in which to draw upon. So I’m guessing that maybe I have a few. I can also draw upon the many heart-warming, although painful interactions, of those I connect with whilst conveying their emotions also. Albeit through my own website, my many radio shows, or the huge amount of emails in which I receive daily. My feelings around this are that any interaction is better once shared. We are inexplicably linked through the devastation of our past, so let’s use that force to the full capacity. Together, we have never been in such a powerful position.
They say that love shouldn’t hurt, but sadly it does, when love has been somewhat mired……
In 2011 after many years of considerable thought, I found the determination and strength in which to be able to write and publish my book “There’s a fine line” The journey that I was about to embark on in truth could lead me anywhere but I was just so very tired of standing still.
It was a difficult process for sure but until I found movement in using my own direction I would never really know. What was completely clear was that I had to deal with the residue of my emotions. Emotions within me, that were still holding fast to their power and they had the ability to tie me up in knots inside. If I’m honest they had me within a continual place of circling. Questioning my abuse within that circle and as we are aware a circle has no end. But where did I start to write a book like that? Where did my abuse begin and end? Because it still felt so very much like it had never left. Within me, there were so many emotional wounds I needed to heal that was still so extremely painful. In truth, once I had begun it was seemingly no longer the issue. I was on a roller coaster without the ability in which to stop, I had to expunge that which was inside of me before it destroyed any margin of sanity that I still felt was mine
My story is accessable to everyone in the form of a free e-book. I invite you to take this journey with me. Who knows just maybe it may help you find your own beginning………
The direct link to obtain a free copy is within the navigation tap.
Since that time I have been active within the world of adult abuse support and recovery. To be able to continue I had the task of setting up a website my book alone was no longer enough. In doing so I was extremely hopeful my words would continue to contribute towards another’s recovery. I felt such a powerful emotion to reach out of and beyond my own abuse, towards all of those that were still within their own struggle daily. Today I continue to write and post new articles within my website, hopefully, I am able to give just that little bit more insight into child abuse. After all, my insight was deemed through my own exposure and it will never be forgotten.
For everyone the way in which we move towards recovery will almost certainly be very different, therefore, I am only able to contribute the knowledge from my own experience. Yes in all truth, the damage inflicted on each child may differ because their abuse always had its own direction.
I receive many emails on a daily basis directly through my website from those still looking towards their own recovery, I feel so extremely privileged to be a part of that. The emails I receive daily seem to be unbelievable but they are so very real. To think that another human being would inflict such devastation upon a child is hard to imagine. Sadly, where child abuse is concerned it seems that the imagination of those who abuse is limitless.
Every email I receive will in time receive a reply although done so in date order. With repeated succession within those emails, the subject matter I will address below is always so extremely paramount. Quite simply it is repeatedly asked. Resoundingly expressed, that dark penetrating feeling of not knowing where they belong or who they are.
I have been a guest speaker on many radio shows I have also been asked to return on many occasions. Those radio show hosts that are also forthright with their own input surrounding child abuse. Often exposed to the horror of child abuse themselves. Across the miles within that calibration, we try our best to contribute towards another’s recovery. We stand together with one aim to create awareness around the atrocities of child abuse.
Being a part of the NAASCA family has created a whole new level in which I’m able to communicate and it’s something that is felt deeply. When I connect with another child abuse survivor, who could be anywhere in the world, it’s as if they are sitting next to me. That common bond will always shine through and is exchanged without words. I also have the privilege of being a UK representative for NAASCA to be included within that platform.
The piece below is my attempt at trying to explain just how it feels to be that lost child and an adult survivor. To address that ever burning unanswered question I spoke about above, just where do they belong? I hope that I am successful within that attempt, it’s an experience that so many have shared to include my self among them. Travelling down this road was never going be easy but it is achievable and given time we can all walk that road to its end.
I will be using an analogy today as a tool in which I hope will assist me whilst writing. I hope that everyone will be able to relate to the subject matter, equally I’m so very sure that it will be understood completely. It’s a common emotion shared between all those who have suffered within the complexity of child abuse It’s seen without question, but why? Simply said, we have all suffered to find and address our ability within that emotion of integration. Life it seems has left us with a completely empty space when it comes to this emotion and the feeling of painful separation. It can take many years to learn how to migrate to that place where everybody else just seems to fit. During which we will at times feel that others only hinder us rather than help, and for that, I am unable to offer up any explanation.
OK, if we were to think about a flock of swallows they know exactly where they belong and their direction of travel is obvious. They are within the group and there is the consistency of the whole. If the group move they follow it’s never second guessed. They are a part of that bond. Migration whilst either moving away from or progressing towards matters not, they follow because they belong within it.
They have a shape that feeling of togetherness a place within the world in which they fit. I don’t suggest here that we should all behave like those swallows, of course not, neither am I saying that we should mindlessly or blindly follow. But is that really what they are doing? Maybe they are in fact engaged with the art of following mindfully. It’s a huge difference. The point I’m making here is that they have a direction they are among kindred spirits, they understand each other and they are able to relate.
Migration adheres it is part and parcel of their being, overly more, regardless of where they may be they want to be there. Not to leave with the others when movement occurs would leave them completely exposed, not sticking with the flock? Well, that could have a very adverse effect. This effect is not created by the others on leaving, it’s created because they no longer know how to be, where they belong, or with whom. By sticking together they are able to feel safe, protected, and recognised, most importantly they recognise.
Do they not say that there is safety in numbers? That child was alone…….
Within that accepted group, they feel held supported and understood. They belong. Within this analogy, the image above captures just how strong that bond is felt they are within that flow. So when ready to move it is within that complete structure. There is no need to glance behind they know the others within their group are there with them. Without a glance, they are felt and they remain complete.
So just where is that place to be found for an abused child? Where do they go to find their place in life where they will also fit? Somewhere that they can also feel complete and within that feeling of oneness? The answer to that question is nowhere. That feeling just isn’t there. Who can they feel safe enough with to find that integration? They have never had that experience of just being, they have never experienced a group in which to belong, or been anywhere even near to another’s protection.
In time, as that recovering adult abuse survivor, they will have access to a different knowledge where they will then understand completely. Where their questions have answers. You see they were always within a potential group for inclusion, but even so, once met it will feel just as equally foreign to them. After so many years of being held in forced exclusion, they now have to learn the art of inclusion. But what does that mean? Avoidance through their experience of the unknown is just so strong, and the inclusion that should have been theirs as a child, well, that has to be learnt. Are they even recognised in that so unfamiliar place? They as sure as hell can’t recognise it.
As a very young child, they wouldn’t have had any awareness that now an adult is be armed with, not that the adult knows just what to do with it either. When faced with that knowledge that they weren’t alone, just how can that broken inner child understand this adult world of abuse in recovery? In all honesty, whilst alone, everything they thought was true now isn’t. They were told that they were special and just how much they were loved, how lucky they were to be wanted. The question they now find themselves asking is how could they have been? The only thing that they were told made them special is ripped away within seconds, the vessel of their being feels far emptier than before. When they have experienced nothing other it’s always going to be profoundly felt, emotions that we struggle to understand will not always be under our control.
It was difficult before this knowledge all they were doing was just existing, somehow they feel that this knowledge has the potential of taking away far more than it gives. We would have to be within that troubled mind to have any hope of understanding.
If questions were asked all those years ago at best they were left unanswered, and in truth never really knowing what they were asking. As that adult, they at least now they understand the questions, but all answers will elude them for a time. Sadly at times when that knowledge arrives it’s just far too late to assist that adult, it seems far safer to hold on to that abused child. The other option in the unknown.
If we think about the analogy that of the sparrows we are then able to relate to that child’s situation, as they desperately try to find out for themselves where they also fit. God knows they have experienced such painful exposure, they were alone, and somehow also badly different. They were never safe within any structure. An oddity, within a world, that they just didn’t understand and unable to share with anyone. The empty space they were within must have felt just as vast as the sky above carrying those tiny birds in unity.
By sheer definition, that’s just where their abuser had placed them within a place of secrecy while exposed to all of the elements, to include, any knowledge of who they were, or just how to be. They never had a group enabling them to see that life could be any different. They had never felt held there was only the abuse. There was no access for them to have any hope of understanding differently. There truly wasn’t. As that recovering adult, it will take much adjustment to integrate with life and the biggest adjustment of all will be to trust. Trust is delicate, it will mean sharing those abused pieces of themselves, and in order to gain that trust, we need to allow them the time in which to give it.
When suffering within the repercussions of their abuse as children it would, of course, be less than helpful to have joined any particular group. As that child, they would never have felt able to hold another’s abuse as well as their own, that knowledge would have only served to add to their confusion. Just like a sadly lost abandoned sparrow, they were splintered away from everyone by their abuser’s design and hidden away from any inclusion. There was just no placement in which to be so you can clearly see their dilemma.
Sitting on the outskirts of life is so completely devastating whilst at all times feeling different and not knowing why? What makes this so completely overwhelming is that they feel as if they are not even noticed, whilst they can do nothing other than to notice, that everybody else is not quite like them. Quite simply, they are not a part of anything in which they felt mattered. All they have ever really felt with consistency was their abuse, within that the newly acquired knowledge it’s now seen and it’s felt immensely. They were only ever owned……
An adult child abuse survivor in time they will come to that realisation, that whilst within that dark macabre act they were never alone, but it’s still met with loneliness which fills them. As they try to battle with this new realisation of their ever changing vision, and regrettably, they now understand the price in which they had paid. That price had been their childhood……
That feeling of not belonging never really leaves any of us there will always be some residue, but with time it can be distanced to a place of management.
To arrive within that placement in the here and now even if engaging with support they will experience the feeling of being empty of everything, the person they always thought they were just isn’t. When this occurs they can be continually pulled back within that controlled abusive past as they engage with that feeling of being lost.
At times the experience of being pulled back and within their childhood memories of abuse will happen and it seems somehow inevitable, during that time all we can ever do is to sit and wait. It’s surely not where they want to it’s where they are being taken, So why? It’s where they felt inclusion and yes it is anything but logical, but whilst there, they experience some remanence of belonging. Their need to feel a part of something at that moment in time prevalent and it can’t be ignored.
It’s not so difficult for us to see that even whilst within that solitary imposed confinement at least they were a part of something. Oddly within that place they had never felt lost, they couldn’t lose direction when its something they never had. Although the direction to be followed was that of their abuser’s it was still a direction. How do they shake off that life long feeling of being directed?
They will always feel slightly less lost whilst being within the known, the unknown, well, that’s a different story. The unknown freedom and is feared, but why? Because it now means that they have to find their own direction. Through that acquired knowledge they are now also armed with a staunch resentment of being directed at all. Where do they go? They are back within that never-ending circle, once more within that solitary confinement. Only this time its self imposed.
Confinement is a place in which us humans will never bode well……..
It’s such a dreadful reality, that at times in adulthood regression is experienced towards that child and to where that damaged child had no control, at that moment in time control becomes just too difficult for that damaged adult to hold. They need to exercise control but where is the experience in which to do so? Or is it now that control that is holding them? That, of course, means that there is no control whatsoever. By returning to that child within they are able to avoid that much requested emotion of self control. No direction is required within and there they will stay until direction is no longer asked of them.
knowledge of and understanding abuse is so completely different and the adult they have now become is as equally devastated. Only in time within self realisation will that migration to a better place seem possible. Where they can start to feel that yes they do fit within the jigsaw of life they just need to keep looking. There is now an understanding that transition is possible, and recognition that it was never a weight that could have been carried as that child. On reaching this point in our recovery we then truly understand our inner child and its where we are now ready to take on the responsibility as that adult complete.
With work and support and the coming together it’s at last clearly seen that placement in life is possible, that flock in which to belong had always been there. A flock in which myself and many others will spend a lifetime trying to bring together. Enabling adult abuse survivors to find that place in which they belong is extremely paramount. Somewhere that they are understood but what’s far more crucial for them to reach a place of understanding.
Birds will always experience movement by opening their wings……
But the movement for a child locked within abuse will never experience such freedom……
It’s a much talked about corundum and something that can be incorrectly diagnosed, but experiencing these two mental health symptoms is so very different. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is mostly the result of a specific episode, an individual subjected to the horror of rape or being witness to a horrific act or incident. All of which can take someone to a place of complete breakdown with the outcome that mental health intervention is sorely required. For the most, it can be related to a singular experience by the individual concerned, which of course doesn’t make it any less horrendous. Even if experienced over a prolonged period of time i.e. a soldier returning home brings with him images that he has been subjected to whilst on deployment, although it would have been experienced over a longer period of time, it remains a singular episode and unbroken. This, of course, could easily become a different situation if he were to be deployed again in the future, and eventually relating and migrated to complex trauma.
I mention PTSD here alongside complex trauma for comparison, but that doesn’t make it any less devastating. Unlike complex trauma, this disorder can now be addressed with complete concentration on the content of the said act, directly, and deliberately. It’s recognised within its own particular area and it stands alone within that support. It can now be reached through that support far more successfully. With the knowledge as to when it started and when it reached its conclusion. Concentration can then be applied in the most helpful direction. But this is a scenario that is so completely different from those suffering from complex trauma. Yes, there will be a beginning but the end is so far out of sight, that it’s never really believed by the individual that it will stop because it’s unimaginable.
Complex trauma often reaches back as far as childbirth, it’s the only template available in which to build upon it’s the only experience that’s remembered. Love was never shown protection and care was never given, nurturing is unknown, and any help in which to grow within life’s structure just doesn’t exist. Yes, its life but only by the smallest of margin any positivity is alien they just exist each day reliving the torture. They re-experience all of the of pain, fear, mistrust, and anxiety. There is no sense of being or of mattering, abuse is always the state of mind, and they are treated as inhuman. Never able to find hope within themselves whilst used and abused, and even at times sold to another for pleasure.
They are lost, clearly not seen they are nothing to those that should have been their protectors. They are just a commodity no more and for sure so much less. Predicting how this child will be able to deal with life and function within their future as an adult, well it could be that it has already been mapped out in front of them. Their journey of abuse is the only one in which they have ever known, and it will almost certainly leave them without the art of parenting skills, which may in time be required with their own children. Sadly for some, the effects of abuse will continue directly through them and on to their children and then on to their children’s children. As the abusive pattern continues to spiral out of control affecting so many lives. At times, without it even being a conscious decision but just where could they have learnt the art of parenting? All they have ever had access to enabling them to make reference is their abuse so just how would they know? That’s not even a serious question.
I also want to mention here generational complex trauma, which is extremely prevalent and held within a particular individual or a whole nation. The atrocities suffered in every sense can only amount to being mass murder. The destruction of their ancestors forever altering the landscape whilst fleeing in fear from the place they called home. This will always be held within and the succession of those to come after them will forever feel it’s repercussions. Unwillingly, they have become a catalyst a tool of transference and it is carried through the centuries. Nowhere feels like home no matter where they reside, their country had been sociologically raped, their culture denied, out of necessity they are spread to the four corners of the earth. Their identity compromised and never able to feel a deep connection anywhere, just how can they feel a sense of belonging? There are so many unanswered questions and no repercussions it seems at all for the perpetrators not even an admission of their crimes.
Suffering from complex trauma is a completely different issue than PTSD it has an enhanced set of symptoms and the support required is also very different. We are no longer dealing with a single episode or event but a mammoth range of repeated experiences, without doubt, complex trauma will contain an array of abuse which can be within all avenues. That may and still can be felt within that individual and nation even today. In essence, there will be a complete jumbled mess of consistent abuse, creating immense pain and suffering on a daily basis, without doubt, it leaves them feeling that there really is no future or release.
Abuse is not always felt as being sexual, there is a range of abusive situations that will leave that child forever struggling, indoctrinated by a set of belief that will need to be addressed in adulthood. So let’s list but a few here. Along with sexual abuse, there is psychological abuse, physical abuse, complete neglect, rejection and starvation. Sadly for many, they have suffered within all of the above. Just where do they go to find that someone that has been lost inside? Some will never be able to do so, for others it will take many years of therapy, even then it will never really leave them. Sadly it’s a legacy they will be forever left with.
Travelling through such a complex set of circumstances completely owned controlled and unloved, how can they ever really trust any support or recovery offered when abuse is never-ending? When there are so many overwhelming continual episodes of abuse to deal with, and even more so if this abuse is still in their present. Of course it could now be in the distant past, but even so, it would still have spanned over so many years of their life. Repeated and continued abuse in any manner imaginable. So very often it’s a family member or even members, and then there really is nowhere to escape. For some, they may have been caged in or chained to the wall, left alone until needed sexually that was their reality, never ever to feel needed in any positive aspect of the word. Just how can the past be redressed in the here and now? when tomorrow is feared? When abuse is something as felt like part of you? when each day brings with it abuse, terror, and sexual acts. With the uncertainty of never knowing when or how. When there is nothing you can do but to exist in this horrendous living nightmare of a doomed existence.
The above for me is something that I myself lived through since the age of seven, and it is still ever present today in a turn of fate, that in all honesty, I was half expecting. Even now at the ripe old age of sixty, it seems I am to continue along this road that I’ve somehow come to expect. It has been forever present in my life, it has always been there for as long as I can remember. It is an integral part of who I am because it was placed there so very long ago, but it no longer holds any power over me in that manner we have parted ways. I am now able to stay within my truth and I can now see my worth. I am extremely lucky to have now found the strength to stand my ground and it took time, I guess on learning that even with support, it was still something that ultimately I alone had to deal with and it created a change in me. Whilst within the arms of that given support they were only ever able to go so far and that is by no means their undoing. It’s the system that continues to fail so many child abuse survivors. Even when support is given whilst trying to deal with our abusive past and maybe even in the here and now it can be addressed, but when the here and now is ever changing and the oncoming future is completely unknown. Well, the professions are also lost…
In this type of situation, the fault can never really be placed at the feet of any support you are receiving, they really aren’t able to have input with the unknown. There is only one place where we can put this down and it’s none other than at the feet of our abuser. Unfortunately, at times there is another to include, who has also been left with our abusers legacy whilst living within entanglement and a web of lies. Here we see just how it’s possible to invade the mind of an innocent by the abusers sheer will power alone, simply because their own life has also been controlled they were also subjected to their own scenario of abuse. In all truth, knowing the person that they were subjected to in my own case, I can clearly see that they never really had a chance. The abusive control within their own existence is still ever felt and taken as if said by the gods so just where does this ever end? You can clearly see the pattern.
In truth for me, I now find myself faced with this ongoing mental abuse and the much-wanted control by another, directly delivered through my abuser’s manipulation. Yes, he may be gone but I am to be reminded that in essence he is never really gone. The big difference is that I am now within a completely different place in my life, I have taken control of myself and my actions and they are and will now always be mine. Even with many years of therapy behind me which although enormously helpful, I came to accept that it was me that would have to make that difference which was much required. I arrived at a point where I had to choose and so I consciously made that choice, never again would I be directed by another I had to take back my life.
I had reached a point of recognition it was either fight or flight and it was no longer in my nature to do the latter. We all survive the best way we know how but I was no longer going to stay within that flight. I had arrived at a point of understanding that it was no longer an option for me no matter the cost, I was done running period! I would face that which was in front of me as I embarked on a journey with a completely different mindset. Control of my life had to be mine by either dealing with it directly or controlling the element at a distance. I’m far from saying that it was an easy thing to do, and it requires management daily. But I’m now able to do just that by using a structure that I have created within my own growth and recovery and it’s so very far removed from my abuse.
So let’s talk a little more about complex trauma. It is so very different than PTSD speaking from my own experience. Which in all truth is all I can do. But just maybe, by sharing a little more of myself it may give others a little more understanding. My aim here is not to give you direction, but to hopefully help you to find your own direction because information is never unhelpful it’s instructive in the direction of understanding. I.e. my experience will differ from your own and it still hasn’t reached its end, but the big difference here is that I had reached my end. There would be no more. It was then that I had to stay strong but the details I am unfortunately not able to share with you here because they are unnecessary. I also feel that just by doing so I would somehow be relinquishing my power. But more so I would in a sense be giving my abuser air time power over me and my life, that is something they will never again receive from my direction even if demanded through inheritance.
In trying to explain complex trauma it’s so extremely difficult to find the right words because it’s beyond overwhelming, it’s a state of being stuck in a place of pain where there seems to be no end. So for myself, I created a safe place as a child somewhere that the devil couldn’t follow me. In truth, it was just too unnerving, painful, and gripping to be able to stay there my whole body was in a state of alert. But somehow I had arrived at a place of acceptance without choice, I had to change that feeling even if only within my mind. Within my own being, I could no longer stay in that place of sexual abuse, and any hope of it being removed had long past been extinguished within me. There really was nothing that I could do for so many years because I was just a child, I was only just in essence existing I was living my life like a ghost. At that time abuse became something I had to live with only ever counting the hours until the next time. I couldn’t even imagine a place where it wasn’t there if this was my reality (bodily) I just couldn’t stay there.
My abuse was known, painfully felt, and somehow it had become the norm I lived within it daily, and so I had to adjust my life accordingly. I lived in a potential world without joy I never remembered or experienced any happiness. I was in a world of pain without recognition I wasn’t even noticed. I felt unimportant without a voice it had long been taken from me physically, mentally, and emotionally. Somehow I was in a world of shadow, overly more, that was just where I wanted to be within that shadow. Because then just maybe I really would go unnoticed but that was never my reality. But I could leave my reality and abuse behind in the only way possible for me whilst still being there bodily. Although it was only through circumstance in my adult life, that I would ever come to this realisation and remembrance. I am now able to recognise just how and why I conduct my life in the here and now. This would only become known to me at the hands of my abuser and ultimately it was to become his undoing.
So out of necessity that’s just what I did, I just left me behind I was in an altered state of complete separation from my being. Even though the acts were occurring right in front of me it was no longer happening to me. That was someone else, it was someone that I was able to see at a distance, but I was only watching the said sexual act as if I were a conscious observer. Every physical activity or touch was seen but not felt bodily. My mind had become a filter. Everything was just passing through me, I felt no shame, I felt nothing, how could I because my only crime was being there right? Yes I felt sorry for that other child at the other end of the room but I couldn’t do anything, I was in a bubble of my own creation nothing could penetrate my world in that place I was always safe.
Once this process had started it would continue to be with me for a lifetime, it really was where I learnt the art of separation and I continue to do so when needed. Although I am no longer in a place of sexual abuse, as we know, abuse doesn’t need to be sexual. The mind games continue either spoken or unspoken and threats will always remain a need for concern. It’s how I deal with that concern that now differs from its creation as that very young child I am now an adult and I’d done my homework. As that adult, I am now able to stand at a distance from life’s tests and painful emotions and it is now something that I mostly do with ease. Which has meant that as a seemingly functioning adult I can at times be seen as being aloof or withdrawn? That I am unaffected by any of the traumatic events that may be going on all around me. What’s not seen is the complexity of the happenings within me. I am once more engaged in that stand-off position where filtering has begun as I observe everything objectively, I am within a thought process which needs that withdrawal, I’m in a place of safety within that bubble that I created as a child.
This is where I rearrange everything to a correct place of seating by untangling my emotions, and I leave this world behind me for a time to deal with the problem I am faced with. I open a box deep within me where I place that happening by the use of my own sheer will power. Which oddly I had learnt from that childhood abuse so very long ago and then I detach myself from the issue. I place that once dealt with the problem within that box and that’s where it remains locked within. With a knowing that I am the only one with access to that key. In truth, although ironically said this process has served me well at times in my adulthood for the good. But the art of this skill has also taken so much away from me in other avenues. When thought about I guess my abuse has taught me something in life, that survival without choice can be altered to survival with choices. It was either do that or die and for all of us, the instinct for survival is without a doubt always prevalent.
Complex trauma is a psychological disorder that develops in response to prolonged abusive and repeated experiences, it’s interpersonal, a situation in which the individual has little chance or no hope of escape. It’s a world of delayed response to trauma to include persistent fatigue, sleep disorders, nightmares, and flashbacks. For me, it also became that in which I could use the art of avoidance from my emotions or anxiety at any given moment. Complete withdrawal back into my world of darkness because I feel at that time it’s my only option, it was tried and tested, eventually it never fails me. Going within means confronting memories which will always bring pain on the point of entry, but once I’m there, I know just how to control that emotion from a distance. This is what I know and so I return to it because at the time of doing so it seems far safer than facing that which is unknown. This is a legacy which I have carried for a lifetime and it’s so very ironic, that returning to that place seems far safer than the place I sometimes find myself within in the here and now. When faced with a situation that is not controllable it’s where I return to take back that control, and I stay there until control is ready to leave with me and we return to a life together.
For myself, I have been lucky enough to mostly now avoid that return journey without feeling too much pain from my past abuse, I’m thankful. I am now able to go within at a much shallower entry and I’m still able to do the work required. Without the need to go deeper where I had eventually been able to place my past abuse. But this is a much-practised art that took me many years to accomplish and it requires that I distance myself from everyone and everything. I am then able to put my full attention on the task confronting me and the rearrangement required of that crowded space within begins. It has become for me somewhat like second nature where I don’t really need to confront my abuse anymore, I am entering that place for a completely different reason I’m not there to unearth my past. I am there in a completely altered state of mind. I’m here to find the answers in my present not to face the questions of the past they have long ago all been asked and answered.
I can now step around it with ease, but of course, that does not mean that the outcome I return with will be one of my own liking, it just means that I can now deal with it objectively. Simply because I have removed myself from any emotional reaction. Of course, my self-removal is not always seen as being helpful to others, but not to do so would create a situation of no control whatsoever. Control is something that I could nor would ever lose again because today I will never be placed in a situation of no control. So for me, it is my lifeline and at that time of removal, it is in everyone’s interest that I do so.
Events in life will at times always catch us out and when we are unaware of something’s arrival, we will sometimes fall resulting in us being somewhat battered and bruised. But it is never about how many times we fall it is about how many times we get back up. For sure, I’m not spared these events by any means either they still come along. I have my own share to contend with at times even with this practised art at my disposal. But for the main, I now stand for who I am and not who I had been made to feel. I now know beyond any doubt that my innocence was taken from me and it was not freely given. It’s for us all to remember that we are who we can be and not how we were made to feel. And yes, we do have the right to life after our child abuse even though our childhood may be lost to us. We really do have a future if we take hold of it and live within life’s precious moments in spite of our abuse. But even more so because of it, and with that now hopefully altered mindset it becomes so very clear as to just how precious those moments are.
As abused children in adulthood we are a complex structure but surely that also means that given time we are able to structure complexity…….