Therapists are a clever bunch. We hadn’t even started talking about my traumatic memories yet, when my therapist first suggested telling my parents. I think I may have laughed at her. She didn’t so much as flinch. That’s when I got really scared. I had about one million reasons not to tell my parents what had happened all these years ago. She listened to all of them, and we dropped the subject. I thought I had won. Next session, my therapist brought it up again, more casually this time, like a random little something that crossed her mind. She kept doing that. And every time she mentioned me talking to my parents, it upset me a little bit less. Slowly, ever so slowly, the unthinkable became something that could, theoretically, in the faraway future, become a possibility. Taking tiny baby steps, one session at the time, I got used to the idea.
And then one day, while on a train to a conference in the south not far from where my parents live, I decided that the unthinkable would happen that night. The one thing I’m good at is decision-making: once decided, it’s decided. I was going to tell my parents about the abuse that night, end of story. I took all the precautions I could think of. I called my best friend, who came down south to go with me. I called my parents to announce my visit. I printed the letter I wanted to read to them. I even bought myself a gift for when it was all over (a coat that I now call my ‘proud-coat’ and still wear all the time). And after all that, I presented my work at the conference to an audience of about 300 people; for goodness sake, I have no idea how I did that. But I did. And then I went down south.
Don’t get me wrong, I was still terrified. On the couch in my mum’s living room, my best friend sitting next to me, I thought the world would end right there and then. My mum was trying desperately to make small talk, in fear of what I was about to say. After the nth unbearable silence during which I didn’t manage to make a start, my friend thankfully announced that I wanted to say something. I drew out my letter and started reading. When I paused, my friend said “are you sure that’s all you wanted to say?” and so I continued. My friend is a hero, she really is, and I love her to pieces. Having my friend there with me was the best thing in the world.
My parents’ reaction to my little monologue deserves more than just the last few sentences of this blog, but let me tell you this: it was OK. The world did not end. There was no instant healing either, no trumpets or confetti (I did get to wear my new coat though). But I was OK, my parents were OK, and my friend was OK too. So repeat after me: things will be OK. You will be OK. I promise.Follow @ArticulateAna
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