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.