The things that the human brain can do amazes me. I think that societies view on how much our brains can accomplish is highly underrated. I’m talking, in particular, about when it comes to mental illness. Yes, I take medication to help me cope with mine, but I’ve noticed that my depression has morphed over the years because of my change of mind not because of the medication I choose to take.
If you would like a more detailed version of what I’ve gone through as a child, here is a link to my short story that explains it a little more in depth but isn’t my autobiography:
This story has the same sort of notion I wanted to talk about here, but I wanted to go more in depth about how important Mind over Matter really is. The following post is a short story I wrote called “Mind over Matter” that was published in the Larcenist (Volumn 2, Issue 3) on June 15, 2015:
Whenever you meet someone new, there is always that ‘getting to know you’ stage where they tend to want to know about your life, or past, or your childhood. I’ve always disliked this stage in any relationship or friendship because of how difficult it is for me to discuss it. I have very few good memories of my childhood. In fact, I tend to tell people that I didn’t really have a childhood. What I was put through by my family forced me to grow up and mature faster than any child should and made it very difficult for me to connect with anyone; to this day I have this issue.
I was never beaten by any of my family members, which I am thankful for, but I was put through repeated sexual assault and abuse. There are a few instances of abuse that were not continuous and did traumatize me, but not nearly as much as the long-term situations. It made a very solitary child; growing up with these experiences and memories was not an easy feat.
My dad and older brother were the biggest culprits. Over a span of about three years, starting around the age of eight, my father would have me give him blow jobs. I cannot tell you the exact age or the exact time it started and stopped because I don’t remember. My mind has done what it could to protect me and has blocked out a lot of those memories. Experiencing it affected me enough, having memories to go along with it would have made me so much worse; I’m not sure I would have been able to survive the trauma. I do know that it happened, though. No loss of memory will ever have me doubt that. What happened was real, whether I remember or not.
My father would sit on the edge of his bed and tell me to lick ‘it’ like a popsicle. No matter how much I want to that is one thing I will never forget; nor will I forget the way he said it. I can’t tell you how often he had me do this or how long it would last, whether he would reach orgasm with me there or not, but I do know it was not a one-time offense. This small statement from him is what will always reassure me that what I experienced was real and not just some bad dream.
When I was 17 I spoke with a Child Protective Services agent and a Police officer; someone had tipped them off that there may have been abuse in the household. I did tell them what happened and they went to my father and asked him if he did it. He denied it. What surprised me is that after he was questioned, he didn’t get mad at me or accused me of telling lies to CPS or the police. We didn’t really talk about it at all. I was informed by the agent that my dad had denied the accusations. I never really thought about it until now, but that’s validation for me that something did happen and he knows it wasn’t okay, but didn’t want to get into legal trouble for it.
The government workers also spoke to my dad about my older brother. They told me they didn’t speak with him directly because they were unable to find him at work, but told my dad the information I gave them on my brother. Having everything out in the open was a really strange feeling. I was very anxious and was so scared that I was going to get in trouble for unearthing our family’s skeletons. There was never anything I can remember indicating I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone, but it was always implied on an emotional/mental level. As a child, you don’t feel like you can talk to people about it because you have this innate sense that your parents and family take care of you and wouldn’t do anything to hurt you. At least, that’s how I grew up.
What my dad did is considered rape; oral sex is still sex, and is unforgivable, but as far as I’m concerned, what my older brother did to me is worse. His happenings where much more frequent and lasted for a longer period of time. From the ages of eight through 12, I was essentially his practice girlfriend. There was no penetration involved with him, but emotionally and mentally, this was more traumatizing for me.
He would have me role play with him, play strip poker, play spin the bottle, make out with him, dry hump him, let him touch me everywhere, and so many other things, I can’t remember them all. It’s so strange, how something that impacted my life so greatly is also something I have to try really hard to recall specific details about. I’m glad that my brain has tried to protect me because of how messed up this has all made me over the years, but sometimes it’s frustrating and makes me feel crazy, as if I somehow made it all up.
Whenever my parents would be at work or would go out, my older brother would babysit me and my younger brother, and something would always happen. From the little I can remember, my parents were gone a lot; he would babysit at least three times a week when we weren’t in school. Two of those days were weekends, so we were alone pretty much all day with him watching us; this doesn’t even include the summer months. We couldn’t play something as simple as hide-and-seek without him bartering sexual dispensation from me for it.
I became a recluse at the age of eight, when it all began. I didn’t talk to anyone about it and it made me very depressed. I didn’t talk a lot in school and didn’t have very many friends. Thinking back, I’m astounded that no one saw the warning signs of what happened. Of course, I moved to a different school district right before my dad and brother’s offenses began, so they may not have noticed a difference in my actions or mannerisms. To them, it was normal for me to be really withdrawn. Either way, I wonder whether there were any tell-tale signs that could have helped me in those early years so I could have been saved.
I remained a recluse until High School. I had acquaintances before then, but no one I would call a friend. There were people I associated with, and sometimes hung out with, but no one of relevance or anyone that breached the walls I had placed because of the abuse. I’m not sure if it was the people I met or becoming a young adult that knocked me from being numb, but the flood gates opened during my sophomore year of high school. Depression hit me full force; I became extremely anxious about everything and I still have this issue, and I had to deal with the usual angst of being a teenager. The result was self-mutilation, attempts of suicide, loss of people I had actually grown close to, and extremely low self-esteem and self-worth.
I made it through High School with many issues, but I did make it. I know that the year I decided to take off before going to college was because of the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder I have because of what my family put me through. The wonderful part about this story is that even though everyone in my life thought I wasn’t going to actually go back to school after announcing I was going to take a year off, I proved them wrong. I packed up my things and I went off to college three hours away from my dad and my brother. I was free of them and the abuse they had put me through.
I did well there for a while. I was away from them and I could do and feel and say whatever I wanted and no one could make me do anything. It was great, until the depression came back. This is mostly in part to a rape and abortion I survived only a month before I had started my freshman year of college. What a way to start a new beginning. If I had not met my best friend that year, I would have been a goner for sure from all the guilt, depression, confusion, loneliness, and ostracizing I faced. Being a theatre major was not easy.
I made it through three good years of college, even after dealing with bullying and exclusion from some of my fellow classmates, with good grades and a relatively positive attitude. I still suffer from PTSD and anxiety, but I think my mind-set changed a lot from being away from my family. I was able to form some amazing lifelong bonds with people and live a little instead of being stuck in my own world and being numb. In the end, though, the depression won and I dropped out of college only 30 credits short of a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. I’m not sad or disappointed about it though, because I know that once I get my life back together, I will finish my schooling.
Being away from my abusers gave me the chance to finally flourish and find good points in life. I can look back and find positivity in my high school years, even though I can honestly say they were not the best years of my life. I can even look back at my childhood and find memories I can hold onto and cherish. I believe that it wasn’t all bad as I first thought it to be when I reached puberty and realized that what my family had done to me was wrong, not okay, and that it was abuse.
I used to take it one day at a time. I had to, or I would end up being depressed and self-harming or wanting to commit suicide. I focused on day to day life. I didn’t make any huge plans besides making sure my homework was finished or making sure I was at performances when I was cast in a play in college or in the community. Slowly working on finding contentment in my everyday life is what has gotten me to where I am today.
Not many people like to believe it, but it really is mind over matter. I am a very emotional person, but I firmly believe that, because I was able to change my state of mind from negative and self-depreciating, I have been able to overcome the worst of my depression and PTSD. I’ve realized that I can’t even regret or hate what I’ve been through and what my family did to me because it has made me the person I am today.
I love who I am and love being the kind and caring person and friend, even if I get stepped on every once in a while. To me, it is worth it, if I’m able to help people. I’ve begun to believe that everything happens for a reason and that God, or whoever/whatever you believe in, would not put me through anything I could not handle.
I know that the abuse I suffered has made me a strong individual and allowed me to truly appreciate the good things in my life instead of always focusing on the bad. It is what has gotten me through my recent past and allowed me to find happiness in the darkest of places. I can plan out what I want for my future and look forward to it now. All because I was able to change the way I think. I just hope I can do the same for others, so fewer people have to suffer.