I have now reached the three-month point of my one-year journey of self-discovery and transformation, so I thought it would be a good time to reflect on what I set out to do, and whether or not I have any regrets so far. In April my life was in complete disarray, as I finally decided to disclose to my family and friends that I had been sexually abused as a child. Thankfully, I have a partner who encouraged me to enter a treatment program, and who continually reminds me that my past does not define me.
After a summer filled with many tears and erratic mood swings, I finally began to feel whole and connected with others for the first time in over 35 years. I had been living a lie; I had been doing everything possible to numb the pain inside of me, not realizing that I was not only numbing the bad things but also building a wall around me that kept the good things out as well. I understood that what I needed most was connection with others, and for the first time in my life, I decided that this connection should be based on complete honesty and authenticity. I launched my blog in September as a way to chronicle my journey through the sea of emotions I was wading through. I began with a few critical rules to guide me: (1) I would be completely honest about what was happening in my journey. (2) Many people cringe when they hear/read of “childhood sexual abuse”. This stigma is a contributing factor in why I, and many other survivors of this trauma, keep silent for so long. In Canada alone, 1 in 6 men have been sexually abused as children, and the statistics are even higher in women. So, by adding my voice, I would be contributing to dismantling that wall of shame. (3) I would share insights into what I’m reading about how to live a more wholehearted, mindful, and gentle life.
What I am most surprised at is the incredible response and feedback my blog has generated. I have received hundreds of comments and personal emails from so many of you. It appears that my willingness to be open and vulnerable has allowed people to share their strengths and struggles with me. I’m truly honoured every time someone reaches out to me, and I’ll never be able to express how important that has been to my state of well-being.
If I were to describe what this process has been like so far, I would say it is like boarding an elevator and descending into the darkness of a bottomless mineshaft. Every time a new emotion or memory surfaces in my life, I’m no longer vainly trying to push it away or bury it. Instead, I’m learning to sit with it and examine what lies behind this feeling, what gives it power over me. It hasn’t taken long for me to discover that fear is fuelling most of these negative and self-destructive emotions. This fear has many masks, be it shame, worthiness, lack of control, or general uncertainty. It’s only recently, that I have come to realize that my greatest fear is that I’m somehow different from everyone else, but ironically, it is my interconnectedness with everyone else that is my greatest strength.
We all struggle, and many of us spend an inordinate amount of energy denying and hiding that struggle from everyone, even those closest to us. By sharing my greatest fear, my greatest shame, with you, I have been shown that my vulnerability is not a weakness, but rather, the essence of my strength and the catalyst of my growth. Author Cameron C. Taylor says this beautifully: “If you take away a person’s struggle, you take away their victory. It’s like pulling a caterpillar out of its cocoon before it’s time. It will never develop into a butterfly.”
I invite you to continue this journey of transformation with me, and encourage you to consider the idea that our greatest emancipation may be found in simply letting go of our fear that we are somehow different. I am by no means a religious person, but I aspire to be a spiritual person. It would be naive for me to believe that fear will disappear from my life, but by acknowledging that this fear is a natural part of life, I can learn to live with it and grow from it. This is the core belief in every meditation practice. We are encouraged to sit with our palms open holding our fear in one hand and our hope in the other. David Richo describes this mindful practice as sitting “in my predicament as a witness, not as a plaintiff or judge.”
I’d like to end this post by once again thanking each and everyone of you for supporting me when I need it most. If you have something you would like to share with me, please leave a comment at the end of the post, or you can email me directly using the link at the top of this page.