July 10, 2013

A Beyond Survivor's Story: Shards of Glass - Part 1

This week, I am pleased to introduce you to CW Seymore, author of Shards of Glass. For the next three weeks, she will be sharing her story in her continued effort to end the silence and step closer to her higher purpose. She is an inspiration and hopes that her stories will help others to find hope, healing and comfort in knowing they are not alone!

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My story begins and ends like so many other survivors of abuse. It began at the age of four when I first witnessed the horrors my father would soon display. I witnessed Domestic Violence so horrific and traumatizing that, if that was all that I experienced in my childhood, it would have been enough to send me to the 13th floor in a round padded room! Unfortunately that would NOT be all that I experienced!

I am the Adult Survivor of witnessing Domestic Violence; extreme Physical abuse; Mental and Emotional abuse; Molestation; Rape; and to top it all off – I am also the “Adult Survivor of an Alcoholic,” which brings a whole new slew of issues in and of itself to deal and cope with! 

All these gruesome acts, I experienced by the age of sixteen years old and continued until I was nineteen leaving and moving out of state. These should have been the best times of my life, laying the foundation for love, security, safety, endless imagination and empowerment, but they were none of those things. My childhood was spent in severe fear, anxiety, panic, rage, turmoil, pain, trauma, emptiness, loneliness, frustration and utter despair, spanning fifteen years and carrying on far into my adult life and perhaps will linger, until my dying breath.

The title for my book “Shards of Glass” was born out of my experiences as I a five years old, when I received the first of many battle scars in my youth, this one would be visible though, while most, are all internal scars, some too deep for words. 

I was sitting at the table drinking a glass of chocolate milk, when my father said, “Don’t you dare spill that glass of milk!” As you can obviously conclude, I failed at his request, spilling the entire glass all over the kitchen table and floor. I immediately dashed underneath the kitchen table out from under his anger, or so I thought. Out of rage at my innocent “mistake” he picked up the empty glass and slammed it to the floor, with glass shattering everywhere. One of those shards hit their mark that day, cutting my upper thigh to the bone. I would be rushed to the emergency room and would receive over 33 stitches, leaving a gaping scar on my thigh, noticeable to others and a constant, eternal reminder of the violence I experienced in my youth.

I am not going to divulge my entire story and all the individual acts of violence and horror. Those are in my book for you to experience and learn from. I am sharing today bits and pieces of my story to hopefully connect with you and to let you know that there is Hope and Healing after a traumatic childhood. You do have a Future! There is forgiveness and normalcy after extensive, horrific abuse. You can overcome, heal, change and Thrive again! The trauma from my youth left me battered, shattered, broken and struggling to survive in the adult world. The emotional and psychological scars of abandonment, rejection, co-dependency, depression, anxiety, guilt, shame, rage, relational issues and low self-esteem are all issues I sometimes struggle with today. 

As a result of those struggles from my abuse, I was fortunate enough to enter counseling when I was only nineteen years old. I talked and shared with amazing therapists that not only listened, but gave me powerful tools in recognizing the negative patterns of behavior learned in my youth. They forced me to look deep within and take an honest inventory, literally having to unlearn everything from my past. I cope much better now, and thrive more often than not. I have learned not to stay stuck for long, and to immediately notice when those old patterns of thinking and relating start to surface. I am blessed beyond measure, that the Lord led me to such wonderful, Godly, empowering counselors who truly wanted my healing and not just a paycheck.

My book, Shards of Glass was a project I started this January. The book only took me three weeks to write and it came about through the following excerpt from my book. Please enjoy and I look forward to sharing more.


PREFACE

This project all started when a dear old friend of mine asked the question: Were you ever raped? My snap, kneejerk reply was “NO—just molested.” Like that was OK? We later joked about my casual response. I had been so numb to what I experienced in my childhood that my response was callous and unemotional. While I had shared with my close friends snapshots of my past and certain stories or memories that had come to mind, none of those friends had ever directly asked me that question before. I remember driving home from her house, which was a good hour-and-a-half drive. My mind raced into the wee hours of the night. I was molested but had I been raped?

Marivel had once been a dear friend, but I had not been actively in her life, as a close friend, for over three years. On the night of that infamous question, I had paid her a surprise visit with a Christmas gift for her children. She and I had originally met through working together. We soon formed a deep friendship that later crumbled, compliments of my childhood, suppressed emotions, and my ingrained and insane coping skills. Three years later, almost to the day, and after dedicated prayers to the Lord for reconciliation, we reconnected, and our friendship was restored!

Based upon memories and dreams I have had over the years, I found myself finally having the courage to answer Marivel’s question that had been asked in our conversation and a few weeks later via a text message. I described those memories and visions that have haunted me for so many years for the very first time to anyone. I explained to her that I knew I had been molested at a very young age and also raped when I was in my teens, but at the time I could not recall by whom. Her later reaction to my response was not what I had hoped for; it scared her away once again. It was not what I shared that pushed her back; it was because she felt so bad about it. When she pulled away again though, I was left with one of my most dreaded emotions: rejection. I felt she had abandoned me because of what I had shared and that she thought I was some weird, messed-up person. I was angry because I finally thought I had shared the right visions from my dreams and memories and had now been rejected for it. I had kept quiet about these visions and memories for years—not wanting to remember, forcing the images back down deep within and only recalling “snapshots.”

The next few weeks were some of my darkest. As I sat home alone in my apartment, with no direction and feeling no purpose I became desperate. At that point, I had been unemployed for two months and had nothing but time on my hands to sit and dwell over my current circumstances and the question Marivel had asked me. Recalling my past had triggered my every emotion. I was on my knees praying to God for deliverance, direction, strength, peace, healing, and reconciliation with friends—basically for anything and everything during this time. I was broken and at the end of my rope. I spent those weeks doing some heavy soul searching and being as honest with myself as I have ever been. My previous employer was fighting me on unemployment. I had no money, saw no future, depressed, lonely, having no friends in arms’ reach. It was a desperate state of being, I’ll tell you. But God was there in the midst of it all, and He answered yet again: I received my unemployment, and they paid me retroactively, which relieved a lot of stress and financial concerns. I did not know at the time that God was also about to answer a few other requests and send me on a journey of blind faith. During that time the Lord showed me more love and peace than I had ever known!

Three days later, I went to a baby shower close to where Marivel lived, so I decided that I was going to try one last time to reconnect with her and gain some understanding as to why she had pushed me away again. I wanted to tell her that I was not the same person she knew a few years earlier and that I had changed and learned healthier methods for coping with my emotions and triggers from the past. I remember pulling up to her house and just sitting in the driveway and praying. When I walked up to her door, I prayed again, “Lord, please prepare her heart for what I have to say, please let her accept me for who I am.” When she opened the door, I was so nervous that I was shaking. I thought she would slam the door in my face and tell me to leave but to my surprise she welcomed me with a smile and we picked back up where we’d left off three years prior again. We laughed, cried, and drank a glass of wine. She wanted to know more about my childhood, so I told her story after story of the horrific pain and anguish I went through. I shared with her everything I could remember at the time. She was deeply moved and said to me, “You need to write a book.” I told her my story is like so many others; it’s not that different, who would read it? Her reply was, “I would and so would many others.” She then said something that changed my whole perspective. She said, “I have never known anyone with a story like yours. I have never had anyone share what you have shared with me. You read about similar struggles or see movies about them, but seldom do you personally know someone or are friends with someone with this kind of horrifying story.”

That night, she was not the first person who ever suggested to me that I should write a book, but she will be the last! I have known for years that the story of my childhood needed to be used somehow to help others. I have felt something in my spirit that said I needed to write a book. When those thoughts would come to the forefront, I would just dismiss them and go back on about my life. When Marivel said it that night, after three years of no friendship and hardly any contact, it struck a deep nerve. I know it was the Lord’s gentle nudge and a confirmation of what I already knew in my heart I had to do. The Lord does answer prayers, so be careful what you pray for.

I was only praying for reconciliation in our friendship, not to write a damn book!

After that conversation, I knew completely how the Lord had used her in my life. I was encouraged, on January 28, 2013, to officially post on my Facebook page, “I am going to write a book! Detailing things from my traumatic childhood! After years of knowing I should do this, and after the wise words of a dear friend and much prayer, I will start this journey and trust that God will use it for HIS purpose and the healing of others!”

This book is a journey into my world. Through the terrified eyes of a child, I will share the pain and torment inflicted on my family and me by my father. Nobody was left unscathed. My research for this book comes from the countless books I have read on the subject, endless counseling sessions, and my best recollections of childhood. The events that happened in my childhood coupled with the tragedies that my family experienced have made me an expert on my pain and the struggles that I have carried with me for years.

After leaving my friend’s house that night of the “question”, I started re-examining all the details, recalling every moment, every vision. I wished I would have told her more accurately the truth that night, but I did not really know for sure myself and I was scared to give life to my memories. Speaking them or writing them makes it real! Was what I shared with her really the truth or my vibrant imagination? I started to try to remember and recount if it was my father or someone else who had ever raped me. I know I was molested, severely abused physically, and mentally tormented by him. Some of these memories, I know without any doubt, happened. Those memories are so vivid I feel like I am right there and it is happening all over again. I can see the images; I recognize the surroundings and hear the words and feel the physical pain. There are some thoughts that only come in snapshots or flashbacks. I recall all of my dreams. They are graphic and have lots of detail. Those dreams wake me up from a deep sleep and in a cold sweat even today. When I awake, I am overwhelmed with relief when I realize it was only in my dreams and not actually happening again. Dreaming those dreams helps me put the pieces of the puzzle together. Even as I write these words, though, I am still unsure. I hope that through the course of this journey, I will find that the account I gave her was what actually happened. Better still would be that my father will eventually admit to all that he did, and that in doing so, he will fill in the empty gaps that self-preservation just will not allow me to remember completely. But that one question, “Were you raped?” still resounds in my thoughts and has sent my memories into overdrive. I am so frustrated because I know what I know, but at the same time, I do not know. I think it happened, have the images that prove it did, but I do not have the 100 percent cognitive recollection to substantiate it. Was I just dreaming it, or did it really happen?

I trust Marivel was right, and that this is something people will identify with, be moved, touched, and healed by through the reading of it. I do not write this out of anger or to hurt my father, to disgrace his name, or to get back at him. I have sincerely made my peace and have forgiven him for the past because I have come to realize that he too was a victim of generational abuse, and his actions were a direct reaction to things he experienced himself as a child. That does not dismiss what he did and how he emotionally, physically, and permanently altered the childhoods of four little children.

I do not write this for fame or fortune. I write this to be obedient to the Lord and what I know to be His inner voice in my spirit. I write this because as I was figuring out who I was and why I acted, felt, and thought the way I did, it was so comforting and reassuring to read my struggles in someone else’s book and know that I am not alone. That yes, others out there have experienced the same or very similar experiences and have overcome all the illness that comes with being an adult survivor of witnessing domestic violence, sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. I write this to be a legacy as I have no kids of my own, nor do I think I ever will. I write this to finally share that inner horror that I have been held a prisoner in for so very long. I write this to end the cycle in our family of abuse and destructiveness. I write this for my healing and to have no secrets anymore! I write this to be used by someone else to experience freedom and peace. This book is not a self-help book with intellectual facts and studies on the effects of child abuse. I am not a professional writer, nor do I claim to be an expert on abuse, stolen innocence, fear, or trauma. This is simply a memoir of my childhood and most importantly my past—what I endured, how I tried to cope, how I failed, but most importantly that I survived and how the Lord is continuing to heal me day by day. The day this is published will be the day my life is, once again, forever altered!


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Check back next week for more from CW!

CW Seymore lives quietly in Florida working with area youth and is available for guest speaking engagements via website and email. Please visit shardsofglasssecwseymore.com for inspirational quotes, blogs, helpful resources, and links in aiding the recovery of the abused.
This photo was graciously authorized for my inclusion in the book by D. Sharon Pruitt. This picture most accurately depicts the horror I often felt as a child. This journey has been tremendously difficult! Recalling the past and reliving the intense fear and pain associated with each memory was emotionally draining awakening my many "Triggers" and sending them into overdrive causing severe panic attacks, anger and intense anxiety. This book is healing for me ending the silence and one step closer to my Higher Calling the Lord has planned for my life. My greatest of all hope, is that these stories and vivid accounts will help other Survivors find hope, healing and comfort in knowing they are not alone! This book is for all those who have suffered in silence at the hands of a Guardian or Protector where Domestic Abuse; extreme Physical Abuse; Verbal Degradation; Mental Anguish, Rape and Sexual Molestation resided. CW Seymore has written Shards of Glass under a pen name to protect her family. 

Please visit http://www.shardsofglasscwseymore.com to learn more or get your copy of her book.

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