I can hardly believe a full week has gone by since our last group therapy. I lay in bed early Friday morning thinking about my last blog post while trying to connect with those same dissociative feelings. I’ve realised a large part of that detachment encompasses the fear of persecution. I needed this week’s session to be different, but it would be a challenge to reveal a part of who I really am.
In the early days of this blog, there was a subtitle under My Travels with Depression, “A Tale Too Tragic to Tell.” I was always worried that my story might present an impression of this poor hapless victim, because nothing could be further from the truth.
When my little child-world experienced all kinds of abuse, the intense anger fuelled a determination to rise above them. My parents would laugh when I regularly vowed, “I’ll be leaving home when I’m sixteen.” I thought being free of their control would somehow make me happier, but in reality, the trauma from their dysfunction would chain us together for many years to come.
I believed their disparaging words, “You brought it all on yourself.”
Life wasn’t easy while growing up confused about sexuality and gender, but rather than shy into a corner and hide from the bullies, I held my head high, but deep down it broke my heart.
Parents and teachers said, “But, you bring it all on yourself.”
The option to stay silent about my sexuality would have avoided further persecution. It was the early eighties and attitudes towards homosexuality were a world apart from what we know today. Nevertheless, I chose to ‘come out’ to a church full of charismatic Christians. Unfortunately, they were also my employers. They spoke of love, forgiveness, and tolerance, but I only witnessed disdain.
They said, “You brought it all on yourself.”
Years later, when I became a victim of an attempted murder, I also became a victim of fierce judgement from loose-mouthed peers. They would say I was a fool for going home with a stranger.
And, yes, many said, “You brought it all on yourself.”
It’s difficult to imagine where the inner-strength came from. On the outside, it looked like I bounced back, but on the inside I was struggling to hold on.
Then something happened fourteen years ago. You could say it was the final straw. The years of persecution crashed like a ton of bricks, leaving me utterly flattened and defeated. On my knees, I no longer had strength to tolerate potential persecution. It became so much easier to hide within a tough protective bubble, but now it is time to break the seal and reach out.
I have no room for those who say, “You brought it all on yourself.”
Driving to group, admittedly, I rehearsed a shortened version of this post. During the obligatory ‘check-in’, it felt like I was dragging my soul – kicking and screaming – out of a long dark tunnel. My voice was quivering as I blurted out…
“I’m nervous because there’s something I want to share with the group after check-in.”
It felt a bit like going to the dentist… once our bum is on the chair there is no chickening out. I was about to open myself up to the same vulnerabilities I spent fourteen years running away from. All of those years I considered myself weak… a failure. This week I caught a glimpse of a person I didn’t even know existed.
There is something very powerful about relating past trauma to the difficulties we encounter in the present moment. Healing may not be the most appropriate word, but it does strengthen that shift in perspective and nurtures the strength and courage necessary to tackle the problems head on rather than pretend they don’t exist.