Learning to love myself after childhood abuse
For some individuals growing up has been a wonderful and joyous experience. Their lives are of loving memory of growing up with one or both parents and many other family members. Their wonderful memory combined with supporting parents and love helps to shape their lives in positive ways. For other individuals, like myself, growing up has been a hard, dark, and lonely journey. The reason, is because I was kidnapped as a child. In addition, being a person who was kidnapped as a child has caused me to feel like I do not belong, not just within my family but also within the world. It all started when I was 3 years old, I was kidnapped by my father and given away to strangers. I did not know who I was or where I came from, I just knew I did not feel loved. The selfish action of my father and the abuse from the family that raised me left me with low self-esteem and a feeling of disconnection. The family who raised me told me that my father gave me up because my mother was dead and he could not care for me. Big lie; I was kidnapped by my very own father, as if that was not bad enough, the family I was now with abused me day and night. This abuse caused me to live with intense shame and in time I started to isolate myself.
I was verbally, sexually, physically, and emotionally abused, everyday; one or more forms of abuse took place in my small dark and lonely life. I had to do very hard house and yard work very day; I see myself as a child slave. In addition, when I would cry because I was just too small for the heavy work, I was told to “shut up and stop crying.” Stop crying and take what I am getting meaning the hard labor and abuse, because “no one loves you,” “and no one wants you,” and that “no one will ever love you, or want you.” To this day, I can still hear those words in my head. I do feel these words affect my self-esteem in a negative way, the person I am, even the way I chose to live today. Refusing to allow others to be close to me, and when I am around family members I feel out of place, like a misfit. Because of being told, “no one will ever love me” I never feel as an equal to those around me. I always think that I am not loved and that no one cares about me. I never got help for all the abuse I suffered as a child so I brought the pain from my childhood into my adolescent years.
These adolescent years became the greatest fight for my life; I felt pure pain inside my heart and loneliness consumed me. By age 17 I moved and was now living in the same house with my father, a man I felt abandoned me to suffer and die. This became a climactic time in my life, face to face with the man who made me feel worthless and unwanted in this world. I did not feel safe; I did not know who I was, or where I am going. To make matters worse I had no one to talk to about what I was feeling. For me the cycle of confusion, shame, and pain consumed my life, I though that pain would be my death, that I would never see adulthood. I knew I had to do something, but I did nothing. I lived the best I knew how to live, and hide my pain. As night fell and I am alone in my bed, the intensity of my emotion overwhelm me and I would just cry myself to sleep. Night after night I just cry, and cry, sometimes I cry until I fell asleep, other nights I just cry until morning.
As I enter adulthood, my pain came along with me into my adult life. I started to look back at where I am coming from and how hard things has been, first the kidnap and abandonment, then the abuse, followed by years of trying to fit into a family, where I do not belong. With family members who do not seem to care what I have been through. For years I lived feeling disconnected and that I am not good enough for anyone and that I will not be equal to my brothers and sisters, or I will never have the ability to accomplish the same goals as my peers. To me my place in life was meaningless, and I was living a life of hopelessness, unsure of what I must do with my life.
Being a person who grow up not knowing who they are, was difficult. Not knowing who I was has not just caused me to have low self-esteem, it also saturate my life with fear. I am afraid of failing, that whatever I try to accomplish in life I will fail at it. Also, afraid of having faith in others because I think they will let me down by not following through with what they say they will do, and most of all I am afraid of love. Trusting others is one of the most challenging things in my life, it has improved over the years, but not to where I feel it should be. For years, I struggled to push forward in my life; I wanted to do more than just making it to work and paying the bills. I wanted to have a voice, and others to know that I am a person, and that I am alive.
I did not want the pain of my childhood to keep controlling my life. I grow up in the church but because of the things, I had been through at the hands of Christian. I was confused and wanted to run as far away from the church and God was possible. I did not know that I cannot outrun God, he is everywhere and soon I stop running. I started to go to church, and it helped me in many ways, but I was afraid of the people, I would sit in the back and speak to no one. As time goes by I started to feel that I have a place in life. I started to learn more about Jesus’s love and forgiveness of sins and so I started to feel better about myself. As I aged and grow in the Lord, I have opened my eyes to many things, first I have learned that I am not alone in this struggle and that many other people have been through the same things as I have. I have learned over the years that surrounding myself with positive people and continue to engage in things that I love like, cooking, sewing, and gardening placing beautiful Angel Figurine around my garden helps to keep my focus on obtaining my wings. And just maybe if I can reach others like myself and tell them my story, together we can heal from the pain that is standing in the way of us growing in our lives and most of all in Jesus.