This article deals with child sexual abuse, a difficult issue for most to stomach. Because, as Leslie points out, one in four women and one in seven men have been abused before they are 18, and because so many abused children grow up to seek help from posts like those on TSN, I thought it was important to publish Leslie's article. However, if the subject is triggering, please seek a safe space where you can read this article, ask a trusted friend to read it with you or come back to it when you're feeling more ready.
Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.~Buddha
I’m a survivor of child sexual abuse.
But even after decades I still can’t say that completely without shame. That’s the nature of this kind of abuse. Logic tells us we were children. We had no choice.
But the wounds go deep and are so hidden that for me, and many like me, that feeling of shame becomes as much a part of who we are as our eye color. We just learn to live with it.
We survive. But once innocence is lost, it can never return.
I believe many survivors of childhood abuse are drawn to spiritual traditions. Those of us who manage to fight the low self-esteem and the numbing lure of drugs and alcohol still need to make sense of what happened.
Three years ago I was depressed. I couldn’t stop crying over the mistakes I had made, and I was trying to dig myself out of a dark hole. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t go back and the only way I saw out was through death. I wanted it to be over, and I couldn’t see how I was going to live with myself.
I went to a doctor for a checkup because my body was so tired. When I told her my symptoms, she immediately asked me if I had suicidal thoughts.
Be content with what you have; rejoice in where you are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.~Lao Tzu
As a conscious gal who’s committed to deepening my relationship with Self and helping others do the same, I’ve learned some potent lessons about the World’s Most-Wanted, elusive state of happiness.
Most often it’s our own expectation and longing for that happy-gassed state that’s actually the culprit of our suffering. The stronger our craving and attachment to the stuff, the less of it we get.
See happiness — like any emotion — checks in and checks out on the regular. It peaks and it wanes and then it doubles back to you.
I used to fret and dread the absence of happiness. I’d perpetuate the darkness by fearing it intensely. Like a dysfunctional relationship, my neediness only repelled the very stuff I wanted for. I’d cling on when happiness arrived, and I’d cry when it left.
The things you own end up owning you. It's only after you lose everything that you're free to do anything.~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
I thought I had it all.
I had a job that paid well and all the perks that went with it. I drove an expensive car and rented a spacious (but overpriced) apartment well-stocked with the latest modern conveniences.
I had a circle of equally high-flying, workaholic acquaintances, and we’d spend what little free time we had downing expensive drinks together in fashionable nightclubs and bars.
Fully occupied with my busy schedule, I never looked up long enough to realize that a cloud of discontent followed me everywhere I went. I also didn’t realize that chasing material excess was simply my subconscious attempt to outrun it.
When the mind discovers that you are no longer afraid of its content, it will leave you alone.
There I was again — lying in bed paralyzed by emotion. Constant noise clamored for the attention of my awareness like an uninvited circus.
Calliope music screeched a cacophony of self-criticism as lions roared and circled below me, eagerly awaiting my plunge from the high wire after losing my delicate balance between safety and self-destruction.
What could I have done to deserve this?
I lay there, unable to move physically, but tortured by a violent mental fight that raged within me. My mind wrestled with intricate contortions in an attempt to keep its balance when what it really needed was stillness.
My consciousness kept trying to put out fire with fire, to silence thought with more thought. But these were only flames of a different color.
Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dream.~Paulo Coelho
If you had said to me at the peak of my suffering that it would be the best thing to happen, I would have thought you were mad.
If you had told me then that it would transform my life, change the direction of my career and enhance my relationships with my children and loved ones I would never have believed you.
But this is exactly what happened. I was stressed, highly anxious and thoroughly depressed at my worst. I never realised that this experience was a blessing! Up until this point I had been sleep walking through my life and it was the wake-up call I needed.
This is one of the most beautiful piece of writing. I recommend reading it. I hope that you find wisdom, clarity and inspiration through Tamara’s story. Adapted from this original article.
I make it a rule to never take advice from someone who hasn’t “been there”. So I’ll tell you what happened for me, and then I’ll tell you what I did to bounce back while navigating through my own tunnel of hell.
Have you ever gone through a complete life overhaul? How do you deal with it? If you know what I mean, you’d agree that such events are far and few in between—but yet, the most impactful ones seem to happen when your life has hit rock bottom.
I urge you to think about it: What if you lost everything you have today? What would keep you going on? Would you give up? Would you hold on to that tiny light at the end of the tunnel, which perhaps you can’t even see?
It sounds harsh but I don’t mean to be so. Often times, we take our lives and the little moments of happiness for granted. It is only when we are snatched of those things that we realize the value of everything while at the same time learning to live without them.
Since the start of this year, and for 8 months following that, I have been battling with feeling depressed. And even though I thought I had overcome it during the first few months, its devastating effects lingered and haunted me in subtle ways.
It wasn’t until a series of personal struggles and more episodes of emotional breakdowns that followed, did it eventually “crack” me and had bring me back to a place of serenity.
This is a slice from that story.
I have been writing and rewriting this article on and off for several months, each time exposing different details and insights. With every version, I would allow self-doubt or excuses to over take me, I would then scrap the piece and start over.
Truth be told, I was embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone to see me this way. I was ashamed at who I had become. I felt lost. I was struggling with everything and I had to “stand up” again.
Then it occurred to me that, sharing my struggles with you is a good thing. It exposes my own battles, the techniques which help me overcome them, and what I have learned through the experience.
It also shows you that all of us are in this together, in that we all dip into the pit falls of life’s turbulence, but we always recover, and often as a better person.