Book Releases, Troll Bridges, and Repressed Memories
This is an exciting if slightly dreadful week for me. Exciting because the Cliché’s for a Cause Book launch is this Friday (link) and my illustrations are in it with my Husband, Steve’s story; ‘Bridgette and the Gruffz’. It is an awesome story and I wanted to share some of the funny details about how it came to exist.
We were watching TV one night and as the credits for a show were rolling I saw the name Trowbridge and it looked to me like TrollBridge. I pointed it out to Steve and we laughed and postulated the origin of the name Trollbridge. We ended up laughing over the idea that the name was changed from Trollbridge to Trowbridge upon immigrating to the US. And before that it was a proud name with a lot of family traditions attached to it such as the courtship ritual of tossing a prospective bride to be off her bridge. Because they are trolls… get it? Ok it was funnier if you had been there or if my hubby tells the story… Anyway, that morphed into telling the story of Smallz the youngest of the brothers Gruffz, who are not goat but satyrs, and Bridgette the troll who has built her first bridge in their neighborhood. Smallz loves Bridgette and Bridgette loves Smallz, but unless he can toss her off her bridge they can’t even date.
So it’s a fun story and it is benefiting a good cause: RAINN the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. They do so much to help survivors in all areas with programs, support centers, public education, and awareness. This was an important charity to support for me because I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.
I was around the age of 4-5 and I only remember pieces of it. I spent 12 years thinking I was a sinful wicked child, like it was my fault, my bad choice. My abuser I know encouraged this. I think it only happened once, but as I have said, I don’t remember clearly all of it, just some damaging and painful pieces. I know that the lighting in the room changed which makes me think it either took a long time or happened on different days.
I remember the nightly panic attacks, I still feel that panic every night before bed it is such a nearly lifelong habit. I didn’t develop socially like other kids, in a sense I still feel socially backwards to this day. My survival instincts helped me survive, but did so much damage. I mentally beat myself up so much, so very much. My self esteem was in the toilet and it took me 26 years to recover it. Years of hard work and even harder counseling.
For nine or ten months in 1997 I underwent that difficult counseling once a week. First, every session, we went through all the memories in detail to desensitize me to them. That part was the worst, but it began to work and now when I get flashbacks they have absolutely no power to crush me. Then We had to break down everything I was and rebuild it.
It was around this time I started cutting. I was very lucky though. After a handful of cuts I realized that as I was rebuilding myself this was not something I wanted to include in the new me. So I found other ways to deal with the stress and the emotional pain, healthier ways. I utilize meditation, creating things, coloring, walking, just laying in the sun and smelling the outside air.
All of it took persistence and patience. It is hard to be patient with yourself, especially as you age and feel the time you have to do something with yourself ticking away. I will be 39 this July. I feel like so much of my life had been taken away from me, the years of pain and counseling, the isolation and desperation for people to see me, to like me. I feel very much like I am in a rush to make up time for the lost 20 years sacrificed to my survival instincts that my abuser triggered.
It is ok now though. Days and weeks go by without that once so prevalent memory even making ripples in my psyche; I forget that I was ever so powerless. And as for my abuser, he was only 10 years older than me and was a very emotionally wounded person and I forgive him. That was the last thing I did that completely freed me. I forgave him and let it all go. I have been able to see him grow and change through the years, first for the worst them latter for the better. And it made me feel good to see him work so hard to try to redeem himself and I hope he will stick to that path and keep improving.
Well… this is a long one. And I didn’t even cry as I wrote it! I do feel empowered and strong and stable. It is a wonderful place to be.
If any of you are harboring such secret from your past, I want to say you are not alone. Please talk to someone. As long as you keep that secret it will keep you its prisoner. Go to RAINN’s website, there are so many people out there who want to and can help.