The healing process or The process of healing is as unique to each individual as their finger prints. We all experience and process things differently, therefore we heal differently. Do Not try to stop, block or hinder one’s process. The best you can do is be supportive and patient.
For years I was asked not to speak about being raped by my maternal grandmothers husband for the sake of protecting my grandmother. Her daughters had grown up with this fear that her husband would have killed her had THEY spoken out about him raping THEM. So, when grandma’s husband turned his gaze upon me at five (5) and began raping me at eleven (11) and even after sticking his fingers inside the body of my three year old sister, we were STILL held to secrecy for the sake of protecting Dearest Grandma from her husband.
I am the first grandchild for my grandmother, my mother her first child and after finding out in my adult years that my own mother was also raped by my grandmothers husband from ages six through sixteen (6-16) I was STILL asked NOT to speak to ‘protect my grandmother’. The level of betrayal I felt from the women in my family got to it’s tipping point when I finally broke my silence and spoke out about the years of abuse. I sought justice and there to meet me every day in court was my ‘grandmother’ who was present in full support of her ‘husband’. I cannot express or put into words what that felt like, seeing the woman that I was asked to shield, show up in defense of the man that raped my mother, myself and fondled a three year old.
After having several conversations with my ‘grandmother’ and realizing that she would have NEVER left her rapist husband’s side for the likes of her offsprings, the harsh reality set in that the matriarch of my family was and is complicit with the evil she brought home. Now, I’m just left to wonder, is that type of mental illness hereditary?!
This spoken piece was written back on February 17th of this year. It was just one of those days when the tears flowed uncontrollably when I thought about the indescribable pain of loss and betrayal I’ve had to endure for 35 long years for the sake of this woman, the woman from who’s loins I descended, the woman that looked at me and asked “can’t you find it in your heart to just get past this, it’s been so long ago?!” Now, this is the lineage from which I was birthed…
Join me as I/WE journey2free. From my heart to yours.
All rights are reserved by Larissa H. Rhone
Thanks to St. Thomas Events for their dedication to bringing this piece to life.
It matters not how ideal our life may seem to others, or how we pretend all is well, we all encounter those days where nothing, and I mean nothing seem to go right, how do you cope?
I am learning day by day to just be! To be present, to be still, and to accept that no matter how hard I try there will be days where nothing goes according to plan. But, the off days are much easier to handle than an off week or two.
My current situation: I have been mostly immobile for over two weeks due to an unfamiliar health issue. Living with a chronic illness such as sickle cell anemia it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise when the body starts acting up or you experience new symptoms. After all, Sickle Cell Anemia affects EVERY area of your body, no part of the body is exempt, from your brain to your toe nails.
These new symptoms however startled me. Dizziness, I have experienced dizziness before because I struggle with abnormally low blood pressure but, this, this is different. Imagine being so dizzy that the very ground beneath you moves, the roof above you spins rapidly and you cannot maintain a steady balance. The only thing I can possible equate this experience to; as a child my very first trip to the amusement park I was so excited to ride the rides but found out half way into the ride I had horrible motion sickness, not only did I barf but I lost all sense of gravity. (That damn fling-mi-dash at Hope Gardens, Jamaica)
I was recently asked, “Aren’t you use to this by now?!” To which I sarcastically grinned and replied as calmly as I possibly could “Can one ever get use to being sick?!” Normally I would freak, stressing about being confined to a bed, which would only result in a worsened crisis that would end with me being in the place I hate most (the hospital) but, as much as I hate this, and it’s really starting to annoy me, I am choosing to take it all in strides believing that this too shall pass, that everything happens for a reason and all things work together for the good! From a pessimistic belief to optimism, ha, it feels better this way!
This is how I cope, I talk to myself! I’m not crazy (well, maybe a little) but, my current self talk: Well Larissa, It’s been almost three weeks, it’s about time you get back on your feet. They’re places to go, things to do and people to see and being in bed is just not working for me! This bout of illness has just about run its course, I’m so over this now whatever the source. Regardless of what the doctor says child you never listen, you are not about to start now by giving in. So with the dawn of the new day, you’re going to get up comes what may, if you stagger, if you stumble and even if you fall, you’ll simply get back up and try again, cause girl you’re a survivor above all. With that said, I await daybreak.
Until you CHANGE your thinking, you will always recycle your experiences. (anonymous)
On the days you feel most alone, those days you’re surrounded by many yet entrapped within the walls of your solitary existence are the days the repetitive acts of betrayal resurfaces forcing withdraw and isolation. Those days when emotions run wild, feeling, believing, convincing self (they) everyone, no-one can be trusted! We retreat, we fall back, retiring to that place where we feel most safe even if it’s only in our heads.
There is no time frame given on how long (we) the overcoming survivors of child sexual abuse may require to be in this head space, that space where no-one is allowed. We break down, try to process and make sense of the chaos around. It’s a secure place to be, where nothing or no-one from the outside world can infiltrate or permeate or thoughts our thinking because we look at everything and everyone sideways, everyone is a suspect just wanting, waiting, seeking that which they may devour.
Those moments when the memories emerges and self-pity dangerously toys with taking up familiar course, it’s usual residence. When anger starts to rise with seething disdain and distrust and the feeling of being robbed of your innocence and pride dances recklessly a little too close to that place where tainted belief of self resides and the not good enough anthem starts to sound the alarm.
It’s a very thin line between sanity and insanity!
A victim of child sexual abuse would know this. Everyday is a constant struggle, a mental struggle of how to act, think or feel. Do we remain in a state of victimhood? Do we continue to not trust and look at everyone wide eyed? Do we do the infamous neck pulled back (yeah right smirk) to every questionable promise or comment made? Do we let our guards down? The questions are endless…
For some of us it gets tiring! Frustration takes hold, the constant back and forth in our heads. It’s unsettling not knowing who to trust, having no confidence in our self or our abilities. Uncertain when to release, questioning, replaying, rethinking ever choice, ever decision, the internal dialogue and obsessive chit chatter never ends UNTIL, UNTIL we decide to make a change (whoosaaaah) ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
A child sexually abused that was silenced and never afforded the help or opportunity to heal now an adult would attest to the fact that there is a thin line between sanity and insanity or at least that is how I strongly feel!
Each time I hear the question asked “why can’t you just get over it!” I cringe, yes my stomach churns, these three words ‘get over it!‘ triggers a less than pleasant response.
I’ve garnered support and established new friendships with a few ladies I will respectably refer to as ‘age-ables’, and though our chance meetings may be summed up as bittersweet, I cherish every moment I spend in their presence and cling to their every word. Our stories is what binds us, the familiarity of our ugly truths, a common theme PAIN. The pain of being taken advantaged of as little girls now adults, ‘adulting’ from a place of brokeness. These women are well into their sixties (60’s) and still carry with them the ghost of what could have been, the ash of what should have been and the stagnant remnants of a past experience that never truly decays. Forced to lock away, to hide, to suppress memories while unknowingly hiding, suppressing, loosing themselves and everything else in the process. Sixties (60’s) and still struggling, some still barely surviving, still not knowing who they are at their core, some still unable to shake off or break free the invisible restraints of family secrets and shame, yet, are still being expected and asked (why can’t you get over it?!). With each exchange, with every shared detail I’m privy to, in the voices I hear a longing, coupled with deep sadness yet masked as full fledged, totally capable, well put together and competent functioning beings. When will we get over it?! When the game playing and hypocrisy cease!
A child that has been sexually abused grows into an adult that have been sexually abused. Trapped beneath the surface is a tortured soul. A soul that is disconnected, a soul that’s in search and in need of being whole. We learn to disconnect, separating mind and body. Like functioning alcoholics we compartmentalize separating body from our feelings and are fully capable of playing the roles, meeting our demands, our responsibilities, being everything to everyone at all times with little or no regard to self and what it is WE (the tortured souls) actually needs.
When will YOU see, know or understand, there is a loss that is experienced when sexually abused as a child?! Loss of power, loss of pride, loss of dignity, a loss of truth and a true sense of who you really are, loosing an identity before even having the chance or ability to develop or create one.
I’ve become accustom to the callous, uncaring and insensitive remarks of those that have not had the experience and chooses to be closed minded, even worst are those that have had the experience but lack empathy, is void of compassion and struggles with sincerity these are the same folks that say ‘I understand but’… A victim of child sexual abuse doesn’t seek to be pitied, and unless you’ve been there we truly don’t expect you to understand! However, If you insist on asking questions from a from a place of judgement and misguidedness do us ALL a favor, DON’T SPEAK!
While on this journey of navigating unfamiliar paths and charting new courses, I honestly thought time would have healed the wounds and it will, but they cut deep! Being made aware by the ageables that though ‘scars may appear faded on the surface they are permanently tattooed on the soul’. Some are fortunate to have received needed help, others like myself are on their way to healing while others remain loss and unfortunately will never find their way. Most painful of all, are those that have gone back to the earth with the secrets, never having the opportunity of being free. It all hurts and one things for certain, it NEVER goes away, You NEVER forget and for DAMN SURE it’s not something YOU JUST GET OVER!!!
Yes, healing is possible but it is constant, the pursuit is never ending, the process is daunting and tedious and it takes loads of work! While on this journey… From my heart to yours…
To be continued…
“I may not be where I want to be, but thank God I am not where I used to be.” – Joyce Meyer
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines Self-Esteem as having respect for yourself and your abilities. The definition of Respect – a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important etc, or feeling or understanding that someone or something important, serious and should be treated in an appropriate way…
Hmmmm, well, well! I knew prior to my Journeying2Free that I had major self-esteem issues, I masked it well, or so I thought! The last few months have been challenging, on one hand I’m amazed at how far I have come while acknowledging how much farther I have to go. Since January of this year, I have had numerous opportunities to speak to adults and children alike and with each opportunity the feeling of inadequacy emerges before the first word spoken or the first crack in my voice. The “Who, do you think you are?” The “no-one cares about what you have to say!” The “what qualifies you to speak to anyone?” questions. I sometimes feel like an unqualified fraud, nevertheless, I know my story, I know my truth, and on truth I can securely stand because it’s my experience, lived and experienced by only me, however, I struggle…
Journeying to mental freedom I have discovered so much about myself, being able to ascertain truths about who you are can at times be pleasantly pleasing while other times the realization leaves you in a bemused state of mind. Being mentally and emotionally abandoned after being sexually abuse, you learns the negatives. Negative self-talk – when a person speaks, thinks and believes every thing negative relating to themselves. When a child is not supported, loved, protected, encouraged, reassured and/or worst forced to carry shame for the actions of another, the negative self talk begins. The negativity stems from lack of belief in self, doubting ones abilities, feeling inadequate, feeling worthless, feeling void of value and undeserving of good things. I felt this way for many years! Truth is, I still struggle…
On three separate occasion this was evident. Thursday, July 27th, I was asked to facilitate an overnight retreat, I’m unsure as to if my nervousness was evident to others but I was so frayed, not only did I over-pack for an over night trip, but I questioned my abilities every step of the way! I worked myself up into such a frenzy that when it came time to present, I was mentally and emotionally wired. The first realization came when I boarded the bus along with 30 girls to Kingston. I was one of two facilitators on the bus, a bus I didn’t have to be on, but choose to ride in supporting the very young girls onboard. I was the only person that should up with a suitcase! The girls all had overnight bags and rightfully so being it was an overnight trip! In the morning I awoke to get dressed for the days event and while going through a fully packed suitcase, not finding anything to wear, It was only then I realized my being in such a frenzy had very little to do with the day’s event and everything to do with the fact ‘I am still not that comfortable in my own skin!’ I caught a glimpse of my self in the mirror, looked myself square in the eyes and uttered “child you are who you are, you look the way you look pimples and all and It doesn’t matter how you dress it up or try to cover it over with makeup you are who you are and it is what it is!” In that moment having changed a couple times I did the Jamaican “kiss teeth” a sign of frustration, I threw on something and finally went out the door. I had an AMAZING day!
On Saturday, July 29th, I had my 22nd High School reunion. I intentionally planned on being late. I was asked only days prior to pray the opening prayer and immediately after being asked the anxiety began. I pray but apparently I had an issue with praying publicly, my nerves got the better of me. I ended up being late (Guess I really spoke that into existence!) My sitter got out of work late, I had no choice. The venue was beautifully decorated, my schoolmates/classmates were looking oh so stunning, now being as late as I was my nerves ran wild. I grabbed the closest seat I could and sat down feeling so uncomfortable and out of place. After allowing my nerves and the voices in my head to run a mock for a while, good sense prevailed, I silently shouted at the voices inside my head to ‘shut up’ I mustered the courage and chimed back “Larissa (Rizzy) Rhone get off your ass, walk around those tables and greet everyone’! I made a move, my nerves were shot and the voices inside my head screamed louder “ you better sit your skinny, ill-shaped ass down and not draw any attention to yourself!” I stopped, I was tempted to listen, however, I hugged the first person in my reach, then the next, then the next, until I greeted everyone nerves and all. When it came time for dancing the voices resurfaced, once again, I did the infamous Jamaican (suck teeth) and decided, It’s been a long month all work, no play, my children are safe, and that wasn’t about to change tonight, I broke loose, believing , so what if I’m judged, I deserved this moment right ‘ere’ and I enjoyed myself mingling, co-mingling, chatting and dancing the night away with my some old schoolmates, classmates, friends, associates, and friends of friends, even if some were just friends only on my head. I had an AMAZING evening!
Sunday, July 30th the mecca of tests. Placed in an uncomfortable situation where I alone made that decision to place myself. The voices inside my head screamed at this point. ‘What the hell are you doing Larissa!” It was one of those situation where you know better, but for whatever reason you decide to go with the flow, then reality hits. I know I deserve so much better and I should not have to settle for less but in a moment, in that moment, a moment of weakness, a moment of wanting to be loved, needed and accepted just the way you are… in that fugacious, fleeting, momentary, short-lived, passing phase I could have and had placed me in a situation that I must have been only relying on one side of my brain, the not so rational part. Here again, I had to quiet the voices, I had to allow the rationale part of my brain to be dominant in ruling. I whispered (and yes, I do talk to myself) “Larissa (Rizzy) Rhone, it’s completely ok to feel vulnerable, to want to be wanted, to feel like you are needed, to desire to be loved, but not at the expense of over stepping bounds you may not be able to come back from kid!”. I stepped back into the here and now, I was engaged and fully aware, being fully present I walked away from that situation feeling empowered and encouraged with my pride and dignity in-tact, knowing I did not come this far only to throw it all away for… It was an AMAZING night!
I am so tired of putting/placing the wants and needs of others before my own, sometimes at the expense of my own safety/sanity (something learned and imbedded from childhood as a result of being asked repeatedly to put my needs and feelings aside to accommodate everyone else’s) When a child is asked and expected to make compromises and accommodations for the adults, instead of the other way around they are taught and learn that their feelings, their needs and their desires takes a back seat to the needs, desires and wants of others. Again I say, ‘it’s ok to have and experience all these emotions, It’s ok to fall short, it’s ok to make mistakes and horrible emotion based decisions but you also have a duty to see these for what they are and rise above it all! Too many of us allow vulnerability and negative self-talk to override good judgement. Free will not happen overnight hence the journey, but as long as I/you remain open, honest and maintain an attitude of growth no matter how difficult or uncomfortable ‘you/I will be just fine!’ So, with a heart that’s not fully intact, being emotionally wired and mentally frayed it’s ok, Get up, Show up and get on with the rest of your life! I still struggle… BUT
Discovering, NO, knowing I have self-esteem issues I MUST continue on this path. I am fully aware of my lack of self-love prior to this journey nonetheless, I have been working on MYSELF and Yes, I Still Struggle in a few areas. I Still Struggle with acceptance, accepting and loving me, my gifts, my talents, my abilities… I know and now believe I am priceless in worth and pray my actions reflects that. I have come a LONG way and for that I am proud! For after all, I can truly say “I’m not where I want to be but I surely I am not where I use to be. I AM working on ME.