Anxiety Is The Ghost of Our Sexual Abuse

Those of us who were scarred by sexual abuse are haunted by anxiety attacks. It happened to me when I was on camera narrating a video I had produced.

With camera’s rolling, I found myself looking at the camera lens and going into a full-blown anxiety attack. Instead of the elegant lines I had rehearsed, I stumbled. I knew it before I watch the footage. This after years as a polished talk show host and a change facilitator on three continents.

My redemption has been a screen play I birthed over the last two years about four women who found their redemptive paths after the trauma of child sexual abuse. Flushed with success, I fooled myself into briefly believing that those these attacks were in my rearview mirror.

I share this story because I have no choice. No matter the friends and fans who tell me I am amazing, I am just like the millions of women who struggle with childhood trauma every day. It’s tattooed on our hearts. And, without warning, it can take us to our knees. Now every time I look at that video, I find myself awash in tears, followed by smiles.

I could have written this post and deleted it, feeling the shame of not being perfect. But I have nothing to fear because this is not about me. It is about a movement that acknowledges fear and steps out of the shadows anyway.

In the words of Rachel, Thriver Sisterhood’s wise counselor:

We are all at crucial crossroads. We can continue to be high functioning in the outer world, while our inner lives are a war zone. But we will ultimately burn out.

That’s why our unique sisterhoods are our lifeline. We need people who will walk with us while we save ourselves, because, as the saying goes, redemption is not a destination, but a life-long journey.

Here is the video:

5 Responses to “Anxiety Is The Ghost of Our Sexual Abuse”

  1. Lora Schachtili says:

    The Thriver Sisterhood video is a wonderful example of how healing rituals can help women sexually abused as children move from survivors to thrivers. Many women survive their abuse but can still struggle with trying to live with the many remnants interfering with having thriving lives.
    Good intervention, including individual and group therapy that provides experiential methods and opportunities to heal, is enhanced by a ritual that emphasizes becoming a thriver.

  2. DISCLAIMER: I am not a therapist. Thriver Sisterhood is based on my own experience as I rise and stumble along my journey, supported by others.

    Anxiety is more damaging to our wellness path than even the dreaded flashbacks. They are more dramatic but at least they are limited in duration.

    As children, we had no way of envisioning our futures because we could not imagine anything except dragging ourselves through every day and the horror of our nights, and by day, leading lives of quiet desperation

    In this scene from our screen play, the sisterhood describe how anxiety feels for each of them.

    It’s when plans change or we are faced with decisions we would rather deny. It just makes the anxiety worse.

    Punch-in-the-gut stomach aches like my body is confusing answering a difficult e-mail with being attacked by a shark.

    When I am kick boxing, I imagine my stepfather’s face and it spurs me on. For the rest of my life, I feel like there is a hole in my heart that will never heal.

    Underneath all my bravado, there is a bad person who is afraid she will be found out. I can’t believe that came out of my mouth. Does that means I am beginning to trust all of you?

    RACHEL, the therapist
    Yes, it indicates trust and periods of honesty. We can change the way our brains send waves of negative self-talk that can take us to our darkest places.

    In the last year, more than 50 supporters, therapists, wounded women, and men who love them, have read the manuscript, offering us valuable feedback. Would you like to read the screen play? Go to the contact page and we will send you a PDF. And thank you in advance for your support.

  3. Pamela Jaye Smith says:

    The fire ritual in your video is quite moving and well done. Because of the way we process story, it’s always effective for us to ‘see’ the message. Wishing Thriver Sisterhood all the best in spreading the word about how story and drama therapy can help people heal and thrive.

    • Your input to the script for the video was inspirational. The videographer, an abuse thriver, felt the script was pivotal to her ability to create a powerful visual story. Thriver Sisterhood is well on our way to becoming a movement because you have been our mythological guru. To sisterhood!!!!

  4. Debra Samuel says:

    Thank you for sharing the healing power of ritual and its importance on the path to redemption. I’ve had the image of a goddess dancing through the fire tattooed on my body as a ritual of physical and spiritual reclamation and also a reminder that I must keep dancing through the fire in order to continue to thrive. So glad to have the Thriver Sisterhood here to walk alongside me while I am fire-dancing once again.

Leave a Comment on the Blog