Posted on May 13th, 2021
A Survivor's Journey
An Executive Director's Personal Journey
As a victim of trauma, I learned the art of secrecy at an early age. The stuff that I couldn't say or it would ruin the family and/or the "systems" that be, would come take me away to something even worse. In my teens, secrets would lay dormant like hidden hot ashes of burnt houses ready to ignite at the slightest wind gust. I wanted to open the closet door and show the visitors the real mess that I stuffed away to make the house clean, but knew I would be judged for having an unkept closet. Appearance made a difference, it meant whether you were that person someone wanted to befriend or not. So, I remained quiet, learned my role and stayed in the family boundary.
As I would learn much later, the family boundary was not a boundary at all, but a prison I had caged myself in, sacrificing self. There were no boundaries for my own self worth. I had sacrificed my own self love in order to love family. I had honored the family, but I failed to honor me. I had allowed, due to my own youthful ignorance, an invasion of body, mind and soul. The shame of the family, the community and the world was cast on to my shoulders for me to bear the burden. I was but a mirror, a reflection of the shame, guilt, hate, ugliness that the world did not want to see. I became the secret.
I believe the worst boundary invasion is the one on body. When boundaries are crossed it shows a lack of respect for a person's ownership of that thing, and a blatant disregard to another's feelings. As children, we cross boundaries all the time without asking, going on someone else's lawn, grabbing juice from a neighbor's refrigerator, even hugging a friend because these seem like harmless actions/behaviors. Children ought to be taught to honor other people's things, whether it is time, money, or property. If not learned, over time these behaviors become unconscious actions, bad habits that later need to be changed. And most find it hard to adapt to change.
As a child, my body boundaries were never discussed and were crossed all the time. Whether it was getting a whipping with the extension cord or being touch unwantedly. By the time I reached young adulthood, somehow I came to believe that my body gave my soul meaning and it was unworthy. It wasn't until I made the choice to erase the meaning I knew and learn to live with meaning, that new beliefs began to form. I had to stand firm in my belief. I, myself had to learn boundaries. I had to change.
One of the bravest things I ever did was to leave old ways/beliefs, family and friends behind. It has not been easy. The hatred of people afraid of my openness, the secret messages behind the scenes, a community of nonsupport. This change and growth was never for or about others. I reestablished boundaries to my body, my mind, my soul. This was for me. Once I loved and honored me, I could express love and honor properly.
I have come to my own understanding that my body is the connection to my soul. I share my secret, not to "lie" inside of me, eating me like maggots on meat tossed out in the trash, but to live outside to flourish and cultivate like a nourished garden in order to give my life meaning and set my soul free.
By Tracy Harris House Walker
Founder of Trauma Help for Women (THW)
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