I have no intention of spending my entire adult life healing from my past, but I do have every intention of doing the work as thoroughly and deeply as I can for as long as it takes because I AM worth it. In the rooms of AA I have often heard it said that at 5 years the “real work” starts. I have to assume that means 5 years is around the time people start figuring out what the Hell happened in their lives to cause them to seek solace in a substance to begin with. There are those who strictly feel that nothing happened and they were born with the gene. That may be true for them. I am certain I was born with that gene. My family is full of alcoholics and addicts. Throw some “complex trauma” into the mix and I really didn’t stand a chance. Gene or no gene. As many times as I have been in therapy in my life, never have I ever addressed that complex trauma. Until recently. The complex trauma I am referring to is ongoing childhood sexual abuse. Things that were never my fault, but affected me for a lifetime. I’ve eluded to it here before but never came right out with the words. Because they are hard words to write about. I know the statistics, and I know that I am NOT the only one. Not even close. I am not writing about it for sympathy, I am writing about it because sharing my truth with the world is the best thing I can do for ME. I won’t go into details, but I will say that it seemed to me like I grew up with a stamp on my head indicating that I was the one to be used in this way. I was the one. It was OK to do these things to me. And I always wondered why. I thought something was wrong with me. I KNEW something was wrong with me. Today I know that this is just the way it goes with a child who has been sexually abused. We are either stuck in the vibration of being a victim or our body language changes in such a way that we are an easy target. And it happens again and again. To so many children. I’ve always been resistant to processing it in therapy, because I am an adult and these were things from my childhood. It seemed silly for me to go back and dig shit up. Especially since I didn’t necessarily think it was still affecting me. But, then those repressed memories started flooding back and I really had no choice. I have talked about EMDR therapy before and the fact that I suck at it. I wish I could process that way, because it seems like a quicker solution to me. I always say I suck at EMDR, but the reality is that I don’t suck at it, I just don’t seem to process that way. I happen to be really good at psychodynamic therapy. Maybe I’m even the best at it. Because that’s important. 😉 Two weeks ago my therapist and I were talking about some things that were “heavy.” That’s the only way I can describe how it feels to process those events. It feels like heavy energy weighing down on me. It’s shame. I know that today. I still have a lot of shame associated with that abuse. Intellectually, I KNOW that it’s not mine to carry and that I didn’t do anything wrong, but emotionally, it’s still there. Sometimes more so than others. This was one of those days. I left her office feeling bad about myself. I didn’t share that with her at the time. I drove myself straight to the tattoo shop. I just knew I needed a new tattoo right then and there. I was so disappointed when the tattoo shop was closed. This ended up being a blessing in disguise. I didn’t see it at that moment. It gave me an opportunity to figure out exactly what that need was about. At first I thought it meant I felt the need to hurt myself. But, now I realize that I just wanted to feel something different than what I was feeling. I have spent a lifetime wanting to feel something different than I was feeling. I am in no way against getting more tattoos, but I do realize impulsivity is something I need to be aware of. I really thought I was past that need to escape and I was good to go with “sitting with my feelings.” That experience was an eye opener for me and a reminder of what recovery is all about. It’s about healing on every level. It’s about being with uncomfortable experiences and staying present. I am not sure when those feelings of shame go away. I have read every Brené Brown book. I have read John Bradshaw’s books. I have a full understanding of how shame works. I just haven’t quite figured out how to completely move past it. I do all the reading, writing, meditating, energy work, therapy and body work. It isn’t a feeling that’s constantly there. But, when it hits, it hits hard as feelings of unworthiness. That’s a feeling that’s hard to sit with. I’ve heard the phrase “feelings aren’t facts” and it rings true here. I am worthy, simply because I AM. My hope is that sharing my truth is a step toward letting go of shame and a step toward empowerment. Empowerment is where it’s at.