Many of us have faced situations in our lives where we felt victimized. Why did this happen to me? Is it my fault? Who can I trust now? Is anyone going to believe me? Am I alone?
It’s not easy to come forth and share such traumatizing experiences with anyone, let alone publicly.
To answer the latter question – No, you are not alone. There is someone out there who’s gone through the same experience and has found the strength to come forward. Unfortunately, we live in a world of shamming; preventing those who’ve been victimized in one way or another from speaking out and obtaining the proper health care needed. Maybe this could be you. It’s not easy to come forth and share such traumatizing experiences with anyone, let alone publicly. But know in the long run, it’s worth it. For those of you who have boldly and courageously come forth, in whatever way. I commend you.
“This is just another trail of life,” I tried to tell myself the first time I felt violated; although I felt in my spirit it wasn’t right. I pushed my situation to the back burner every time it would appear and convinced myself, “It’s not a big deal, nothing happened.” After all, I hadn’t heard of anyone else sharing their story and complaining, so why should I come forth with mine? Is it my fault?
I wore a mask every day, a smile that had no meaning of happiness. I would cry myself to sleep at night, pressing the pillow up against my face so no one else could hear. I would pray, “God what is wrong with me? Why did this happen to me? Please help me!” When asked what was wrong, I would place that “mask” back on and with a smile answer, “nothing.” But there was something, something I did not know how to share. I wasn’t hearing the girls at school talk about it, I wasn’t hearing anyone in my family talk about it, and back in my day, I believe the world-wide web was just beginning. I had a bookcase full of encyclopedias, which I read from front to back, but my situation was not included. So I, feeling awkward, suffered silently and shamefully alone. Is anyone going to believe me?
*Friend and Family Venter*
I’d thought I’d test the waters a little bit and share an encounter with a friend. Well, that “friend” turned my situation into juicy gossip. Of course, I denied and tried to share my situation with a family member. With eyes rolled they stated, “All that could not have happened in one’s life!” I was at a standstill. Here I thought. Finally, I can talk to someone about what’s been plaguing me over the years, but to no avail. The friend I trusted turned against me and the family member did not believe me. Who can I trust now?
There were times I could not get out of bed and didn’t understand why. My legs were functional, yet, they would not move. I cried without meaning; purposely isolating myself so no one would ask questions and when out, a crowded room would even feel lonely. I wanted to talk to someone, but growing up if you told people that you were seeing a therapist, they labeled you as “crazy.” Already feeling exiled, why would I mention such a thing? So I learned to destructively self-medicate; only numbing the pain without dealing with the encounter.
“We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”
~Barbara De Angelis
I purposely did not share the events that unraveled, because as humans we tend to compare. “Well, mine was not as intense, so I’m okay. Or, my experiences have been far beyond what you speak of, so I’m afraid to share.” Bottom line is this: trust your instincts! We all have a “gut feeling” speaking to us and informing, “This is not okay.” No matter how small or big you think a problem is we all know when the line has been crossed and we’ve been victimized.
“Well, I have excellent family and friends I can share my situation with,” you may say. Is your family or friend a professional? I ask. While it’s great to have a wonderful support system, you’re relying on that family or friend to dig for answers of healing they may not have; leaving you feeling incomplete. “But I’m not crazy, I do not need professional help!” You rectify. What is your definition of crazy? I ask you.
Here is one: Crazy-senseless, impractical, totally unsound, likely to break or fall to pieces.
- Senseless: lacking sense or understanding of judgment, not marked by the use of reason
- Unsound: not in good condition; damaged or decayed, suffering from severe mental illness
- Break: destroy the integrity of; usually by force; cause to separate into pieces or fragments
Now let’s look at the scariest definition of all. The one that has brought a savage stigma of untruth into our way of thinking…
Mental Health: the psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment
I would like for you to take a moment and think of that situation when you felt victimized. Has that situation brought forth a lack of sense or understanding of judgment? Left you damaged or broken; feeling as if your life has been shattered into pieces? Are you only functioning at a satisfactory level? Looking at it through this standpoint, would it be safe to say there are moments in our lives when we all feel a bit crazy?
It’s important for us to go to the doctor or dentist, make sure we have our yearly physicals and immunizations up to par, or make an appointment to be seen when we’re not feeling well, without shame. Wouldn’t you agree? Why then is it shameful or less important that we take care of our mental and emotional health? These are vital parts of our being, that shut down in an unhealthy manner when victimized or unattended to. Just like a car, if it’s not kept properly, what happens?
I take pride in shouting from the mountaintops that I see a therapist, even if it means I’m labeled as “crazy.”
We need the oil of life to prevent damage. We need the antifreeze of life to prevent overheating. We need the power stirring lubricant of life to smoothly guide us in our turns. Our tires must have the proper tread of depth to keep us moving safely throughout life. It’s imperative we take care of our mental and emotional well-being; especially if you’ve encountered a traumatic experience. I take pride in shouting from the mountaintops that I see a therapist, even if it means I’m labeled as “crazy.” I’ve come to the realization that I had to take responsibility towards overcoming my obstacles in a healthy manner. A part of loving myself is taking care of myself; physically, emotionally, and yes, even mentally. From victim to survivor!
It takes you to stand and say, “No more,”
It takes a sound mind to know what’s worth fighting for,
Look depression in the eyes and shout, “You must go,
You no longer have a hold over my life; I’m released from death row!”
Go out there and find the necessary help that you need,
Do not be ashamed to talk with a therapist in order to succeed,
Attend the groups that are provided,
Do not allow pride to disturb the direction you wish to be guided.
Be truthful with yourself, speak out every battle that is vital;
Get out of the house and do anything positive that prevents you from laying idle;
Take baby steps, process all that you feel;
Remember it took time for you to get to this point, so it will also take time for you to heal.
Don’t beat yourself up, but give yourself praise along the way;
Find confidence in the new you and take it day by day.
~From Exposed Poetry Memoirs
Author’s Note: I am not a licensed therapist and the opinions shared are from personal experience. However, I do urge if you’re experiencing any form of trauma to seek professional help.