Don't ask me who said it but what goes in must come out eventually. So it is with stress. Abuse in childhood is usually a private event that is sold to the victim as "our little secret". What happens if the child tells? Well the abuser says that, they will go to prison or an approved school, or never see their parents again, and even if they do say something, no one will believe them. So what happens? All the guilty thought, and bad feelings of guilt get turned inwards. They eat into the soul and burn it away from the inside causing all sorts of mental health problems.
Males particularly have problems showing their feelings. Even in the enlightened new millennium it is not cool for a man to cry. Mates don't share their emotions. They are more likely to make up top 10 favourite films over many pints of beer. After 10 they may get a bit maudling, but the chances of a confessional about how an older male "fiddled with them at camp in the trees" is highly unlikely. So what happens next? Well, when the victim next has a flashback, he won't tell his mate, but will probably have twelve pints followed by a few whiskeys, and then maybe some Class A controlled drugs. The habit then spirals out of control until it reaches severe depression, anxiety and mental breakdown, if not thoughts of suicide.
If the abuse victim is lucky, some event in later life will trigger them into a proper confessional with someone who can do something about it. In women that event may be child birth. For the male victims of care home abuse, it is frequently a friendly policeman knocking on the door to ask them about their abusive past instead of arresting them for yet another crime.
Sometimes my firm, Abney Garsden McDonald solicitors are the first person they have ever told in 30 to 50 years. That sometimes brings a lump to your throat. It is an immense privilege, and at the same time a huge responsibility. So what happens when someone offloads a lifetime of misery and abuse on an experienced child abuse lawyer? All the client's negative emotions are transferred to us, and all our positive emotions are transferred to them. They feel better and we feel worse. So what do we so? There is a right way and a wrong way.
The wrong way is to pretend it doesn't bother you, because you are just too cool and macho for emotions to affect you, because they do, and we are all human beings. A grown man more commonly used to serious violent crime, in floods of tears in front of will affect the hardest of hearts.
The right way is to get rid of all that negative energy. But how?
1. Do some physical activity that takes the heart rate over 120 beats a minute. I do spinning at the gym once a week. Some people like jogging. I hate it. Just a vigorous power walk will do the trick.
2. Immerse yourself in plant life. That is why a good walk in the countryside always makes you feel better. Green leafy plants or flowers are a natural absorber of negative energy. It is no coincidence that hospital rooms or actors dressing rooms are full of flowers. They absorb the negative energy that the patient or performer is full of.
3. Tell someone as soon as possible how you feel, and how upsetting what you have just heard was. This is the theory of what goes in must come out. The degree of internal harm can be measured by the period of time between upsetting event and disclosure.
So what has inspired me to write this piece? I am on holiday for a weeks skiing in the French Alps. What a perfect way to de-stress. Vigorous exercise, acres of leafy trees, lots of healing sleep and a sauna in the chalet. Heaven on earth. I never want to come home. But there again all play and no work never helped Jack pay for his daughter's private education did it?