Sunday, February 07, 2010

You Are Not Alone, Marijo's Story (Blog-a-thon Post 22)

Dear Survivor,

Marijo wants you to know you are not alone. Marijo is Bill's daughter (read Bill's story in Blog-a-thon Post 21). Here's what she has to say:

Growing up our family unit looked really good on the outside – we all appeared happy and healthy. Inside, secrets that were too deep to be seen were buried within the heart and soul of both parents . . . old wounds, horrors and fears, tucked away but growing like toxic mold infecting the family unit. I was the youngest of 3 – two older brothers and when I turned 9 we inherited a 3rd older brother – my mentally handicapped uncle (my mom’s brother) after my grandparents died. Soon after moving in with us my uncle inappropriately grabbed me and hoped to lure me into much more with candy and snacks. Fortunately I knew better to stop him - but, unfortunately rather than tell either parent I used the threatening wrath of my mother to keep him at bay – I used fear to combat fear. My uncle feared her just like the rest of us. I never viewed this as sexual abuse, but minimized it since he didn’t get too far at the time and his brain was that of a child - so, it couldn’t have been his fault - right? Of course I never asked who’s fault it was, I just assumed it was mine - for close to 40 years (I am now 53). Fear became my best friend - it motivated me more than anything else - mostly it helped me learn how to hide and isolate. I also have very real and vague, strange memories that don’t make sense which I believe are repressed memories of other sexual abuse at a much younger age. I am now beginning to work on that in counseling.

Truth was not in my vocabulary . . . and so the toxic mold grew into a wasteland of terror, anxiety, despair, anger, depression, distrust, and a wrong belief system that my safety and security was up to me because I couldn’t trust that mom would stay in control if she found out and dad seemed more like one of the kids where mom was concerned - he had no authority in our home. I would never tell and I was responsible for my own safety . . . at the age of 9. I don’t think I have ever viewed myself as a child and as a result, I began living like a parent making adult choices, or what should have been choices made by the real adults in my life. I understand now that the emotional separation I experienced – the lack of trust with mom – had much to do with my poor choices and insecurities of low self esteem. My belief system was so skewed and damaged that by age 18 when I discovered drugs, sex and rock and roll – there was no stopping me. I was finally “free” of all my ugliness and un-coolness and literally got lost in the world of promiscuity and unholy-extremely-un-healthy choices, and it felt good. I hated who I was and was determined to create another person - I even had the spelling of my name legally changed at age 15. I did NOT want to be me anymore. Our little family became quite skilled at functioning in, around and under a huge elephant that decided to plant itself smack down in the middle of our home.

Over the years it has come to the surface that both mom and dad lived in homes that were built on sexual, emotional and verbal abuse - so their fears were passed on to their children. Since I have finally begun putting forth the effort on myself and learning about abuse and dysfunction - I have worked out all of the blame I had towards my parents - they did the best they could with what they were taught by their parents.

I now lead support groups for sexually abused women and help with an educational program that we present at our church twice a year dealing with Childhood Sexual Trauma. My motivation is to help stop this pattern and begin to show the victims that they are just that, victims and not at fault and that the shame and guilt does not belong to them. Holding it all in only perpetuates the sickness and untruths. I am also heavily involved with an online support group (via Facebook) that has helped bust the darkness of abuse even more wide open for me. There are literally hundreds of thousands of hurt and abused people out there giving very loud voices now in search of healing, justice and prevention. So many strong and courageous “ordinary” folks doing extraordinary services - I am proud to be a part of it all!

My mantra has become: A kept secret endangers the soul, wounds the heart and infects those close by.

Stay tuned to hear more about how survivors are thriving thanks to support they've received both on and offline.

Watch the live UStream broadcast of this blog-a-thon by clicking here.

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