Thursday, October 19, 2017

Run Happy & Free To Be #metoo

Disclaimer: This is not a running story.  It is a story, shedding more light, why I am grateful to have found running, why it gives me so much strength, and why the positive effect of running is a necessity to my life.
It is a sensitive blogpost, and could be triggering because of the subjects:
sexual abuse, child abuse. 
Please read at your own discretion. 

Marathon Rotterdam 2015
taken by a friend


“Sometimes it takes heart to write about a thing, doesn't it? To let that thing out of the room way in the back of your mind and put it up there on the screen.” 


#metoo


As I write this, it has no title yet, and  I am not sure, if I will share it to be read publicly.

It is a story, I've shared many times over to a very select group of people.  I can count them with the fingers of my two hands.  No more.

Sharing is healing. I was told.  Many times. In my private circle. In different rooms of therapists.

How much of your story can you share to heal? How often can you share to heal? How long does it take until you heal? How can you heal without hurting others you love?

I began sharing this story in instalments. When I was 9-10 years old to a female cousin, who was 2 years older than I was. Not the entire story but 1 % of the story. It was a question burning in my mind.  Why would someone do that act? I asked.

Why?

It is a question that followed my life for 39 years.


Why?

Why did he do it? Why did it happen? Why did I not say anything after it did? Why did the memory of how it began stayed with me but not how I walked away in the end?  Why did I not say no before it began?

I was 6-7 years old, when someone I knew sexually abused me.



Reading, Fairytales & Stephen King


When I was little, I was very fascinated with words.  I looked at them with awe even before I could read them.

Books would be my friends before I lost my innocence, and reading, my saviour after my childhood was stolen from me.

I kept what happened to myself until I was 21 years old, already living abroad,  engaged after a whirlwind romance, and told the story to my fiancé before we got married.

Before it happened, I read about monsters in fairytales.  My childhood nightmares would be during the daytime.   It was in the morning, when it happened.  I was afraid but I could not go anywhere, nor tell anyone.  Would it happen, again?

Recently, I watched the film adaptation of Stephen King's book Gerald's Game, on Netflix. The book was the last book I bought (1992) before I left my home country in the Philippines (January, 1993). I never finished the book.

I cannot remember  the reasons why I did not finish it , nor even made it half-way, and I now wonder if reading it in it's entirety  would have made an impact on me.  

"He did not touch me." - Jessie Burlingame, Gerald's Game, on Netflix

I cried when I watched the painful scene reminding me of my own shame, my long kept secret.  The words the lead character uttered as she came out of her trance from recalling her suppressed memory liberated me. Cathartic words.

"He did not touch me."

Not the first time.  I was an instrument.  I was an object.

I swatted his hand with mine the second time another shameful act transpired.

I was 9 then. I knew more. I knew better. Books.  Sadly, I progressed too fast from fairytales to books, which I read in secret, in search for answers..

Both times he was drunk. 

25 years later, I would learn, he might have been under the influence of drugs, when it happened.

It took 15 years to share 50% of the story to the person, I thought I would grow old with.  Another 10 years and a year of therapy to finally tell it to the one person who I thought would have the answers.


Forgetting and Forgiving?


At the beginning of this story, I wrote a lot of  questions:

How much of your story can you share to heal? How often can you share to heal? How long does it take until you heal? How can you heal without hurting others you love?

Why did he do it? Why did it happen? Why did I not say anything after it did? Why did the memory of how it began stayed with me but not how I walked away in the end?  Why did I not say no before it began?



I'm 45 years old, and it took me almost my whole life time to understand what happened to me. What helped me to help myself was stories I read.  Fiction and non-fiction stories.  Personal stories of people, who've been there.

Why it happened to me is something I would never know. I would never get the answer from the person, who stole my childhood.

What set me free from asking that question (Why?!) again and again, was learning he was as tortured as I was.

I would never know if it evil in him, or they were only two isolated aberrations  influenced by drugs and alcohol, which clouded his mind, his judgement.

"Nothing else happened to me" beside those 2 incidents.  It is something that I kept repeating, when I had nightmares.  Nothing else with that person.  Two more incidents happened to me between the age 7-9. Neighbouring boys. A lot of boys; they were not even 2-3 years older than I was. An older male neighbour.  Again, I was not physically abused. My mind on the other hand? Traumatised.  I was exposed to things I should not have seen nor experienced in my age. I suffered in silence.

People perceived me as happy, confident and vivacious  on the outside but in my head I had issues with trust, a lot of bottled up anger, shame and self-hate.  It took years to exorcise all of them out of my system.

What I learned  in the years I tried to find answer to my Why? is : silence is not the answer.  You can let yourself be heard.  I kept silent, when I was young because I wanted to protect the people I love.

This pattern of protecting others broke me mentally. It was when I was completely broken that I finally uttered the words I needed to say out loud: it was not my fault, I was a child, I was afraid, I was alone.  I was in my 40's, when I finally said these words out loud.

You cannot forget something you have not even fully acknowledged.  You cannot fully forgive, unless you are fully liberated and in a happy place in life.

Free To Be Me


A picture taken by my daughter
during my run last Monday.


I was waiting to be an ultra-runner before I share this story.

I was waiting to be *someone*, who has accomplished something remarkable, so I can be heard.

I had this absurd notion, that I would be braver if I am *someone*, and sharing this story to others will help not only others but in the end heal me completely.

Now, I realise I was repeating a pattern.  I thought I was creating an armour but in reality my armours are cloaks to make me feel unseen and safe; I was not yet as free from the past as I thought I am.

I am enough.

I can let myself be seen.

I can let myself be heard.


Now.

I don't have to punish myself, anymore. No more hiding. No more secret. No more shame.


What happened to me did not stop me from living life.  I became a wife, a mother, a writer, a runner.

What happened to me did not stop me from pursuing my dreams.  I went to the university, studied Communication, learned skills that helped me understand people better and make others understand me. I  travelled the world to learn more, and  find answers to more of life's questions.

What happened to me did not stop me from writing stories to spread the message of love.

Yes, what happened to me affected the quality of my life, my health; my mental health. It also made me stronger. It has taught me after years and years of searching for peace to be more compassionate.  Specially to myself.

What happened to me should not happen to any child. Sadly, the reality is alarming. It happens.  There are monsters out there preying on the innocents but there are also monsters within the people we love.


My plea:  be aware, be vigilant, be kind.

Help those who struggle mentally. Alcohol and drug abuse are not only the struggle of one person with addiction, nor one family but the community, the society.

Yes, kindness and involvement can be very risky in the modern world but it's worth it.

A concerned, caring word can make a huge difference. Care.

Creat awareness; it should not be under-estimated. Have courage to share your story. The process can heal you, and help many others, too.



19.10.17
Thursday
14:40

20.10.17
Friday
08:50


P.S.  It is now almost 15 hours, since I published this story. I would like to share to readers out there, how I felt peace after putting into words what happened to me. I feel at peace with sharing my story, here. 

I would like to be honest and say, I don't know if I would have done anything differently, looking back.  If a reader would ask me, what should I do? I would say, seek help and don't suffer in silence. I think, it is the main message what I would like to pass on.

In this modern times, there are a lot of ways to seek help anonymously.  It is a beginning, a huge step to put in words something that is unspeakable. A small step can lead to positive changes.

Feel free to contact me, if you need assistance. I am not an expert but perhaps I can assist in finding help.