This weekend I decided to tell a good friend that I was sexually abused as a little girl.
I am tired of hiding and I am sick of secrets that weigh me down and make my interactions with others stilted and wooden. I have nothing to feel ashamed of and I wasn’t responsible for what my father did to me.
This friend has shared personal and painful information about herself with me and it felt natural, normal and healthy to do the same with her. Abuse is such a taboo subject, not the kind of thing one would discuss at dinner parties or friendly get-togethers, yet it is a sad reality for so many.
I am very weary of telling people because I know that it is a heavy subject and I am very conscious of not wanting to burden and upset others. I know I am not responsible for the feelings of others but we have to be responsible with the information we share.
So in the end I told her, I didn’t even know where to begin, but I managed somehow to get it out in a coherent but emotionally charged way. It turns out that someone very close to her was abused by a close family member too.
Sexual abuse of children is rife and you can find its ugly claws lurking everywhere you turn.
My friend’s reaction was to cry, she was upset and saddened by what happened and I am still quite shaken by my revelation. I felt out of sorts this weekend, and this morning it was almost like I had entered a dissociative state. I wasn’t thinking clearly and felt myself being pulled back to the past; feeling small and paranoid. It felt like I was going a bit crazy. Maybe it was my harsh inner critic trying to resist the new me, that wants to be open and honest and stop hiding. Maybe it was the parts of my mind and body that resist the growth and healing.
Anyway, whatever it was, I breathed my way through it and feel ok now. I guess to tell heavy secrets means to stir things up again, to reopen the wound and the emotional residue is a consquence!
In short, there is no right or wrong way to tell a friend that you were sexually abused as a child. Do what feels right but expect that you might not feel very good after.