Everyone has a story to tell and believe it or not, telling your story is healing...
It takes courage - and remember everyone cannot handle your story or has the right to hear your story.
I share my story in hopes that you may hear something that you can relate to in order to start or continue your journey towards healing.
SECRETS AND LIES - was the motto that I gave to my family.
As an African American, I was taught to keep everything within the walls of my childhood home. I dare not tell anyone about the beatings that I endured - in the name of discipline - just for doing things that all children do. It was PHYSICAL ABUSE.
I also experienced SEXUAL ABUSE at the hands of men that were brought into my childhood home. I was taught that you did whatever adults told you to do and not to ask any questions. I was not taught about boundaries related to who could and should touch me - and that I DID HAVE A CHOICE - not matter what my age.
EMOTIONAL ABUSE - by people who were supposed to love and care for me - and not shame me because of their faulty thinking. At the hands of bullies, who may have been hurt or hurting themselves. I did not have any effective coping skills to manage all of these things that were coming at me during this critical time of development.
All of this lead to the development of an angry person who used food (EATING DISORDER) to deal with emotions and feelings. I slowly developed ANXIETY and DEPRESSION as I continued to keep all of the feelings inside of myself.
The one bright spot in my life was SCHOOL. I have always loved learning and I did well in school. Well enough to earn an engineering degree in 1990. Well enough to work for a local Fortune 500 company for 25 years.
After 25 years, I decided to retire early and walk away from a 6 figure salary and great benefits, because I knew that I wanted to become a mental health professional. Counseling has impacted my life in such a way that I want and need to share it with more people. I strive to make mental health easier to understand and become more acceptable in populations who do not take advantage of the services in the community.
Another bright spot was motherhood - although I started off parenting like I was parented. One day, I saw the look of terror in my young sons face and I knew that I did not want my children to be afraid of me - in the same way that I was afraid of my mother. It is hard being a parent, but I decided that I was going to give my children the best of what my mother instilled in me (EDUCATION & A STRONG WORK ETHIC) and also the things that I did not get as a child (EXPRESSING LOVE & SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH WORDS AND HUGS; HUMOR; IMPORTANCE OF SPIRITUALITY).
Some will say that your parents "Did the best that they could" - while that may be true, it is ALSO true that this was NOT ENOUGH to raise a happy, healthy, and well adjusted person. Because at the end of the day, everyone deserves to be prepared to live in this unpredictable world and it starts during childhood in the home.
My favorite quote that sums this up nicely -
IT Iᔕ EᗩᔕIEᖇ TO ᗷᑌIᒪᗪ ᔕTᖇOᑎG ᑕᕼIᒪᗪᖇEᑎ Tᕼᗩᑎ TO ᖇEᑭᗩIᖇ ᗷᖇOKEᑎ ᗰEᑎ - ᖴᖇEᗪEᖇIᑕK ᗪOᑌGᒪᗩᔕ
I have HOPE that broken people can be repaired - and that is a bit of WHY I DO WHAT I DO.
Joycelyn Johnson LPCC-S, LMHC, CCTS-I, CDCA
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