Banks, Chains and Freedom

This day has been building in me for a while, and by a while I mean about 33 years. 

My mom walked out the door to take a deposit to the bank.  On a good day, I was outside playing and would ask to go with her and usually get told no, I understand why. Can you imagine taking 5-7 year old Shelly anywhere and not wanting to beat me? Yeah, me either. Anyways, those were the days that I would ride my bike around the block and wait for her Blue Capri to pull back in the driveway. That was back in the days where I rode in the front seat standing up all around town until I was so tall my head touched the ceiling. It’s a miracle I wasn’t killed. Those were days when I was home free.

Those were the days I wasn’t molested.

But many days, I was in my room playing with some Fisher Price toy.  It was like a village because I had every toy, there was the house with the family and the playground and carousel they would visit. They might fall down and take a trip to the hospital, and lay on a plastic white gurney that had actual Velcro straps. Then the nurse with the big plastic red cross on her cap nursed the wound. If it was  pretty day, maybe they would get in the airplane and visit some far away place and ride on the Ferris Wheel. That’s  where I wanted to go on those days, far far away.

On those days, it was  a game of cat and mouse, a game of whether I could get to this door before this lock was put on it. I can tell you every single detail about this lock and door and only took a picture because it’s hard to really explain how just below the lock there is that darker wood and how there are  a few niches knocked out of the door frame by who knows what but that door is etched in my mind and forever seared with the hopes of getting to the other side before the chain slid on.

 

On those days, I was molested.

Those days that the chain beat me I knew it was time to play with my granddad. That’s what he called it, playing. What 5 year old doesn’t like to play, right? What 5 year old is defiant in all aspects of her daily life but plays these games and doesn’t tell. This one did and it changed her for life. The details of these dark days are not something I will put here, they are in my mind and I can see them as clear as yesterday. That is part of the secret, I’ve always said I don’t remember the details, but I do. There are things that I haven’t voiced to one soul in those 33 years. Things my eye can see in a second, textures that my hands believe are real in this moment, things I push back so far that sometimes I think that they are just a part of my imagination, but deep down I know, I know. Not all of them, but most I remember. I remember. I remember.

I’ve always considered myself to be open and forthright about being molested as a child. Like it was something that happened to someone else. A story I would relay when I was connecting with someone to let them know I felt their pain. I realize now, that I’ve separated myself from feeling my feelings about what happened.

At a recent family event, we began to speak candidly about what had happened and for the first time, it made me uncomfortable. It seemed like for the first time we were talking about me, about my life and that was pretty uneasy for me. I weaved myself in and out of the conversation, moving around the room to ‘check on cooper’ or get a refill on my drink. It was too much for me and honestly, that surprised me. The girl who talks about abuse like it’s a bad haircut that you had to live with for a few months was gone and in her place was me, raw and emotional but keeping that smile slapped on all the same.

The last few weeks have been building to this but it still took me by surprise that this is where my demons would rise. That this is where I would face them head on. I expected some church service about putting your past in the past to happen and me crying in the altar and giving it to Jesus ‘one last time’ so that I could be free of it all. I didn’t expect my aunt to say “so what happened, I never knew”. There you are, deer in the head lights wondering what you should say, what is crowd appropriate, thinking all the while you thought your whole family knew the sordid details and just pretended it didn’t happen. The urge to run from the room crying was replaced by saying to myself that this is the place and the time to let your heart heal. To share what you can and let someone else in so that’s what we did, my cousin and I. Mainly her, which is weird because I am the talker but that’s what I needed, to just be a part of it and hear it about me and be acknowledged that it was wrong and that we were loved.

So now, I feel like I can start to move forward but I still have my moments.

There are moments that I am still angry for that girl, whose family swept it under the rug by going to family counseling and moving on as if life were  hunky dory.

As a mother, I am outraged at the thought of someone doing that to my child and them still having breath in their body, let alone still living in the same house with said abuser.

There are moments when forgiveness bursts within in me and I realize that my abuser was abused and thankful the pattern stopped there and that I didn’t become an abuser.

There are moments that I feel so badly for my mother because I know she regretted then and still does today that she made the choices she made.

There are moments that I don’t really care how she feels and only care about my damaged emotions and how it has taken me years to feel half way put back together.

There are moments when I hold Cooper and look into those blue eyes and wonder why on this earth people can be so cold and callous toward a child and sleep at night.

These are the moments when I am glad that this world is not my home.

These are the moments when I thank God He kept me through it all, that he gave me a husband who loves me through my emotional messes and never gives up on me.

Why here, Why now?

Why tell this? Who really cares after all these years? Normally I would say (and mean it) that I am doing it show others there is hope and freedom after abuse. Normally I would say that everything happens so you can help others through their problems. While all that is true and noble, that is not why I’m doing this today. I want to face these demons and let them know that they don’t control me anymore. Through prayer, faith and the strength of my family I am free and this is my final note to make it know, I AM FREE. The chain on this door will never ever hold me back again, it will never keep me from being free.

This is how the door will always look in my mind, and you can take that to the bank.

 

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8 Months ~ What a busy month

 

Last month was a busy one ~ and mainly you are going to see our vacation photos because although it was only for a week, we packed as much as we could into it. This is as much a family blog today as an 8 month blog for Cooper. Cooper is doing new things every day. Sitting up better, rolling to where she wants to go, eating more food than I think is possible for her little body. She is still such a good girl unless she is tired, hungry or dirty.  For that, we are very thankful. With as many photos as I had, I didnt really have the time to blog on each photo so I will just give a bit of information about each one. This one needs no introduction though:

 

We went to California Oct 13th -20th and we were able to spend some much needed time together as a family. We left on Saturday afternoon and headed out west. Here are some pictures from before and on flight. By the time we got to our room that night, we were spent and no more photos were wanted and or needed. Cooper was an awesome traveler, it was just a long way and the rental car took forever and then we had over an hour to travel after we actually got our car to make it into where we stayed in Santa Ana, California.

 

Sunday morning we slept in a bit and got our luggage arranged a bit better and headed to  Huntington Beach to meet some old friends and some new ones. We Took family photos on the beach and then got in some more comfy clothes and hung out for a while there. It was a cool day so we kept Cooper pretty bundled up. We were able to spend some time with the West’s and with Regina and Morgan, all old friends from Tennessee we haven’t seen in years. We also met some new friends and Caitlin went Boogie Boarding with them.

Here are a sample of our family pics:

 

And here are some of Cooper’s first experience with the ocean. She loved looking at the waves and the seagulls were facinating to her. But, she hated having her toes in the sand or ocean. . . and she made that clear. LOL

 

After spending much of the day at Huntington Beach, we took the scenic route up Pacific Coastal Highway to Santa Monica Pier. We ate dinner at Bubba Gumps and then we took Cooper on the Ferris Wheel. She loved looking at all the lights but she was asleep way before we got to the car. The day had wore her out.

 

Monday we took the kids to Holly wood and honestly, it was disappointing for them and us. We thought it would be neat for them to see the walk of stars and all the touristy things but it was dirty and hot and street hawkers (not walkers) were everywhere. We did manage to get Cooper a cute sun hat though and we ate some awesome hamburgers at a little hamburger place there.

Tuesday morning was family day and we had the best time with all three kids. We started the day in San Diego. We ate lunch on the beach at Kono’s and headed over to Balboa Park. These pictures are of Balboa Park.

 

After Balboa Park we went to LaJolla Beach to let the big kids look for sealife in the tide pools. Here is my favorite picture of Cooper mesmerized by the sand and sea an surf coming in.

 

We left LaJolla and started the scenic route back to Santa Ana as the sun began to set. We stopped at a beach side restaurant and watched the sun set as we ate dinner and these pictures were made right after the sun set.

 

Wednesday morning we had to take Caitlin and Logan back to the airport and then we just chilled after we got back. Logan does such a good job with photographing Cooper in her own elements. He took these series in the car seat on the way to the airport on Wednesday.

We did a little shopping on Thursday and went to eat dinner with our friends, Shane and Dana. They live in the High Desert area and it has a beauty quite different from the beaches. There are mountains everywhere and it is so gorgeous.

Friday was our last ‘day’ so we decided to head to one more beach. We went to Balboa Island and took a ferry over to a small island with very cute shops and restuarants. Cooper had on her sun hat as it was windy but very hot. Here she is modeling it for me:

 

After that, we headed for our final sunset in California and what a pretty one it was, I am thankful for the family time we had there and the memories that we made. Here’s one last look:

 

We got home and discovered that while we were gone, it had gotten cold. We had to get a hat for Cooper and on the first blustery day, she was sporting it for some super cute pictures. These pictures show she is not always into having her photo taken:

 

Knowing how stressed  I was from all the running we did this month, my mom took mercy on me and came and stayed with us for a week. She did laundry and we went through all of Cooper’s clothes and packed up what is too small. We headed to Murfreesboro for lunch with Caitlin and to see her new apartment.

 

Finally, we enjoyed Cooper’s first Halloween at the Green Hills mall. Nichole, who graciously provided Cooper with this adorable costume, went along to see her enjoy it. She smiled at all the attention she got and we all ate her candy, not gonna lie about it.

 

October was crazy busy and November has not slowed us down any at all, so I am going to try and do better about taking notes through the month so I wont be behind on my blog at the turn of the month. I can’t wait to share with you pictures from Cooper’s first Thanksgiving and of special time spent with friends and family. Until next month. . . .