Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Life Beyond Abuse

"Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining"

I struggled for air and could only whimper for him to stop hurting me. I could feel my ribs being crushed against the floor by his weight on my upper back. The shearing force of his hand stung my wrist as he pulled my arm behind my back and sharply upwards. I thought he was going to break it off. The shag carpet ground against my face like sandpaper and I could feel the skin tearing. My nose twisted into the fibers. I could barely breathe through the burning sensation of pain. I gagged at the smell of the filthy tattered carpet, at the stench of a decade's worth of dog waste and urine. As I struggled weakly against his grip. I choked on the odor of unwashed feet, mud, grime and ground-in food. Yhe sickly scent of bourbon and beer came back to life as my tears flowed into the carpet beneath me.

Why was my dad doing this awful thing to me?

I was eight years old.


The Shade Tree Choir by David Nelson


Abuse of children takes many forms. Some of them include physical, sexual, emotional and verbal. I experienced physical, emotional and verbal abuse my entire childhood until I finally managed to discover a way out of my house. My book, The Shade Tree Choir details that story. I hear and see the word victim quite a bit when referencing abuse. I don't much care for that term as it refers to being in a passive situation. We were victims at one time. But hopefully, none of us are now. That's why I prefer the usage of "experienced abuse" rather than victim while referring to our present state.

I am not now being abused. I'm in control of my life and my destiny. So why would I want to say I'm still a victim. It was what it was and it is what it is. I look at all that stuff and say to myself, "Get over it. Move on. Accept what happened because it can't be changed. Learn from it. Ah ha, "learn from it." Therein lies the answer for me.


I have long forgiven those who hurt me. I try everyday to take those experiences and grow from them. I now write books about my experiences and my growth. I earn money from those experiences. Long ago I moved on. Therein lies the silver lining for me. I took a negative and turned it into a positive. What a shame it would be if I used all my energy re-living the past and trying to change it. 


Our experiences - both good and bad - shape who we are and what we feel. I look at those experiences like mosaic tiles. Each of us has a mosaic pattern and all those patterns are beautiful. All of "us" are beautiful, one-of-a-kind and that is what we should dwell on. I try to be thankful for what I have and not bitter about what I missed. I ask those who have experienced abuse the following question. Do you think you can find happiness and inner peace while dragging around the past like a chair hooked to your leg? I doubt it.


I realize the neurological consequences of years of abuse. Each negative event has laid down a neuropathway in our brains that is just waiting to rear its ugly head. That's when we react with night sweats, sleepless nights, panic attacks, suicidial ideations, and so on. I have found the more I think about and dwell on those events, the closer to the surface lies what could be an awful reaction. I'm suppressing the past. That is my survival tool. We each have to do what works.

We can theorize, analyze,and hypothesize our past all the way to our old age. Or we can get on with living. I love life and what it has to offer. I have had many of the same issues as others who experienced abuse. Some include fear of abandonment, lack of trust and low self esteem. I now focus on the present. The here and now. I embrace my past because that is what makes me special.


Consequently, I've worked hard over the years to prove to myself I would amount to something. I'm a caring person, a great listener and excellent communicator. I counter-act the verbal abuse by focusing on "proving my parents wrong."


My latest books, PALS:Part One and Two deal with the resilience of children who experience abuse. The inner strength of the child and with support from friends, the abused boy turns into a successful man - despite the past. It is my story. I still experience depression and anxiety and have to work daily to fight away the beasts. But by focusing on the positive I find myself centered.


I wish all who experienced abuse nothing but a calm and peaceful heart. May you find your inner peace. may you no longer be a victim, but an "experienced" adult. May you find your silver lining.

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