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  • Childhood abuse is traumatic. It crept through me like ivy on brick. Inevitably its tiny tentacles fused to the mortar of my being. Overtime it damaged just about anything it touched leaving little or nothing to hold me together. When left alone too long, it leaves skeleton-like marks where its tendrils have been stuck causing a rot that is nearly impossible to remove. Although the process would be painstaking, I knew that if I was patient and persistent that just like brick can be cleaned of the ivy, I could become whole. In the case of ivy, the key was that the leafy top layer must be dead awhile before it comes off easily allowing the stubborn layer of new under growth still deeply embedded in the wall to be scrubbed away. In the case of my abuse, the key was that I needed to remove myself from my abusers. I needed to step away from family situations before my wounds could be cleaned out and scab over.

    That top leafy layer can be deceptively easy to remove once you’re ready to address the problem. Like removing the dead ivy vines, the first stages in acknowledging abuse were unwieldy. They left me physically exhausted with some surface cuts and scratches but I also felt a certain sense of pride and accomplishment. I finally have a feeling of self-worth. Self-worth is a pretty heady feeling after years of being everyone’s reflection. It's given me the courage and motivation to scrub away that stubborn layer of undergrowth. For the first time I feel capable and worthy of a fresh, clean environment. 

    The choice to uproot myself from the soil I grew up in took one moment in time. It wasn't hard at all. Behaving my way into that change is quite another thing.

    image anna panina Atami Ivy 2009 Anna Panina used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license:
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