I told my parents about the abuse for the first time, and I was unprepared for what happened next.
Having this kind of conversation is stressful, and I added to the pressure by imagining the worst possible outcome. Perhaps this was as a means of self-protection.
My father took the unsurprising male route he wanted facts. How old were you? Who was it? It was overwhelming for him to hear that it was more than once and I wasn’t ready to give names. I listened to the sadness in his voice before he retreated into silence.
However, it was my mother’s reaction that astounds me the most. It was unpredictable and had me speechless
According to Berne Brown ‘in the absence of data, we will always make up stories’, I made up a whole narrative around how I thought my mother would respond to the news.
I have never emotionally connected with my mom, I am 43 and accepted the relationship we had. She is a good mother, worked hard to provided and gave all of herself to us. But perhaps because of the abuse I needed more. I have come to learn that it requires a different set of skill to parent the abused child.
As I grow into the work that I do, I became aware of some possible reasons for the emotional disconnect. That’s when I decided to mourn my loss and celebrate what I had.
Sometimes when we have been abused it becomes the big story in our lives, and we focus on it so much we miss out on other parts of our story that we can celebrate.
I decided to honour some of the other things; her unfailing loyalty to all her children, the way she covers us daily in prayer and her care and support. We knew that if we needed a champion our mother would fill that role.
After my father retreated into silence, I thought the conversation would end. However, mom and I spent over an hour on the phone. She shared her story.
She talked about her strategies for controlling anger and the use of prayer to uproot bitterness. On the days that she feels overwhelmed she focuses on her children and finds peace. For the first time, I felt the warmth of a connection.
My mom and I have a lot in common; I inherit her work ethic and mannerism. As I reflect on our journey, I knew that there was this space between us that neither of us knew how to fill. Connectedness only comes with honesty.
Both of our edges fit perfectly together, and I felt closer to her than I have ever felt before. If I had rejected the urge to share I would have missed out on finally gaining the emotional connection I have always wanted.
If you want to share your story with significant people in your life here are some important steps to follow.
- Talk it through with someone beforehand.
Speaking to someone beforehand could give you an idea of some of the things to include. You could also have the opportunity to practice your speech.
- Be specific with what you would like from them after you have shared.
For example, I am going to share something that makes me sad and could be upsetting to you. However, I cannot answer any questions at this time.
- Have someone to talk it through with after you have shared.
Use your support system to help you after you have shared. Don’t over think this but care about yourself enough to connect with people in a way that allows them to help you.
Do not get stuck in the story. Sometimes when we have experienced abuse, the story we get trapped in is the one about the depth of the pain. Some people get stuck in the story so much that healing eludes them. Nevertheless, there is hope try to focus on parts of your story that makes you happy.
Click this link to get my healing from abuse self-care guide