Letters to My Abusers

What I Couldn't Say Then

This site is a submission site for the Letters to My Abusers Project. I started this project in 2006, and have kept the website live in order to create a space where the difficult and painful truth of sexual abuse in all it's graphic detail can be heard.  While it is a vague notion to some, it is an agonizing reality for so many. 

 

Here is some of my own story...

 

I am a Writer, Artist, Auctioneer, Truth Teller, Healing Catalyst, and a survivor of childhood abuse.

For many years I only defined myself as the latter,  but I have learned to delight in all that I am beyond my horrific childhood.

My story did not start well. I did not come into the world feeling safe, embraced and loved. I came into turmoil, depression, rage and insanity.  I was physically abused by my mother from a very early age up until the day I left pregnant at age 16.

I was also sexually abused be nine men by the age of 15.

As a result I grew up with little or no self esteem, no concept of self love, self care and no sense of safety in the world. I felt disconnected from my body and lived most of my life from the head up. By the age of 16, I was pregnant and had a little girl at the age of 17.

 

Unfortunately the abuse and neglect had a huge impact in the way I mothered and the people I chose to be in relationships with. For most of my twenties, I was confused, disconnected, suffered from anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

In my thirties, I decided that I had to face what happened to me and what I was doing to myself .  My first step on my healing path was therapy.  After about 5 or 6 years, I found that therapy was just not enough for me. I needed more in addition to the therapy.  Something was missing as I sat in the chair across from my psychiatrist, and rubbed my neck each time emotion came up.

The rubbing was ignored but there was a story in my body, a holding that needed attention and I instinctively knew that. I kept asking, but what about my body? I wasn't ready to go there till much later.

My fascination with psychology and trauma prompted me to go on a quest for what else was needed to heal such deep wounds. Since my father was a psychologist, I've always had a fascination with the mind and how it works and so I studied trauma, and the brain in an attempt to understand myself. I delved deeply into this, and approached my healing on a mental level. I changed my thinking patterns, I worked hard at keeping positive, at detaching from the voice of my false self. I began to understand that I was more than this critical, shaming voice in my head and so emerged the concept of My Voice of Truth. I realized that in addition to the abusive voice in my head, there was another voice, a voice of truth that spoke kindly and gently and with love. I learned that this was my true self and this resonated deeply with me.

In 2006, I created the website, My Voice of Truth: Reconditioning the Abused Mind and Body and told my story. I also began the process of writing my memoir in order to heal and reclaim the memories of my lost childhood.  In 2006, I also created the site "Letters to My Abusers: What I Couldn't Say Then", a submission site for survivors to post letters to their abusers after finding some peace and healing in writing letters to my own abusers. I felt a great need to help other survivors.

Overall I felt I was doing some good in the world but found my own personal work was lacking. Something was missing and when I was ready, like they said the teachers appeared.

In 2007, I found a place called Shalom Mountain, which literally saved my life and taught me how to live in loving community. There I was taught about the concept of embodiment, living in my body...about energy, about my sexual energy, about my inner child, about love and affection...which I had great difficulty with all my life. There is so much I learned there and continue to learn. I've continued to do a lot of personal work using Core Energetics as a way to unblock some of the trauma I've held in my body for so long.

 

Today, I am trained in the Shalom Process and completed the Intro Training as well as the Leadership Training.  Although I hold a Masters degree in elementary education and taught for almost ten years, I decided to participate in a life coaching program and received my certification from International Coach Academy.   I felt called to immerse myself into the soul centered work of coaching women into their greatness.


 I facilitated in person groups for women including, a self care series for women, a group based on Geneen Roth's book, Women Food and God, a Survivor Circle for men and women who were sexually abused as children as well as a 12 week sacred circle called The Sister Circle.

 

And then came ART...It seemed to come out of nowhere. I wasn't seeking art instruction at all but I have always been drawn to beauty and color for most of my life. One day I saw an mixed media art piece and my love affair began. I never liked art class, never learned to draw, never was good at it. All I could draw were stick figures, and the occasional voluptuous woman in a long dress. A lovely artist named Tamara Laporte, taught me that I could be an artist and I never looked back.

Today I paint to heal, and hope that my paintings help others heal as well. My art can be found here.

I offer a few self study healing art courses online for women on a healing path.

 

I've come a long way from the dark apartment in the Bronx where my mentally ill mother raised me and where I was violated repeatedly.  And it has not been without many bumps in the road, painful relationships, deep feelings of inadequacy and a poverty mindset as well as health issues that I believe have a direct correlation to the abuse in childhood. But with each bump, with each phase in which I have felt lost, I have also found myself.  With each crisis, I get closer and closer to who I truly am underneath the wounding. I am learning still how to be "embodied", how to trust my body, how to listen to it and be present to it. It is a practice and a choice I make everyday. 

I have grown so much in the last ten years since I truly began the work of healing and more recently I am letting go of major stories around what I am capable of, worthiness around abundance and health, allowing myself to open to big dreams and to love. 

I amrecovering my sense of self, my mind, body and spirit and feel blessed to still be here.

I am a woman on a journey, a wounded healer and fellow journeyer and I have a few things to say about love, truth, light, the dark and the incredible power of the human spirit.  I love the work that I do and hope that my story will inspire and resonate with others in ways that mirror their pain as well as their innate power to survive and thrive.

www.stephaniegagos.com