This post is by Shanon of Surviving Childhood Trauma.
A Childhood of Abuse, an Adulthood of PTSD
I always struggle with how to begin my story, what parts to share and how exactly to word it. My abuses were so severe, my trauma so impactful that my memories are broken and there is no sense of continuity in my life for proper storytelling. Still, piece by piece I do what I can to put it together so that others can see the realities of childhood sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment, as well as the resulting PTSD and its affects into adulthood.
I am a childhood sexual abuse and incest survivor. Sadly, that is just one of many traumas and abuses I lived through as a child.
I was born through trauma and loss with the death of my mother when I was 18 days old. I lived my childhood with my paternal side of the family and was victim to my paternal grandfather’s grooming and sexual predation from so early an age I don’t remember.
My childhood was one of instability, terror, and loneliness. My grandfather was a generations old secret that my family kept. I spoke up multiple times in childhood to deaf ears and learned quickly that he was protected and my feelings didn’t matter.
It will take pages to cover the entirety of the traumas that I experienced so instead I will share the most pivotal. At the age of 14 I left my father to go live with my mother’s parents in California. It was a decision I made after multiple moves during a period of homelessness. I was 14 and couch surfing with my father, I was afraid.
This move led to a 7 year estrangement from my father, and to the investigation and trial against my grandfather. The trial took place when I was 15 years old with my father as a sworn witness for the defense. It also ended on the second day, before I was scheduled to testify, when my grandfather committed suicide. No closure, no justice.
After that trial, the next couple years of my late teens became a blur. Unable to handle my behavior after the trial, my guardianship changed again and it felt like each experience afterwards affirmed my belief that I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t safe, nor was I deserving of love.
I had a child young, a child who sadly grew up with a parent living with immense and untreated trauma. Once my son was born and my young marriage ended, I slipped quickly and comfortably into a completely dissociative state regarding my childhood of abuse and trauma. It was survival time, no one had time for mental injuries or breakdowns. I spent 23 long and lonely years in that protective bubble.
It wasn’t until I was 37 years old; a year into my second marriage, with a second child to raise, that suddenly the walls began to fall and my senses began to fire like electricity. PTSD showed up in full force with a party bag of symptoms in hand, swiftly knocking me off my feet. I couldn’t ignore it any longer.
Since that moment my life has been so much different. Over the last three years I have been on a rollercoaster journey of self discovery as I focus on reconciling my past and learning how to heal and move through it. Each day I make a choice to heal, each day I learn new ways that my past is a part of me, and how I can live fully in spite of it.
Why I Share my Story
There are so many reasons I share my story candidly for other survivors. The first being my own personal empowerment. When I stand in my own truth and stop protecting the people who hurt me I heal pieces of myself.
Almost immediately I began writing about my experiences publicly, becoming an outspoken advocate for childhood trauma survivors living with C-PTSD. Too many of us feel isolated by our traumas, we feel minimized and unimportant. Our stories matter and I want to start the conversation.
I share because I want people to see the real life effects of my abuse as well as the resulting PTSD and how that has changed my perspectives and responses to this world and of myself, and I want my friends who are also survivors to know they aren’t alone.
I share because I need to face, process, and feel what I am going through. The only way through this pain is to lean into it and sharing is part of my self-care.
I share because I need the help and support of this community. As a sexual abuse survivor, I feel very alone at times. The weight of my truth is so heavy; connecting with others who can provide the level of support and understanding that only survivors can offer is paramount and important to my healing.
Finally, I share because it is my right. It is my story – and I will tell if I want to!!
It’s all About the Connections
A part of my healing has come from the connections that I have made through sharing my day to day life living with PTSD in the aftermath of my childhood abuse.
Connecting with other survivors means that the person I am sharing with has an intimate understanding of my grief. This is an understanding I would never wish upon anyone, but one that I cherish when I receive it.
Connecting with other survivors makes me feel less isolated and alone in the symptoms that I often struggle with. It is much easier to share the chaos with someone who also experiences the chaos.
Finally, connecting with other survivors gives me hope. As I connect with people who are further in their healing journey I learn helpful tips and tricks. I learn different perspectives and bear witness to new levels of awareness in others that help me move along with my own. It also gives me hope to keep pushing on the hardest of days. In turn, I hope that I can provide that to those just beginning their own journey
A Purpose for My Pain
There has to be a purpose for this pain, it can’t all be in vain. I have to believe that there is a reason my life is so deeply imprinted with grief and with loss. I believe that reason is to share, to provide peer support, and to make sure other survivors know they are not alone.
Each time I share my story I release a little bit of the weight that I have carried for so long, and every time I make a new connection with a survivor or an ally, the edges of my pain dull just a little bit.
This is how I know I am on the right path, this is how I know I am healing.