In the Beginning

In order to understand the nature and flowing references throughout my blog, I recommend reading my initial post The End of the Beginning first.


The End of the Beginning

My story starts in the middle, as it is still being written. In fact I'm quite sure this will be a life long endeavor. As an ASCA (adult survivor of child abuse) there are many twists and turns along the healing journey required to evolve from victim to survivor, and then hopefully to thriver.

I've lived most of my life outside of my body, thus the chosen domain name for my site. The human mind-body (I will often refer to these as one entity because, contrary to Western thought, the two are inextricably intertwined) basically has three options when faced with trauma: fight, flight, or freeze. When a child experiences trauma, especially in the case of sexual abuse, the most common response is to freeze. There is no escape; there is only endurance. At the hands of a so-called trusted adult, the shock and agony of betrayal is too excruciating to bear in real-time and so the child creates a false escape from painful reality by leaving the body. This is called dissociation.

Dissociation is an altered state of consciousness wherein a person, in this case Little Me, detaches from physical and emotional experience. During the times when I was molested, my chosen path for dissociation was to pretend I was a stone statue. I distinctly remember thinking that if I could just remain perfectly still, not breathe, and not feel, then somehow it wasn't happening. This allowed me to withstand the unnatural, confusing, and shameful acts of violation that were being committed. Through blissful dissociation, those things were happening to my body, but not to me. The real Me was drifting somewhere outside of my body, waiting for it to be over so that I could return to myself.

Dissociation is a survival mechanism that served me well from ages 5-13, from the time the abuse started up to and including when I was locked in a basement and raped. I am convinced the only reason I survived those insidious attacks with any fortitude is because I was fully dissociated. The problem is, once the mind-body latches onto dissociation, this learned behavior becomes ingrained and automatic. And as an adult, it is quite dysfunctional in typical life settings. Many non-traumatic experiences would trigger my dissociation, at times rendering Big Me nearly incapable of handling normal life. This lasted for 25 years.

I had little to no memory of the experiences that produced my dissociative reaction. (A single memory remained intact which I write about in a later post called The Theatre.) Consequently, I have spent most of my life in a state of disillusioned pain, unable to deeply connect with others or have a trusting, intimate relationship. That is, until I cracked.

In August 2012 I experienced what I now understand was a Breakthrough Crisis. This was a tumultuous time - almost 3 months - of confusion, hypervigilance, and suicidal ideation the source of which I could not comprehend. It has taken me this long to make sense of what I was and am still going through, thanks to the help of some wonderful therapists, resources, and supportive friends and family.

I'm happy to say that even though this breakthrough-meltdown-breakdown-spiritual awakening process had been inordinately painful, I am grateful that it happened/is still happening. Without it, I would not have the hope of integration, the process of bringing all the pieces of my dissociated self back into my body and becoming fully Me. I'd like to say that I am there, but the truth is it may be many years before that happens. Thus the journey, thus the blog, thus the hope that my story and my healing journey can be a source of comfort and inspiration as others have been for me.

Winston Churchill's famous End of the Beginning speech was delivered soon after it appeared that the Battle of Britain in WWII was going to be won. He wanted to communicate hope, but also a realism where the country was on its journey toward winning the war. My intentions are much the same for my audience. I had to wait until I was ready and able to communicate coherently about my journey. It is far from over, but I have learned enough to share something of value. In this I find great healing and great hope. For there is always hope.

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

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