shadow work: healing from childhood trauma

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trigger warning: this is a true story of childhood sexual trauma. names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

Her face looked disturbing as it loomed over me, peering down, expressionless. I just lay in my crib, limp, and unable to do anything as she touched me for what seemed like eternity. I felt like a science lab rat—voiceless and unworthy of consensus.

I was about 5 when I remember my next experience, this time with my friend Marlena, playing house as husband and wife. We were naked in my bed when my older brother threw the door open. He and my other sibling taunted me about “doing it” and dangled it over my head for years, threatening to tell my parents, calling me a lesbian, and when they were mad; telling me I was going to hell.

Another time I was at my playmate Monica’s house and her mother caught her pulling down her underwear. She ran me out of their home and forbid me from playing with her ever again.

For several years I experimented with my friends; curious, confused and excited—I found myself attracted to the same gender—a direct result I’m sure, of being molested at the age of 2. I enjoyed these friendships and even the thrill of possibly getting caught. I was about 10 when I remember the first time where I found myself angry with my friend Amanda for wanting to tell her father that we kissed. I realized then how scared I was, and how uncomfortable it felt to harbor these emotions of what I didn’t know at the time was a cocktail of shame and guilt. I felt like I was doing something bad, and I was a bad person for doing it.

During this time, I became very scared of men. I had an older cousin who lived with us for some time who tried to flirt with me and be alone with me and touch me. “You know our family is a type of religion where we have to marry someone in our family.” I stood dead in my tracks, a look of being dumbfounded on my face. Another time, I remember him walking into my room and trying to look at and touch the underwear I was wearing as I was tucked in bed, unsafe against his predatory hands and lustful eyes. I was too embarrassed to tell my family, we were quick tempered and hot blooded—I didn’t want to even imagine what the men in my family would do to him. I just wanted it to all stop and go away. I became more and more ashamed of myself and my body, retreating inward where I had no say in anything and no courage to stand up for myself.

My female experimenting ended as I transitioned into middle school. Pushing it to the back of my mind, assuming it would disappear if I ignored it enough. I abandoned this part of me as I went through puberty, as if it were a rite of passage or a coming of age requirement to leave myself behind.

I was a teenager when, ironically, my family had moved to the home of my old friend Amanda. One day, after being gone for years she came back to that home to visit. I sneaked a look at her behind the blinds through the kitchen window as she caught up with my brother on the back steps. I remembered opening the back door, pretending to need to talk to him—the look on her face of disgust when she saw me left a permanent scar. I felt like a monster.

It was in that same house when I tried to come out as bisexual to my mother. I was in my late teens and had been secretly dating females. My mother looked at me like I was a demonic beast. She didn’t understand, she interrogated me with a bunch of questions; “what about your boyfriend? Is he just using you for sex?!” “you don’t know what you are talking about! You are going to hell! You learned this from your friends and the tv!” she continued to berate me through my closed door before finally retreating to her room. About an hour later I heard her voice again; “Mabelyn, let’s just pretend that this never happened. Don’t tell your brothers or anyone about this, ok!” I felt completely rejected and undeserving of her love. Worthless, like a piece of trash discarded out the car window. I couldn’t make sense of it then, but this only added to all the shame and guilt that was bubbling inside—ready to explode like a wild, untamable, violent volcano.

It was the winter of 2016 when I had my first panic attack. I was working at my new job as a preschool teacher. I was in a classroom filled with children the same age that I was when I was first molested. It hit me like a ton of bricks as I fled the room, unable to breathe.

“Have you ever experienced any trauma?” My therapist asked me as I sat in her chair choking and crying at the same time. Before I knew it, the words had already left my mouth; “I was molested by an older female child when I was two, my family doesn’t know about it.” I explained how I felt like a horrible person, I remembered the look of Amanda as I told my therapist between sobs that I ruined all of my friend’s lives. For years I tried to stay away from young children. I had convinced myself that I was infertile and did not want kids of my own. When my siblings became fathers, I avoided their babies like my life depended on it… 5 years that I can never have back. Babies made me uncomfortable, and deep down I truly believed that I was going to grow up to be a pedophile, as if I had contracted some type of disease when I was 2 and it was incurable.

“You’ve been making up stories in your head Mabelyn,” the therapist told me.  “Lot’s of children experiment,” she said, “and you weren’t forcing anyone and pinning them down, your friends were figuring things out too.” I had never looked at these situations that way, I just knew, or thought I knew, that I was sick and a menace to society. Hearing her say these words in a sense gave me the permission that I wasn’t able to give myself to finally begin to heal. Over 20 years of suppression was awakening. I remember seeing my clinical herbalist Allison, as she mentioned the idea of Saturn Returns; and how this is a point in your life between the ages of 27-29 where Saturn digs up all your shit that you have never resolved and throws it in your face,” here you go!”

I knew I was on the right path, and I could finally start to forgive myself, and move through the pain of healing within, this time choosing to relive each trauma again in order to heal and move on, transcending the suffering into lessons of love.

To be continued…

 

Love always,

Mabes

 

 

The Art of Letting Go

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Letting go is not easy. Often it is the people or situations that we need to release the most that we are clinging to for dear life.

I am in the middle of this process myself. After doing plenty of inner work I’ve realized that my lack of self-love and self-worth has led me to desperately hold onto what has long passed its expiration date for the sake of having someone and feeling something versus being alone and having “nothing.”

What we don’t realize is that we are doing everyone a disservice. We have such a tight grasp due to our subconscious and deeply rooted beliefs about ourselves, and in doing so we are telling the Universe that this what we deserve. We are telling the Divine that we want more of the drama, more of the suffering and more of a low-quality life, continuing the cycle. Then we play the victim and blame everyone around us for our misfortunes, when in reality, the only way out is to take full responsibility for ourselves and for the state we are in that is manifesting these types of circumstances.

After years of toxic friendships, I have grown to realize that the way I was thinking and behaving was causing me to attract these people into my life. Because I feared feeling lonely, I held onto these people for years. By constantly telling myself that all women were the same and I could only be friends with males caused me to get just that- no solid group of female friends, something my soul deeply craved. I never felt safe to open up and be vulnerable enough to take off my mask and reveal my true self. This lead to surface level connections because I thought I had to compete and compare myself to others. By picking up other people’s baggage and beliefs about friends being catty and untrustworthy I too became engulfed by drama and betrayal. By not believing in myself, I became friends with people who also felt hopeless, settled in life and didn’t think it was possible to accomplish their dream goals. I believe that we are the average of the 5 people we surround ourselves with, and I now choose to only be surrounded by loving, inspiring, goal getters who are beautiful inside and out. My authentic tribe.

It wasn’t until I decided to take my life into my own hands and rewire my beliefs that I was able to start attracting wonderful female friends, rekindle and heal old friendships and meet like-minded soul sisters. I’ve learned that I get what I put out into this world and if I behave one way towards others than I will also receive the same treatment. I am slowly learning to live in a state of love and give that to my friends as opposed to the hurt and pain from before. The last piece of the puzzle for me is to learn how to gracefully release those relationships that I no longer need in my life. I am working on having gratitude for the relationship and everything that it taught me, forgiving myself and the other person and letting go, sending them off with all the love and happiness that we all deserve.

May they be happy, may they be safe, may they be healthy, may they feel love, may they see light, may they heal and be at peace.

 

Love always,

Mabes