A lifetime of abuse – from the entire family
[August 17, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
Coming out of the dungeon of a lifetime of abuse — what it that like? Sometimes victims of abuse become conscious of the abuse in small incremental steps. Each tentative (and brave) step out of the fog results in more clarity. And each survivor’s voice is personal, unique, and poignant. Finding Answers, who is a regular commenter at ACFJ, has written this guest post. She wrote this in early May 2018 and she has airbrushed some of the details to protect herself.
My profoundest thanks to all folks at ACFJ, both past and present. I add my thanks to the multitude. I have had so many light bulbs start to turn on, kind of like those older ones that took a long time to warm up before reaching complete illumination.
The Holy Spirit lets me know today has been one of the biggest realizations, yet to my mind, there have been others of seemingly greater significance. I kept reading the term “walking on eggshells” — on ACFJ, other websites, and in books — but could not understand the feel of it. My equivalent, so-to-speak, is “something bad will happen”. My terminology is much simpler, because the abuse started before I had more sophisticated language.
I am just past the middle of my fifth decade and have only been free from abusive and / or manipulative relationships for the last six months. And that is only because my last workplace closed around the same time and I have — literally — no one else in my life. A lonely place, perhaps, but lifesaving. In my whole life, I have had one hour of joy.
I do not say this as a pity party, simply supplying a bit of background.
I spent most of the last six months, 24 / 7, integrating flashbacks, researching to find the answers to many questions raised because of the flashbacks. Then I spent three weeks, 24 / 7, integrating the more complete memory, using the same research process. Now I am breaking the links to the old edifices….principalities, to put it more biblically.
Only in the last six months have I come to the awareness / knowledge / understanding of how much abuse has pervaded my life, as the majority of the abuse was verbal / mental / emotional / spiritual / sexual / financial. The few occurrences of parental physical abuse I had encountered as a child, I thought were normal childhood discipline, though I wondered why they stuck in memory. I was in my later thirties before a counsellor told me the incest to my 6-year-old self by more than one brother was sexual abuse. One of those brothers tried to drown me. The whole family — my parents and all of my brothers — were abusive towards me.
Essentially, my family groomed me for an almost two-decade-long marriage of covert aggressive control. I cannot claim credit for any awakening moment in which I realized I was being abused and initiated a divorce – he moved out while I was out of town one morning, taking “his half” of the material goods. It is only in these last few months — I have been divorced over one decade — that I now understand he left because I was beginning to draw boundaries. (At the time, I was just trying to stop things that didn’t feel right.)
Several years later, this was followed by another abusive 2-year relationship. All the red flags were there, but I only have hindsight to supply that information. While his aggression was more overt and intense than any other relationship, it, too, lacked the outright physical abuse.
It is only in reading through the ACFJ website that I understood the validity of No Contact. This second time of going No Contact with both immediate and extended family, I now understand I have biblical support.
The things I said….I never heard the clues. In my entire married life, the only time my anti-x (love the ACFJ website term!) ever used my name was when introducing me to someone. When I talked to other people, whether about childhood or later points in my life, I did not “hear” what I was saying. And yet when others spoke of themselves, I could help them “hear” what they were saying.
I have a small financial fund I am hoping to cash in this week….I am so frustrated with feeling tired. Broken. Almost crippled. Although I’ve spent virtually all of my adult life working, the thought of going to work right now leaves me wanting to curl up in a corner. My nervous system remains hyper-vigilant, though the agitation is greatly decreased. (When I was going through the divorce, I was walking 20 – 26 kilometres a day, just so I could sleep at night.)
I have read through huge chunks of the ACFJ website and have been so very blessed by all I read. If I could, since many of the threads I’ve read are years old, I would create a post referencing the entire website and it would contain the one word seen so often in the comments section: ^^^That! or ^^^^Like! 🙂
I’m sorry if what I write is so disjointed. I have always tried to find the exact words to express myself, knowing how easily miscommunication can take place and words can hurt. In comparison to the past, I cannot write my way out of a wet paper bag.
[August 17, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to August 17, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to August 17, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to August 17, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (August 17, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]