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Leaving the Child Behind (Recovery From Child Abuse)
By Fatimah Musa
I looked at my father for the last time before he was finally laid to rest. And I said to myself, "I forgive you father." I have forgiven him but I have not forgotten the turmoil, terror and abuse that I went through.
My father was working away most of the time when I was growing up. But when he was home, he was violent. I remembered crying in the middle of the night listening to him beating up my mother. I could hear her sobs. And I wept because I could not do anything about it.
I was terrified of him. We were not supposed to do anything wrong according to his terms. When I was six years old he pushed my head so hard onto the floor, I still have the scar on my forehead.
When my mother was diagnosed with depression, the four of us siblings had to move and we lived with him. He hired someone to take care of us while he was away at work. There was so much fear in us when he was back. My father was so angry with one of my brothers one day that he turned him upside down and wanted to throw him off. I watched that episode with horror.
From then on, I tried not to make any mistakes. I wept inside because he did not want to hear any whimper. And I continued watching him vent his anger on the rest of my siblings.
When my father divorced my mother, I did not know how to feel or react. My mother was back with us but her depression kept relapsing. We were neglected. I found solace from friends at school. I enjoyed reading stories and literature. I spent my time in the school library. There was no home sweet home. My mother could not take care of me.
My father took me away to live with his new family. It did not work out. I was sent to a welfare home. I did not deserve to be abandoned but I was helpless. I was mad with my father. I was not angry with my mother but I just did not understand why she had to be sick.
Until recently, I did not want to admit that my childhood affected me emotionally and mentally. I have brought the memories of bygone age along into my daily existence. In all my relationships, everything went well until my partners suggested a serious commitment. I would then sabotage the relationships.
I was not able to open up to anyone. I was very defensive when given any advice or opinion on my attitude and behavior. When there were arguments, I clamped up or walked off. I never wanted to face any issues and resolve them. And I would not cry in front of anyone no matter how sad or hurt I was. I remember a time when my sister was badly wounded and hospitalized. I did not want anyone to see me cry. I walked away and cried my heart out alone in a secluded place.
I excelled in my career by putting in lots of hours and effort. Now I realize that it was one way of escaping reality. I kept myself so busy so that I did not notice things that needed attention. I was using work as a means to avoid commitments.
There was one thing that I gained from the experience of being abandoned. I was able to sit quietly alone for hours and reflect. It has developed my fascination with nature's beauty. I love the feel of the wind blowing on my face. I enjoy watching the rain falling. And no matter how bad the weather is, it is still beautiful.
I became curious about many things. I questioned others and myself about life and how some things happen to certain people. I wondered why people behave the way they do. I looked for the answers.
I have developed the strength to persevere. But that is not enough. I want to become a survivor who is able to balance her life and enjoy the abundance that the universe has to offer. I have decided to break myself free from the shackles of my fragile upbringing. I promise myself that I will not allow my past to continue ruining my future. This child has grown up and will not weep in silence anymore.