The Resilient Mind of a Child: Finding Outlets to Overcome Abuse

by Lisa Zarcone
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My name is Lisa Zarcone and I am an adult survivor of child abuse. My story is a very complex story, but one that many people will connect too.

At the young tender age of 6 years old, I lost my older brother to Leukemia.  He was 9 years old, my best friend, and my hero.   Imagine being six and loosing an important person in your life. Now take it a step further. After his passing I was not able to go to the wake or funeral, never gaining closure. He was there one day and gone the next, no further explanation.

Now add in a mother who struggled tremendously with mental illness, a distraught father who lost both his son and wife on the same day, and a vulnerable little girl lost in the shuffle. This was a very confusing and dark time in my life, and as time progressed it became much darker.

Fast forward a few years later and the dynamics in my home became horrific. My mother was quite frequently off of her medications, riding the mental roller coaster of ups, downs, and sideways bringing me along for the damaging ride. I had an absent father always working and staying out of the home as much as possible because he could not handle all of the pain, eventually leaving.  When he left, I was not included in that equation.

As my mother continued to drop into a deep depression, and then flying high on her uncontrollable mania that raged inside of her, we both sailed on uncharted waters. Her poor decision-making brought many different types of people into our home, from homeless people, hitch hikers, and people who struggled with mental illness like herself.

I was preyed upon like a piece of meat! You could say I was ripe for the picking on a vine of disaster. I was a young girl already damaged by loss, abandonment, mental, emotional, and physical abuse (at the hands of my own mother), and I was lost.  I lived in a silent world of hell, not knowing which way to turn next.

Then the unthinkable happened, I was sexually abused by a young man my mother brought into our home. He had a very special connection with my mother; they both suffered from mental illness and bonded through the mania.

He had an eye on the ultimate prize and that was me. I was just 13 at the time, and he claimed me as his own. Through mental and physical abuse, he broke me down gaining total control, and when the opportunity came, he raped me. His game went much farther than rape, it was about torture, sadistic phrases and rituals and ultimate control.

I lived in a world of complete hell for a very long time!

Read my full story here. I wrote my own memoir The Unspoken Truth, because think about it, that is what I lived.  A silent world, my “Unspoken” life.

How does someone survive all of this abuse and dysfunction?

That is a tricky question and one that can have very different answers from survivors, doctors, mental health counselors, and therapists.

I say that because the healing journey is different for everyone. The basis of seeking help and support is the same, but where you travel from there is an open playing field.

I will share a bit of my healing journey and how I found positive ways to overcome my hideous past.

As a child and young adult, I always found comfort in writing and drawing. These two outlets are what helped save my life, giving me the strength to push forward. I would also spend a lot of time in nature, sitting under the big pine trees drawing, sketching, and writing in my journal. During those moments time ceased to exist.

My mind was resting, and I was trying to fill my days with some positive outlets. The resilient mind of a child, tapping into that deep inner strength and natural instinct to survive. In the back of my mind, I always knew that one day it would be better. I wanted better, but what I needed to learn was that I deserved better. That came in time and a lot of hard work.

When my healing journey began, I knew I had to start from the beginning. I had to look at where it all fell apart and go from there. I broke my life up into pieces and with the help of a great therapist and my journaling, I was able to weed through the muck.

It was a hard-painstaking process, but a successful one. Through many tears, poor decision making, flash backs, and nightmares I came out whole once again. I wrote my memoir sharing my experience raising awareness to what happens behind closed doors. I am a voice for the voiceless shining a light on the path of others so they can find their way like I did. Through hard work and determination, you can succeed.

As you work towards building a strong mindset, all of the masks from the past drop to the floor one by one revealing the real you. When you finally meet him or her you will be pleasantly surprised on how beautiful you are, and what gifts you can offer the world.

If you take all of your negatives from past abuse and turn them into positives, you will finally find the freedom and happiness that you deserve.

Remember these words “You are worth it” and “You deserve better”. These two phrases got me through the darkest times of my life when I thought of ending it all at the age of 13. I willed myself to remain strong and survive the abuse because I saw the bigger picture. I realized that I was worth the battle.

You are worth the battle too, and it all starts at the beginning.

Embrace the Journey!

Lisa Zarcone
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