Jess Gibson asked the women at Together Women Project what they thought about role models, who do they look up to and what makes a good role model to them? The following report is a mixture of responses from many of the women; here is what she found out…
Juliet Mcdonald: Since The Day I Cried
A moving personal account of how one woman found healing from early childhood abuse and her continuing journey. Trigger warning: child abuse.
Someone said to me the other day that they were interested in how some people survive trauma/abuse and come through it a stronger person, and others remain victims their whole lives. I think there must be many reasons for the way we are affected by what happens to us in life. I can only tell my own story of how early childhood abuse affected me for the rest of my life.
The abuse that happened was over by the time I was 3 years old. The fear and insecurity it generated stayed with me for the first 25 years of my life. I lived as a victim. I tried to commit suicide 3 times when I was a young teenager. I then made the decision that death was a gift that I didn’t deserve, so I longed to die, but felt I had no right to. Because I couldn’t die I longed for the next best thing. I longed to be shut away somewhere where I would have no contact with another human being. I longed to have no responsibilities, to never have to make a decision about anything ever again. I wanted to be housed, fed, looked after while doing nothing to contribute towards this.
I didn’t know it then, but I was heading fast towards having a nervous breakdown. After 25 years of keeping all my emotions inside, never letting anybody know what was going on in my head, it was hardly surprising that I was ready to crack right open.
Then someone stepped in, call it what you like: God, the universe, fate, destiny. It came in the form of a new friend who had recently moved in to the village. Her husband had previously suffered a serious nervous breakdown. She recognised the signs. She and her husband saw beyond the wall I lived behind and understood the pain that needed to come out.
She and her husband took me under their wing. I ended up living with them for a while. They took me to people they knew, who took me through a process of healing they called ‘Healing of the Memories’. This was brought about through prayer, talking and a process like hypnotherapy. It was extraordinary. The first thing I experienced was a profound all-encompassing love. It broke down the wall I had always lived behind. I cried like I had never cried in my life. Every tear was cleansing and healing my soul. For the first time in my life I felt joy, love and peace infusing my heart, mind and body.
From there it was a process that lasted almost a year of going back through my life and reliving each painful, hurtful, memory. But it wasn’t simply remembering these things, it was reliving them with a different outcome and with understanding, love and forgiveness. Each session brought a profound peace and tranquillity into my life. This happened in my 25th year, but it didn’t end there.
It was the beginning of a wonderful spiritual journey that has changed, grown, developed over the past 40 years. I have learnt to love, to express love, to accept love. I have learnt to accept what is. Most of all I have learnt to forgive. That has been a long hard lesson, that has taken most of the last 40 years. So many amazing things have happened over the past 40 years. It would take a book to recount them all, and each have helped me through the process.
This spiritual story is something I would love to share. But it is also something I am wary of sharing, as I would find it difficult to share it with someone who didn’t understand it, who ridiculed it or made light of it. It is MY life, MY story, it made me who I now am. It made me grow from that scared, introverted, unfeeling, unlovable, little girl and young woman, into someone who is confident, outgoing, empathetic, forgiving, loving, kind and happy, happy, happy!