Living through an abusive childhood, you learn to cope in odd ways. What is natural and normal to the ‘regular’ child is useless for the ‘others.’ Mechanisms advance due to the circumstances, and the brain uses its vast resources to survive.
I cannot recall the exact age, but my memory tells me around fifth grade I began knowing. The night no longer held my secrets. I flew away to escape the torture. Yet, by day, my younger self forgot all about the journey, until it didn’t. Without warning, my nights flooded my days. I knew humiliation, fear, hate, and suicide. My tender heart transformed, and a new me appeared.
Gone was the quiet, innocent child. I suffered seizures and memory lapse. I became loud, if not obnoxious, with students. A personality emerged, and she was dangerous and unapologetic. I hated the attention and restrictions on my life, so I acted out and played a game for attention. Any attention that stated purpose and worth, beyond being a ragdoll to a sick man, was welcomed.
The remainder of my childhood and young adult years traveled the same road. I evolved into a powerful player while still living the weak existence of a lonely and forgotten youth. Was this the arrival of bipolar disorder? Perhaps it was.
Multiple personalities threw caution to the wind and chose life. The athlete, the competitor, flaunter, tease, academic, worker, they all found time to be present. In experiencing life with all these spirits, I learned a great deal about compassion, pain, and cries from within. What others didn’t see, I saw magnified.
My heart understood life long before my mind. As I matured, I placed my pain on the back burner to be a nurturing and comforting person to all. With all the ice in my veins, I could still melt at the suffering of others. They encompassed my life with their own story, their damage. It opened my eyes beyond my secret world, and I was thankful.
Unfortunately, I brought the coping mechanism of deflection into adulthood. Take the focus off me, and aim it at anyone or anything else. Lie about my feelings, hide my emotion, sacrifice myself to safeguard the last pieces within. If I cave, I lose. I built my life on survival; failure was not an option.
It is all back in the yesteryears now. I am free and a victor in the traumatic horror of my tale. I push through middle age, and as I travel through this phase, I glimpse those old ways in the aftermath.
I hold tight to my secrets, feel deeper than I care to admit, and I sacrifice myself, still. I never progressed out of these behaviors; I perfected them. Unhappiness became the way it is, and never achieved the way it was. Rejecting my full potential, I settled for this lesser version of what I imagine God planned.
We are all responsible for our choices. Even the broken and abused must take accountability. I had options and joys I passed up or let go of, all to keep myself in a safety zone. I wish it were at least comfortable.
I look back, and I look ahead. I am not ashamed of who I see; I am saddened by what I don’t. We cannot change the past, but we can redirect expectations. We can learn and evolve. Choose wisely, my friend, it is the power you hold over your life, even when you are the prisoner.
I wonder now why did I choose not to tell the police? The threat of death temporarily took my power away. But one day, death no longer held me back, and I broke free.