Distrust is a major issue in the life of a survivor of child abuse. We are unable to trust anyone. We just don’t feel we are truly worthy of being loved. Or that the person who is good to us always has ulterior motives. The hyper-vigilance is a constant in our daily interactions, we are unable to relax and just enjoy the good in our lives. And many a time we tend to sabotage our relationships. We over-analyse and over-think about the motives of others. We always have our guard up. It is so exhausting.
Life after my mother death meant survival in a hostile environment. Always having to fit in, be what my father wanted or I would be the recipient of a good many whacks. With my father any small thing was enough to trigger him into a frenzy of violence which stopped after much brutality. With my grandmother if I did not help her or if she was in one of her moods would give me the cold rejection treatment. From a loving world when my mother was alive, my world became filled with hate, anger, rejection.
The emotional pain is so overwhelming, I felt I would go mad trying to figure out what did I do wrong. I began controlling crying and try to show you are not affected. You are strong, you don’t need anyone. You can manage. You numb the pain and close down that part of the brain that feels anything post trauma. I pretended to put on a happy face, that I was not affected or hut, I was strong, I suppressed all my tears. I became a 13 year old robot. To be honest even when my son was born I felt nothing. I expected deep feelings of love would surge me but all I felt flat and depressed. I remember feeling absolute emptiness, unable to enjoy the present, feeling unreal but filled with feelings of intense psychological torment.
Though I managed to be a good enough mother, it more like I was still play acting, feeling like a child trying to behave like a responsible adult. I did not feel the joy, pleasure within me. I went through the motions of what I remembered my mother had done for me. How she cooked my favorite meals, how she played with me, how she took me for outings. Like a robot I went through the motions of caring for my son not really feeling pleasure because of the unhealed emotional wounds. I had to think how to act as a mother, I had to pretend while not feeling the feelings I was supposed to feel. Emotionally, I was a 13 year old mother.
My recovery really began with the small acts of caring of my little son. I remember being touched when one night I went to brush my teeth and there on my brush was toothpaste put ready for me to use. The feeling of pure love washed my being. That was the point when I slowly began feeling positive emotions, like love, joy, pleasure. It was gradual but slowly I began enjoying watching my son play with abandon with his pet dog. I felt pleasure when I my colleagues invited me to join me for their group picnic. But along with the positive emotions, the old pain was still part of me though in lesser degrees. It was only after I began processing my hurt, remembering and honoring my emotional pain and finally stopped feeling the overriding shame of being bad, ugly and unwanted that I could actually feel the pleasure of being loved.
The turning point came recently during my stay at eco-farm.Here I met two wonderful women travelers who have been hitch-hiking the world, Couchsurfing, finding opportunities through HelpeX, and Workaway. The feeling and bond was magical, their exuberance, vitality and vivaciousness, just blew away my old stuck feeling. The one week with them was like magic, us doing all kinds of crazy things, laughing, working, sharing, loving and caring. They were like the wind which blew me into another plane of existence. I felt happy, joyful, thrilled, and grateful for being alive. Something I had not felt in years.
“I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain” ( lyrics of Horse with no name)
The two amazing women who made me feel alive