I am a survivor of extremely severe ritualistic childhood abuse and sadistic systematic torture. Without God's intervention in my life I wouldn't be here - NOW is the time for me to tell MY story by speaking the TRUTH about MY life. I will be silenced no more! On this blog I share MY life, MY healing journey; helpful quotes/stuff I come across and MY thoughts along the way. The more I speak out the more liberated I am from the shame and trauma of the abuse. My broken wings are gradually being restored. This blog has helped me begin to get my voice back and documents the journey God is taking me on to heal me from the trauma and damage caused by that most appalling abuse.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

CATCH UP

I’ve not written in a while for several reasons. Firstly my laptop died on me and had to go away for repair and has only just returned. Ah, it’s so nice to have it back - life just wasn’t quite the same while it was away! Also, I’ve been dealing with big changes in how I’m talking in my sessions with ‘K’ and ‘T’. The last few weeks of my life have been interesting at the very least and excruciatingly painful if I’m honest. But here I am finally putting fingers to keyboard to catch up with my thoughts and emotions. I have maintained my journal through the last few weeks which has helped keep me sane.

The implications of finally beginning to talk about the abuse instead of talking around it have been surprisingly far reaching, including have to deal with severe pelvic and gynaecological pain which no-one warned me about!

During my last two sessions with ‘K’ I’ve been able to discuss at quite a deep level incidents of abuse I experienced at the hands of the paedophile ring that ran at my paternal grandparents’ house. I remember the session one month ago when I grabbed my rapidly vanishing courage and found the words to describe a sexual assault. I remember the feelings of sheer terror I felt. How will ‘K’ react? What will she say? In the end she was very compassionate and really supportive. Then 2 weeks ago I took her deeper into that assault. I couldn’t sit opposite her so I moved across the room and stood by the door as I talked. I remember ‘K’ saying “Fi, this is very shocking, very shocking indeed!” I remember how those words reached out to me and hugged me and comforted me. I was heard by those words. I was believed and validated by those words. Most of all I was enormously comforted by those words.

My counselling sessions with ‘T’ during the last month have become increasingly in depth. It was a month ago that I began to broach the issues surrounding my sexuality and gender identity confusion. During that session and the one that followed I explored some of the roots of that confusion and made some sense of how I’ve come to be what and how I am. I also began to have a little hope that positive change, understanding and healing is possible. Just 2 weeks ago I heard myself begin to talk about the babies I lost. I remember ‘T’ asking “lost or taken from you?” That question gave me permission to talk about the several babies I lost through miscarriages and the two that were taken from me by murder. I couldn’t believe I was telling her all that. I never ever thought I’d sit with another human being and tell those terrible things. I remember looking across to her as our session drew to a close and there were tears in her eyes. Last week I sat with ‘T’ and said “this is how bad it really was, it really was this horrific”. ‘T’ said “yes, I realise, I can’t imagine the scale of the horror.” I discussed with her how as a child I had no means to process what was happening to me or to my body. As a child I was totally unable to deal with all that was happening so had to shut it out. I had no real understanding of what was happening around me in the family home or why it was happening – just that I was bad and deserved it all. I simply could not take it in. As a child I had no real comprehension of what was going on - just that it was really horrible. My child mind could not process it, just store it. My child mind could not cope with the horror. ‘T’ said to me “what could a 13/14 year old child do in that situation? There was nothing you could have done.” I knew she was right. Those words enabled me to see myself as a child, which is something I find very hard to do. I mentioned how, even now, at the age of 45, I find it virtually impossible to process the horror of those years and those events and I find it very difficult to believe how horrific it truly was, even though I know the truth. My adult mind struggles with the horror. It has been such a relief to talk about all this stuff at long last! What it is to be heard and to be comforted. 

It is so new for me to be comforted. I was never comforted as a child. As an adult I’ve had none to comfort me until now. I didn’t know I missed out on that but now I’m experiencing being comforted by the responses of those around me. I am strengthened, encouraged, supported, liberated and most of all COMFORTED!!

On top of all that I’ve also had to deal with the closure of ChildLine SW. I still cannot get my head around that. It all feels totally crazy and plain wrong. Last Thursday evening was the farewell party. I cannot find words for how hard it was to face that day.

Naturally my thoughts turn to ChildLine and the closure of the SW base which has been totally devastating.
 
When I think back over the 4 years that I worked there and reflect on all that happened in that time I see enormous change and personal growth. 

I remember the early days when it was an all female team and I privately called it a “testosterone free zone”. I remember how safe I felt and how new it was to be in a totally female environment. I remember the first male member of staff starting. I remember how I felt my safe space had been invaded when he began work. I remember nervously watching three other males gradually added to the team. I remember how terrified and resentful I was of them. I remember how nervous I felt around them. I look back on that time with thankfulness that I didn’t shut down on the subject but determined to push through the pain and discomfort and explore what was being triggered and find a way to accommodate these men into my working environment. I grew over time to become more comfortable around them to the point where I wasn’t terrified to say hello. Eventually I grew to like them and speak more with them. I was eventually able to look at my male colleagues as equals not as threats to my safety and well being. I eventually appreciated their warmth, compassion and support. They showed me that there are compassionate safe males in the world and in the work place. In working with those four males I discovered safety in the company of men. That was very healing.

I remember my interview in July 2010 and how terrified I was. I remember bumping into one of my interviewers as I walked into the toilets before the interview. I said ‘hello’ and gave her a big grin not knowing who she was. I remember sitting down in my interview and she came into the room as the 2nd interviewer. I remember how glad I felt that I’d been really friendly towards her when we walked into each other. I was just my natural self but it did strike me how we never know who the people that cross our paths in life really are, how important first impressions are and also how important it is for me to just be ‘me’.

I remember my first few months in the job, insecure and terrified, waiting for someone to breathe down my neck, judge me and tell me all the things I was doing wrong. It was a total surprise to me when that never happened. Instead there was total acceptance of me as a person and of my skills. My self-confidence and self-belief began to grow. I slowly began to thaw out, use my natural skills and after about 6-months realised no-one was going to criticise me for my weaknesses or mistakes. Everyone was so accepting and supporting – I’d never come across that in the workplace before. I’ve had many harsh bosses in the past who added to my trauma and low self-worth. 

I count it a privilege to have worked in such a terrific atmosphere. I know I will never work anywhere like it again. I know I am very thankful to have had such a positive working experience.

ChildLine SW wasn’t just another voluntary job. There was so much more to it. It was about work but it was also about relationship. I would never have believed it possible for me to develop the working relationships that I had there. By the time I left I communicated as an equal and felt like an equal with my colleagues.

That was breathtaking! For the first time in my life I felt like an equal not an inferior being. Such was the healing that occurred in my in that environment. In the environment at ChildLine I bloomed, blossomed and grew.
 
In that way my four years at ChildLine SW were very similar to my three years at university. Both were environments which were compassionate, supportive and enabled me to begin to believe in myself because other people believed in me and saw something in me. 

The two hours a week I spent at ChildLine SW during the past four years were always very full and very busy. They were also a haven for me. It became a haven of acceptance and support which gave me respite from everything else going on in my life.  It didn’t matter what was going on or how I was feeling as I walked through the door. Once I was there I just clicked into ChildLine mode. That gave me enormous respite. Even during the worst months of 2010 when I was drowning in trauma and didn’t really know why I was still doggedly alive and surviving, the compassion and support I experienced in ChildLine helped me make it through.  

In fact I would go so far to say that without ChildLine SW and the support I received there I doubt if I could have made it through the events of 2010.

With the closure of ChildLine SW and the whole way in which that happened I have been seriously disillusioned and traumatised. I feel that something very precious has been ripped away from me and that is very hard, very hard indeed. 

But the amazing and wonderfully healing and transforming thing to come out of it has been the shared hurt, anger, trauma with my colleagues. Within the honesty of that sharing came a new vulnerability for me and the realisation that it is possible to be vulnerable, show your true feelings, be accepted and be safe.

Another realisation has come too – that is that my feelings and my reactions have been shared by everyone else affected by the closure. That means my feelings and reactions are not over the top, they are not crazy and unacceptable but rather they are acceptable, normal and realistic given what has happened. My feelings and reactions are therefore ok and valid.
 
That has been a huge learning point for me and has enabled me to begin to look at my feelings and reactions in general in a new light. That validation has begun to address all the bad programming I received during the first 20 years of my life about my feelings and reactions

I am beginning to realise that my feelings and reactions are valid and are ok. I am not bad for having bad feelings, I am just human. 

Wow, what a shift in my thinking that is!!

I told my boss during our final meeting how much she had helped repair my view of bosses and how healing it had been for me to have had such a compassionate, supportive, positive boss. She in turn said I had helped her and others enormously but even more importantly, she told me that the organisational skills which I brought to my role in ChildLine had fundamentally changed how ChildLine SW was organised administratively. That and other things she told me blew me away. I realised that we don’t realise how much we impact those around us and my eyes were certainly opened by my final conversation with my boss.

Finally, I was really touched by something a colleague who has a business in my hometown said to me. She said, as I left the leaving party on Thursday night to catch my train home, “pop in on Thursday and we’ll go, have coffee, I’d love to see you.” I was astounded and surprised. Earlier, while the speeches had taken place I had struggled to hold it together and not cry. She had looked across at me and asked “are you ok?” I didn’t try to speak or respond in any way, I was beyond words at that point. So instead I stopped trying to hold it together and let the tears fall for a few moments. She reached out to me and lightly touched my hand. I felt comforted and validated by her response to my emotional vulnerability!

It’s really nice that a Facebook group has been formed as a meeting place for staff and volunteers of ChildLine SW who wish to remain in contact to do so. I was so delighted when I was informed about that because I really didn’t want to lose touch with such an amazing bunch of people but I didn’t know how not to!

So although this chapter of my life has been immensely traumatic and painful beyond description some good is coming out of it. I feel extremely drained at the moment! Sometimes I wonder just how much stuff humans are designed to deal with at one time. But dealing with it all I am, little by little. And I am being very gentle on myself, which is new, but I’ve learned to ease up on myself and not be hard on myself. That I guess is the beginning of re-parenting myself!

2 comments:

Eve said...

Wow! I like the term "re-parenting myself" part a lot! I think you are so right. You are on the right track, and it is hard but you are doing such a good job. I believe that you will get the answers that you are looking for.
much love,

Princess Fi said...

Hi Eve

Yes, that term came to me as I was writing and I suddenly realised that "re-parenting myself" is exactly what I'm doing without realising it!