Have I truly disclosed?
After almost 20 years in therapy with counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists, I eventually found the courage to tell my sons and a few close friends. I wrote a book. But have I disclosed when I cannot find the courage to say the words, ‘this is my story’ and put my face to that story.
Hearing the victim impact statements at the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse I contemplated the courage required to stand up in a public forum and put words to those horrendous experiences, to say this is what I endured, when you have carried a life time shroud of shame and/or defectiveness. I pondered how much healing was/is actually achieved by being able to do that.
In the postscript of my book I stated it is akin to what homosexuals refer to as ‘coming out’; the fear you will be rejected, dismissed or at worst disbelieved. How many children who tried, and are still trying to tell, are dismissed even punished, or worse rejected and abandoned by their families? If my mother were still alive I believe she would deny my experiences. But what purpose does it serve to create such stories and maintain them for a life time? To be disbelieved by the church, your family or even mental health professionals is the ultimate rejection.
Acceptance is twofold. If you are fortunate there is the acceptance bestowed by those you confide in, and the acceptance, that at the end of all the therapy and disclosure which is supposed to heal, is all the mental health profession can offer.
The person has to find a way, to not just accept what they endured as a child, but often more painfully the impact on their ability to create a ‘normal’ life, to develop effective relationships, to experience joy and love, elation and happiness, to hold down a job, buy a home, to feel ‘normal’ in the world – and that is for those who haven’t succumbed to eating disorders, self harm, alcohol or drug issues to numb the pain. Where does that acceptance exist?
It seems if my story is to have any impact in the world I have to put my face to it, I have to truly disclose. As I am challenged to do this, Liz & Mary fight for both their perspectives.
So, have I truly disclosed?
I still fear disbelief and I have yet to locate that elusive acceptance.