When I was sixteen-years-old, I experienced a traumatic event. Instead of justice and support from the only person who knew about it – my mother – it was swept under the carpet and promptly forgotten. I won’t go into details of the trauma because reliving the moment isn’t what this post is about. It’s about the aftermath.
My mother never spoke about that day or even acknowledged something bad had happened to me. It never occurred to her that I would need or benefit from psychological treatment. Her lack of support and radio silence on the matter made me feel ashamed of myself. I was already a shy teenager with self-esteem issues and this trauma left me untrusting of others and disconnected to my peers.
The emotional trauma of the experience – the helplessness and fear – left long-lasting consequences that carried through into my adulthood.
I struggled to trust anyone and because of that, I refused to allow people in. I kept friends at an arm’s length. No one really knew me. Those who thought they did, saw the false façade I portrayed to the world.
People saw me as a confident, driven and outgoing girl but really, deep down I was a sad and broken person. I was steadfast in not letting anyone think I was a victim of circumstances. It was my way of hiding all the shame I felt inside.
A decade after that day, I finally got help at the behest of my husband. I sought psychological treatment, talked about the trauma and all the self-inflicted damage that resulted.
If it hadn’t been for my husband’s insistence, I would have likely continued on living but not really enjoying life. I would have struggled with unchecked depression and anxiety, continued to close myself off from family and friends and probably would have made for a dismal mother. Fortunately, I relearned how to trust again.
Last night, I had dinner with a girlfriend who has known me for twenty-two years. This person has known me since the day I arrived as a sixteen-year-old girl at her high school. While talking about the struggles her teenage son was experiencing, I told her about my trauma and how I wished my mother had stepped up and got me the help I needed back then. The story spilled from my mouth. I hadn’t thought twice about telling it.
She was shocked to discover a part of my life unknown to her. And to be honest, I was slightly shocked with how open and honest I was able to be about it.
At some point in my road to recovery, I had healed from the trauma. Unknowingly, I released myself from the shackles of shame and embarrassment. I no longer felt like a victim.
Time has healed some of these wounds but I think more importantly, having a safe space where I could talk to a trusted person helped immensely. I’m glad I accepted the help. I only wish I had done it sooner.
Is there something that’s weighing you down? Could you find the courage to reach out for help? It may be the turning point in your life, the step towards positive change. You’ll never know otherwise.
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