This is my first blog post, ever. I’m going for it. Full throttle. I am sharing my deepest, darkest secret… the story of my childhood trauma. Many of us share this secret, it’s not mine alone. It’s a secret being kept all over the world. Childhood sexual abuse is a global crisis. Some of us were and still are threatened with our lives not to share this secret. Many of us feel ashamed, that it was our fault, that we are damaged goods, and so we never tell. One woman, a victim of incest, begged me to write my story in a book. She confided in me that she had been too ashamed to tell her husband. With her prompting, I took on this book project and it took years. It also took courage. If I shared my story, I couldn’t continue holding onto my long-held desire[CA1] [Office2] , to believe that I had lived a “normal’ childhood. On[CA3] a deeper level, I wanted to avoid dealing with my memories, as well as the loss of dreams. It was safer and more comfortable to live in denial–as many survivors do. But I knew staying in denial kept me off the path to true healing.
A chance encounter with Native shamans and their ancient ceremony freed me from the cage of trauma I had lived in since childhood. Everything changed. Courage and perseverance led me to a unique path of freedom. From that place I would finally discover my greatest gifts and a true passion for life. When you read my book, The Gift of the Singing Stick, Through Healing Your Worst Tragedy You Can Discover Your Greatest Gifts, I hope you find the perspective I finally arrived at refreshing and inspiring.
Start the Dialogue. End the Cycle.
One woman’s journey to finding her path to freedom from childhood abuse.
My grandfather paid me for my body…and for my silence. He paid me in dollar bills, candy, and my favorite, large sticks of pepperoni. He warned me that if I told anyone, God would punish me. I believed him. I didn’t tell. I even forgot to tell myself. After the first time he sexually abused me, I didn’t talk for four days. I was three years old.
My world of safety, innocence and love instantly changed to one of fear, isolation, and mistrust. At times my confusion and emotional and physical pain were so severe, I wasn’t sure if I was alive or dead.
I was one of the walking dead from age three through young adulthood. Primarily the good girl, I was eager to please. Yet, I never tried my best. True passion for life was gone. Memories, flashbacks, self-loathing and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) had taken its place.
I felt lost and didn’t know what I was supposed to do with my life. I was tired of not feeling good about myself. All I wanted was a sign—the right person, the right experience—that would give me direction. I desperately needed a purpose in life, something that would inspire me to commit to following through. I had studied classical music for years, and though I loved it, it wasn’t enough. Years of therapy weren’t enough. My love life wasn’t enough. It was a chance encounter with Native shamans that was, enough. Here was the sign I had been looking for. They took me on a healing journey and helped me retrieve parts of myself that had been taken from me. These parts were essential to living a life filled with passion and purpose. My entire life was changed forever.
Through my experience with the shamans, I knew I had found a path to freedom from the effects of childhood abuse. Their guidance also led me to a deeply satisfying career combining performing and composing music, with my social work background. Recently, as I have become more comfortable telling my story of childhood abuse, I have expanded my career to include author. The Gift of the Singing Stick: Through Healing Your Worst Tragedy You Can Discover Your Greatest Gifts documents my healing journey.
My intent is for readers to feel inspired when they hear how courage and perseverance can lead to [CA5] a path of freedom from childhood abuse. While on this path, I not only rekindled my passion and a lifelong search for meaning, I discovered my greatest gifts. You can too. The book and audiobook with original music are available through my website and other online sources. The most important first step for me was to talk about what I experienced. I want everyone who has experienced childhood abuse [CA6] to know:
~ You do not have to keep it secret.
~ You are not alone.
~ You did not ask for this to happen.
~ It is not your fault.
~ You can feel true passion for life
I developed a script for a live performance based on The Gift of the Singing Stick. It includes my compositions which I perform live on flutes from my 100-piece world collection. I share the gift of the singing stick in songs composed and performed on the spot for members of the live audience. The recent success of my one-woman show and the book sales have given me the confidence to go forward telling my story with my transformational flutes in a national tour.
Judith Orloff MD, New York Best-Selling author of The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People has said about my performances “…She has a remarkable ability to make a powerful connection with her audience as she intuits their needs and composes beautiful melodies which open heal and transform. Her intuitive music invites the listener to experience who they are more fully.”
After a friend heard my story, she asked me, “What did your abuse as a child cost you?” Her question stopped me cold. After I started breathing again, I told her, “It cost me everything.” Everything I had dreamed of as a child: I had not lived to my potential, had not gotten married or had children. My sense of trust, love and safety in the world were almost non-existent.
Now however, after completing the book, as I continue to rise on my path of freedom, I see it differently: Since age three, I have been building a self-funded pension plan. Everything I experienced that brought me joy, beauty, true love and friendship, increased the value of my fund. Every time I benefited from a new form of therapy for trauma, such as EMDR, my fund increased. And now, with the completion of The Gift of the Singing Stick and a few performances of the live show, I am reaping even more of the rewards and spending it with more freedom. I am rich and becoming richer. Every time, a man or woman comes up to personally thank me for “telling their story,” the value of my fund goes up. Every time I read a testimonial sharing how the book helped inspire someone, I grow richer. I’d like to think that the little girl I was at age three somehow knew she would become a gazillionaire!
Despite the details I have shared with you, I am a private person. I never imagined speaking in public about my abuse. Yet speaking out is necessary to achieve my larger calling to help stop childhood abuse. I now know that this calling is far beyond me, my book, the performance, or the audiences. This is about a global call to action. We can Start the Dialogue and End the Cycle.
©2019 Maria Kostelas