As a childhood sexual abuse survivor, I didn’t have the easiest childhood. Don’t get me wrong, my entire childhood wasn’t bad. I had amazing parents who gave me everything I needed and treated me like a princess. It was my sneaky grandfather that made my life a living hell. From as young as I can remember until the summer between 6th and 7th grade, I was the victim of sexual abuse by one of the people I should have been able to trust the most.
Around the time the abuse stopped and I came forward with what my grandfather had done to me is when my emotions took over my life. By that point, I was having almost daily flashbacks of the abuse. The flashbacks were so realistic, it was like I was reliving all the abuse all over again.
I blamed myself for the abuse happening since that is what my grandfather had told me, even though everyone else told me it wasn’t my fault. The National Center for Victims and Crime‘s statistics show that 1 in 5 girls are sexually abused.
By the time I entered into the 8th grade, I was in a deep depression and had a full-blown eating disorder. I was 90 pounds and a size 0 when my parents realized there was something else going on. I was a very troubled youth. One minute I would be “fine,” the next minute I would be super happy or crying.
Once I was able to take control of my eating habits through professional help and the support of my family, I found another way to dull my pain, through self-mutilation. Thankfully one of my teachers noticed cuts on my arm one day. He went and told my school’s guidance counselor who then once again called my parents. And now those scars from the cuts will haunt me forever, I truly hate them.
The whole time I had been on antidepressants and in counseling although there was a much deeper problem. Throughout high school, I felt unloved and unwanted. The only time I ever felt loved was when I was with whichever boy at the time “loved” me. By my senior year, I was known as being “easy” to the boys at my school. In college, it was a lot of the same except I discovered alcohol and partying which I added to the mix until I met my husband who changed my life forever.
For the first time in my life, I felt safe and truly loved by a man. I shared my childhood story with him and he sat and listened with empathy and compassion. We were inseparable from day one. He has truly stood by my side through good times and bad.
After I gave birth to our second child, I realized my inner emotional demons that had been hiding were starting to come out, this time in a postpartum depression form. My husband begged me to get help. Instead of going to counseling, I had my doctor prescribe me an antidepressant. I didn’t think I needed the extra help from counseling but boy, was I wrong!
Not that long later I became pregnant again so I had to wean myself off the medication. After I gave birth to our third child, I refused to be put on medication right away, I insisted on breast-feeding my son instead. I look back and realize that was pretty darn selfish of me. Many moms do the same thing, even though breast-feeding is extremely important, a mother’s mental health is even more important. If you’re not well, how can you properly care for your children?
Shortly after weaning my son, I started into counseling and soon got put on proper medication. I also finally got a proper diagnosis, I’m manic-depressive aka bipolar and I also have PTSD from the abuse as a child. It’s taken several different medications to figure out a good combination and to this day I’m still nowhere near perfect. But then again, who’s truly perfect?!
9 years ago my grandfather passed away. At his funeral I walked up to his casket and looked down at him and quietly told him that I couldn’t forget what he did to me but that I forgave him. I left the funeral home with a new-found sense of freedom that day. Everyone, no matter how horrendous their crime may be deserves a chance to be forgiven, after all “forgive us of our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Now 7 1/2 years later, I’m still in almost weekly therapy sessions although sometimes I’ll take a week or two off from my appointments. Every once in a while, my meds will need to be tweaked. There’s still days my brain won’t shut off, I go from one thought to another. I can be happy one minute and ticked off the next. I’ll think of the most extreme situations and have an anxiety attack over them.
Thankfully, I can control this and typically shake it off and not let it take over my thoughts and feelings. I recently started letting my emotions take over again and it affected my physical health as well. This time I decided that I was going to be the better person, not the victim, and let my inner demons out and be in control of myself! Thankfully I’m feeling much better now.
I’m by no means “perfect” or healed. This is something that I will have to deal with for the rest of the my life. The main difference between now and after our youngest son was born, I now know and I’m aware of my mental health and that if I’m not feeling well mentally, I can’t properly take care of my family. My children are the most important part of my life. If I’m not well, they’re not either.
That’s why I decided to share a small part of my story, to let other mom’s know, it’s okay not to be perfect. It’s okay to get help. It’s okay to be on medication if needed. I’m a medicated mom, mighty and in charge of my own life!
I’m a proud survivor in more ways than one. I am no longer my grandfather’s victim. I can survive through anything. I’m still a work in progress and you know what? I’m okay with that!