Usually this is for a good reason because if the mind had to confront everything that was happening while it was happening, it would short circuit and not be able to handle it all. For an adult, it is hard enough, but for a young child, the mind really gets challenged when it is being abused.
A child is born into this world looking up to their parents and family for sustenance, love, support, encouragement and safety. When a child is abused, these things are tossed aside in the trash and the child is left to comprehend a world that goes against biology.
When a child goes through abuse, whether it is sexual abuse or physical and emotional abuse, often the kid has no idea that anything else exists outside of this behavior. It becomes the norm in life. It becomes the world that the child knows and so it almost looks normal.
There may be a part of the child which knows the abuse isn't normal, but the abuse is the only world they know. With the family secrets and the shame and the pain, there is no way the child can discover a different world beyond what they see every day. The biological body and mind knows no different and through these things, it is kept in the dark.
For a long time, I didn't realize that some of what I had been through was abuse. I just thought everyone was forced to take baths with their older brothers and father, which resulted in constant sexual molestation. I just thought that it was normal for all fathers to watch their children dress and undress even in their teenage years. I just thought it was normal that if you didn't allow them to sexually abuse you, that God wouldn't love you and you would miss out on the affection shown to you by them.
There have been so many things that I thought were normal and now as I've been in a loving relationship with my husband, I've found out they were not normal. When I have started to talk to others that have been through things and shared the details of behavior I went through, it is then that I realized, it was not normal behavior. It was abuse.
Having a father demean you constantly and scream at you is not anything a child should ever have to endure. Having to live in a world of chaos each and every day, tiptoeing around my father to see what might set him off in a fit of rage was a challenge. The little things that could spark a violent tirade of abuse on myself or my mom and brothers was a random event that happened when you least expected it. Usually there was no warning to what would make the bomb explode.
Being constantly told how worthless you were or stupid or how little common sense you had would rip any sense of self worth you had into shreds. Those moments seemed normal to me and so I continued to live in a self-imposed world of perfection so I could try and find some value. Plus, I didn't want to upset God because bad stuff would happen to me then.
Every bit of my life was controlled and manipulated and the minute you thought you had it figured out, the rules changes. The behaviors changed. The corresponding actions and results changed. There was no guessing what would happen or when it would happen. This was the world I grew up in. It was all I thought existed.
One of the things that I see others struggle with just like myself in healing is that you have to come to terms with what was normal or not in your childhood. To come to terms though, means you have to touch the pain and horror of those moments where it was not normal. It is never easy to touch the pain and sorrow you have experience in life. It takes courage and often a helping hand to walk with you through those fires.
For me, I had to walk away from my family in order to find myself and my life. I had to say enough was enough and I will be the first to tell you that this was as difficult as it gets. There is nothing that can replace the biological connection of a mother, father or family unit. Yes, you learn to live and go on, but that biological cellular connection is always there.
We all learn from the behavior we witness and endure. We all function in life based upon what was done to us and what we witnessed. Healing is about learning which parts of our life no longer serve us now, even if they helped us survive those horrible moments. Healing is about understanding that things were not normal, even if it is the only world we knew.
It is about learning to piece our lives together and helping teach ourselves all that we need in life. Yes, we got short changed as kids, but now through healing, we can begin to create the life we want with the people in it that we want.
It is like the storybook of our lives where you can choose to put in each day's chapter that which you want and need and desire. If it doesn't work out the way you want it to, you're always free to create something different tomorrow.
Blog Post And Images (c) 2016 by Don Shetterly
- Permission required before any part of this blog post is reprinted, reworded or used in any form.
- You are welcomed to share the LINK to this blog post.