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Trauma coping strategies

The human mind is an amazing thing. Every day, it processes many and many impulses, most of which we are not even aware of. We can remember things, learn new things. Either consciously or unconsciously, our mind gives them some attributes: positive or negative. While our mind is “glad” to remember and reminisce of those positive things, it’s different from something our mind “sees” as negative. What such negative things could be? Well, it can be anything that brings psychological damage to us. It can be bad memories, some bad experience, or a trauma coming from some long-term suffering or traumatic experience. When our mind encounters something like that, it naturally tries to do something with it. The experts have done a lot of research on this, and it’s good to know some strategies our mind uses to cope with trauma. Why is it good to know that? These strategies can be either healthy or unhealthy. When we know how to recognize them, we can intentionally focus on those positive ones. So what are some of the coping strategies?

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My story

In my previous post, I wrote about how important it is to speak up when it comes to such a sensitive topic as child abuse certainly is. However, doing so takes a lot of courage. For me, it was not easy to let somebody know my secret side. There were times I wanted to forget all about my childhood. Back in 2002, I moved to another country and thought I can start a whole new life. I’m not the type of easily adjustable person, I want to have some security in life, and as a 19-year-old, I was scared of such a significant change. But I had to do it. I don’t know if it can be called some self-preservation instinct, but it was something stronger than all my fears of the unknown. To make it short, I moved away, graduated, and found a job. I slowly learned how to communicate with other people. I found my purpose in life and almost everything seemed just fine. Almost… There were times as holidays when I was visiting my family when some memories came back. My visits became rarer; three times a year, two times, once, once in two years… I soon learned I must keep a distance from those memories. Fast forward, in 2012 I got married. My wife knows about my past, and back then in 2012, she was the only one who knew something about it. I’ve suffered clinical depression for years already and my closest friend knew about it but that was all. I rarely spoke about my childhood and was trying not to think about it, but to look forward to the future. I was taking my medicine regularly, and aside from some minor relapses I was doing well. I thought everything was fine. But in 2013, one incident changed everything…

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Why talk about child abuse?

In 2015, after my first book was published, my immediate surrounding was shocked. Why? Because my book was dealing with child abuse topics. The book told the story of a child who was severely abused by her guardians. The character was fictional, but I took some details from true cases that happened. The character was built on my own childhood feelings and experiences (I will come to that later). I received shocked reactions, like “you should not write about such topic”, “you should write about happy things”, “I hope you didn’t write about sexual abuse” (I didn’t, by the way). I have to say, I felt miserable, like if I commit a crime. It hurt because that book was meant to be the tool for my relief from the things I kept inside me for so long. I wanted to tell the story, to help myself, and maybe to help somebody else who experience something similar. Based on this experience, I’ve often asked myself the question: is it proper to speak about child abuse? After 6 years, I can say: yes, it is!

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A short story about the sad child

Once upon a time, there was a child. An abused child. An invisible child. A sad child. It wanted to be seen, to be heard. But there were no eyes to see, nor ears to hear. But suddenly, a voice said: “Hush, child.” “Oh, you can hear me,” the child said cheerily. “Hush, child,” the voice said again, “you speak as a sad child.” “But I AM a sad child.” “Hush,” the voice said again. So the sad child hushed. It learned sad children are not be seen, nor heard. So, the sad child didn’t want to be heard anymore. And never more.

Marie’s dream

Marie was walking slowly toward her house. It was almost dark outside. She knew it very well, just straight and then left. As she was getting near, she started to be nervous. Her fear grew. She looked into the kitchen through the window. They were there. She can’t go there. Not now. It would happen again. Anyway, she tried to sneak in. She looked at them through the open kitchen door. It’s like that they didn’t see her. Good. “Get over here, you creep!” she heard. No! She had to run. Just run away, far, where they would never find her. She ran as fast as she could. It seemed like he didn’t follow her. She started to feel safe. Suddenly, she saw him. He saw her, too. Marie stood as paralyzed, she couldn’t defend herself. He caught her. She knew there was no way to escape. What she knew was he would start to beat her. Some feeling of resistance woke up in her. “Here I am. Kill me!” she shouted as loud as she could.