Sitting with my fear and anxiety
For the past two and a half years I have dedicated my life to being a voice for the voiceless and fighting for justice for those who have been hurt. All the while I have been on my own personal healing path. My path, like most healing paths, has been filled with pain but I have also found a lot of love.
Tonight I will give a presentation here in Pennsylvania. I have given 30-40 presentations just like it over the past 2 years, except tonight is different. I have been diagnosed with PTSD and other disorders as a result of having been sexually abused as a child. Through therapy I have learned coping skills and relaxation techniques to alleviate the symptoms when they arise. Today I will call upon all the knowledge I have gained to get me through the event. Why is this event so different from the dozens of others? Why have I not felt this much anxiety since I first decided to disclose my abuse?
Tonight is different because the people who I once loved and who I thought loved me have decided they will attend the event. The same people who attack me and other victims nonstop. The person I called “Mom” for so many years. The same people who write letters to event organizers, when I am to speak, asking them to rescind their offers because I am a liar and a phony. The people who will do anything to silence others and myself when it comes to speaking about child sexual abuse.
Please let me be clear. I do not fear these people nor will they stop me from my mission. The mission of protecting children and creating a society that is accepting and loving of survivors of CSA. The anxiety that I am feeling comes from the revictimization these people are hell bent on delivering. You see their mission is not unique or unexpected in any way. They are not special. This was something I knew would happen at some point. The denial and self-preservation is too strong a force in their lives to see the truth. They have been groomed, just as we all have been, by a master perpetrator and cannot break free.
Healing comes through embracing the truth.
So for today I will sit with my anxiety. I will embrace the unknown and tonight I will take the stage. I made the decision long ago that something else is more important to me than fear. No child should ever have to hurt the way I and the millions like myself have. Survivors deserve to have a society that treats us with love, respect, and compassion. Fear and anxiety are the fuels I use to push me forward as I speak.
So while I may have been triggered by this experience I can get peace knowing that it has offered me growth. The opportunity I have tonight is a blessing. In recovering from child sex abuse I made a promise to myself to always feel, no matter the emotion that came, and to be honest with myself. Tonight I will look fear and anxiety in the face and I will overcome. My message will be heard, I will help save others, and I will overcome every obstacle put in my path.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said “you gain strength and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
By: Matthew Sandusky