Living With Complex Trauma

TRIGGER WARNING:  Post contains mention of physical and psychological abuse in childhood, and mentions of self harm.

Last year my therapist told me that your trauma can hide itself within you until you are at a point in your life where you are stable enough to confront it.  But I still don’t feel ready.

Sometimes the flash-backs are so vivid that I feel like I am right back there, like I’m re-living it all over again, as if I am still that young girl who was too afraid to do anything.  I had no mentor, no protector and no parental guidance.  However, I did have parents, it just didn’t matter because I didn’t matter.  Not enough to save anyway.  I was stuck in a home filled with abuse.  Both physical and psychological, with no saviour in sight.

I would wake up in the morning both dreading about going to school and yet happy about not having to be at home.  But school was no refuge for me.  We all have our demons and mine dwelled both at home and at school.  I would spend the day facing off with the bullies calling me names, mocking my clothes and tormenting my younger siblings.  Then at home there was not much of a difference.  As soon as I’d walk through the front door I knew it wouldn’t be long until the screaming started, it wouldn’t be long until my siblings were cowered in fear and hiding in their bedrooms too afraid to even go to the bathroom.  It was only a matter of time.

Alcohol was his crutch and had been  since before I was born, but there are no excuses and no amount of apologies that could rid me of these memories.  Yet she was somehow worse.  She didn’t help, she didn’t leave, she just gave up.  She chose to give us up rather than getting us out of there.  We spent a whole year in foster care, a whole year of abandonment.  A year of being torn away from my siblings.  A year of me waking up in the middle of the night crying with the nightmare of being abandoned all over again.  No child should feel like that.  No child deserves to be treated like that.

After a year we went back home, after a supposed “recovery”.  It wasn’t too long until things were back to normal.  The beatings  had resumed for her and so did the ill-treatment of his children.  Yes.  Everything was indeed normal.

The only bright side was that me and my siblings were reunited.  But during the time away from home I had grown angry, I had become impulsive and uncaring.  I felt hatred.  I was only 10 years old.

I now stood up to him.  I pushed back on every demand and every insult, but every time I did they were the ones who would be punished, while I was simply mocked and berated by someone who was supposed to protect me.

We were never allowed to have fun.  We weren’t allowed to even laugh in our own rooms without hearing screams to shut up.  Life seemed like and endless dark tunnel with no end in sight.  The longer it went on the angrier I became, so angry that I shook with rage and often sobbed so violently that I could barley breathe, because I knew only too well that there was nothing a child could do to save herself never mind her siblings.  I wished death upon him, only to have him torment my older sibling until I apologised.  That apology was never sincere, it was never meant as anything more than to save her from the pain.

He pretended nothing ever happened, that we were all fine and taken care of.  His narcissism fooled numerous social workers into believing that he was genuine, that he was kind and that he actually cared for anyone other than himself.

After 13 years of being exposed to someone so evil, my mental health, as you could imagine, was essentially shattered.  I began self harming with whatever I could find.  Scissors, sewing needles,  razors…  I needed a release and I didn’t understand what I was doing, I just knew that it helped at the time.  It wasn’t long until it became an obsession, a routine and I never felt good about it.  I hated myself.  I hated everything.  I had very few friends, no hobbies and no life.  I was trapped between hating myself and hating him.  There was no room for love there.  I decided to leave as soon as I legally could and at the age of sixteen I moved out and started my own family.

Now, I am a 23 year old woman with a 6 year old child that I would do anything for.  I promised myself a long time ago that I will never let him grow up feeling the way I did when I was a child.

 I am struggling to come to terms with my past, I am finding it difficult to even begin to understand why or how anyone could treat someone this way never mind their own flesh and blood.  

Somehow writing even an abbreviated version of my story has lifted a heavy weight off of my shoulders that I never should have been carrying in the first place.

I guess the only way to make it through this ugliness is by taking things one day at time and, if needs be, to re-refer myself for some more counselling.  I hope others that have been through the same things find the strength to keep going.  You all deserve so much more than you know xox

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