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Broken Child

Imagine………listening to the silence of the room.  Listening to the creak in the floors down the hall, wondering, will he come in tonight?   Imagine tucking in so tight….snug as a bug in a rug…….quiet…..silent…..tightly tucked…..wondering if it’s enough, but knowing it’s not.  Imagine making friends with a room full of stuffed animals that you’ve strategically placed around you in bed, hoping they’d protect you somehow.  Tucked, quietly, silently listening, surrounded by your fluffy protectors.  Imagine your little fingers,  still chunky with age, clasped together tightly over your chest (because that’s his favorite part of your body to play with) , praying to Jesus to keep you tucked in tightly in your silence.  Imagine your little chunky legs pressed so tightly together that you have to take little breaks because they get so tired and fatigued by the squeezing.  And imagine falling asleep relieved and in peace that tonight, he didn’t come in, only to be awakened by him gently pulling back the covers and kissing your young,  6 year old cheeks, telling you that he loves you and just wanted to tell you goodnight.   And imagine that your heartbeat changes in the fear.   Imagine how you’ve learned to cry on the inside because you know what you have to do.   You’ve learned to relax your body and unclench your hands (because Jesus wouldn’t want to see this) and relax your legs apart because you know by now that the sooner you do that for him, the sooner it’s over and you have rest for the rest of the night.  That’s right….imagine it.    And imagine that no  matter how many times this happens every week of your life, from the time you’re 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20………the routine is the same.  Only you grow to have more shame and more pain and the broken pieces inside grow bigger and bigger and doesn’t ever stop until  you leave that room, that house.  And even then, you’re never really safe from his advances.

My mom was a stay at home mom, and she was home for almost all of the times my dad molested me.  She initially told me that she was soooo sorry that this happened to me and that she never knew.  Since then, she’s told me that she just doesn’t believe me that any of it ever happened.  My two brothers, Jeff-  3 years older, Kevin- 6 years younger lived in this house of lies with me.  My mother was in complete denial and my brothers were living in their own silent pain.  This was a house of manipulation and control that we all had to learn very early on to adjust to it….and we did it well.   My brothers didn’t know my pain or what dad was doing to me, but they knew something wasn’t quite right.  Jeff shared a bedroom with me for several years, so I feel he saw things happening that he wishes he could forget.  Once our bedrooms were separated they knew dad probably shouldn’t have been needing to shut my door behind him when he went in.  And there was the bathroom downstairs….we all learned to hate the shower down there.   And we all put on very good faces for the world to see.  We did it with smiling faces and cocky attitudes that we were somehow much more superior to other families and so that’s why we did things differently.  That’s why most rules didn’t apply to us…that’s why our dad loved us so much more than other dad’s loved their children.  My older brother, Jeff, was somewhat of a rebel – he got out early…….His story is his own to tell, it’s not my place to tell it.  Kevin and I……lived with the domination for years together….and then I left at 20 when Kevin was still a kid.  The void I left behind was Kevin’s job to fill…..His story is his own to tell, it’s not my place to tell his either.  I will tell you that I love my brothers very much!!!!  Now, in my strength that I’ve gained as I’ve grown older, I would fight to the end for them and they would do the same for me.

I was a broken child.  Broken on the deepest inside of my soul and nobody could hear my screams. The screams that I was sure were loud enough, even in my silence, for the clouds and the Heavens to hear. 

I was right only about one thing…the Heavens did hear, but nobody else did.  Nobody.  I was alone in my silent, broken, pain for at least 20 years of my life.  And even now, even when I’m learning to speak out on the outside….only the good hear me.  I didn’t know there were so few and it makes me sad.  I’m sad that people saw and didn’t help me then and they hear me now and choose to turn away.  Why is that?  Why is so easy for some to make that decision.  Do they just see the adult in me now…don’t they see that the shell of that little girl I lost so many years ago is still right here behind my eyes?  I can.  I can look down at my hands and remember clinching them tight in fear……even now….if I clinch them, that’s what I see…..not my 40 year old hands that have grown to be strong…..but the 7 year old hands that were smooth and soft and young – but not innocent –  dirty.  I was an old soul in Elementary School, just waiting ….. not sure then for what, but I know now …..  strength and assurance and justice….among a few on my wishlist.

I look at my daughter…..she’s 12, and quite the little “Diva”.  She’s tough and bullheaded and moody.  She’s resilient but tender….innocent.  And I envy her of that, but I’m also so very proud that she has it!  She doesn’t have to scream on the inside and I cherish that every second of every minute of every day!  She’s proud of her body and yet bashful and private about it….and it’s wonderful to know she gets to make the choices in keeping that.   I look at my son….he’s 14, and he’s 6 foot tall.  He’s a gentle giant who has a specific countryboy group of friends and loves video games.  He’s intellectual, loves politics and arguing his point and is brilliant.   My kids have never and will never have to worry about having to tuck themselves in tightly or fear that anyone will touch them in any way that would make them upset, sad, or ashamed…..and it’s one of THE most amazing things to me and something I feel like EVERY child SHOULD have and deserves.  And GOD expects us to raise our children without violating them of their innocence.  It’s an unforgivable act to take that away from them.

Forget that he was a monster.  Forget that he put his hands on my young tender innocent breasts and all my private parts.  Forget that he peeled back the covers and layers of clothes that I wore to get to my childhood.  To tear it apart.  To take the light out of my eyes….the natural laughter out of my heart.  Just forget about all that……many in my life have.  Easily for some reason…just to keep from having to what?  Talk about it?  Confront it?  Acknowledge that it was right there in front of them and they are embarrassed to admit it full out?  Take some responsibility?  Why is that?  They don’t have to “fix” me.  They just have to be willing to see the shell of that little girl I used to be, that didn’t get to live very long.  My innocence and childhood died….was murdered….around Kindergarten age.  Not a pretty to thing to think about.  But it doesn’t make it not true.  I assure everyone…it sucked a whole lot more for me than it did for anybody else that knew me.  And to me, he’ll always be a monster….,.because he is.

I’m mad.  I’m mad at him for lying.  For lying that it never happened.  For lying about the reasons he did things to me.  For lying that he didn’t know it was wrong.  For lying that I shouldn’t tell because no one would understand.  People would have understood……understood that it was wrong and they could’ve helped make it stop.  Make him stop!  I’m mad at myself for believing the lies for so long.  For protecting him.  For protecting my mom.  For NOT protecting my brothers.  Why didn’t I protect them?  They were young too….we were all young.  I left Kevin when he was 14… could I do that?   And I’m mad that I did that.  I used to be mad at Jeff for leaving Kevin and I, but I’m not mad at him anymore…I know it wasn’t his fault!  None of it was anyone’s fault but dads. I even hate to call him dad, because for some reason, there should be a level of respect that earns you that title, and I have none for him.  I’m mad that Kevin has anger issues because he’s not really sure how to really LOVE his family.  He loves them in all the right ways, but can’t seem to fully let himself enjoy that love!  I’m mad that we have to feel so mad, because I feel that same hatred – some days worse than others – and it’s hard to bottle up or control.  God takes it and I take it right back.  I’m mad that it’s hard to be happy.  I’m mad that it’s hard for any of us to be truly happy!  I’m mad that our sense of truth was so screwed up, that for the biggest part of our lives, we learned to lie so well that it started to feel “normal”.  I’m mad that dad saw this happening….trained us to let it happen and kept on going with it.  He was raising us as lairs….WHY?  Why did he do that to us?  I’m mad that we’ve had to totally re-train ourselves how to be good, honest people!  And it was HARD, let me tell ya!  And I’m furious that something that should’ve been taught to us, not only wasn’t, but was taught against!  How could somebody do that to their own children? How?

I’m hurt.  I’m hurt that I missed so much of my life.  I’m hurt that I don’t remember years of my life because I learned how to shut everything around me out.  And I’m hurt that he’s ok with it.  That he’s able to just go on… function….to NOT have to pay a price for what he’s done.  I’m hurt that it takes so much effort to make people listen.  I’m hurt that people want me to just “forgive” and “forget”.  I’m hurt that there are people who think I AM the one that’s lying or crazy.  Why is that? Why would anyone think that?  I’m the one that was hurt!!! I’m hurt that my hurt won’t go away when I ask it to.  I’m hurt that the inside of me will always be broken….and that I have to learn to live with those broken pieces.  I’m hurt that me, and my brothers and our spouses and children will always have to learn to live with our broken pieces.

I’m amazed.  I’m amazed that we’ve (Jeff, Kevin and I) made lives for ourselves.  I’m amazed that I’m sane.  Now that I’ve gone thru the process of saying things out loud….I’m amazed I didn’t kill myself from all that pain.  I’m amazed that my husband, John, was able to be patient enough with me to stay with me.  I’m amazed that he loves me that much!  I’m NOT amazed that I love him that much back because he’s amazing and wonderful and kind.  I’m amazed that I was able to have kids and function.  I’m amazed I even WANTED to have kids and function.  I’m amazed that I’m a good Mom, but I AM.  I’m amazed Jeff and I have a relationship and I’m amazed that Kevin and I are so close!  I’m amazed that my mom doesn’t believe me, but I’m also amazed that I’m able to let her go some now.  I’m amazed that I don’t feel so guilty that she’s hurting and will soon hurt more that I’m telling my story and won’t back down.  I’m amazed that her opinion and sadness don’t matter like they used to.  I’m amazed that as much as Dad has done to her, that she stays.   And I’m even more amazed that as much as dad has done to us, that she stays with him.   I’m amazed that I’m so successful at what I do, and that Kevin is too!  I’m amazed Jeff has started a family and is happy.  I’m amazed that the three of us love each other even more thru all this pain!  The scars are soooo deep, but we’re stronger….and that amazes me every day!  We were always taught to NOT yell, so I’m always amazed that I can yell and scream in the safety of my own home and as long as I’m not being mean…..the world doesn’t fall apart and it’s actually healthy to NOT be ok and yell sometimes…..amazing!  I’m amazed when I see how many friends my kids have an how they love to be around other people!  They love sleepovers and have them often and our house gets loud and crazy and I’ve learned to love that….truly amazing!   I’m amazed at my Sister-in-law, April.  She had the strength to stand up for me before I even knew there even was such a thing.  I didn’t know girls could stand up to my dad the way she has so she proved otherwise years ago.  Her boldness and braveness and strength was one of my first signs of hope.  She’s been my little hero several times, saying the things and setting the rules that were the bricks first laid on my road to recovery.  I’ll always be grateful to her for that! 

I’m scared.  I’m scared that he won’t have to pay for what he did to me all those years.  I’m scared that he won’t even have to think about it anymore, and that’s just not fair since I have to think about it every day of my life.  I’m scared that he’ll have the opportunity to make friends with a perfectly nice family and molest someone else’s child and then the pain just spreads.  I’m afraid that I’d be responsible for another child because I didn’t speak up soon enough and now there’s not enough proof.  And I’m afraid that the people that I need to believe me in order to get him on some list somewhere won’t be able to help me.  I’m afraid that the legal system might not work, not because it doesn’t want to, because it  does……but I’m afraid it won’t be able to do anything after 20 years have passed.  What if nothing can be done and he lives out his life, feeling fine and being a predator?  How will I live with that?  I’m scared I won’t be able to live with that.  I’m afraid he’s going to do it again.  Why wouldn’t he, he doesn’t even think he did anything wrong!  He still claims everything he did was out of love.  Huh!?!?  Really?!?!

I’m grateful!   I’m grateful to God for keeping me safe in his arms even when I didn’t think he was there.  I know now that he was there always.   I’m grateful to Jesus for listening to my prayers and holding me tight because He understands pain greater than mine.  I’m grateful to the Holy Spirit for guiding me to sanity and edging me towards taking up not only for myself but to others before and after me.  I’m grateful for the Husband and kids that God has blessed me with and their ability to bear with my problems and my brokenness.  I’m so Grateful to be alive!  I’m grateful that God knew I was strong enough to make this Journey, as painful as it was and that I ended up in a good place…..and a healing place with good people around me.  I’m grateful for both of my brothers and their love and what they do and mean to me.  I’m grateful for my Pastor Bob who said he was “Proud of me” and I believed him.  And for helping affirm inside of myself that I can stand up to my dad and for what’s right.  And for helping me understand that I don’t need to feel guilty about pressing charges against my dad,  because it’s truly the right thing to do to.  I’m grateful to my friends, and there are only a handful that I’m able to let myself get close to and trust, but they know who they are and that I love them….I’m grateful that I’ve allowed myself to have friends and get close to people.  I’m grateful that my heart isn’t completely broken and that it can heal.  I’m grateful that I have a lot of life left to love and enjoy.  I’m grateful that I still love…..yeah, I’m really grateful for that.

One thing I do NOT feel is hopeless.  I have God…I have Hope.  Because of God I even have moments of peace and comfort.  Because I have my amazing Husband that I love so much I have hope.  Because  of my kids that  I love so much, I have hope.  Because I have two amazing brothers and their children, I have hope.  He wasn’t able to take away my Hope.  And from that Hope, I’ve begun trying to heal,  even though there are  wounds that will never go away.  God’s helping me make peace with that part.  I’m a work in progress for sure, but I’m allowing Him to help me with that….one baby step at a time.

I WILL see justice in my lifetime.  I WILL never stop telling people what he did and I will never stop looking out for all the other little voices out there that don’t even know they have one yet.  I will never walk in shame or regret that from here on out, I stand up for the Truth and for what’s right.  I will never forget the ones that took a chance and stood up for me….but I’ll also never forget those who only stood up for me as long as they didn’t have to take a stand or get “dirty” in this fight.  Clean hands are for cowards…and I know who the cowards are and I will never look or think of them the same.  I’m certain that they don’t care, and that’s probably a good thing….otherwise they’d have to live with regret.   I now know entirely too many people in my life that were much more willing to live with Ignoring the Truth, than with Regret.   Pity.   And they should be ashamed.  More often than not though, those that should be ashamed are not….which is also a pity.

I will fight for my Life now.   I have a good life….one that I’m proud of and I’ve had to fight for ever moment of it.  So have my brothers and our peeps.  But we’re strong and we’re good people.  We love God and we love each other.  This is what makes my life ok to live again.  This is also what makes my Life Great!  But I’ll always fight!  I owe that to the 7 year old that I never got to be.