Today, I have no one else to disclose to. Finally at the age of 44, disclosure is complete.
Yesterday I disclosed the severity of the abuse to my own family of origin. I had hesitated because I thought it would protect them from hurt and horror and protect me from shame. I knew the documentary on Radio 4 would be listened to by my family and it felt like the right thing to do.
My husband put a message on his own family Whatssap group proclaiming my achievements over the last 18 months. And in doing so, he outed me (with my permission) to his entire family.
Tonight as I walked my dog, I watched the sun setting and I felt for the first time what other people must take for granted – what it feels like to be free, free to be myself and not to hide behind a mask, or keep quiet in conversations about work and career. Now when I attend family gatherings, I will be able to say what it is that I really do, and who I really am, not to leave feeling frustrated and tearful, having been unable to speak up about my life too, my achievements, my pitfalls, my inspirations, hopes and dreams, funny anecdotes to do with my work or colleagues.
I will no longer resign myself to the thought that they must think of me as someone quite boring or unfulfilled- a woman with few interests, or opinions – maybe just someone a bit shy or introverted, not understanding as why would they – that I simply couldn’t speak. Not that it should matter what people think – but let’s be honest. It does matter a little bit though doesn’t it? My whole life and being has been shaped around survivorship, which was why I stayed so quiet. Speaking out would have outed me as a survivor and when it came to my in-laws, I wasn’t ready for that. In my own family, I stayed quiet after the initial disclosure 14 years ago, to avoid any further conversations and questions that I wasn’t prepared for. Now I don’t want to hide it anymore. I’m bored of hiding it. I have no shame. I’m not interested in protecting others, I’m a bit angry and I need to make up for lost time. Years wasted where I didn’t get on with my life. Years of feeling trapped in the dark.
I’m free… well nearly. Fear still has a grip. Only when the perpetrator is six feet under will I be truly free.