Abuse is a Disruptor
Growing up abused, I had to do things and act in specific ways to appease my abusers. Survival was my only goal. But, I will tell you, survival doesn’t leave room for much else. Abuse is a disrupter of growth.
People have told me that I am mature for my age. Even as a child, people would say I have “an old soul.” You would, too, if you had been through what I had in such a short time. But I understand now what that means. It means that I had no chance to have a childhood. No, my parents robbed me of having a childhood.
Childhood is a time that is supposed to be about being a kid, learning new things, trying things out, and just being in that moment without the weight of the adult world crushing dreams. None of that was allowed to happen to me growing up abused. My dreams were laughed at, crushed, and then I discarded them.
People often ask me how they can best support someone they believe is being abused. I tell them to validate them. Believe them if they come to you and tell you things aren’t right at home. Then, ask them if they want to talk about it further and if they say “yes,” find a quiet place and let them talk.
If you are sitting with someone who shares their truth with you, please encourage them to seek professional help. I recommend Online-Therapy.* Encouraging therapy is their first step in healing.
Never Too Soon
Because I believed what people told me, instead of flipping them all off and pursuing writing, I sought other things to gain approval from my mother. Well, I know I will never have her approval. She will never tell me that she loves me. And as sad as that may be for some of you, it is extremely freeing for me. I am free to pursue my passion, love, and dream.
A theme that has been playing out for me for the last several weeks is if there is something I want to do, do it. Don’t wait. The very uncertainty of the continuation of life from one day to the next should be enough of a wake-up call to get up off our collective asses and do THINGS. But I don’t think it is.
It certainly wasn’t enough of a kick in the ass for me. But something changed in the last several years for me. Besides getting my mental health in order and recovering from addiction, I realized I needed to do something else. So I have denied who I am and will not do that anymore.
Not Your Typical Child
Being robbed of a childhood because of growing up abused means, I missed a lot of what I think of as the typical childhood stuff. I don’t know if “typical” childhood stuff exists, but I take comfort in believing childhood was typical and good for others.
I consider a “typical” childhood experience to be learning to play piano or another instrument. But, of course, part of the “typical” experience of learning an instrument has recitals. The recitals for showing friends and family that your practice has paid off, and look what you can do now.
I never had that…until now. Last Friday, I had my first-ever piano recital at forty-seven. I was the only adult that attended the recital. Although I am not the only adult student at the music studio, I was the ONLY adult student who went to the recital.
And here, without further ado, is my very first piano recital of It’s Halloween
Being the Only One
I was the only adult at the recital. But, of course, I was not the only adult student at the music studio but the only one who played at the recital. And out of everyone there, I was the only one in costume. So I was the only one on many levels.
And oh, ho, my anxiety turned up that day. And I thought about backing out so many times. That internal voice, Myggy, showed me all the ways I would fail that night, from tripping over the stage to missing keys or going too fast. So the montage of me screwing up went on all day.
It took everything within me to go through with the recital. And I am glad I pushed Myggy’s voice out of the way, got up on that stage, and played my piece.
I don’t know if growing up abused has anything to do with me pushing myself to do what I wanted to do but was terrified of doing, like my piano recital. It could be that watching my mother, my abuser regrets her entire life, and I didn’t want that for myself.
Although I know this, I look back on my life, and I have been doing things most people wouldn’t have done my entire life.
From being a cycle breaker of abuse by moving out when I was eighteen, I now have not one but two master’s degrees. I moved to Albuquerque, NM, to continue school at twenty. I enlisted in the Army at twenty-four years old, six years older than the average enlisted soldier. I turned twenty-five in basic training. And on and on.
Pushing myself outside my comfort zone and doing what most people wouldn’t do; it’s just what I do. My hubs told me he wouldn’t have gotten up there, as the only adult, with very talented young people around me. And he was proud that I did.
Being the unusual one, going against the grain, if you will, is what I do. I don’t know how to be any other way. I lost myself for many years to untreated mental illness and alcoholism. They were the most miserable years of my life. I didn’t like the person in the mirror anymore.
Now, I feel like I am me again for the first time. Sitting at that piano, even though I was shaking, my anxiety threatening to freeze me in place, I was me.
I think that is one of my superpowers, being me. I am my superpower.