When "You'll Get Over It" Is A Lie
In The Beginning
You know and I know that "it was all because of my childhood that I am the way I am" is very cliche. Unfortunately, it is true in most cases. Especially mine. Sometimes children can be scarred beyond repair. Scarred so that they struggle for the rest of their lives to try to be normal. This is for those children. This hub is very personal and covers some sensitive topics. If you cannot bear that, I advise you to skip ahead to the next page.
Some Scars Never Fade
The title of this says it all. Some people (like me) never get over things that happened to them. It's more of a coping with things everyday. When something as innocent as a bathtub can put you into a panic attack. And these people are who this hub is for. Those of us who have scars that never fade. That hearing "there is no monster under the bed" will never matter. The fears are still there. The anger lays somewhere under that. And above all, a feeling of drowning all alone in sorrows you imagine only you can feel.
Some of the things that scar us. Physical, mental, sexual abuse. Neglect. A feeling that you were unwanted. A feeling that you are alone. A deep hatred for someone/something that did you wrong. Irrevocable words from a bully.
I know them all.
When adults have problems, they sometimes project this onto the weaker ones. Children are small and fragile creatures.
To a child, an adult is to be respected and revered. Especially an authority figure such as a parent or guardian. When a child is abused by an adult, there is a likely chance that the child will develop feelings of inadequacy. Feelings such as "I wasn't good enough for mom, why would I be good at anything else?" This can lead to depression, low self esteem and even suicide.
Abuse can leave wounds that show. I have a circular scar on my arm that not even a tattoo will cover from abuse sustained as a child from my step father. Every time I see that scar (and it is so hard not to notice) I get a suffocating feeling of dread and fright that I will be hurt again. Some abuse leaves scars that will never heal on the inside. And these scars are the most dangerous.
Another problem with physical abuse sustained as a child is growing up thinking that the abuse was okay or even warranted. I found myself in that particular pickle, letting boyfriends beat on me. In my head, I deserved it. I liked the fact someone 'loved' me. It made me feel good to be looked after so closely because no one would ever hurt me again. All the while, I was being hurt.
A lot of people let this abuse go on for years, never saying a word because they feel it is okay. A lot of children die at the hands of an adult they trust. A lot of people, men and women, die from abuse at the hands of a significant other.
It is NOT okay for anyone to lay their hands on another in anger. It was not your fault and you don't deserve it. No matter who you are. No matter the mistakes you have made. No one has the right to hurt you.
Someone once asked me "Would you rather be hit by your mother, or have her walk in the room and tell you she was disappointed with you?". I was stunned. And I picked having her hit me. Not only was physical abuse alright with me, I also had been abused and conditioned mentally. I had to please everyone because I wasn't worth anything. Especially to her. I thought, Maybe, if I got hit she loved me because she wanted me to be better. But if she calls me "useless" or a "mistake" again, I might die.
This is mental abuse. Having someone constantly tell you that you are worth less than you are, you are being mentally abused. Having someone else always making fun of you, or constantly yelling at you counts as mental abuse though you may not think so. When someone is making fun of someone, when someone is making someone feel little, or feel like they are not worth the air they breathe means that you are being mentally abused.
Side effects of this can be a very, very low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, suicide, and a myriad of other awful problems that will never go away without some heavy therapy. Honestly, even that may not help.
This is a hard topic for me, and for a lot of other people. Sexual abuse is usually perpetrated by a family member, or a friend of the family. That is usually what makes dealing with this abuse so difficult.
There is shame. There is fear. There are threats, regrets and horror.
For me, it was my stepfather. He fathered my only two siblings, my brother and sister. And though he is gone now, seeing them makes my life that much harder because they look like him. And that is a problem with a lot of families. The ordeal is swept under the rug and we survivors are told to "move on" or at least, it seems that way. The horrors and pain the people go through afterwards can be earth-shattering and forever.
There is a small portion of people that are sexually abused by strangers. That can be just as hard to deal with as being abused or raped by someone that you know. The world seems unjust and small. You feel unsafe everywhere. Everyone s the boogeyman. Who can you trust? Sure, this boy/girl tells you that they are different, or that they will never hurt you that way. Can you trust them? Is that handshake from someone okay, or is this dangerous?
Neglect means that someone denied you your basic needs. It can be food, water, love, shelter, a sense of purpose, confidence, respect, or even the ability to sleep.
Neglect can shape your world into something treacherous. No one looked after you or taught you the steps of life. You were denied your bare necessities and you don't know what to do when you have them. Your basis for life is marred. When you get out on your own, the world is horrifying.
Neglect also usually goes hand-in-hand to one of the other forms of abuse.
Bullies have hit the news big-time. There are activists pouring into schools trying to scrub this away from our children. Truth be told, it is not "a normal part of growing up" and the harmless 'picking on' children has led to suicide, or Bullycide, as the term has been coined.
Children do not need bullies to toughen up and being teased is not constructive for behavior or advancement in life.
But there are adult bullies, too. And these bullies are being ignored. It is important to point out that bullies are not only children, and someone needs to stand up to them as well.
Because the abused are not able to "Get Over" what has happened to them, they need to find a way to deal with their problems. Deal with the mixed emotions or hurt that haunts them every day. It is true that things can have a snowball effect. A cigarette can lead to pot, can lead to coke, can lead to pills, can lead to heroin, can lead to...
It's an endless cycle. All the while, problems are being suppressed and never dealt with, making the hunger for a fix stronger and stronger. Facing the truth can be the hardest thing you will ever have to do. Some people while using drugs think that it helps them more than anything else ever has. Drugs become all at once, a crutch, a doctor, a friend, and sometimes even an undertaker.
I know that there are times when you might think that no one understands what you are going through and how the drugs help and I know the web of drugs better than most. But you can get clean, and face your problems. Trust me, you will feel better clean and able to look yourself in the mirror than you will feel with a needle sticking out of your arm.
My friend had a baby son and another one on the way. He was only 20 years old, but he had been abused most of his life. He grew attached to heroin and shooting up pills. He said it made it all go away. He moved away from that and started a new life. One day he went back to his old place to pick up some things and he relapsed. If he knew that he would inject too much and that there was an air bubble, he would see his new son. He died a few months ago and his kids will never know him.
"That won't be me," you say. Well, he told me the same thing one night as we were having a drink on my couch. He looked up at me and smiled. "Nah, Panda, you gotta cheer up. I know what I am doing and I will be fine," he said. And now he is gone forever.
It's easy to get mixed up in this lifestyle. I became a bartender because of it. But, you know what? It's easy to get out of, too, as long as you put your mind to it. Need a reason to? Feel free to think of my friend's baby, who will never be able to hold his Daddy's hand. Think of the Father's Day gifts left on a grave. Think of the people you love who will be forced to do the same for you. Then, think of yourself. Know that you are better than whatever you are doing. Get in touch with a helpline and get your life clean.
Following In Their Footsteps
"I hit my kid because my father hit me."
Sound familiar? Sadly, it is all too common. People being raised with the thought that it is alright to hit, or to yell, or even sexually abuse, can do it to someone else because it is a learned behavior and a lot of victims of abuse have a thirst for power so that they will never be the little fish in the pond again.
If you find that you are hurting someone else, go seek help. Please do not continue the circle to another generation. Try to get the therapy that you really do need. Try to picture the child as you. You would want to stop your abuser. Stop yourself.
Sometimes all it takes is talking to someone. I cannot stress the value of an understanding person to vent to enough. There should be someone that you can tell everything to and not hold back. It will make everything seem a little bit better. Find a therapist, or even a trusted friend, and talk. It will be hard at first, but you have to.
You hear in the news about a kid who went to school and shot all of his classmates. Chances are, that wasn't out of the blue. Someone probably hurt him to the point that he had to blow up. Bottling all of this abuse and anger has a limit before something awful happens. Sometimes, it is to innocent people. Sometimes, it's to the one who hurt you. More often than not, it's directed at someone smaller and weaker, or someone that cannot really understand that what you are doing is wrong.
Having anger issues is common. Having anger outbursts happens, but blowing up is the result of too much of this and never resolving the issues underlying the behavior.
Remember, for every action, there is an equal response. When someone is yelling at a child and the child is hanging their head down silently, he/she is bottling that all up inside. Some people package it as sorrow. Others package it as anger. This child, thus, becomes a time bomb.
There was a child in my neighborhood who was being mentally abused by his father. That child killed scores of neighborhood cats and did unmentionable things to the corpses. When the teachers noticed the scratches on his arms, they thought he was suicidal and brought him in for therapy. When everything was unraveled, they were astonished. How could simply yelling at a child and telling them that they are worthless lead to the slaying of animals? Simple. Bottling everything up until you find an outlet. The cats were his.
Talking to someone and anger management is essential. There is help out there for people with anger problems, but be aware that the anger is not the cause, but the effect. The therapist is going to get to the root of your problems and you might be surprised that the reason you scream at your child all the time is because your father called you a "good-for-nothing" once when you were seven.
I can't even tell you how many people I have known that have committed suicide because of abuse as a child. Scores. And honestly, I have tried, too.
Suicide is the easy way out. When the pan gets so bad, and no one understands your personal hell, that is the only way you can see. You feel that you finally have control over something. That you will finally be able to do something about your life. That you will show them. You will make them pay. Suicide is a comforting friend in the back of your mind, beckoning you to take that last step into the open arms of oblivion.
Abuse hurts, and so do the scars. Am I going to ask you to remember those you will leave behind and stop thinking about killing yourself? No. What I do recommend is that you immediately seek professional help. The people around you may have hurt you, or might not understand. Worse, they may subconsciously egg you on with a "you won't do it" or "stop being such a drama king/queen". GO SEEK HELP FROM A PSYCHOLOGIST who has been trained to help you. Who actually understands. If you can have someone you can trust to talk to, talk to them. But, I really advise someone who is trained to handle this. Trust me when I say that a friend might not be the best fit because they have not been trained in the areas you need help in. They might want you to have a stay in a mental hospital. DO it. Don't be afraid of what society may think. Your life is more important than their thoughts. And there are scores of people out there who feel like you do and have never sought out help. You will be strong, not weak, for making that step because it is possible to enjoy life though your abuse scars bother you.
If you need help, please seek it. You might save a life, if only your own.
You are not alone. I know it can feel that way, believe me, but you are in good company. If you search out local support groups, that may help.
Walking down the street you may be brushing shoulders with someone who went through the exact same thing. You wouldn't know by looking at some people.
Feel free to message or comment if you need a friend who understands, but I am not trained in this field and cannot offer medical advice.
Below are some links you may find helpful.