We’ve all heard the saying “Ignorance is bliss”. I personally believe this is, for the most part, inaccurate. However, I’m starting to see that there are times, certain situations, where it could be a blessing.
I spent most of my life thinking that the incest from my childhood didn’t really affect me, that I was one of the lucky ones, special in some way. It wasn’t until my family estrangements occurred that thoughts and feelings about it started rising to the surface. When I went to the women’s retreat, as I started learning about the affects of childhood abuse, my mind became a whirlwind of realization! Many of the things that I thought were odd about me – severely low self-esteem, warped body image, perfectionism, fear of water and not wanting water on my face, claustrophobia, inability to speak-up, violent nightmares, gagging sensitivity, eating disorders, feeling different than everyone else, terrible anxiety, social phobias, sexual issues and even denying that abuse affected me – were all signs of child abuse. During my teenage years, I was aware that I exhibited many of these but I thought there was just something wrong with me, a feeling that plagued me for so many years of my life. Why was I so weird? Why couldn’t I handle things like normal people? I never once associated these things to the incest I had endured as a little girl. And the family estrangement just solidified everything.
The problem with the retreat was that I became aware of all these things, which was good – I finally had answers for why I always felt so abnormal – but then the retreat was over and I was sent on my way without knowing how to handle any of it. I learned what made me ME, but not how to move forward and make changes, especially once the reality and significance of it all set in. In a very real way, this was a terrible thing for me. It left me with so much anger and resentment but no means to work through it.
So, is ignorance bliss? It just might be after all sometimes. I almost feel like I was better off not knowing how the incest affected me. At least I felt kind of special then, instead of damaged.