So yesterday I was at the bus stop, with my daughter and two mums who are often there with their kiddies. The school is having an anti-bullying or bullying-awareness week, as is the rest of England. They have also had sessions regarding sexual abuse, child neglect, all that stuff, and had them memorise the Child Helpline 0800 1111 in the UK (you never know!).
As we waited for the bus, the two often loud kiddies started to talk about stuff in a rudey/jokey manner and we commented and agreed how it may have been the result of those talks but it’s so good that they are having them, then one of the mums started talking about her son just about getting away in time from a known sexual offender who was protected and sheltered by his family, and then she told us how she was also abused though not violently, physically when she was a child by her father and how she only realised the things he did were wrong when her own daughter started to tell her stuff he was doing with her and she realised that it was just wrong.
She then proceeded to say how she was going to therapy because of it and now has bipolar.
The other mum was sympathetic but I believe a little stunned by the candour and, I guess, the setting (a bus stop, with an extra stranger just standing around). But as I got on the bus and got over my usual anger at how so many children are abused and my own personal issues I thought how refreshing! Finally!
I mean if we had been standing around speaking of bone fractures nobody would have had any trouble talking about their own limbs breaking or my son breaking his wrist because he decided to cycle downhill at full speed in a forest, would we? We wouldn’t have had the slightest problem saying “and I still go to physiotherapy for that!”.
It made me realise how incredibly natural and only right it was that we could talk about these things like that, openly and without fear, without misplaced shame (so many people, including myself, are still ashamed beyond control to speak of their own abuse, as if they had anything to blame themselves for!).
I must admit I am still not really quite there, but I am trying. I didn’t respond to this woman “me too” or “similar stuff happened to me” nor “I know how you feel”. Then again even when we break a leg sometimes we just want to say it, don’t we, we don’t necessarily have to hear that it happened to you as well.
So this is my way of saying that this woman, who as yet I don’t even know by name, I believe, did the best, hardest, yet most productive thing a person with mental health problems could do: just talk about stuff that has befallen you as though it were any kind of misfortune that came your way, in normal conversation, waiting for a bus.