I Am Me Now; Undefined By You

4.5 billion years ago, when the Earth was nearing the end of its formative years, it was struck by the protoplanet Theia, ejecting significant debris into orbit around the Earth which coalesced into the Moon shortly after.

Initially the Moon filled the horizon of Earth, raw and excoriated from its impact before slowly drifting over 200,000 miles away to where it is today, tidally locked to Earth.

This giant-impact hypothesis has become a synonymous metaphor for an experience of my own; suffering childhood sexual abuse.

In this analogy, I am the Earth, Theia is my abuser and the formation of the Moon represents the abuse I suffered and the lingering, permeating effect over time in coping with it.

Dissociation gets you through a brutal experience, allowing your subconscious survival skills to operate unimpeded - the ability to survive is enhanced as the ability to feel is diminished, blocked even. You are effectively disconnected from the act, the abuser and yourself and because of this disengagement there is no autonomous response in recovery; what to do next.

Abuse is never contained to a present moment, it lingers across a person’s lifetime and has pervasive, long-term ramifications unless there is an opportunity to share, find solace and lighten such a complex, truly emotional deadweight.

It took me some 5 years to tell a close friend about my experience and from memory I was drunk, too. It took another 3 or 4 years to then talk about this with my now wife, Tabby, without the need of alcohol to “loosen me up” enough. And even then it was only to say that I had been sexually abused - I had no idea where to go from there.

Shame plays a huge part in being perhaps the biggest obstacle to face - it stymies the process of healing because of the deeply personal nature of what has happened, never through the fault of the sufferer.

It was only 3 years ago, aided by much support and assistance proffered by Tabby as well as reading articles posted by other survivors, that I felt able to book myself in with a private therapist for an initial exploratory session. The impact of this was truly revelatory and he remains my counsellor to this day. Being presented with the opportunity to “tell my story” has effectively allowed me to unload everything in my mind that I had become so dense with, organise it, study it and repackage it in a newly-ordered manner. This exercise has allowed me to shift some of that emotional deadweight and in doing so has enabled me to feel much more positive and significantly lighter.

Whilst undertaking the Mental Health First Aider course in February I learned of the Sigmund Freud quote: “Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways” and I was overcome by how much this resonated with me and my life so far.

Australian psychologist Maryann Wei wrote further about this: “We become closed - not only to people’s pain - but also their happiness. These two states of being will rub you the wrong way: pain, because it hits too close to home, and happiness, because it seems so far away, so beyond reach.

Identifying our pain is the only the first step; the hardest part comes in allowing ourselves to feel our pain. Only then we might find a channel to disseminate it, lest, in a vicious cycle, it comes forth later in uglier ways.”

Fast forward to today and the release of my friend Will’s song and accompanying video titled ‘Monster’ which he wrote about his experience of sexual abuse. When he posted a request for collaborators with shared experiences I knew that this would be a good time to share mine.

Music has been a comfort blanket for me for over two decades now and those that know me often ask why I only seem to listen to ‘sad, depressing music’ but it has never felt that way to me. It is comforting, hopeful and I am always in awe of those who can display so much emotion through their music, their voice and their words. It has strengthened me and carried me to no end.

Finally, I would like to thank a few people who have helped me along the way:

My wife Tabby for her patience, love and understanding.

Will Clapson aka Jack in Water for his bravery and for this opportunity.

My therapist Rob Francis for his continuous guidance.

Ray, James, Christopher, Paul, Alex, Steve, David & Gareth who have listened to me and my brother Gary, to whom this is dedicated.

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