Denial and CPTSD. Those two words together can generate a can of worms a mile high!
In thinking about denial, I remembered the first time I thought of the word abuse to describe how I was treated at home. You have to remember my abuse started from day one, so for me abuse was just how life was. That is why this memory sticks out for me.
I was around 17 years old. My mother had moved us to a backwoods location and had enrolled us in a school that wouldn’t question how she did things. I was in high school and had been pulled away from the first real friends I can remember having. On top of that, our access to the outside world was even more limited at this time. We could talk on the phone for 15 minutes a day in front of our then step-father, and that was it. No going over. No multiple calls. As children we were to do all the work around the house, so we weren’t supposed to be able to talk to others. We were to be busy.
I had called a friend, and somehow managed to find just a couple of minutes without someone in the room with me. I couldn’t say much because I didn’t know if the step-father was just out of sight listening, but I risked a complaint. Not much of one, but as my friend had spoke with me outside of my home before, she picked up on it. From then on, whenever I got to call her, she wouldn’t mention abuse, or how I was being treated, but she planted seeds.
She would talk about how as soon as we could we would get jobs, and we could move in together. She would talk about how nice it would be just to work and go to our home where we made the rules. I can’t remember all the details of her tales, as she had a gift for verbal stories that I wouldn’t be able to do justice to. But these stories opened my mind to a world without the hell I was in.
When I first thought the word abuse in relation to how I was treated, I was in denial. I wasn’t abused. I just hadn’t attained the perfection that I needed. I was the reason I was punished. It was my fault. How could that be abuse?
My friend had started a quiet campaign. When I eventually left home two years later, she was right there beside me, leading the way. Even after I left, she would still call and talk about what all we could do now that “we” were free of parents. She could see the hurt and knew I couldn’t talk about the pain yet, but she kept sowing her seeds to open my mind more and keep me from going back to what I knew.
I’ve been asked by some “less than tactful” people why did I deny that I was abused. It’s simple. I didn’t know any other life. My world was very carefully controlled by my abusers who blamed it all on me. Even after the first rape, if someone had asked me if I was being abused, I would have said no. If you don’t know what it’s like to not be abused, then you wouldn’t know you are being abused.
This friend was killed by a drunk driver a few years after I left home. I remember bits and pieces of her stories like treasures. I don’t know that I ever got to thank her for opening my mind up to what was happening to me. She brought me out of my denial. I could see things with a little bit of a different view.
For today, I can be thankful that my former abusers have been denied. They are denied of me, my children and grandchild. Their habits and actions will not be passed down to our next generations. My voice will no longer be denied. Rest in peace TP.