I was starting to wonder why my old ghosts were haunting me so vividly recently but this morning I realised why. March is just around the corner and with that comes the memories of March 2006. That month brought me to my knees as my whole world as I knew it completely changed. When I think back to that month I just remember feeling so fucking lonely. I remember moving house too much to escape the terrors that followed us. I remember sitting on the edge of a rock on a hill near my house with nothing to accompany me except a pen and notebook. I remember being lonely all of the damn time back then. One of the biggest problems I had was my own feelings towards reaching out for help. I felt so bad for reaching out to others that I started to hate myself for doing it. I felt like a heavy burden despite reassurances on the contrary. I self harmed and got drunk because it was easier. Even after I had my list of emergency contacts and after many counselling sessions I still turned to unsafe coping methods. Why? Does that mean I didn’t heal or that I fucked up?
I still believe that my list of contacts and all of the amazing people who dedicated so much of their precious time to me were my saving grace. Without them I could have been so much worse, so much more self destructive. I told myself that I had moved on enough to cope without talking to anyone but in reality I had simply gotten better at hiding my thoughts and ignoring what’s happening right inside of me.
I really want to be different. I want to the type of person that doesn’t spend so much time climbing up a steep and painful hill just to go tumbling back down it. Scars should heal and never be ripped open again, they shouldn’t part to reveal such darkness. I hoped that one day I would just be okay and like it had never happened. That day may never come but I think I’m okay with that. This is just me. “Okay” is my “good”.
Child sexual abuse is still such a taboo but I can’t help but want to talk about it. I’m 23 years old this year and I am also nine years free from abuse. When I say I am nine years free from abuse I am not including the years I spent battling for justice through the Irish legal system. Nine years really isn’t that long in a way and it’s easy to forget that I was gripped by controlling and disgusting men for the majority of my life. Surviving those nine years involved a lot of coping mechanisms, I’m going to tell you about my list in this post.
When I was younger, maybe about sixteen years old, I made a list of people to contact if and when I needed to. Some of the names on the list were of people who I could really trust and others were good to have a laugh with. I felt lucky to have so many people to call upon. I felt like I had a safety net in place with so many people happy to help me but now that list is so much smaller yet that doesn’t make me feel like I’m alone. It actually gives me independence to stand alone when the world is weighing me down, strength to stand tall despite all else and wisdom to see that just because someone does not remain in your life permanently does not mean that they should be crossed off of your list.
That list got me through some difficult times. No, difficult isn’t the right word actually. It got me through the moments when my little world was spinning out of my control, when I was carrying on like the walls I built weren’t crumbling around me and like I wasn’t ready to just give up on everything. That list was once my lifeline and just because the list is smaller it doesn’t mean that it is now something I no longer appreciate. My list was one of my safer ways of coping. I must tell you all that the people on this list didn’t actually know they were on the list or even that such a list existed and probably don’t know how much of an impact they had on my life. People put me in hell but other people helped me to find my way back.
Where do you begin when there isn’t an ending yet? Well, I suppose I should start at my beginning. The beginning I can remember anyway. I am a survivor of sexual abuse which happened frequently throughout my childhood until I was around 14. These horrible things were inflicted upon me by three different men. Things like that leave their mark on you in more ways than you can ever imagine. My head was in a spin from it all. My Mother and I left behind our family home in order to get away from one of my abusers. We left one evening with no idea what to do next. We had no income, no home of our own and very little possessions. Years later we have much better lives.
It was getting to this stage that was difficult. I always say that people should talk about their problems and their issues. True to my own advice, talking is exactly what I did. Unfortunately people often didn’t know how to react to the issues I had. It wasn’t their fault. It is hard to give advice to someone who’s in the situation I was in. I fought for justice for six years against one of these men. During those six years the court case was adjourned many times, new items were asked for such as my medical records and even notes from counselling sessions of mine, and in the end he was found not guilty. I appealed this decision and finally got the guilty verdict I so desperately wanted. By then I had leaned on many different people for support and I worried that they were going to look at me differently or see me as a burden. I was raped, sexually abused, emotionally tortured, stalked and afterwards I was ripped apart on the witness stand more than once. I had self harmed, I had swollen knuckles on several occasions from inflicting pain upon myself and the nearest wall. I attended counselling. I had support from youth workers and even teachers. I also had help from my friends. Despite their willingness to help I still couldn’t help being afraid that I was asking for too much by talking to them.
What changed my perspective on my fears was actually a mail on Facebook from a good friend of mine. She told me that listening to me and seeing me going through my personal battles inspired her to actually finally speak to someone about hers and to face something that she had avoided for many years. You think you are being a nuisance but in reality you are probably your confidants’ greatest inspiration. I was. Talking is so important and I really cannot stress that enough. I may reveal more of my history in time but for now feel free to ask me anything and if I feel comfortable answering your questions then I will. Take care, wonderful people.