When I decided to finally open up about my child sex abuse issues, I was told by some family members “It’s in the past, it’s time to move on.” What some people do not understand is, there are many psychological issues associated with child sex abuse. One of the major psychological effects/remnants of being sexually abused is TRUST. While it’s an *emotion* we all battle, in my case it is heightened to another degree. I find it rather difficult to trust, oftentimes I find myself questioning the honesty and integrity of innocent bystanders who come into my life.
My little prince begins his nursery program on Monday and I am shit scared!! Registering him was bitter-sweet, I was both anxious and excited that he’s about to embark on a new stage of his growth and development. The closer the date drew for his attendance the more frayed my nerves got. I have been playing every possible scenario in my mind, where my son is concerned everyone is a suspect. This place of mistrust is not an ideal place to be mentally. It’s rather stressful and nerve-wracking.
As I think about these new stages that my son and I must enter I find myself thinking. How can I keep him safe? If someone hurt him, touch him inappropriately, would I see it, would I know? I try to convince me that I have built a strong, honest, confident relationship with my son and that he will tell me everything.
Then I revert to thinking, the fact is no matter how much we want to believe he/she would never hurt our children, how we try to be secure in our beliefs that we built a great trusting relationship with our babies and they would say something, we try to convince ourselves “my child would tell me” I would see it, I would know, the truth is you may not know, I may not know. Children are often afraid to speak or to tell someone for various reasons, threats are the most likely, being told no one would believe, people will think they wanted it and or played a part in it, being shunned by peers, fear that if they tell someone, it will cause their parents to separate, the feelings of guilt that they would be held responsible for all the dissension in the family….and the list goes on….
I was born with an incurable illness, therefore when I decided almost three years ago to attempt to conceive a child I was very afraid, afraid that I wouldn’t be able to carry the baby to term and afraid that I couldn’t control the sex of the child if and when I had the baby, I was worried about having a daughter for fear that she would be faced with the possibility of having my childhood experiences thrust upon her. I prayed countless prayers, I prayed for a healthy baby; my most recurrent prayer, however, was that my little miracle is a boy! My fear had me so distraught that I couldn’t see myself with a little girl. I wouldn’t know what to do with her; I was afraid that I would not be able to take care of her and she would grow up resenting me because of my inabilities. I convinced myself she would not understand the struggles of her mother in trying to protect her and keep her safe. From experience I know that many young girls feel that their parents are being mean to them when they try to protect them, some think their parents are trying to hold them back, stop their progress and the works.
Fast forward two and a half years later, here I am harboring identical concerns for my boy! I realized the minute I held him in my arms in the hospital that “bad people hurt little boys too.” As he grew that fear intensified, I remember holding him for the first time in that hospital room, I cried, both with relief that I made it through my pregnancy and he was finally here, the overwhelming emotion of love and finally having my little person to call my own, but mostly because of fear, I had done it, but what now!! Will I be able to love this little being with all I have, would I be able to provide for him and meet all his needs developmentally, emotionally, would God grant me enough time to see him grow up? Would I be able to protect him from sexual predators? The reality hit me that boys are just as susceptible to child sex abuse as are little girls. I was so paralyzed by fear that someone could hurt him sexually and he wouldn’t be able to tell me, he had no voice, he was just a helpless little boy, he needed me all the time, I have to protect him, I cannot let him out of my sight, I would never forgive myself if someone did something to him and I wasn’t there to protect him, all these thoughts rushed through me as I looked upon the angelic face of my beautiful little miracle.
While in the hospital the nurses would insist I send him to the nursery so I could get some rest. Each time I had to let him go my heart bled. I was paranoid, my head was always filled with thoughts of someone touching my baby inappropriately and I wasn’t there to protect him, I felt helpless, I would relive the trauma of being abused in my mind simply because I was separated from my son. I remember buzzing for them to bring him back as soon as they walked out the door. Not because I was so overjoyed but the anxiety I felt from not being where he is. I needed to see him always.
Upon taking my little prince home the fear and inability to trust went through the roof! Reason, I have four brothers and a sister, also, three adopted siblings (not legally), as much as I love and trust my siblings, the thought of either of them taking him for more than a millisecond, I would display panic attack type symptoms. If one of my brothers took him to their room I would start heaving in as little as fifteen minutes. My adopted siblings and their biological mom would offer to watch him so I could get some well-needed rest, unbeknownst to them I wouldn’t and couldn’t rest or breathe easy so that was short-lived!
I remember falling to pieces in front of a friend, finally admitting after a series of questions that I don’t trust anyone with my baby not even those I was partially responsible for raising! After my meltdown, my dear friend said to me “Ris, you are going to drive yourself insane,” and pointed out that which I already knew that with this bunch my prince would be safe, funny thing is deep down inside I knew that! But fear! (I never mentioned this to any of my siblings I almost hope they don’t read this post.) Lol.
Here we are, after deciding to keep him out of daycare, now realizing that three is fast approaching and he will indeed have to go out into the world without me, I have to release my grip on my child, knowing I can’t keep him locked away forever, he must have this experience as a prelude to starting school in the fall. My nerves are on display. Each time I think about letting him go, I feel so sick to my stomach, I can feel the panic and the anxiety creeping in, fear to impale my heart and engulfing my entire being. But, knowing I have to release, I have to let go and let God. I have to trust God to protect and guide, and for others to be kind to my baby. I have to be vigilant yet not overbearing, protective but not stalker-like, talk to and not at, verbalize my concerns but not be judgmental, worry but not to the point of exertion or borderline psychosis. Truth is, I’m not sure how to feel or approach, but I know I don’t want to eventually drive my child away with my endless worries.
So, as a part of this process, my journeying to free and whilst I may be at the beginning of the spectrum than closer to the end, I pray as morning comes and I take my son to his program and relinquish my hold/power to the teachers and caregivers for these 5-6hrs a day for the next six weeks that my past does not ultimately alter my present. As I nervously count down the hours, pray excessively, love him uncontrollably, defiantly question self, and talk to him as much as his little two-year-old brain can process/comprehend, I’m releasing and getting another fear under control, pray with and join me as I/we journey2free.
From my heart to yours