08-08-2019 11:39 AM
I am new to this forum and just learning to navigate my way around. I've read quite a few of the discussion threads and even contributed to one!
It is a new experience for me to try to share my experiences in an online forum. I usually keep all of this stuff to myself, or else share it with my counsellor (who is amazing, supportive and helps me so much). Last night though, I went to a support group for survivors of childhood trauma. So I feel I am maybe making some breakthroughs in being able to transcend the enormous sense of shame, aloneness and 'otherness' that has silenced me throughout my life. Many people who know me professionally or personally would have no idea of my inner torment, suicidal thoughts, sense of despair ... feelings that have lasted for decades with no sign of abating; in fact this year things have gotten worse due to some changed circumstances (ageing parents, stressful job, medical diagnosis of an auto-immune disease that came out of left field, etc). I feel I'm in meltdown mode almost every second and trying to hold it all together so I can just get through the day and complete my work duties and all else, without breaking down altogether. So I finally decided I needed an outlet, and I needed to learn to break through the shame and silence, and feel I am important enough to voice my feelings (something I have never felt, and something that I have been verbally and emotionally abused and criticsed for in my family of origin and to this very day by my mum). My siblings are absent -- physically/geographically and emotionally -- and trying to get any sort of support or warmth from my family is a lost cause. I phoned my father to wish him happy birhtday recently for a signifiant birthday and he swore at me and told me to go away (he has always had these tendencies, but is now worse as he is cognitively impaired due to a lifetime of alcohol abuse, and he is now in an aged care facility and very disengaged). I am in tears writing this because I have no support systems -- I am single and I feel my friends and colleagues do not understand because they have not had the same childhood experiences as me, so I am hoping that there might be people here who can understand.. I often have absolutely noone to talk to, even though I have many friends and even those who say 'is there anyway I can help?' - I feel I can't express what I'm going through. As a result, I am feeling increasingly isolated with every passing year and every day is a struggle to get through I'm trying to maintain some hope and positivity that things might change for the better, but it's very hard and often I feel that it's all on a downward spiral. Thanks for listening! Cheers, Maggie M.
08-08-2019 12:18 PM
Hi @MaggieM , nice to meet you. Thanks for sharing all that about yourself. It's very brave to open yourself up and share the challenges that you are facing. I'm glad you have found a great counsellor + support group and making progress. Good on you
I think you will find people here that understand a lot of the issues you are facing. Being single I think has its own challenges, I have some support from family (my mum) and a psychologist. My GP isn't very good. I wish my immediate family were more more engaged and interested in my health and state of mind. The last 12-18 months have been very diffucult since I was diagnosed with bipolar 2.
Anyway I encourage you to keep exploring the forums and contributing to discussions if you are comfortable in doing so. Happy to tag you into some of the social ones if you like. I'm pretty new here myself and not really sure how to do the links that some people manage. I hope you can find some online friends and a little family here to lessen the isolation you feel. Take good care.
08-08-2019 12:20 PM
Welcome to the forums! It really takes a huge strength to reach outside your comfort zone and explore supports in new and different areas. So a very big well done for joining us all here and sharing what is going on for you. I am sorry to hear of the struggles you have been journeying through. It's great you have such a good counsellor and that you have tried a support group too. I know you have mentioned that you struggle to express what you are going through, and I think its a great step to be expressing yourself here and I hope it helps with making you feel a little more comfortable when it comes to sharing. Has your counsellor offered other tips to you around this? When a friend says 'is there anyway I can help?' what kind of things have you found helpful in the past?
There are so many members here who not only can relate to the experiences of trauma but also the experience of being in a new space and sharing some tough things. While you await some more responses here, do feel free to check out the areas of the forum. Great that you have contributed to another thread woo! We also have a lovely Good Morning! thread which is a nice spot to reach out and say hello as you start your day. Another fun thread that is good for meeting and connecting with others is our The Weekly Friday Feast if you are around come along tomorrow evening!
08-08-2019 12:56 PM
Hi @MaggieM I’ve just jumped onto the forums quickly before I have to take off for a couple of hours.
Just wanted to give you a quick welcome. I will respond to your post in more depth in a little while when I get home, it sounds like you and I have a lot in common.
Glad and to see you have reached out, I’ll chat a little later 🙂
08-08-2019 04:38 PM
Hi @MaggieM I’m home now so have some time to give a proper reply.
I suffered CSA and never told anyone about it for 40years. I never told my family (they still dont know). I started seeing a councellor about a year ago, and although my husband knew I had a history he never new any details until this last year. So like you, I have dealt with all of this on my own all my life too.
My family isn’t absent but they don’t know what happened and I don’t want them to know so I have never talked about it with them. My marriage started to break down about 2 years ago and my husband and I started marriage counciling. It was during these sessions that I discovered just how much my history had affected and still affects my marriage. I started seeing this councillor for one on one sessions to help me.
I’m from a small rural town so there are
no actual support groups I could go to, but I’m glad you feel like you are making some break throughs.
You are not alone in feeling shame, or feeling alone or even having thoughts of suicide. I often feel like I am wearing a mask, people think I’m happy and have it together - but under the mask I’m mostly unhappy, anxious, struggling to keep it together ... the list goes on.
I can talk to my councillor about anything, we do have a good relationship - although I did question that a few months ago when I felt he wasn’t very supportive but I feel I can trust him again. Even though marriage councelling has helped my relationship with my husband, I feel a lot of the time he just doesn’t get it, so I don’t really talk to him much about the CSA and how I feel about it.
Sorry to hear your father was abrupt when you called him. I have just moved into my mothers home as she has dementia and needs full time care now. It is hard sometimes, lately I feel like I’m the mum looking after a child which isn’t a great feeling either.
I hope there is an easy treatment for your new diagnosis, another level of stress I’m sure you could have done without.
I understand how you feel about people that ask you if there’s anyway they can help. That’s tough because most of the time I don’t know how to help myself let alone know what they can do. In fact, the whole R U OK campaign mystifies me some times. I love the idea of asking people if they’re ok - but what would they do if the answer was No, I’m feeling like I want to do myself in - what would they do? The campaign needs to delve further and arm people with some strategies on how they would need to help if that person isn’t OK.
Personally, I don’t know anyone who has a history of CSA in my “real life”, so there is no one to talk to, but I have “met” quite a few on the forums that have had similar experiences so there is always someone here that will respond when you need to reach out, and do reach out because you will see you are not quite as alone as you think you are.
Don’t be afraid to jump on and comment on other people’s threads, or start your own, I have found everyone to be very friendly and supportive. I hope you feel a little less alone now ❤️❤️
08-08-2019 07:10 PM
nice to meet you. I echo what all the others have said.
I too have gone through CSA at a young age. I remembered only 9 years ago and didn’t tell my fsmily for a while. When I told my parents they disowned me for 4 years.
I feel for you. It’s not nice the way your dad is treating you. Happy to chat anytime just tag me.
12-08-2019 01:34 PM
Hi @Gazza75 thanks so much for your message of support (sorry it's taken me so long to reply, it's been an emotionally tough few days). I'm glad to hear that you have your mum and a good psychologist to offer support as it's so important to have some compassion and people there to talk to. I do know what you mean though about immediate family being relatively disengaged. I've just been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease (on top of everything else) - not life-threatening but something I'll need to manage for the rest of my life, so being a previously (physically) healthy person it's quite a lot to get my head around ... I mentioned it to my brother in a phone call last week and he didn't even comment! I was very hurt by this and felt so alone. I mentioned it to my mum but she just sort of brushed it off with excuses about how maybe he didn't know what to say etc etc (she is always defending my brothers it seems). In any case, it's hard not having immediate family rallying around in times of need, it leaves one feelings extremely isolated and I often blame myself, wondering what on earth I must have done in a former life to deserve being so lonely So it's great to discover this forum and my counsellor is encouraging me to build up a support network, if not from biological family then from a variety of sources ... the support groups I've just started attending will also be part of this network. Yes please tag me in anything on this forum thatyou feel might be relevant (or not! I'm just learning to navigate around the site and would be very happy to learn of other chats etc). Thanks again for your support, it's appreciated! Cheers MaggieM
12-08-2019 01:41 PM
Hi there @Lauz thanks for your lovely message and tips on the other groups/threads on this forum! I'll definitely check those out, as they sound great! I have a yoga class on Friday evenings 6.30-8pm (yoga is another way I cope with my anxiety/stress etc) so I'll check out the time for The Weekly Friday Feast. It's always so therapeutic to find others who can relate, and who will listen in an open, non-judgemental way, I do feel this is something I don't have enough of in my life in the 'real world' (apart from my new counsellor who is fantastic). I do have quite a lot of friends, but I just close up, I find it hard to talk on an authentic, emotionally intimate level. I think it's because I've been burnt in the past. And I think I've been burnt because -- due to my childhood trauma and the character traits it's led to (or reinforced) eg indecisiveness, never being able to trust my instincts -- I've perhaps made bad choices in terms of who I should and shouldn't let close. This goes with romantic relationships too. As a result, at times when I have opened up to friends (or intimate partners), it has backfired and I've been left feeling more hurt/burnt/distressed than I was before I chose to confide. This has led to me over the years becoming more and more averse to the prospect of being emotionally open, thus paradoxically only serving to reinforce the sense of aloneness and isolation that I am trying so hard to overcome! I am hoping by finding some forums that are supportive such as this website that I might learn to open up a bit more, and perhaps ultimately this will also translate to other parts of my life. Thanks again for your kind message it's appreciated and I look forward to further interactions in different threads! Cheers MaggieM
12-08-2019 01:52 PM
Hi @Razzle thank you so much for your lovely and warm message of welcome, and for sharing some of your own experiences, many of which I can relate to. I'm so sorry you went through the CSA, I think as we grow older we realise the ongoing(often lifelong) effects of childhood trauma. Mine were not sexual abuse, but rather other types of abuse (emotional, physical, neglect etc). The sense of shame is something that can stay with us for decades. I'm glad you're seeing the counsellor one-on-one, as I think it's so important to seek professional help from those who are qualified. My counsellor specialises in adult survivors of trauma, so i feel she can really understand my emotions etc. That must be tough caring for your mum with dementia on top of all else. It is a very hard thing to cope when our parents become old and infirm. I am dealing with similar (though not to the same extent) with my own mum, just coming to terms with the fact that she is cognitively not as capable as she once was, and having to increasingly do more and more to help her out. I hope you can manage to find some other support systems too, to alleviate the responsibility and duties on your plate. I totally agree with you re the RU OK campaign btw ... I've always felt it was flawed for the same reasons as you cite. Also it just seems to platitudinous and formulaic, so in a sense I don't think it really engages on an authentic and emotionally meaningful level at all. Because there is no 'follow-up' built into the formula, I think it almost encourages a false response of 'oh I'm good' or similar, which paradoxically probably leads the recipient to feeling even more alone than before (well that's how I have experienced it in the past anyway). I know we are relatively fortunate in Australia (well compared to the US healthcare system for eg) in terms of the services that are available, but it is still really difficult for many people to access effective mental health care and treatment, and I think that needs to be factored into the whole RU OK campaign too (i.e. the fact that not only is the person delivering the question possibly ill-equipped to deal with a negative answer, but where does the person go to from there?? i.e. what health care services might be available to them). I live in a major city so can access way more services than those who live in regional and remote areas, and still I find it difficult; I can only imagine how hard it must be for someone who might be geographically remote and/or not literate in using the internet etc for example. I also understand your feeling that noone you know in the 'real world' has experienced CSA. The irony is that many possibly have experienced it, but the sense of shame and silencing that is so intrinsic to the whole trauma renders them unable to share their experiences. I had a similar experience at work the other day when my boss started talking about her family and others chipped in, talking about their kids, their parents, whatever. I just sat there silently, nodding, trying to be socialbe and nice, smiling and contributing to the conversation on a very superficial level, all the while feeling I was dying inside, dying of shame, loneliness and a sense of being the 'freak' amongst normal people, thinking to myself 'if only they knew what my family/childhood was like.' It makes me feel as though I'm so different from everyone else, that noone would ever understand, and that somehow it's all my fault. I hope that by contributing to this forum I might feel a little less like a freak, and a little less alone. Your kind reply has made me feel a little less alone, thank you so much I look forward to engaging further on this or other threads. Cheers, MaggieM
12-08-2019 01:56 PM
Hi @BlueBay thanks so much for your message of support. I'm so sorry for what you endured as a child, and also the response of your family when you disclosed to your parents and they disowned you for 4 years. That must have been incredibly painful and distressing, and only compounded the trauma for you. I hope you can arrive at a point of realising that their response says something about them -- perhaps their own inability to deal with emotionally traumatic or overwhelming news? -- and is not a reflection on you at all. You totally deserve to have been treated with compassion and support through that disclosure, which I can only imagine must have taken an enormous amount of personal strength and fortitude. The shame that lives within survivors of child trauma and abuse is huge, and then the dismissal if we disclose our childhood experiences can often compound the pain, I'm so sorry. I just wanted to let you know that I understand and empathise as it's similar to my own experiences of attempting to get support and validation from my family. Always happy to chat too, and look forward to further interactions! Cheers MaggieM
If you need urgent assistance, see Need help now
For mental health information, guidance and referrals, see the SANE Help Centre
SANE Forums is published by SANE Australia with funding from the Australian Government Department of Health
SANE Australia ABN 92006533606
PO Box 226 South Melbourne 3205 Australia