Childhood is supposed to be a simple thing. Young children enjoy the fun in all the things we as adults don’t see. Kids find the beauty in imagination and see what others don’t. That is supposed to be the best thing about being a kid right? So what happens when you no longer enjoy those things? When closing your eyes brings fear and heart break? I survived my sexual abuse as a child by quickly becoming a tiny adult. I no longer felt like a kid. I knew I didn’t feel the way I did before “he” found me. The world lost some of its beauty and I stopped finding joy in my imagination. I no longer imagined fairies and unicorns. Gone were the days that I was a princess waiting for my prince. Instead, I sought out hiding places and went to the deepest parts of my mind where everything was dark and I was alone.
I know I am alive. I am breathing and writing this blog. I made it. Right? I survived? But did I survive in one piece? That’s the questions I try to answer now. Part of trying to piece together these memories and become whole again has been about what I lost. I have had to really dive head first into all the things I fought all these years to disconnect from. It has always been a fear of mine. Just when I think I have successfully pushed it all down, I am proven wrong. It is usually a smell that will transport me to a place I fear the most. The smallest little trigger on an otherwise wonderful day. I shake out of my head the unwanted visions and the flood of emotions and push it all right back down again.
I have learned a lot by talking to others who have “survived” the same sexual abuse. It brings me comfort to know I am not alone. It also brings me sadness knowing I am not alone. This is definitely a situation where misery wishes there were no company. So here goes the dissection of Joan. What did I lose? What all did “he” take from me and how the hell do I get it back? For me to really face the past, to really call myself a survivor I have to get back as much as I can.
I know I can’t get back my full innocence. I know “he” took things that can’t be rebuilt but I am damn well going to get everything I can. I am starting with my appreciation of the little things. I want to see the world in color again instead the dark and gray that “he” left me with. I want to use my imagination and still dream the sweet dreams I barely remember. I know I had to have had that once. I want it back.
I had my son outside the other day. He was blowing bubbles and running to catch them before they popped. I just watched him and smiled for a few moments. I was so in awe of how much fun he found in something so simple. I wanted to be that kind of happy again. I made a choice, I stood up. I was taking back the love of bubbles that “he” had TRIED to take from me. I ran around the yard with my son just blowing bubbles. The bubbles were now imaginary balloons of color and whoever was covered with the most colors would win. I looked at my son and I saw a rainbow of colors. I could see the balloons full of color where bubbles were floating. I took back a piece I lost as a little girl. In that moment I was with my son as a child, a playmate with an imagination as big as his. There were no chores to do, no job to clock in for, no dogs to walk; just 2 kids having fun.
That playtime in the front yard had really got me fired up to get all of that little girl back. I started writing down all the things that I missed. Not the normal adult wishes like no bills, no dirty dishes, and no dirty laundry. I wanted the fun stuff back. I wanted to imagine being a hunter chasing big game. I was going to lay on my back in the grass and see shapes in the clouds. I would be the ballerina taking a bow on stage and holding a huge bouquet of roses. “He” tried to kill all of that and now at 42, I was going to get it back. For me to survive I felt like I had to get back the little girl he tried to break. It has been scary and I have questioned if it was a silly notion. The adult in me had doubts but the little girl in me was smiling. The smile was because I was finally feeling brave.
A 6-year-old couldn’t find the bravery in living through sexual abuse but I know how brave she was. I will stand up for her while I process the anger I have because no one else took that stand. I can feel that the imagination and desire for simple joy still inside me. Suppressing it was the only way I was able to survive. How I stay alive now is by letting that little girl live in the woman I am today. Everyone since “him” has been seen through the eyes of pain and mistrust. I have to see through the eyes of the little girl I was before. Only then can I truly accept a relationship without a preconceived notion. I really want that. I really long for the day when the touch of someone doesn’t cause me to pull away. I want “touch” to be a nice thing when it is coming from the person I love. I have to resurrect the little girl inside of me to have that.
This process will never really end. Of that I am fairly certain. I may be afraid and the memories may cause me tears but I am fighting now. I am fighting for the little girl I was and the woman I am today. I want to say more than I am just surviving. I want to feel like a survivor. My nights feel a lot brighter now. I have found my imagination again. I can come out of my dark hiding place and see the beauty in the light. It has taken so many years but facing those memories isn’t as scary now. I can talk about what happened because I know it wasn’t my fault. The shame has faded and in its place is a feeling of calm. The little girl in me is no longer afraid because the woman I am now is protecting her. Her and I have found our way back from what “he” did. I wish that for all survivors of sexual abuse. I urge woman and men who suffered sexual abuse as a child to recognize the bravery you had. Allow yourself to feel like you did once before. It is still possible to see the world through the eyes of a child while holding the wisdom as an adult.