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Say It, Survivor

I have been fortunate to meet a couple of women who have made the brave decision to use their shared experience as survivors of childhood sexual abuse to help others find a voice from the debilitating secrecy and shame that so many men and women carry throughout their adult lives.  Laura and Mary were sweet, innocent young girls connected by blood as cousins and connected by heart as friends. Unfortunately, their connection was broken because of the selfish, sick actions of their grandfather.

When each told their story, they were met with completely different reactions which created a confusing separation that was totally out of their control.  What brave young girls to tell their story.  Fast forward 35 years to November 2014 and their lives are reconnected forever in the most loving and healing way.  You can read more about them on their new website,

Laura’s story touched me in the deepest way when I read it last January.  It came across my timeline in a post that Glennon from Momastery shared and caused it to go viral.  A post going viral must be the most exciting and scariest experience at the same time!  This post “He Wrote it Down” has been such a gift to so many.  Her blog, In Others Words, has many other posts that are so beautifully written and have resonated with all who read them. While specific experiences are always different, the emotional damage and resulting struggles are so similar for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.  Similar in a way that sharing these stories can be so incredibly healing.  I love her for it.

After reaching out to Laura, she invited me to participate in the Say It, Survivor writing workshop she and Mary created as a way to help others as well as further their own healing.  I discussed it with my therapist and decided it was time for me to tell my story in what felt to be the safe environment that Laura and Mary created.  Afterall, why should I continue to carry this heavy burden of shame and secrecy when I never even asked to be abused?  I know it wasn’t my fault but that didn’t remove the trauma, guilt and shame I have been carrying for the past 40 years.  Writing about it and sharing it is my only hope of loosening its strangling hold on my happiness and mental health.

I am working on the essay that I started in their workshop and may or may not share it here at this time.  Taking slow steps is critical so I don’t risk feeling re-traumatized. I know that Say It, Survivor will help so many and am grateful to Laura and Mary for helping me and others get started in telling our stories.




Slow start but a start nonetheless…

It is now the beginning of October 2015.  I started the draft of this post  back in July so almost three months ago.  My first post was three years ago and I actually created the blog over five years ago! Obviously, this speaks volumes for my procrastination and avoidance skills!

The sad fact is that I have spent my life avoiding some really good things in my effort to protect myself from the bad.   I know that a leap of faith is necessary but nothing is guaranteed  – which is why I have lived my entire life stuck on the perimeter, where it is safe being more of an observer.  One of my favorite mentors, Brene Brown, calls this sitting in the cheap seats of the arena.  If you haven’t read her work yet, I strongly suggest you do.   Watching her Ted Talk three years ago got me on this path and while I am an extremely slow learner, I know she speaks the truth.

The pressure to “tell your story” is so strong out there because it has been proven that you can not experience true peace and happiness if you are burdened by secrets of the past.  The thought of expressing my true self and sharing my story has always scared the hell out of me.  Why?  I can’t risk people finding out what goes on in my head and learning what bad things have happened to me.  What would they think? How could I function once my secrets are out?  Enter silence and secrecy – the breeding ground for SHAME.  There is that familiar word that has  accompanied me through my whole life.  Why do I let it control me so?  Well that is what my friend Brene is going to help me with because she is a shame expert! Thank the Lord I found her.  If I can make it through this process alive, there is hope for peace and serenity in my future.

They say that traumatic experiences hold their power as long as they are kept safely in silence.  Which pisses me off, of course.  My many attempts to rid myself of the lingering affects of childhood trauma and self hate caused by verbal, emotional and sexual abuse have only resulted in depression, anxiety and despair.  I have learned to function alongside this shame and self hate through most of my adult life with some help along the way – (I’ll save that for another post – some good and some not so good).  However, it has become increasingly difficult over the past couple of years and the walls are crumbling a bit.

I am resiliant and I must keep trying until I can  see the other side – I have so much in my life to be grateful for and I don’t want to keep living it with a black cloud over my head.  What is the alternative, right?  While I don’t deny the periodic thoughts of ending it all, something has always held me back – mostly guilt.  Living this way is not good for me, my husband or my kids.  It has been a rough few years.

What is my plan?  Well after a weekend full of pulling my hair out  (a lovely coping skill I have had for years) and feeling sluggish and tired I need to prepare for my therapy appointment tomorrow.  My head hurts so bad, I just put ice on the raw area of my scalp.  What has caused this relapse?  I was on a good path a couple months ago, doing a local boot camp with friends.  But results were not showing because I was also struggling with slow recovery from surgery earlier this year.   Other things also came up that triggered my PTSD which sent me into a bit of isolation.  Thank God for my therapist, Sheryl, she has really helped me from spiraling out of control.  I am making progress and she is pushing me to step out of my comfort zone to seek help and support.

I have to push forward and show up, even though I want to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my eyes. Earlier today I just felt like giving up, checking out.  The depression monster returning to convince me I am not going to beat this.  I won’t if I don’t seek help – I can not longer fight this battle on my own – need to find a support system, outside of just my therapist’s office.

Dig deep and pull out some courage, Sheila.  Remember, courage doesn’t mean fearless,  courage means facing your fears and taking action in spite of them.

Keep Finding Your Way