If you’ve been around here awhile, you know that Amir has strong opinions and reactions to abuse/sexual abuse. Because he understands enough to know that it’s not a one-time thing one can simply get over. It lingers in all levels of one’s mind and heart and soul and body as long as one has breath. Trauma affects every fiber of us, conscious and unconscious. God’s design of us is so remarkable; He hardwired survival coping mechanisms into us to be there if we need them. Some of us have needed them.
There are times when my body suddenly reacts. Body Memories. Such was a time Saturday.
I walked into my chiropractor’s waiting room, and in every other seat sat a man, each separated by a vacant seat. Not one woman or child was in the waiting room. My whole being went into a survival panic mode. Survival meaning that I acted in a way that no one knew I was panicking while my brain went into overdrive to figure a way out. I leaned over the reception desk and very quietly asked, “Are those all men seated in the chairs behind me?” She acknowledged that they were. I asked if I could sit in the back, and she smiled that it would be no problem.
I’ve been going to this chiro for several years now. He’s treated both my girls. He is a Christian man who lives out his faith. He is gentle and kind and extremely knowledgeable, gifted, experienced, and understanding. I shared with him once that I am uncomfortable with men and male doctors due to the abuses in my past. He totally understood, and he has respected that.
When I got in his exam room yesterday, he gave me a moment to relax. I was still anxious, trying not to hyperventilate. “There were all those men in there. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t sit in there. I just couldn’t do it. I can’t do that.”
“That’s okay. We have many places you can sit and wait in our offices,” he spoke gently from a safe distance, slowly waving an arm to indicate the expanse of their office space.
I took some deep breaths and made it through.
I’m thinking, though, that I might need to go back to therapy to deal with some more memories that have been haunting me lately. I so do not want to do that. Therapy is hard work. Really hard work. Ten plus years ago I worked through an intense six-month Sexual Abuse Recovery Group where we used the workbook, Shelter From the Storm, as our guide. Many go through a support group like this multiple times. I’ve thought, lately, I may need to find a group close to where I live now and work through it again.
If you’ve been sexually abused, there is help, and hope. Sexual abuse is gender neutral; the leader of my first group was a male therapist who had been sexually abused as a child. It’s tragic, but there is help. And there is hope.