Oh, the gifts I continually received as a child of incest. A deadened reality was certainly one of my biggest gifts.
My emotions took a brutal hit. The sustained abuse disconnected me not only from my body but also my emotions. I was too young to sort through the grand onslaught of all the emotional instability that riddled me with confusion and pain, so I learned to deaden it.
As a child, what alternative was there?
Here’s the obvious problem with that: as an adult I was supposed to show up and live a life where I was present, where I could reasonably choose right from wrong, and where I was accountable for my actions.
I had never been taught accountability for myself. How was I now supposed to show up with these tools I had never been given? I had been taught NOT to see myself or ask for anything.
Oh, I had guilt. False guilt that I had murdered a woman with my father. More false guilt, that because my dad wanted me sexually, it made my mother’s life miserable. But, guilt for decisions I had made? That I had never been taught because I was not my own person growing up. Not for one single day.
I was a prisoner to the crimes of my parents.
At 18, the world held me accountable for my actions now that I was an adult but the problem remained – I still had a prisoner mentality.
So, when I was promiscuous when boys were around, sure, I knew it was wrong but so was being raped growing up.
What was the difference? Both made me feel guilty, damaged and numb.
When I entered my first marriage at 18, I didn’t show up with a voice or knowledge of how to make a boundary. I showed up as a prisoner just released for the first time – ripe for another abuser.
You know how I learned to stop being a victim to my parents’ crimes? I started noticing the dirt under my own fingernails. I started looking into the mirror and finding true responsibility for what I was supposed to be owning.
I found myself being a mother in my early 20s, but I hadn’t yet walked into the accountability of that role because I was still in my prison uniform. It wasn’t until I started to remove the built-in messaging that I began to see myself.
It was through accountability that I started to heal. It seems odd, but there is no other explanation. I started seeing my children’s pain and that helped me see that I needed to step up and learn to take action.
The only way I could take action was by throwing down my weapons of denial and taking a stand against all the abuse. To do that, I had to first see it, name it, feel it and then dive into a full-blown life changing experience.
That’s what it feels like when you take your prison clothes off.