It’s been 3 years since my last confession…. (Well… since I’ve posted to my blog in actuality, as blogging seems to be my confessional of choice). Since that time I have lost and regained about 30 pounds and found myself caught in what can sometimes be described as the mundane everyday hamster wheel of life; though I feel it is more accurate a scenario portrayed within the spinning thoughts of my own mind. I have looked at various ways to reacquaint myself with the old ‘me’, and in full disclosure I admit that some of the old me is best left to the past, though we are all a work in progress. But, I would love nothing more than to once again walk in the shoes of the carefree and expressive ‘me’ of long ago.
A number of years ago, when I sat down to write my first blog pages, I also wrote a healing short story about a painful memory from my past, which still remains sight unseen to others. A memory that had once upon a time been selectively shared with family and close friends; a net which became wider and wider and slowly captured a larger audience as my inability to stay quiet became inevitable. My hurt and silence was like a kettle of water on a low boil that would eventually whistle loud enough for others to hear, and, if unacknowledged, it would spill over and blow. This written account of events was not publicly declared, as it was pages from my life that also caused grief and probably some embarrassment from a tight lipped and relatively private extended family tribe. It’s a story of inappropriateness pushed on a young girl who did not have the adult capabilities to fend off her perpetrator. Granted these unwanted sexual overtures from this heinous monster (which is a more than fair and very accurate description) were not as severe as perhaps some other poor child’s accounts may have been in similar circumstances, but they were in the very bold truth… a fact; Traumatic, Terrifying and Criminal. And I am not trying to trivialize what happened, (to you, or in my own mind) but there are instances of abuse that can be far more graphic and horrific in nature. These memories I have though, unfortunately belong to me, and have repeatedly traumatized me throughout different stages of my life. And, at various points over the decades the realness of them comes back to haunt me at odd and unexplained moments, even within the waking hours. Engulfing me in fits of anxiety, rapid heart beat and the ever present memory of feeling trapped as I did as a young girl; hiding in a bedroom alone in the darkened night during visits to the farm, shielded by a thin chenille coverlet, with the flecks of dust floating against the faint light from under the door and praying to a god I wasn’t sure existed, as my aunt peacefully slept in the room next to mine, utterly and totally oblivious to the monster she lay with. Vivid memories are heartbreakingly recalled as I stifled my cries and begged with my heart that the stench of his vulgar whiskey breath and rough calloused hands would no longer come within my reach, and despairingly I remember the struggle(s) to push him off of me and his deep menacing and evil laugh when I was finally successful enough to do so.
Over the course of the years I tried different approaches to deal with my anger, hurt and bewilderment that someone could in fact inflict such undeniable psychological trauma to a child who carried only joy and innocence. But to such beasts, that must be the mass appeal; a gift that can be stolen from their prey. As an adult, I sought counseling after full blown panic attacks and agoraphobia and thought I had beaten the burden I carried. Later, again, years down the road I worked with a life coach, after noticing the various ways I was self-sabotaging aspects of my life. She encouraged me to write a letter to the molester, which I did. (I very deliberately refrain from the term ‘my’, as it represents the bonded connection which he sought through his abuse, but was never entitled to.) It was not a letter of forgiveness, because it is unforgivable. It was a letter forcing him to acknowledge what he did, and to transfer the burden and shame where it rightfully belonged. And, in the act of writing, the realization became clear that there was no one to blame BUT him. That my aunt was most likely also abused in some way shape or form, and that there was a naivety of that era, where trust in others was very easily misplaced; his opportunites to abuse being a testament to that. Though I admit, such realizations offer no comfort on the dark days when my heart feels heavy. The option I weighed was to send or not send the letter, though I don’t believe I was ever really reluctant to do so, and therefore I recall very deliberately posting it in the mail, and the act of ‘letting it go’ in the hope of finally finding closure. To this day, if it was read aloud to him as he lay ailing in his nursing home, I will never know. I don’t know if it was found among his belongings after he finally died, because no one dares speak of it. I don’t know what it feels like to be blood related to a monster; to be embarrassed of a father or grandfather who could inflict such deliberate and calculated abuse upon someone. And for this and many other reasons, I give thanks that my own family taught me what real love means. I know him only as a non-biological uncle that had a pattern of abuse throughout his own life, who inflicted vile and wretched hurt unto others in a variety of menacing and cruel ways during his lifetime; which still does not allow me to offer pity upon him. It is continuing hurt though, that still lingers at times…. that it cannot be openly spoken of freely. That the reason for my hate and disdain of him are not fully acknowledged by those who know it, but do not speak of it. The reasonable part of my brain, tries desperately to convince myself that silence is instilled to spare my feelings, but in actuality it does the reverse. Silence is painful for me. It is silence that breeds shame, and the spoken truth the key to its release. If his memory and name, (which I can barely stomach to utter aloud, and seethes out between clenched teeth) “John Tatarin”, remains untarnished, and the pain he inflicted remains unspoken, it does not accurately reflect history.
I am thankful daily though, for the ears that listen when I need them to, for those who acknowledge the trauma it inflicted upon the child who felt scared and alone and unable to cope. And from the memory I hold of the person who tried to protect me at the very beginning of the torment; my heart will forever be connected with theirs and full of gratitude and love which overflows from my soul. In our own way, we must all learn the art of our own healing; how to continue to forge ahead with the memories and feelings from childhood, with the coping mechanisms we now have as adults. And it’s a very fine balance; one that we must ‘train our brain’ to do. We are no longer living in that moment in the past, but just remembering it; though with the act of remembering we can inadvertently conjure up the feelings we had whilst of that age, where time stands still. Sometimes we lose our way, when we become enveloped in that feeling… but within ourselves we have the ability to find a way out of the hurt. Through tragedy can come a deep understanding and protectiveness of others, which my soul carries – and it’s the side I often share with the world. And, as I take this moment in time to once again heal my broken spirit, I look for ways I can reconnect with the joy I carry within, as I walk along my path ahead.
It is my hope that these written words do not cause hurt or angst to others, but that the sentiments shared find their way to help understand the healing process that can be associated with traumatic events; that PTSD can manifest itself at unexpected times, in unexpected ways and that support can vary between individuals.
This is only a small piece of the puzzle that makes me ‘me’… albeit the most challenging dimension, and my own story keeps unfolding, sometimes with different layers: hurt, grief, love, laughter, joy. Thank you for walking with me a while, as I regained the courage to retrace the footsteps of my past…