It was a sunny Sunday morning, and I was walking to a busy cafe to tell my parents about my childhood abuse.
My hands were clammy despite the cold wind, my breath short. I had a month to prepare for this moment, if not a lifetime. I had tried to clue them in about the sexual abuse through another family member a year ago, but the words literally did not register with them. Now that someone else had come forward, I was summoned to give my version of events.
I arrived, we exchanged half-hearted hugs, and before drinks were ordered they breached the topic. ‘So did he ever touch you?’ they asked. ‘Yes.’
‘And you remember it?’ “Yes.’ And awkward silence.
I feel my father shift uncomfortably in his chair while my mother starts crying.
They ask for details, but I’m very aware of the busy bundling cafe so I evade the questions as much as I can.
‘I need to forgive myself’ says my mother.
They immediately start attacking the family member who allegedly first abused my brother.
I counter, this is not how it works, you are just perpetuating the cycle of abuse. How far back are we going to go to blame the abusers of our abusers of our abusers? I have forgiven (not forgotten!), mainly because I understand that my brother has been traumatised and sick for a long time.
‘You turned out alright though.
I guess everything’s turned out fine’ says my father.
I hesitate disclosing everything, but then finally let out: ‘You abused me too. What you did, whether you realise it or not, was sexual abuse.’ I explain voyeurism to my mother, but she glosses over the topic.
‘I don’t know how to talk to you’, she says. ‘ You shut me out of your life. I want you to tell me how to communicate with you. You used to resent me for criticising your dirty bedroom…’
‘Actually’, I say ‘ I don’t want to talk about that.’
‘Shut up, I’m talking now.’
I can’t help but laugh at the irony.
‘We will handle it from now on’ they say.
What’s there to handle now? I think.
Since this happened a week ago, I have avoided thinking about it as much as possible.
The emotional, financial and religious abuse I suffered through my caretakers has affected me worse than the sexual one. As always after meeting them, I have been disassociating all week.
I feel numb in my body, and find myself staring at a blank wall for hours.
Now is the time to practise self-care, not self-abandon, and reconnect to my body via somatic experiencing.
Writing this out has been healing to me. Fighting the stigma, the guilt and the shame one blog post at the time has been my therapy. Thank you for reading.