Domino Effect

Warning – this post will be very raw and may contain items that people find offensive but they will be true from my point of view and memory.

We have all seen videos of fancy domino set ups and some fantastic images emerging from just 1 domino being pushed.  It touches the next and so on until the final result emerges.

Sometimes our own lives can feel that way when we reflect on the decision points that have brought us to our current position.  There are some decision points that were out of our control such as when we were children or a natural disaster. Some decision points were what we thought were best for survival at a given time. I have been reflecting on my own dominoes for some time now and working to heal the effects.

In this series of posts, I will share dominoes that touched me and set off a chain reaction that ultimately made me who I am today. Some reactions were automatic and beyond my control. Some reactions were my own and in hindsight were maybe not the best. I will reinforce that the items you are about to read are true from my own point of view and may be uncomfortable for some to read. I am writing about them not to place blame but to help me heal and maybe help someone else struggling with a similar journey.

DOMINO Beginning:

Until I was 3 years old, my family were members of Paradise Gardens, a nudist camping resort. I have zero memory of these years. Around age 9, I stumbled upon a wedding photo where I was the flower girl.  Let’s just say it was only a traditional wedding photo because everyone was in it, the bride had flowers and the priest had his collar. I was floored and showed it to my mother who then explained about that lifestyle. I was stunned. Of course, it helped explain why it was never an issue to have my mom, sister and me all in the bathroom at the same time trying to shower and get ready for any given day.  This was my norm.

Years later though, as I reflected on the sexual abuse I experienced for years in my young childhood, I wondered if maybe there wasn’t a dark side to that lifestyle to which my parents were not aware. Could that lifestyle have been a crucial domino? How much influence did that domino have on events that would occur later? Did that domino touch the one that triggered the abuse I experienced? My abuser was not an adult but a older child.

I struggled for many years to reconcile the abuse I received and the impact on my life. How much did it influence my thinking? What action did I have control of that would have change the course of the abuse.  The answer – NONE.  I was a little kid. I cannot conceive how a child under the age of 5 could have “made” someone abuse them. 5 is the youngest age I remember of the abuse that went on until I was nearly 9 years old.  My gut has always told me it began younger than I remember but I have no proof. Hell, I don’t even have tangible proof of the years I remember.  All I have is my memory and the aftermath of that domino being pushed.

As I reflect on my choices and actions in life, I do believe this beginning Domino touched off the part in me that had me hyper-aware of my body and sex at an early age. In addition to the sexual abuse, my abuser would taunt me with things like, ‘you are fat’, ‘no one wants you’, and ‘you are ugly’. I have struggled with my body image, self-esteem and weight ever since. By the third grade, near the end of the years of sexual abuse, I was 100 lbs.  That is nearly 40 pounds overweight. I had a ‘boy’s haircut’ (hey…it was the early 1980’s) and was missing some of my baby teeth waiting patiently for my adult teeth to come in.  This image of me is burned into my memory. This domino was crucial to making me who I am today.

This is the end of the beginning Domino. This is a very raw experience for me but I will continue with the next Domino soon. Again, my hope for sharing this journey is that someone will see they are not alone in their pain. My hope is they will see my healing and learn it is possible to accept yourself and even love yourself. Until the next Domino, treat yourself with kindness….you are worth it.

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