Last night I was the speaker at an AA meeting (a speaker tells the story of their alcohol abuse, what it was like, how the program helped them stop drinking, and what its like now) and for the first time I included mention of my CSA as a contributing factor. I didn't go into any detail, just that the perp used alcohol and drugs to groom me, and that the shame and self-hatred that resulted fueled my drinking for years to come. It felt like a tremendous risk, but was something I had to do. I struggled to maintain eye contact while I spoke. I felt my face turn red and hot with shame as I told about the abuse. I feared that people would be blown away, or angry or judgmental. I worried that no one would be able to relate to me because of it.
Instead, people commented on my honesty and courage. One woman disclosed that she too had been abused by her father when she was a child. And another woman just sat in the back and cried. I could only imagine what horror she was reliving because of my story. In a small way I felt vindicated, no longer the freak with the disgusting secret.
I now know what my gay friends must have felt like when they first said the words "I am gay" out loud. I was "out" and it was okay. I thought of all of you and how much strength you've given me over the past few months. I wished you could have been there with me to see that it can be safe to disclose. I hope for all of you that you will come to know what that feels like to be accepted as a survivor. Its not total healing, but its a step that I couldn't have taken without you. Thank you all for being here. Despite all the pain, depression, anger and loss, you matter to me.
"But now old friends are acting strange,
they shake their heads, they say I've changed.
Something's lost but something's gained in living every day
....it's life's illusions I recall, I really don't know life at all. "Joni Mitchell