Sunday, August 1, 2010

Child Abuse, the Impact: Fear

I have lived in fear for most of my life. Whether there is a real threat or not, the fear remained.

I was afraid of being left alone. I was afraid of large crowds. I was afraid of being hurt. I was afraid of loving. I was afraid of being loved, and it ending. I was afraid no one would ever love me. I was afraid of dying. I was afraid of living.

The list goes on and on.

When you are a child whose innocence and wonder of the world is stripped away, it is hard to ever feel safe again.

I have suffered in many ways beyond the actual abuse. I have also suffered many other hardships in my life. There has been a near constant need to flee or fight. Those moments that happened nearly 30 years ago left in me with that constant fear that it could happen again and that I had to find a way to keep myself safe.

I have constructed walls around myself to ensure that no one could really get to know the real me. It took almost 10 years of marriage for me to really start to let my husband behind those walls and nearly seven years later to let him truly see the real me down to my core.

I have told my story to countless people, I believe that by being open about it I am not becoming a statistic and becoming an offender myself. (There have been studies on people that were molested and the likelihood of them becoming abusive themselves. I know for a fact that my abuser was abused as a child and suppressed the memory. I think that had he been able to tell someone and talk about it, he may not have committed the crimes he did. That is not an excuse for what he did, but an explanation.)

After having said that, friends and loved ones may have known my story, but very few really knew me. I was afraid if they did know me they would not like me at all.

Fear has made me hide myself away at times. I have had times in my life where I didn't leave my bed unless I absolutely had to. I would get up to go to the bathroom, and to make dinner for the family and then go back to bed to eat. I would sometimes even let my kids make the food themselves once they were old enough and would spend the entire day in bed.

Other times I was afraid of being alone and I would constantly be out and about. I would go shopping, to restaurants, to fairs, wherever people were. If you notice where I chose to go, I was not going to be with friends, I just wanted people around me.

I have released a lot of the fear, and thanks to people that have become real friends, I am continuing to let go. My husband has helped me a lot. He has helped me to let go of people that are not in my life to help me, but to keep me down. He has helped give me wings to try new things and to try things I have been afraid to do before. He has done a lot for me, but the biggest change has been what I have done for myself.

I have so much more strength and bravery in me that I didn't know was there. I have talents and gifts to share with others, and I know they want to know about them. I have become open to love, letting it in and giving it out.

I have no reason to fear, I am Rachel and I can do anything I set my mind to!

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