as seen at the #NoMoreShame Project, but with added images and captions
I like to think of my recovery like removing a splinter, or a thorn. A few years ago, my wife and I had to remove a splinter of a ice pop stick from under our daughter’s toe. We had to hold her down, because it hurt so bad and it was wedged so far in. But after we got it out, she hugged us, saying “Thank you, thank you” over and over.
The only difference I would point out, however, is that the splinters of my abuse have been numerous and many over a long period of time. Still, they have to come out, or I feel they’ll continue to give me pain.
I was six when my innocence was brutally crushed. My parents thought that it was a good idea to educate me about sex by showing their nakedness to me, each in turn, during shower time. Whole heaps of sexuality was just dumped into my lap and I had no understanding what any of it meant. My father didn’t do or say much, but my mother decided to point out her body parts more directly to me. I didn’t understand why my hand was getting slapped; I had no comprehension about why those parts were related to sex.
Of course, I never understood the emotional abuse, either, why she grew so cold, so critical, so unrelentingly negative. My father simply beat me. While I was terrified of my father during those early years, interacting with my mother was more like a slow burn– I remember her being warm and comforting, but now I was being stung and demolished inside.
I had no voice. I’ve always loved periodicals, so I remember reading a public service ad about emotional abuse. It pointed out that some scars weren’t visible, and showed a young girl with a haunting look in her eyes. I looked into them and saw myself, but I was too terrified to say anything to anyone. Who would believe me?
I felt so vulnerable. I was teased and picked on in school, especially when I moved away with my family from a small farming community to an larger town. Middle school– that time that kids experience puberty– was pure hellfire. Some of my secondary school teachers in middle and high school suspected something was wrong, but I had no idea why I was talking with other students that dealt with alcohol and drug abuse. I did start to feel suicidal, however.
Not only did I have a poor grasp of social boundaries, I had no idea how to cope with all the sexuality I’d been exposed to in childhood. I got hooked on porn pretty quick. Romantic relationships were terrifying. It seemed like I got in over my head physically and I couldn’t say no– it was too easy to just let the other person decide the level of intimacy. I was accused of rape my freshman year of college by a roommate of a girl I was dating at the time– the first time I’d been in a serious relationship. Not all relationships were romantic, either– some were just about sex, with men as well as women. I always got way more than I bargained for. I didn’t feel lucky. I felt out of control.
No surprise that the woman I married had issues with childhood abuse, too, but she was a lot more patient and caring than so many others I’d been with. Now, I had to shoulder the pain she was feeling, but she helped me pick through the pieces. She stuck with me even when I was revictimized again a few times– being stalked, harrassed, and otherwise virtually assaulted in a sexual way online.
It’s been SO hard to come forward. I think it’s harder for guys. No one shames a Daddy’s girl, but “Momma’s Boy” is definitely an insult to men. Sometimes, when I shared my story, people understood. Other times– they were terrified. It’s been really difficult to find a safe place to talk and be completely understood, so I am very grateful to come to the No More Shame Project and be able to speak freely.
Just like the splinter, it has to all come out. And with the help of some marvelous people here, I’m getting closer.