Deborah Leigh Alexander's "A Wounded Daughter's Survival"
A Damaged Life Healed by Hope and Truth
In this true story, a wounded daughter shows how emotional abuse damages lives. It tells of survival, discovery, forgiveness, and healing, giving hope that a functional future is possible.
I share my story hoping to bring awareness to childhood emotional abuse. In my research, I have discovered that emotional damage in childhood is more of an epidemic in our society than a rarity. The only way to stop the pain is to bring understanding to the true circumstance. Also more times than not, the emotional abuse is due to generational dysfunction and is perpetually passed from parents to children when healing is not allowed to end the cycle. Telling about the abuse and my parent's failures is not my purpose in writing. Getting even or being vengeful for pain my parents inflicted in my childhood is not my goal. I have forgiven them. I also do not share my damaging childhood experiences to gain sympathy. I tell of the pain to relate what I survived and to provide hope that overcoming a damaging past is indeed possible.
I want to share encouragement that suffering from emotional damage is no reason to live in failure. I found hope and truth to overcome and live a successful, happy life in spite of emotional abuse in my childhood. Blaming does no good but choosing to rise above a dysfunctional past is healthy. By discovering positive ways to deal with the pain, I chose to break free of the damage. And rather than giving in to the pain of my beginnings in life, I found positive change which benefited my husband and my three children as well as myself. My life was set up for failure but instead I have a functional, productive life free of the turmoil. My story of survival provides hope.
Chapter Two (Excerpt from "A Wounded Daughter's Survival")
A storm hits randomly, without warning. An environment that was calm and peaceful only minutes before is overcome by uproar and danger. A safe place becomes one of insecurity. The weather minutes earlier was calm and peaceful but now is radically demanding that you seek shelter and protection from its violent force. You cower and cover your head to shield yourself from whatever may go sailing by to assault and wound. Your heart pounds anxiously because your safety is violated. You are unsure if you will remain unharmed as the wind gusts, the rain torrentially slices through the air, and the hail pounds down. You even wonder if something more harmful, such as a tornado, will come sweeping and spinning through to blow you out of this world and out of existence as you sit huddled in its path. You are afraid, and your universe is in chaos. Your only hope is that whatever happens will not hurt too badly. You focus on survival. Then, after a damaging storm blows through, there is usually a path of destruction that requires repair and healing. The damage must be acknowledged and fixed before life can continue on.
Most people can relate to the feelings experienced by those living through a destructive storm, which can bring great harm in an instant. I relate that feeling of helplessness to a child forced to live through endless, random bouts of parental anger raging out of control. My first memory of this parental anger was at age three, and my world thereafter was insecure, violated, and compromised. My mother could go from calm and peaceable to a raging force of upheaval and trauma at the drop of a hat.
It seemed my mother's temper could be set off with the slightest provocation. She would rage and yell loudly, verbalizing her anger with arms flying. Many times, objects in her path would be destroyed, trashed, or stomped. Although never officially diagnosed with anything, my mother displayed irrational outbursts on a regular basis and an overall inability to cope with everyday life. This was all magnified by Dad's extreme narcissistic tendencies and lack of interest in helping out with family demands.
This destructive behavior would be explained away as a family trait-my mother was born with a temper, just like her dad. The type of anger they displayed was unbiblical and destructive. It damaged family, relationships, security, and any hope of living in peace. It was unproductive anger with no purpose but to harm. The Bible says, "Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God" (James 1:19-20). My mother's behavior in this area surely shook the very foundation of security in my world. Experiencing such things from my mother, the one person in the world a three-year-old should always be able to count on, damaged me. A mother is supposed to bring comfort, not anxiety and fear.
These angry episodes brought trauma into my life, which in turn damaged my own coping methods. I went into a survival mode of acting invisible and apologizing for my existence in the world. I was helpless against the traumatic storms my mother regularly caused me to endure throughout childhood. I could only sit trembling, waiting for the storm to blow over.
In working through my past, I have learned there are reasons why both my parents acted the way they did. Both of them had trauma in their own pasts that had molded them and caused them to react to life the way they did. Since neither of them faced their pain or found healing, the dysfunction of the past was ever present to be inherited by their children. It became the legacy passed on from one generation to the next.
Without healing after emotional trauma, people go on living with the damage it causes. They do not acknowledge their injuries. Theirs becomes a life with a distorted view of reality, seeing the behaviors and reactions of others toward them in a false way. This leads to a compromised state of being. Those who are emotionally damaged routinely display irrational, out-of-control feelings. Their life becomes abnormal-moody and angry, with ups and downs, very much like a roller-coaster ride. Living in denial leads to a lifetime of compensating that inevitably leads to more problems. It is not possible to repress the pain of emotional damage; it will surface in many hurtful ways.
Poll of Parenting Style - Source of emotional health or emotional damage?
Children have basic emotional needs and having these needs met allows them to grow into productive, functional adults. These basic emotional needs include a sense of belonging, feeling worthy, and feeling competent. When these needs are met it leads to feelings of acceptance, love, and security. Many times parents are incapable of understanding and meeting these basic emotional needs because of emotional damage they have personally experienced in their life. With this situation, the parent is more likely to seek their own significance and be unaware of the damage they impose on their child. This damage manifests in many forms such as anger, abandonment, control, and indifference to name a few.
Which best describes your childhood experience?
Emotional Damage is Universal
Find empathy and understanding for your struggles. Many have read my book and felt as though they were reading about themselves.
Childhood Emotional Abuse Poll
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