I have a secret.
This may not be a surprise to you if you know anything about my past.
But its not what you think.
This secret has created meaning in the events that followed. The secret has eaten away at me.
You see, it’s not what happens to us that causes us a problem. It’s the meaning we assign to it. It’s the meaning that triggers a protective state. It’s the meaning that causes hurt.
There’s a catch though. We interpret and attribute meaning to events, well before our brain is developed enough to understand.
The prefrontal cortex, the rational and analytical part of you brain, is not fully developed until you are at least 19 years old.
At least 19 years old before you can understand what happens to you
And before you are 16 you have learnt all the important lessons that you need to stay safe as an adult
This is the catch.
And so I have a memory from when I was 9 years old, and it had meaning. It was the unspoken thing.
I think we all have them, those moments that we carry, that we don’t want anyone else to know of, for whatever reason. Sometimes, they rest, untouched, with very little impact on our day to day lives. Other times the gnaw away, answering with silent words in our head.
They are not big, traumatic moments, but they are moments that form our sense of self. They might be loaded with shame, or guilt or something else.
They are unspoken.
My moment? I walked in on my stepfather when he was having a shower. I was 9. I pointed to his private parts, and touching it accidentally, asked what that was. He angrily told me that I should never touch that.
I thought that I made him think about me as a sexual object. I thought it was my fault that he abused me. I thought I was his partner, not a young child who was abused.
I never, ever spoke the secret.
And it meant everything was my fault. Who was I to cry victim when I created the problem?
This unspoken secret meant I planted the idea. It meant I was complicit. It meant I was not a victim. It meant I was a participant in the abuse, not a victim of it.
Because it was my fault.
I knew about my secret. But I didn’t ever speak about it. Or even tell anyone I had it.
I didn’t want them to know that all these things I spoke about were my fault. But I was sure they were.
And so I hated myself and my body for the role it played. I hated it for being involved in what happened. I felt guilty. I felt ashamed. I felt like a fraud for letting everyone else believe I had been abused, when actually I had created the problem.
And then thanks to the help of my amazing therapist friend, I spoke the unspoken and the spell was broken.
And now I see that there was nothing I could do. I was a young child. I was abused. That is never a child’s fault.
My body is not to blame. I am not to blame.
Speaking the unspoken changes it.
What is your unspoken thing? Who do you trust to tell that thing to?
You deserve freedom from the unspoken.