It’s what you do with time that’s important
It’s what you do in that time that starts the healing.
From the age of 4 until I was 12, I was sexually abused by a family friend. He used to tell me all the time that if I told anyone he would come and kill me and my family. I remember the first time I told anyone – I went home and waited for him to come and get me. It’s funny that I’m still here, still waiting for the night he’ll climb in my bedroom window and do it. I have a feeling I’ll be waiting a long time.
Trying to understand
He used to tell me that what he was doing was my fault and that if I was a good girl I would be able to make him stop. Each time I tried to get him to stop, he’d force me again. He told me over and over that I enjoyed it, and because I did, I was a bad person.
I believed everything he told me years after the abuse stopped. I still believe it sometimes – it’s very easy. It’s so much easier to accept the blame myself because it’s hard for me to understand the reasons why someone I trusted would otherwise do something like that.
By the time I was 12, I had become convinced that my body had betrayed me. It had let me down by allowing the abuse to go on for so long. I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror – I used to spit at my reflection. I couldn’t allow anyone to touch me. I used to cry when mum tried to hug me because it made me feel unsafe and dirty.
Trying to feel strong
I first started not to eat around this time. Bingeing and purging followed a couple of years later. There was something incredibly cathartic about not eating and getting rid of food – it made me feel in control; it made me feel like I’d punished myself satisfactorily; it made me feel strong and powerful.
Nobody else seemed to understand my logic. Family mealtimes became screaming matches, with mum and dad threatening to lock the door of the bathroom and searching my room for food, laxatives, and diuretics. I was in hospital many times, put on heaps of different medications, and saw many different therapists.
I remember being 17 and taking an overdose and managing to convince the hospital to send me home as soon as I was out of emergency. It annoyed me that these people who didn’t even know me were trying to keep me alive. They couldn’t see what I saw. They couldn’t see the filth and repulsiveness pulsating under my skin. Perhaps it was I that couldn’t see what they saw.
It’s hard to change the way you see things – especially if you’ve seen them that way for a long time. I still sometimes get caught in my old way of thinking, but there are times when I feel differently now.
Believing in me
I never really believed in that saying ‘faking it til you make it.’ But I suppose that’s kind of what I’ve had to do in order to change the beliefs I have about myself. I’ve had to do stuff that contradict my feelings of being worthless and not good enough.
This has meant I’ve become a trainer at my part time job, have become a peer mentor at uni, have entered my artwork in art exhibitions and other publications and done a 6 month mentorship. I often think to myself that I’ll never do these things well because I’m too stupid, pathetic and am worthless. But I do them anyway – just to prove to myself that I can and that what I tell myself isn’t always reality.
I do have a good therapist now and it’s helped a lot just to be able to talk to someone – despite me finding it difficult! Sometimes if it’s just too hard to find the words, I write it and give it to her. It’s been good that I can do that because sometimes I get nervous sitting in her office and forget what I want to say! I also have found a good dietician who helps me with meals and things. Having a meal plan is good (sometimes!) because it gives a kind of structure and something to work towards.
One thing I’ve found is that it’s very easy to be motivated and positive when you’re sitting in their offices, but once you’re out on your own it’s a different story. To help with this I like to set goals of the things I want to do, where I want to be tomorrow, next month, next year, and make sure I stay busy trying to achieve them!
I live in limbo some of the time – telling myself that tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow I won’t binge or vomit. Tomorrow I won’t tell myself I’m worthless….it’s taken me a while to realise that tomorrow won’t come if I just sit and wait.