I have spent most of my life feeling like a child struggling to survive in an adult world. I have been stuck in the past due to abuse during the critical periods of my development. Physically and emotionally I was a classic case of arrested development.
Not only have I looked younger than my age, but my emotional reactions have also been that of a 13-year-old. The age when I was deeply traumatized causing my psyche to get stuck in that time frame.
No Help For Childhood Abuse
After my mother died when I was 11 years, life for me turned into one big nightmare. From having to cope with a crazy violently abusive father to sexual abuse, to becoming the parentified child. I was burdened with responsibilities and abused without any regard for my feelings.
Unfortunately for me, there was no one at that time to help me cope with the trauma heaped on me. The aunt who was close to me upped and left after her marriage to my father’s brother broke down. My brother became hostile.
Critical/Sensitive Period Of Development
Sensitive periods occur when brain development is most dynamic, such as infancy and adolescence. During these periods, environmental inputs can lead to a series of developmental cascades. Puberty is a time of significant growth and development inside the teenage brain. Negative experiences can cause lifelong impairments.
Holistic healer Jon Burras succinctly explains the cause of scoliosis: ‘Scoliosis begins for most at the onset of puberty. One might want to ask what is going on in a child’s life at this time? A child’s body is changing into an adult body. Puberty is a time of growth spurts and sexual identity begins to emerge as well. Nature is saying that it is time to become a man or a woman and leave the world of children behind.
This is all well and fine except for the fact that the child may not want to leave childhood behind. He or she may not be emotionally ready for these changes that are taking place. As nature is attempting to push the body up and out he or she is trying to hold it back in. The end result is that the body, and especially the spine, begins to form a curve.’
Why More Girls Have Scoliosis
Scoliosis became my protective armor against sexual abuse. Like some girls become obese after being sexually abused. I twisted my body to hide my blossoming womanhood.
Further, Burras explains why more girls than boys are affected by scoliosis. The reason is that when young boys pass through puberty they do not blossom in the same manner as girls. Except for a few facial hairs, a boy’s puberty is not as scrutinized as that of a young girl.
All young girls will go through noticeable body transformation. Her hips enlarge, her breasts develop. The puberty experience is present for everyone to see.
Moreover, if like me a girl is abused or her budding sexuality is scorned, disparaged, violated or objectified. Where becoming a woman is frightening and confusing. Subconsciously and sometimes consciously a girl will constrict her body and try to stop it from developing naturally.
Unfortunately, that was the only way to protect me from the danger of further sexual abuse. I had to remain small, hide my growing breasts and body. Scoliosis was the only way I could protect myself from danger.
Regressing Back In Time
For me, the trauma of being accused was too much. The memory of this and other sexual abuse was blanked out of my consciousness. I did not remember any of this until I had a breakdown at age 29, soon after I left home. The trigger was my married lover’s wife made me the co-respondent in their divorce case. The shame of me a good Catholic girl being accused of such a grievous sin was too much. The dam broke and the past just came flooding, I regressed to a 13-year-old. And there I stuck till recently.
Unfortunately, when I regressed there was no psychological help on hand to help me heal at that time. Furthermore, I had a child, and when my son was two his father died, leaving me to struggle my way through motherhood.
Two years ago I was on the brink of another breakdown and the only option was to take a break from it all. I set about trying to heal my emotional self. My hurt, neglected, rejected, abused, and helpless inner child.
Re-parenting My Inner Child
We need to understand, acknowledge and accept the wounding of our inner child. Sharing our stories, writing away our pain, and slowly unfreezing the trauma from our brain and bodies.
Two crucial factors in my healing were, first keeping my present stress-free, I had to give up my job and cut out negative people from my life. The second has been sound therapy and guided meditation. There are quite a few guided meditations on the internet that have been very relaxing and healing. The subconscious process of listening to a soothing voice eases the pain of my abused inner child and helps rewire the brain.
As we release our pain and let go of our past, that child who was afraid, needy, and angry can finally feel the motions of loss and violation. Releasing ‘what was and ‘what should have been’ and accepting that this is how it is going to be. The realization that we are in control now and start to pick the pieces of our brokenness.
Pioneering PTSD researcher Bessel van der Kolk in his book Body Keeps the Score states:
The challenge of recovery is to reestablish ownership of your body and your mind — of your self. This means feeling free to know what you know and to feel what you feel without becoming overwhelmed, enraged, ashamed, or collapsed.
Not surprisingly, as my inner child integrates with my adult self, I feel my spine getting straighter. Healing scoliosis starts with your mind. I no longer need to cringe, hide, feel ashamed of myself. I feel confident to stand up and be who I truly am meant to be.
And my spine aligns with my current thinking. Straight, tall, and confident.
I no longer need scoliosis as my safety armor.