Facing the Demon !
A child abuse survivor’s story and a warning tale about denying trauma.
I’ve lived my entire life a survivor of child abuse….. a survivor, but one in total denial of my own pain and trauma. Recently, after decades of running from it, it finally caught up with me and nearly destroyed everything I love.
Although one of the worst times of my life, it was a relief because holding up the façade, running away from myself and pretending to be strong all the time….. is just exhausting.
You see, a lot of my trauma was due to emotional abuse and the feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing associated with being abused by those who were supposed to love me, and protect me unconditionally.
However, I mentally minimised the abuse and convinced myself that it didn’t affect me. I went about my life trying to prove there was no trauma, chasing down dreams and focusing my pain, my anger, my resentment into reaching my goals and setting new ones. Never realising i was self-sabotaging everything I ever did.
I was never good enough in my mind, nothing was ever good enough, and when you believe you are not good enough and you think everyone knows just how unworthy you are, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Denying my abuse and chasing down dreams came with an horrendous downside, the demon would eventually catch up with me every single time and it would then become another downward spiral brought on by me.
I would self-sabotage in the worst ways imaginable and always bring the whole thing crashing down around me.
Because I never felt that anything was good enough, no matter what the accolade or accomplishment, I would over-exaggerate events, even to those who were there at the time. Destroying what ever good there was, minimising it away, or convincing myself i succeeded despite myself, all whilst talking myself up to people I didn’t know, those whose opinions meant nothing, or should have.
Focusing on strangers or acquaintances opinions of me instead of my own opinion and that of those I love.
It might be about me being more popular or more well liked than I actually was, being a better athlete, better salesman at work, pretending I had more money than I actually did, a better car, whatever it was… I never felt good enough for my friends, my family, my co-workers, I always felt lonely in the pit of my stomach and inadequate.
Somehow I always seemed to have friends who saw my exaggerations as funny stories and never saw the pain behind them, or the desperate need for acceptance. This was not their fault at all, I was comic relief, a great story teller, never telling outright lies, just “a funny bugger”who never meant any harm, but was self-destructing by degrees.
I believed everyone hated me because I wasn’t good enough and sure enough because of that belief, i would push them away and make out I didn’t need them anyway, I made it become the truth.
This wasn’t because I was a narcissist or ego maniac in fact quite the opposite, I did this because I absolutely hated myself, because there was a hole in me with a demon inside who would constantly tell me I wasn’t good enough, or I deserved what I went through as a child, I was to blame…it was all my fault.
But the worst part was I didn’t even know the demon was there, I spent my entire life running away from it and completely denying its existence, even though looking back, I can see I literally self-sabotaged every good thing I have ever had in my life because of it !
No matter how much you deny it, if you’ve been through childhood trauma you simply must face it and deal with it or it will eventually destroy your life !
It may not be today, or tomorrow, but by degrees it eats away at you.
Sometimes, when I couldn’t deny what I had been through, I would deny it by comparing my abuse to the abuse of others. Minimising what had happened was easy, reading stories on the internet, on pages like FACAA, it was easy to convince myself that what I sufferred was nothing in comparison. There are so many horrendous stories of sexual abuse out there, so comparing my emotional abuse away, was incredibly easy, “Oh what I went through was nothing compared to ….. “
Yeah that’s just as bad as denying your trauma, you simply can’t compare your abuse and your response to it with anyone else’s.
So what changed for me ?
Well I hit rock bottom, in fact I was trying to punch through rock bottom. I almost lost everything that means anything to me, I was no longer just hurting myself, I hurt the love of my life.
In that rock bottom I had a literal angel reach down and lift me back up, I was given my life back and a chance that I definitely didn’t deserve was handed to me, on one condition…. I had to face whatever was causing me to self-destruct and I absolutely had to get help to defeat it.
This time it wasn’t just me I was hurting and I may not have loved myself enough to see the problem before but I surely loved the angel and I knew they would not be there to lift me up again.
From there I had to take a long hard look at my life, and I mean literally everything about myself. I had to start by admitting I have endured trauma and it was affecting me and it goddamn hurt ! There was a lot of tears and anger over what I went through and a lot more tears and anger aimed at myself over what I had done, over and over again.
I had to re-evaluate literally every decision I made that led me to my last and worst self-implosion and work out why, not to make excuses but to find reason. To identify triggers and work out how to avoid those triggers and if I do get set off by one of those triggers, how to identify the behaviours and put a stop to them before they begin.
I realised that I had stopped myself from feeling guilt or remorse by convincing myself it was always someone else in the wrong, blaming my bad behaviour on others or making up excuses in my head why they deserved my wrongs. Once again not because I was an ego maniac as it must have looked to those around me, but because to feel guilt and remorse for the things I had done wrong was to admit that something was hurting me which would mean facing the demon. I simply couldn’t bring myself to do this, not for a second, so denial and lack of guilt or empathy was necessary to avoid admitting that I had a problem, I was in pain, I was abused .
There’s a great saying attributed to the Vikings , “It’s always better to stand and fight, if you run you’ll simply die tired” and this is never more true than when dealing with trauma and the effects of trauma.
For the record I am not forgiving the bad behaviour of child abuse survivors simply because they are survivors, like anyone they have a responsibility to correct their behaviours no matter what the reason for their manifestation.
“I spent my entire life with an invisible Superman/woman symbol on my chest, bravely standing tall no matter what I was going through, totally denying any trauma and pain whatsoever. I never understood why survivors of abuse didnt simply get on with life, choose to be happy and not focus on the bad. Thinking it was a choice they could make to be happy or not (wow if it were only that easy).Now I understand, it is not something you can ignore, I spent my life running from what I went through as a child and all the while the trauma and pain was carving a swathe of destruction through my life. As soon as something was good in my life the demon would rear it’s ugly head and remind me I didn’t deserve it and to do dumb stuff until I’d lose what was good and what I had worked for”.
Trauma cannot be ignored, its always there, always in the background always hurting you, always taking what it wants from your life and your loves. The trauma cannot be denied it simply must be faced or it will destroy you.
Please if you are suffering at the hands of your trauma, seek help ! Reach out to us and we will try and find you a place in the FACAA Phoenix survivor’s healing program (currently under very limited spaces due to covid losses), if you are under 25 go to your local headspace. If you are a male you should reach out to your local SAMSN, survivors and mates support network. Craig and his crew do AMAZING work in professional peer support. Bravehearts in QLD do an amazing job, if your abuse was sexual in nature.
There are so many great support services out there and yes, like you, “survivor X” didn’t trust ANYONE. But at some point you have to take a leap of faith because to not do so is to cause continued pain to yourself and to those you love. You deserve to be free from what was done to you… you deserve so much more and so do those who love you. YOU ARE WORTH IT !
You, like “survivor X” in the story, may not be aware of the damage unresolved trauma is causing in your relationships and you may wake up one day and realise you have hurt the person you would never purposely harm. Hopefully, it will not be too late, as it almost was for “X”. “I almost lost it all and had nothing left to live for”.
Please don’t run from your trauma, don’t deny it, don’t hide it, don’t compare it away, you must face it and you must work through it. The good news is you don’t have to do this alone, not by a long shot !
Its not weak to ask for help, it takes a much stronger person to reach a hand out and say please help me, than it does to stay stubborn and let the demon keep taking bites out of your life.
FACAA would like to thank the “survivor X” who wishes to remain anonymous, for their incredible bravery and honesty in sharing their story with us. We wish you only the best for the future.
FACAA #ProudFACAA #ChildAbuse #EndingChildAbuse #ChildExploitationMaterial #Child #Abuse #RaisingAwareness #ChangingLives #HealingSurvivors #ChangingLaws #GuardiansOfTheInnocent #VoiceForTheVoiceless #HopeForTHeHopeless #ChildrensChampions #NeverGonnaStop #WeWillFight #StandUp #NeverGonnaStop #KidsLivesMatter
If you or anyone you know needs help:
Contact your local GP, that’s the best place to start, they can arrange a mental health care plan for you and point you in the right direction to get the help you need.
Or you can find more specialised help below-
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636
Headspace on 1800 650 890
ReachOut at au.reachout.com
Care Leavers Australasia Network (CLAN) on 1800 008 774