“Stop apologising for your emotions”
“Stop saying sorry. You’ve done nothing wrong”
Two different sentences I received from two very different people this week.
The first from my therapist. The second from a friend the other side of the world. Two people who have never met. Yet both uttered the exact same thing; “stop apologising”
Growing up and suffering the physical and sexual abuse at the hands of my stepfather and the emotional abuse at the hands of both him and my mother and the rest of my family, I learnt never to show my emotions. Showing my emotions meant severe punishment. More abuse. More pain.
Eventually I trained myself to show no emotion and to feel no pain. No pain other than the blade I would take to my skin to keep myself in check.
Until the day that I walked into that police station I would feel nothing. Even if I did start to feel something I would use the blade to make it go away and to stay in control.
However, since the police investigation started, things have started to change. Slowly, as interviews and statements progress, as other professionals become involved, I am beginning to feel.
I don’t want to feel. I am terrified to feel. When I used to feel as a child I was punished. I don’t know how to feel.
Yet, at the same time, I want to feel.
The ache from the emotion building within me eats me up inside as my exterior shows no pain. Only the cuts and scars so deep can be seen. Each new scar is a new emotion. An emotion hidden and locked away.
I am beginning to feel things I have not felt before; sadness, anger, betrayal, hurt, guilt, shame.
I am unable to put these emotions into words properly. I don’t know how. They build and build within me. I want to scream from the roof tops but my screams are instead whispers.
I feel lonely and fragile. Emotions that other people feel and cope with every day begin to eat me up inside. Crushed and in pain I feel like I can no longer keep this all locked within me. I have tried. Believe me I have tried. Cutting helps sometimes but is no longer a way for me to silence how I feel. I am no longer in control.
I begin to open up to those closest to me.
“I am hurting” I tell them. “I am sad and I am lonely. I am in pain and I am afraid. I feel angry and I feel betrayed”
Then “I am sorry” I whisper. “I am sorry I feel this way. I am sorry for burdening you with how I feel”
The words leave my lips automatically. “I am sorry”
Without thinking I feel I must apologise for feeling anything at all. I believe that I will instantly be in trouble for feeling and for expressing those feelings.
“I am sorry”. It is an automatic reaction. I say it without even thinking. I say it to my husband, to my friends and to my therapist. I say it to police and victim support and to my advocate. They all give the same reply; “ Stop apologising for your emotions”. They say I am allowed to feel however I feel.
Slowly I am starting to believe them. I don’t think I fully believe it yet. I just know that I cannot help how I feel right now. I have no control.
Anger, pain, sadness, loneliness, betrayal. I am allowed to feel them all, my therapist says. She says by trying to hide how I feel that I am hiding the real me. The real me, my inner child, has been hidden for too long. The emotions I feel are justified and allowed she says.
I have always believed that showing emotion was a sign of weakness. My abusers made me feel this way. Now I think they were wrong.
Showing emotion is a sign of strength.
I have been through hell. I am only just surviving. I am allowed to feel the way I feel.
I should not have to apologise for finally being real. I was raped and I was tortured for over twenty years. My childhood was taken and my innocence stolen. My inner child was destroyed and I am only just getting her back.
Finally, after twenty years, I am allowing my inner child to feel however she wants to feel, and no-one will tell her otherwise. She needs nurture and she needs love. She needs freedom.
One thing is for sure; I will work damn hard to make sure she never has to apologise for being her ever again!
Thanks for reading.
**Image courtesy of Google Images**