A short story of CSA
There was a brown flower on the cups we drank our tea from.
I once filled the brown flower cup with water and around thirty soluble aspirins. I then used that vile mixture to wash down around twenty paracetamol tablets, I was 11 years old and I never, ever, told a soul… The hospital staff looked for reasons for my illness, from kidney stones (which I was ultimately plagued with) to appendicitis (had appendix out on another attempt, and never told a soul), but they could not find anything. Just that my liver wasn’t working and I was a very poorly girl. I was allowed home with no diagnosis.
I am a victim/survivor of prolific and multi person, child sexual abuse and rape. My first suicide attempt came long after the first rape. I have no idea now how I knew that taking all of those tablets would (hopefully at the time), kill me. It was almost forty years ago and I remember the taste and the horrible texture of that mixture, the difficulty of forcing round, hard tablet after round, hard tablet into my mouth and down my throat. The last time I attempted suicide, was in 1998, sedatives… they left me on the hospital trolley near the doors in A & E where everyone could see me and hear what they were saying, and eventually, they told me to go home. I was very much treated as a nuisance and a drain on their resources. Not long after that I was sectioned and lost a massive chunk of my life.
I remember the lights under the doors of the psychiatric ward, and the low level talking whilst they had me on ‘suicide watch’. For those reading who do not know what this is, it is where you are never left alone, ever, even to go to the toilet, to clean yourself, to cry… there is ALWAYS someone there.
In my case, no consideration at all was given to the reason for my being there, and they left me with a huge male nurse who terrified me. I begged them to change him for someone else, so they stopped my medication until I apologised to him for being so offensive. He was there to take care of me, I should be grateful. He stood in the doorway of the bathroom where I was made to shower with him at the door, and the toe of his shoes nudged my dirty clothes around on the floor, that made me feel so sick. He sat, heavily, on the end of my bed and made strange sounds which made me cry. I would have done almost anything to leave that place at that time.
The abuse had intensified as I got older and I was constantly told that the way I was ‘looking at men’ (my uncle and grandfather and even my male cousins) was the reason they ‘had’ to do what they did. Looking back, I took that all on board and the self-loathing settled in. It has never left, but I can balance it better now.
The sounds and the smells of those times have also never left me and I cannot tell you just how much this kind of memory impacts your life without you even knowing why. That the flowers on the cups will always remain lodged alongside the hideous memories of the things they all did to my body. In the end, my body was not mine and I don’t know if the person I am now has effectively regained ‘ownership’ of me. I think I have, but I have nothing to compare this with, no previous markers of a healthy connection between my mind and my body.
I cannot go back to the ‘me’ I was before, because I was not even fully formed. I was around 7 years old and after the first time, my body became paralysed from the neck down, I can’t recall how long it lasted, but I can recall the final carefree bike ride I ever had as a little girl. Flying down the road with my hands and feet off the bike and using my body to balance! The road was lined with beautiful trees and I loved the feeling of freedom as I raced to beat my record…
When I was little, my feet pressed toward the sky
I walked upon the clouds and
I was light as a feather.
I lost time so often, I lost all sense of who I was and even lost friends in my search for the girl I was. I became withdrawn and secretive, I turned to abusing my body with anything I could get hold of, sniffing gas from the canister and waking up in dirty toilets with no idea how I got there. Drinking alcohol, which numbed the pain and so much more as the feelings of hopelessness took over everything else.
It has been and will continue to be, a long and at times very difficult journey, to now understand that I was never to blame. To understand dissociation, to understand why I felt the need to continue the abuse of myself in other ways, to forgive myself for not knowing how to take care of my body, to forgive myself for not doing more to stop it and for not knowing how to live.
These days, I ride my bike with my son and the feeling when I take my feet off the pedals as I race down a hill is as close to finding me as I have ever been, and it is beautiful.
Thank you so very much, Sophie, for giving me the space to speak out.