I have had chronic pain almost my entire life. It started between the ages of 12 and 13. It has been over 30 years.
I was sexually assaulted the first time when I was between four and five years old. I went on to be sexually assaulted multiple times as a young teen and as an adult I was assaulted by an acupuncturist after he had all the needles in place. I trusted him and believed he could heal me. In fact, I trusted each person who assaulted me.
Being that there are other women in my life, I can say that I grew up hearing lots of so-called “harmless” body judgement. It’s just the way life was. It’s just what women did. It wasn’t unusual to watch the Miss America pageant with my cousins while judging the contestants bodies, hair, clothes and makeup. We were pretty skinny kids back then. It wasn’t long before I was saying the same judgmental things that we would say about the beauty contestants to myself. I was comparing my worst to the beauty contestant’s best. A best that we picked a part looking for flaws.
It’s not surprising that I grew to hate my body. From such a young age my body caused me mental and physical pain. I blamed my body for my assaults. I grew to a point I blamed my entire being for my physical illness and pain. I thought I deserved it. All of it. The assaults. The incurable disease. The pain. The struggle.
So why in the world would I see this as a gift?
It seems cliche’ to say that this path has brought me to where I am. It’s the truth, though. The experiences have brought me to a place in my life that I know how to follow my path. I feel purposeful. I used to be like a pinball in a pinball machine. I was shot out into the world and reacting to or bouncing off of the walls and obstacles I would run into. I didn’t ever actually make decisions. Where I ended up was just based on what walls I bounced off of.
Had it not been for the place I ended up in life when my disease and pain had gotten so bad that I was barely able to work and function, I wouldn’t have found myself searching for alternative answers to fixing my pain. The search for something other than drugs brought the discovery that I hated my body. I would have never discovered how disconnected I was from it. I was helping people connect with their own bodies on a daily basis as my profession. How could I be so disconnected myself? The people who knew me the most in my life would have described me as connected….mind, body and spirit.
So many discoveries came along with the realization of my true feelings toward my body. Today, I know I couldn’t have the relationship that I have with my own body without the journey I have been on. I have a deep sense of compassion for women who struggle. Especially women with the impermeable wall. That wall is very familiar to me. I believed that wall served as my protection for a significant part of my life.
Without suffering from the deep dark hatred of my body related to my childhood sexual abuse experiences, I wouldn’t have the drive that fuels my work with childhood sexual abuse prevention today. I have the motivation and passion to change the world for children of the future and child and adult survivors who suffer in silence today. I won’t let anything stop me. Without the body struggles, I wouldn’t have the confidence. Without the years of suppressed anger, I may not have the fuel.
Without all that I have been through, I wouldn’t have the level of intuition that I have today. My intuition continues to grow. If I ever question that, one of my clients will remind me during a training session. It isn’t unusual for me to hear, “That’s exactly what I needed today.” after a session. That, to me, is the greatest gift.
What about you? Any surprising things that turned out to be unexpected gifts? Comment below. I love to hear your stories.