When I first put pen to paper for the See Me-Hear Me blog it was a story of positivity in essence; this is no different. I wanted people to see there is hope, a ray of light to show I overcame my trauma with much work. But I left out some details: not because I feel ashamed anymore, my concerns were that of being pitied. However, having read so many more blogs and responses I feel the people who see this will never see me in that light but instead view me in the way I have so rightly earned: a strong woman who despite her trauma has come out the other end still capable of being human and not hardened to my abuse. The following piece is where it all began and some parts that happened in between. My growth and my experience is that, it’s mine. I offer this story not as advice or as gospel on how one can heal, but as a storyteller of my own life events. I hope it may reach from my soul to yours, touch the hearts of those that may be hurting and those who are on their own journey.

blurred image of a personAs a carefree young child it is no surprise a planned family trip to Achill Island filled me with a great sense of adventure. My father was an army man and the weekend away was for a diving exercise. The trip was a great get-together for all the families, tents were pitched, kids played while parents chatted. A young family, my mother, twenty-seven, my father, twenty-eight, my brother, nine, and me, the baby, six and a half.  Unknown to the excited little girl at the time, childhood would disappear in the blink of an eye or in our case when a flare lit the evening sky. Everything I’d known, loved or held dear ceased to be from that moment on. The last memory from that day is my father’s friend coming towards us, from the now returning dingy. My eyes searched that dingy, but I already knew my father was not coming home. How? My mother clutched me so hard as if she never wanted to let go, a hug that I tried to break free from but could not. Soon other events would cloud that day, the time I was held down and sexually assaulted by a gang of older boys; my father not cold in his grave and his little girl was being violated, with no-one to save her, or the girl who touched me when no-one was present, the beatings from my grandmother. An endless cycle of hurt, referred to as stupid or as the professionals claimed, ‘mildly mentally retarded.’ A claim I still don’t fully understand but know it’s not correct.

Taken into care by the age of twelve, feeling unloved, abandoned, ashamed but maybe the saddest, broken. At the ripe old age of 12, I’d suffered all the abuses possible and I felt it was my fault and I had nothing to offer the world. I was washed up. I had no-one to tell me different, but then I didn’t speak of the things that happened. I was already too unlovable, why would I add to that? I cut my skin and swallowed tablets on many occasions, the cutting was never to kill myself, the overdoses, on one occasion it was, the rest was what I now know to be a cry for help. No-one ever came, there was no rescuing, not for me. I left care, not even eighteen and moved home to a house full of heroin addicts (my brother is serving time by this point).

The basics were a luxury: food, clean clothes safety, structure. I had already gone through so much, I didn’t know if I could withstand anymore and yet here I was, still living, still breathing. I decided to go back to school while I was working. That was a turning point in my life. Relationships formed with teachers and my principle, relationships I somehow knew existed. I just had not encountered them after the accident. It was never plain sailing, I always doubted why people were nice. I couldn’t accept when I was told I was intelligent: sure, the professionals said I was mildly mentally retarded. I was referred to as resilient, never attributing much to it other than a phrase, meaning I was strong.

hands holding loveOnly in my later years being in and out of counselling room was I to take real stock of all that I had suffered. In essence, my growth began in a simple sentence: what happened to you? It was in these interactions that I learned the why’s of me in my early twenties. It may seem surprising, I honestly didn’t know why I didn’t function like others. But more bizarre to me at the time, the one thing I wanted more than anything was to be loved, to belong, to feel safe and protected, and yet when I felt connected I felt so out of control. I knew how quickly things could change. I knew everything could be lost in the blink of an eye and while I craved it, I just couldn’t accept it for fear of losing it. I laugh now, something so simplistic I didn’t grasp it.

fireworksI also understand now, my direction in life from adults was zero. I had to navigate the world and interpret it on my own, nobody to cushion my mistakes or guide my judgments. I picked up along the way some kind words and love from those who you would least expect and those interactions have stayed with me. I’ve met some amazing people in my life and I’ve had the great fortune of meeting some great therapists who helped me understand my experiences. At forty-two I can say for me connection has been the most difficult and yet, I now find it’s the most powerful healing tool. Healing will be lifelong and I’ve no doubt I will be thrown a curveball here and there. But I’m well able for whatever it might be, I’m sure of that.

Love to all

Author: Sabrina Colley

Epione wants to personally thank colleague Sabrina for delving into her past – and present – once again and sharing some of the more deeply personal memories and inspiring insights of her experience of trauma and recovery. Once more, Sabrina demonstrates, and with palpable proof, that not only does connection make recovery from trauma possible, healthy relationships are the key to recovery! 

If you would like to collaborate with us and share how you have overcome trauma and how you have been recovering, please get in touch with us at enquiries@epione-training.com – We look forward to hearing from and seeing you in 2021!

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