I’m starting this year with that whole “clean slate” deal for the first time here in 2017. And I’m able to do so with a little (OK, maybe a lot) of help from my friends.
I have spent a lot of my youth and adult life living a duality. Working to mirror on the outside what I thought was expected, that which would keep questions from being asked: I was happy, smiling, smart, shy, responsible. I kept my temper in check. I was a good example.
All the while, inside I roiled in pain, anger, fear, and darkness. I was constantly worried the truth would come out, that when it did I would prove to be unlovable. I lived my life in near panic. I considered suicide as a teen, became a cutter to deal with the emotions I couldn’t deal with or express.
The idea, and then the reality, of becoming a mom was my saving grace. Sounds cliche, I know, but it’s true. It was the one thing I was sure I would do well. It IS my skill set. My Trinity makes all that I have been through a lesson for their benefit, something to spare them from. My silver linings.
As I have slogged through some truly awful, dark, and dangerous times, I have in the last year emerged on the other side with a small army of loyal skeletons ready to bask in the light. They are facts and facets of my life, but they no longer chain me down. (They do, however, make some people really, really uncomfortable). The more the light bleaches the rot from them, the more I realize that I would not be who I am without having survived them. There can be a certain peace found in seeing beauty in that tragedy.
The first to emerge was the the admission that the “perfect couple” that the outside world saw did not, in fact, exist. I suffered from financial, emotional, and mental subjugation. I had lost myself in a quest to protect my littles, given up my sense of self and self respect to keep them safe behind closed doors. Eggshells and fear were the constant companions. Let’s call him Uno.
Skelly made his way out when I refused to deny being sexually assaulted as a teacher. I suffer from PTSD from that experience, and it brought back to the forefront issues from past abuses. I regained a sense of power through counseling and from introducing Skelly to the world. I was (am) a sexual assault survivor, and I am damn proud of what I have managed to live through.
I think the most frightening one to come through the closet door, the one who had needed the most coaxing, has been Lily. She has suffered the longest in silence, the one that was the most afraid to come out to the light. From the moment she listened to “want to see what my mom did last night?” (made cookies? a new hairdo? danced?) at 8 and then realized that she was mired into a 3 year reign of sexual molestation, followed by 6 more years of daily bullying and torture with “if you don’t do X, I will make sure (your mom, dad, neighbor you idolize, friends) knows what dirty scum you are. Then who will love you?” It wasn’t until this summer that I was able, with the innocent comment of my youngest to coax me, to bring Lily out, to introduce her to my parents and tell the story.
I can’t express to you the freedom I have felt after flinging that closet door open fully. And I don’t want to make it sound like it was some easy process, and that you should find it so. It was agonizing, to be truthful. It has taken years. And I had the help of counselors, family, and wonderful friends to see me through the process. To hold my hand and assure me at each step that I was, indeed, still worthy. Still loved. Each hidden truth that escaped, big and small ~ each thing that cracked the facade of who I had built up as that image I thought I had to be, has been terrifying; gut wrenching. But as I have torn down that outer layer, bit by bit, the person I have discovered, that core of Me, is someone I am proud to be.
Through Lily, Uno, Skelly, and others that now dance in the sunlight, I became the person I am. Though I would never wish these experiences on others, I learned strength, resiliency, faith, and compassion. I recognize pain in others and aim to help soothe their suffering. I have been able to give my pain purpose and can look back and see how it has served to help others already. And that makes their sunlit romps and dancing all the more enjoyable!
To anyone on a similar journey, May God Be With You, and please know that you are not alone…