This week author and director Larry Enright continues his series and shares with us the impact the abuse had on his life and the role religion played in his journey.
So as a child,
I, Larry Enright, fought the battle so many children fight after
being sexually abused. I was engulfed with overwhelming and intense
feelings of fear, guilt and shame. My abuser remained in my
immediate area which made me feel like I had done something to
encourage the situation. I blamed myself over and over again. My
abuser threatened to kill me so I never spoke up.
What I was left
with is a shopping list of issues. I had low self-esteem,
self-hatred, depression, guilt, shame and an inability to trust
people and a constant reminder of my abuse. I would block out my
shame by imagining all kinds of things, acting out, making up stories
and getting into fist fights. I think the worst of it for me was
that I thought my abuser would kill me and my family. He had me
convinced. Strangely enough, one time, in a brief instance I thought
about telling my parents but I had a secondary fear quickly emerge.
I feared my Dad would kill this man and then go to jail, and I would
never see him again. So as a child you can see how trapped I really
felt. The worst was yet to come and it would come in the form of
sleep disturbances. These were daily and varied in intensity but
every day of the week I would go through these. It was horrible and
no one could understand. These two excerpts from my book show how
bad it really got.
As a young
child I was very afraid of the dark. Because my brothers were older,
they often times were not home at bedtime. I would try to sneak into
my sisters’ room to sleep because you could be guaranteed there
would always be someone there. Sometimes I would get in, and
sometimes I would not be so successful. With the bad dreams I used to
have I had a hard time falling asleep; my dreams were frightening.
As a kid I
suffered with bad headaches and horrible nightmares. I remember one
time while sleeping I had a horrible dream that the devil was
grabbing me and I was floating around the room. I would fight and
fight to wake up but it would seem like an eternity before I would
wake up. I often would awaken and be sweating and crying. One time my
Mam came into the room because I had been yelling in my sleep. I
broke down and told her what I had been experiencing. I
told my Mam
that this was happening most nights of the week. My Mam held me that
night until I fell asleep and the next day my Mam and Dad took me to
see the doctor. I remember his name, it was Dr. Canty. The doctor
examined me. He asked me a few questions then had my Mam enter the
examining room. He told my Mam that I was okay and that most kids go
through this and I was a little hyperactive. He gave her some
medicine to give me before bedtime. It tasted horrible rather like
liquid shit. She gave it to me but it never worked. I told my Mam the
nightmares had stopped but I was lying, I just wanted her not to
worry. My headaches and nightmares continued into adulthood and the
intensity increased dramatically. It would all make sense later but
for now I would have to just live with it.
What I have not
expounded upon is that these dreams were centered on fighting with
the devil. In my mind I transformed my abuser into the devil.
Nightly, I would yell STOP, NO, STOP…and no one in my family knew
why. My religious upbringing made my abuser the Devil. This excerpt
will explain the religious aspect of my life.
was important to my family. Every day at 6 o’clock we would have to
be in the house to say the Angelus. If we were out playing or
whatever we were doing, we would get the call. My Mam would gather us
all in the kitchen in a circle. The radio would be on, and it would
ring out a bell tone. My Mam would then start us off with the sign of
the cross and then start the prayer. It was a short prayer, so no one
ever minded our routine.
supper, was another story. At night we would all have to gather in a
circle again, this time with Rosary beads in hand, and in order to do
the Rosary. There would be a lot of mumbling going on; I’m not sure
that everyone was even saying the same prayer on the beads as we
went, but it still sounded okay so we just kept going. My brother
Eamon was the biggest “mumbler” of them all. When he would start
I would giggle and then my Mam would hit me a crack on the back of
the head. After my head would stop spinning we would carry on for you
see my Mam and Dad were very religious people and serious about their
prayers. Confession every Saturday and Mass every Sunday was second
nature to us. To this day I will always remember the strength in our
family’s faith which has remained strong in my heart as well.
I think at this
point in my life I was so confused about my blame in the abuse, I even
feared that God would think it was my fault.
experienced sleep paralysis which still occurs to this day when
stresses in my life become a bit more than I can handle. But you
also must remember I had an undetected brain aneurysm rupture causing
me to battle brain injury as well, so I, at times, have issues
sorting out daily stresses. Enough about that, let’s talk about
sleep paralysis for a moment. Sleep paralysis happens for me when I
am having a terrifying vision in my dreams and I cannot wake myself
up nor move. I will call out and moan but I can feel my body lock
up. If you should be going through this it would be wise for you to
speak to your doctor and counselor. You want to rule out any other
medical factors which may be causing this. There are ways to deal
with sleep paralysis. What is good to know is that if it is only
sleep paralysis brought on by stress that it is not dangerous.
However, it does not make it any easier to deal with.
As an adult I adopted unhealthy coping mechanisms. I was constantly
sad but faked it with laughter in front of others. I would hide my
pain by abusing alcohol and some drugs but mostly I punished myself.
I tried to hurt myself a few times, wanting to make the pain stop
permanently and I struggle with bouts of depression to this day. I
even still experience the nightmares though now I can understand why.
Admitting my abuse has started me on a path of recovery. I will not
lie to you, it is not an easy path but it is one you can travel. The
first and foremost thing you must do for yourself is admit that you
are worthy of happiness, health and deserve good in your life. Then
you need to remind yourself that you don’t have to be a victim to
your abuser anymore. You can put him where he belongs and that is
give him his appropriate title: Criminal. What he or she has
done is a criminal act. You would not punish yourself if you were
robbed so you should not punish yourself for this crime either.
battle of healing from abuse, which I learned over time, many people
struggle with, made me long to do something for others. I started
writing books about my experience, showing the funny, the sad, the
strong emotion, the pain but the reality is that you can grow strong
within yourself. My final book in the series "Mad
Man From Athgarvan Don’t Blink" is the one that brings all
the stories together. We have self-published the book and are using
the proceeds to work on the next project which will be used to raise
funds to help victims from Child Abuse and Brain Aneurysm Trauma.
From the books, a movie project has been born and that is yet another
story which we will talk about next time!
Come back next week for the conclusion to Larry's series and to hear more about his upcoming film!
Larry Enright is from County Kildare, Ireland. He is a singer, songwriter and author currently living in the United States. He has had many adventures in his life. He has performed for the President of the United States, Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary, as well as many other public figures like Elizabeth Taylor and the Kennedy's. Larry was married, has 3 children, many grandchildren, served in the Irish Army, worked as a Military Policeman, worked in security, wrote and produced albums and wrote three books. In his adult life, Larry faced the issue of the sexual abuse that he experienced as a child and then faced a massive change in his life while living here in the states. Larry collapsed, unexpectedly, with the rupture of an undetected brain aneurysm that left him needing to relearn all of his skills.
After all of his twists and turns he has dedicated himself to helping others survive abuse and has formed the group The Voice Against Child Abuse. He helps direct others to the resources they need to survive their own battles. He is also working on an independent movie project to raise awareness about abuse, survival and deliver the message that there is hope and even a little laughter in life. The movie is call "If You Told" based on his third and final book in the Mad Man From Athgarvan series "Don't Blink".
To order Mad Man From Athgarvan Don't Blink, click here.
To support Larry's independent movie project, go here. P.S. I'll be making a cameo appearance in the film!!