Childhood sexual abuse survivors get little attention nor respect in these modern days, as if we were at fault for what happened to us as innocent children. Jerry interviews Selina about her experience; waking up to memories of her childhood trauma. Selina’s answers are the answers I would likely give, if I was ever to be interviewed about my experiences. I learned to give myself the voice I was never allowed to have and honor myself by writing about the experiences and to help other survivors see themselves in me, so they won’t have to feel so ignored and alone. All names, opinions and stories are fictional but probable, inspired by true events.
Jerry: As a childhood sexual abuse survivor, what do you feel was the most difficult aspect of your experiences?
Selina: As far as the actual situations, they were difficult, painful and confusing to go through. But I feel the biggest impact of CSA (childhood sexual abuse), is on the adult survivor who may or may not remember what happened a long time ago.
Jerry: Can you be more specific?
Selina: Yes. I am speaking of the experiences we have as adults, remembering the abuse and trying to put the puzzle pieces of our fragmented memory back together to understand the story we have lived.
Jerry: Do you mean that you are sort of reliving the experiences as an adult?
Selina: No. And yes in some ways. It’s more about the mental health issues we face before we remember the cause of those mental health issues. And also the reality shift we go through when we begin to “thaw” and our minds open up to those memories, bit by bit, wave through wave. On top of that process comes the fact that nobody validates our memories because the people implicated don’t want to have to answer any questions. The people in our family that covered up the abuse, don’t want us to talk about it and in that process, out them. And when we speak up, it seems as if nobody wants to believe us, everyone goes into denial mode.
Jerry: I can only imagine how difficult this all was for you. Was it easier to believe yourself then make others believe you?
Selina: No. I questioned myself every step of the way. I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t able to remember this sooner and I was upset it took so long. Understanding repressed memories and how its possible to not remember significant life events from childhood seemed unreal to me, even now.
Jerry: People generally seem to believe that adults aren’t able to remember their childhood if it’s been twenty years or longer. So, you are not wrong with how you feel. How did you find a way to believe yourself and decide to share your story?
Selina: I had memories return over a period of four years and realized eventually that its impossible to go through all that without it being true. I also had a few people in my life that validated pieces of my memory, who could confirm some of my stories. Some of my recovered memories had little to do with abuse. Some memories were very clear and realistic and some were more dreamlike. The trauma memories always felt more dreamlike, because I was in a state of shock. Those memories get stored differently and when accessed, don’t feel the same as a non-traumatic memory.
Jerry: This sounds like quiet the process. How did you go from believing yourself to believing IN yourself?
Selina: That’s a whole other story. I struggled with guilt after my divorce, and shame from realizing that I was victimized as a child for nearly twenty years. I would have rather crawled into a deep hole and disappeared forever. But I couldn’t let life get me down, I had responsibilities towards my children and a life I really wanted to live. I am a survivor and thriver after all, not a victim to circumstances. I wanted to be the cause and stop living like an effect. I learned to believe in myself by putting myself out there and focusing on doing the things I felt spiritually called to do. By taking inspired actions, I began to believe in myself more.
Jerry: How did you get over your shame and guilt? Many people struggle with similar feelings and can’t move on.
Selina: I realized as human beings, none of us is perfect or guilt free. Everyone makes mistakes and feels insecure about things they have done. In my life, I learned how to recover and move myself forward, despite the pitfalls. Moving on is courageous and the only way to move through life. These are two qualities to master life: courage and strength. Connecting with other people on a deeper level helped me see that everyone struggles and we all are wanting to be seen, heard and understood. It made me realize that I no longer had to hide my vulnerability, because by sharing my stories vulnerably, I allowed other people to open up and share and connect with each other as well. That is how we heal, through connection and honest and authentic communication. I realized that my vulnerability was a strength, and not something to hide from others.
Jerry: Did you come to this world to make a difference?
Selina: Yes. Haven’t we all? When you understand that your life is finite and that you will leave and can’t take anything with you but your eternal soul memory, what would you like to bring with you and what would you like other souls to remember about you?
Jerry: (thinking deeply) I believe that would be my compassion, wisdom and some kind of legacy, knowing that what I had accomplished truly mattered.
Selina: Correct. That is why we must focus on helping the world; the people who come after us. We cannot afford to leave things unsaid or undone. It is for our future, our offspring and potentially, our own souls returning years down the road, reborn as an infant, a tree or a bird. We are all essential in this intricate play of eternity.
Jerry: Thank you for everything you have shared with us Selina, it was an honor.
Selina: It was my pleasure, Jerry.