And So It Is, Beating Fear with a Stick, Guest Posts, healing

All I Need to Know About Self Love I Learned from a Kindergartner.

March 26, 2014

All I Need to Know About Self Love I Learned from a Kindergartner. By Amy Roost.

Writing: It’s a numbers game. I send my editor a column knowing full well that most of the intended audience will never read it. And for those who do take the time, many won’t care and many more won’t like what I have to say.

And that’s fine because I don’t measure success by the number of people who read or like what I write. Rather I consider myself successful if what I share eases the way for just one reader.

And so it is with this hope that I share a story of abuse and recovery.


Between the ages of approximately 5 and 8, I was sexually abused by my brother nine years older than me. He told me he would kill me if I ever spoke a word of his transgressions to our parents. I believed him and followed orders until I was 16.

Our family was gathered for dinner. My brother waited in prey until the most opportune moment when he made a cruel remark about my ass being too big for my chair. It was not the first time he’d substituted verbal abuse for his previous physical abuse, but for whatever reason on this occasion I snapped and ran to my bedroom crying. My mother came to console me but it was no use. I was so hysterical that she wanted to take me to the hospital. I refused. I wailed. I screamed. And finally, I spilled the truth.

She was devastated, as any mother would be who learned that in the anguish and self-absorption of her divorce she had not protected her child. She did not question my story; she did, however, ask me to keep my story “our secret”.

It wasn’t until years later, when I was going through a depressive episode in graduate school, that my mother finally confronted my brother, insisting he apologize for his actions. I vividly remember taking his call: Standing in the kitchen of the brownstone where I lived in New York City staring out a window at the Chinese restaurant below, I heard his small voice utter the words “I’m sorry.”

I’d had dreamed of this moment for years and the satisfaction I’d derive from hurling expletives his way. Instead what I felt was tremendous relief from the heavy veil of secrecy having been lifted and hearing by abuser acknowledge the truth–a truth the veracity of which I ‘d begun to question myself, so long had it remained dormant.

Sexual abuse survivors — and there are millions of us, men and women alike — will recognize this statement. As well as the narrative I’d constructed around my childhood trauma that went something along the lines of: “If you’d kept away from him it never would have happened.” “It was your fault for not telling your parents.” “You liked the attention and let it continue to happen.” Such was the guilt and self-loathing that had become deeply etched in my psyche.

Through counseling and the love of a select few I trusted with my story, I healed in fits and starts until a day not long ago when my whole perspective shifted.

I was babysitting a neighbor’s 5-year-old daughter. We made animal shadows on the wall and she squealed with delight every time I used my best ventriloquist’s voice to make the shadows “talk.” We laughed so hard that tears ran down my cheeks. She looked up at me concerned and reached to wipe my tears away. “Don’t cry,” she said. “It’ll be OK.” And that’s when it hit me: the 5-year-old me could no more have caused what my brother had done than this innocent loving child next to me could cause harm to herself.

Writing: It’s a numbers game. Many of you will think this story TMI. But perhaps one person will recognize her experience in what I’ve shared and feel more connected, less lonely. It is for her that I write.

Amy Roost is executive director of Silver Age Yoga and a multi-dimensional freelancer.

Click photo to connect with Amy.
Click photo to connect with Amy.

Her multi-dimensional suchness, Amy Roost, is a freelance writer, book publicist, legal and medical researcher, and vacation rental manager. She and her husband are the authors of “Ritual and the Art of Relationship Maintenance” due to be published later this year in a collection entitled Ritual and Healing: Ordinary and Extraordinary Stories of Transformation (Motivational Press). Amy is also Executive Director of Silver Age Yoga Community Outreach (SAYCO) which offers geriatric yoga teacher certification, and provides yoga instruction to underserved seniors.

Click here to connect with Amy.

***

Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer based in Los Angeles. She is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Jen will be leading a retreat to Ojai, Calif in May and again over Labor Day weekend. http://jenniferpastiloff.com/Yoga_Retreats_With_Jen_Pastiloff.htmlAll retreats are a combo of yoga/writing and for ALL levels. Read this post to understand what a Manifestation retreat is. Check out her site jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Jen and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. A lot. Next up are workshops in Dallas, Seattle then London!! Book here.

 

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No Comments

  • Reply Mandy March 26, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Thank you Amy for this painful but eloquent story. As I just begin to allow my inner child to speak, I so relate to this. I’m so glad you were able to make peace with yours.

  • Reply Jean March 26, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Amy,

    Thank you for telling your story. In doing so, you are helping others. You wonderful, sweet, honest soul…bless you.

    Sincerely,

    Jean

  • Reply Stacey Brown-Downham March 26, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    So brave. May your story help others to heal.

  • Reply Jennifer Barnett March 26, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    What a courageous woman you are! Thank you for sharing your story. Not everyone has the guts to tell their story, but thanks to you, some women will read this, not feel alone anymore, and have the strength to realize that they too can share theirs without fear of ridicule, in hopes of helping someone else. God bless you!
    Jen

  • Reply Jamie Stephhany March 26, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Thank you for sharing your journey. It brought tears to my eyes when you realized you were never to blame( in an innocent teaching-moment from the brilliant minds of children). I too, know exactly what it feels like to realize and forgive yourself; as my story mirrors yours in many ways. I too, share my story of trauma, betrayal, forgiveness, healing and thriving in hopes to bring awareness to a topic most people slowly back away from. Keep on living your destined life and paving the way for others to realize their own destiny! Together, we can shine a light on the misconceptions and confusion surrounding sibling sexual abuse and the family dynamics that suffocate the truth we (and far too many) have kept hidden for far too long.

  • Reply angel joy March 26, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    thank you. thank you for telling your story. a couple years ago my therapist asked me to watch 5-year-olds at play during recess to help me realize how tiny and innocent i was when the abuse in my history began. i am grateful for your healing and for mine.

  • Reply barbarapotter March 27, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    Oh yes Amy, it did hit home:)

  • Reply Debbie March 28, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Your truth is never TMI. I have a very close friend with a very similar story and the eloquence and bravery I see in her is also reflected in your story of healing. The more you share, the less alone others will feel. Thank you.

  • Reply blacksheepyoga April 1, 2014 at 11:19 am

    How sad is is that when someone has the courage to talk about something real, one may worry that it’s too much information (I know I do). It reminds me a little of Ani DiFranco’s, “Every time I say something they find hard to hear they chalk it up to my anger and never to their own fear.” I personally limit what I read anymore, especially in the personal blog-memoir-oshphere, because sometimes I want to scream, “Stop talking about things that don’t matter.” This matters. Thank you for sharing.

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