Over the past 47 days of my recovery I have been doing a lot of soul searching to try and think if there were anythings from my past that have led to my low self esteem and alcohol problem. You see, I come from a good family, I was educated in private schools and have both a Bachelors Degree and Post Graduate Diploma and I had a hugely successful professional career.
There are only two incidents that I can recall that have affected my self esteem in childhood. The first one was a sexual abuse, the second one as being called ugly when I was 14.
I can’t remember the exact age I was when I was sexually assaulted, but I remember the details vividly. My family had gone to visit some family friends and my brother and I were playing in the pool with two older boys while our parents were all up in the hotel room.
One of the boys we were playing with was in his mid teens, he was taking turns of flipping and throwing my brother and I over in the pool, When he grabbed me, he pushed aside my swimsuit bottom and played with my vagina, I tried to swim away from him, but he was too strong. This sexual assault happened multiple times, I know I was only about 8-10 years old and I remember feeling totally helpless. This boy repeatedly dragged me away from my brother and his brother and continued to do this to me. It was in the age before ‘me too‘ and ‘times-up‘.
I’ve never felt so helpless, before then I was a happy, bubbly vivacious and dedicated girl, after then I remember feeling so small, so violated, so broken. That day when we finally got out of the pool, I remember just wrapping myself up in a towel and standing next to my dad for the rest of the day. I didn’t tell anyone about this sexual assault until many years later.
I don’t know if it was a generational thing, but I had never heard about sexual assault when I was a young girl. It wasn’t until I was a teenager in high school when we were being educated on sexual assault. I remember when we were in class and I listened to the words of my teacher, that I realised I had been sexually assaulted. I remember for years thinking that my sexual assault experience was nothing and that only incidents of rape were real sexual assault.
When I was in high school I became quite an insecure and emotionally unstable girl, eventually I did tell my mother what had happened to me, but she wasn’t particularly capable of doing anything about it. In fact, to this day my parents are still friends with this family and still on occasion see the boy that did this to me, even though they know what he did. I’ve never said anything to them about this, but it does hurt me tremendously that despite knowing what I had been through, they have chosen to overlook it and see this boy. My mum, who is my best friend and an amazing woman, can also be at times naive and insensitive to how her actions can affect other people. She’s not a selfish woman, she’s just not particularly self aware.
The next incident that happened to me was probably about 7 years later, we were away camping with another family and my friend and I went walking through the camping grounds in the afternoons. Over a few nights, we became friends with a group of boys, we were teenage girls and were of course interested in getting to know boys. I had a crush on one of the boys and my girlfriend tried to set us up, however this boy said to her that ‘I had a great body, it’s just a pity about my face’. My ‘friend‘ relayed this to me in those exact words and they stuck with me for many years. I wish she never said anything, or altered the truth to protect my feelings.
Those two incidents combined had a great effect on my self worth and self esteem. I never felt like I was pretty enough, smart enough or had anything to offer men other than my body. In fact because of those incidents, as I grew up I became too willing to give away my body too easily and to the wrong men, believing this was the only thing I had to offer.
I guess I became slutty, I was so shy and insecure that I would use alcohol at parties to get out of my shell. Whilst all of us as teenagers experimented with drugs and alcohol, I always took it a little bit too far.
I never felt like I was worthy of a decent boyfriend, and when I did meet a man I would often have to get drunk to interact with him. Then of course, I would have sex too soon, thinking this was all they wanted. When I was in relationships, I became the needy girlfriend, and would sabotage anything that was good, or I would deliberately get into relationships with ‘deadshits’ because that’s all I thought I was worth.
Obviously my relationship with alcohol is long and complex, I am working nay way through the 12 steps slowly and these are the issues that I need to confront and address. It is daunting digging back into my past to understand my personality, in some ways I am afraid to look back because I guess I’ve always run away with alcohol. But in so many other ways, understanding, confronting, accepting and coming to terms with my past is the only way to unlock me from my disease. For so many years I have surpassed my demons, never confronted them or dealt with them.