I look back on my life and I have done so many things that I could and probably should feel very guilty for. Truthfully? I did feel very guilty for a long, long time. It never really occurred to me that although all my actions seemed to be choices I made, they were mainly a product of my continued attempts for survival.
It is often very difficult to pry apart what you chose to do and what you had to do. If you like in a chronically abusive world, you really have very few choices. You can only do what you need to do in order to survive.
I look back and I think about all the times that I lied to cover my parents tracks. I lied to my young friends about why I could not join them after school and lied some more as to why no one could ever visit me at my house. I lied to social workers, doctors, counsellors, teachers, friends, neighbours… I lied to everyone. Myself included I suppose. People can look back at my early years and assume I was just a troubled kid who was looking for attention by creating this fantasy world when in fact, that was only what people thought. I was not lying for my own wants and wishes. I was lying so I could survive. I can not apologize for that.
I could have allowed my friends to come over to my home. One friend did just show up one time… and her world was changed forever. My lies protected many other neighbourhood girls from the same fate.
I could have spoken up to more adults than I did but it had never helped before. It had actually ALWAYS made things worse. For not only me but all my siblings as well. So yes I lied but it did allow us to often stay a few more months in the same home where we had a chance to make some friends before moving again. It was a lie to those people but it was a small gift to us as children.
Many people do not understand why I would lie to cover my parents tracks. Why I would “allow” the abuse to carry on. Well… that is easy to answer. I had reached out many times before only to be disbelieved, unheard, and left unprotected. One of the incidents that sticks out in my mind the most was when I actually spoke out to a high school counsellor one time. I was 14 and I had just had enough. I HAD to try once more even though all the past attempts had failed me. She listened to me, expressed empathy, said she would help and then when I left her office? She called my mother and told her that I needed psychiatric help for these ridiculous stories I was telling. I am sure I don’t need to go in to detail about how “helpful” that was in my life?
I got a bit older and I started to drink. Not just a little either. I was a full-blown alcoholic. Loud, pushy, sloppy, occasionally rude… it really wasn’t pretty. I was an alcoholic from the age of 4 (that is the earliest I recall being fed alcohol on a regular basis) until I was 28.
I could feel horrible about it all but being absolutely sh*t faced drunk helped me get through many days and many terrible situations. That and dissociating. Both are escapes.
I could have stayed sober but if not for copious amounts of alcohol and a very well tuned system of dissociation? I would be dead today. I am certain of that.
I was taught from a very young age that sex was a commodity. It was not about enjoyment or personal pleasure. It was used as a way to get whatever it was that you needed or wanted. I’d been taught its value was only assessed in currency or trade. Should l feel badly for using sex as a way to escape my life and make enough money to get myself as far away from my parents and the life they offered (subjected me to) as possible? Do I need to feel horribly that it is how I survived for many years?
The alternative was to stay where I was and end up dead like others before me. Why do I need to feel badly for avoiding that?
This blog will not be easy to publish because even though I have dealt with my guilt and shame, it is impossible as a human being not to look back and just wish you could have found better, more socially acceptable ways to survive.
I couldn’t. Believe me, I tried.
But look at me now. 🙂
I am no longer a liar. Just ask my friends and family who get the blunt truth from me whether they ask for it or not. I REFUSE to lie now because I was forced to do it for far too long.
I have been alcohol free with the exception of one slip (one rather large drink) since 1998. I am VERY proud of that since I still want to drink every single day.
Sex is no longer a commodity. It is a loving expression of true love and care for my husband only. The Helpers actually enjoy that time with him but it is with love and care for the one man who deserves that part of us.
The next time that you happen to meet a child, a teen, a young adult or even an adult who is marred in a life of lies. alcohol, drugs, or even selling themselves in whatever ways they can, stop and think that they very likely never chose that life for themselves. Most people truly want a good life with enough food to fill their belly, enough love to fill their soul, and enough peace to be able to sit back on occasion and just enjoy it all. Most folks want a good and respectable job (I know not all… but most) and a life that they can be proud of.
If they don’t have that? There is likely a good reason. Maybe they were raised in that sort of negative environment. Maybe something happened to them along the way and they gave up on themselves. Maybe they came from an abusive home.
Don’t add to their shame by blaming them for how they have chosen to survive.