My Own Little World…

“Now it makes sense!” He said that the only thing he had remembered about childhood was that he seemed always to be alone. “Now I understand that being alone was when I felt safe. There was no one around to hurt me.” 1

This quote struck a chord with me.  It resonated deeply, and it brought everything about the few good childhood memories I have into perspective…

As a child, these are a few of my most vivid memories:  riding my bike for hours, searching sandy terraces for quartz crystals, exploring the woods near my home, playing in my room, sitting in my closet in the dark, reading under the covers after the lights were out, fixing meals, eating dinner, playing board games.  Most of these memories are after the age of nine.  All these memories are peaceful, and in every one, I am alone.

I have other memories.  Memories of school, memories of being at my mom’s, memories of staying with my grandmother, In some of these memories, I am solitary, but never totally alone. Most of them are vague, the ones that are more clear are generally punctuated by fear, anxiety, or hurt (emotional or physical).

I have some memories of my “family,” as it were (dad, step-mom, brother, and me).  I am not sure there are more than a couple that involve all four of us.  Most of the memories are from trips to visit family or go shopping. I remember the parts where I was alone more vividly than the rest.  The remaining vivid memories I have from that time are negative ones.

When I was alone, I felt safe.  When I was alone, I was sure of myself.  When I was alone, I was not doing ANYTHING wrong.

It makes more sense now why I prefer to be alone.  My world has perspective when I am not anxious about someone else.  I deal better with people when the situation is one to one because most of my positive interactions as a child were exactly that.  Just me and my mom, my friend and I, etc.

My world was, and always has been, very small.  I like it that way because it is all I have ever known…


1. Cecil Murphey. When a Man You Love Was Abused: A Woman’s Guide to Helping Him Overcome Childhood Sexual Molestation (p. 43). Kindle Edition.

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Who Is Responsible?

As a child, I learned to take responsibility for a lot of things.  Sometimes, these were the things that most youth learn in order to become responsible adults.  Yet, there are other things that I learned to take on that are clearly not my own – or at least it is becoming more clear that they do not belong to me.

I remember thinking that it was my responsibility to protect my mother from the wrath of my father.  He said ugly things, lots of ugly things, about her, and I did my best to hide them from her.  Not only this, but after I was molested by my grandfather, I remained silent because I wanted to protect her.  I knew that if my father found out that her father molested me, he would find a way to blame her – even though it was his fault for leaving me with that man instead of with my mom.

As a teen, I took on a new responsibility, that of the secret keeper.  I kept the secrets of my grandfather locked away inside because I was afraid that if I told, I would bring someone else pain.  My greatest fear was that someone else (especially my mother) had been molested by him, and sharing my pain would bring back ugly memories.  I knew what it felt like to remember, to loathe, to feel shame, so I did anything I could to shield others from the past.

What is even worse is that I even learned to protect my abusers from their own shame. For many, many years, I protected them out of respect for what is most people call “family.”  I felt it was my duty not to sully the family names by bringing out the ugly secrets that lay within.  I believed that bringing their offenses to light would destroy the world that family members considered safe.  I even felt, and still to this day somewhat feel, that to point out their shame would somehow be unfair because, they are “family” after all…

In my blindness, I enabled my family to pretend that nothing was wrong.  I was, and am still, fairly certain that my father would not believe that anyone in his “loving, Christian family” would be capable of causing such harm.  I believed that my mother’s family would turn a blind eye to the ugly truth, because they have a history (in my opinion) of sweeping things under the rug.  “Talking” is something they never truly do.

Where does this leave me?  I have not the slightest clue.  Sometimes, I want to call them all together and lay it all out.  I want to tell them about the dark and ugly secrets of which they are not aware.  Yet, my mind keeps coming back to the question, “What good would it do?”  I fear that my voice would not be heard – that their collective propensities for blaming someone else would end up making me look like the bad one and once more minimize my experiences.

I guess deep down, what I really want is for someone else to shoulder the responsibility for this entire mess for a while.  Yet all my life, all I have received from others are excuses.  Excuses as to why it is not their fault and why they should not be expected to bear the burden as well.

So, I keep shouldering the responsibilities, even if they are not my own.

Learn from the past…

Parents, aunts, uncles, adults,

If your child, or a child you know, seems to be experiencing more troubles than other youth (emotional, academic, or behavioral), please dig a little deeper.  If you cannot seem to find a way to help the child yourself, seek professional help.

A few days ago, my mother and I were talking about my book.  She, like the proud mother she is, was one of the first to purchase a copy – hoping I would not know.  While I was not apprehensive about what she would read, I was worried about the concern it might cause her.  The content of the book is by no means happy, for the most part, and I feared she would turn my sadness inside, blaming herself.

While discussing this concern, she told me, “I tried to talk to you.  I wanted to know what was going on, but you wouldn’t talk.”  I told her that I wouldn’t talk to anyone back then because I didn’t know what to say, and I was trying to protect her.  She then told me, “But if I had known, I could protected you.  I could have done more to take care of things.”  I knew what she was alluding to, that she would have pressed charges against my grandfather. I told her once again that it was not her fault, that honestly, by the time I was with her, only a trained counselor could have gotten through to me.

The past cannot be changed, and the struggles I endured were by no means her fault.  If anything, I was able to begin healing at a much earlier age because she and my dad provided a safe place for me to “vent” the anger I held inside.  While living with that “demon child” was no picnic for them, I am sure my life would have taken a much uglier path otherwise.

Yet, there are lessons to be learned, even when we make the best of bad circumstances. My guess is, if she were not too shy to say it, she would tell adults this: If you don’t know how to help your child, find someone who does. Looking back, I would also have something to say to youth: If you cannot talk to your parents, find a safe, trusted adult.  Tell your story.  Do not remain silent. If you need help telling your parents, ask that adult to help you find the words.

Afraid to Dream… *Trigger Warning*

I’ve been here before.  I’ve felt these emotions, and I’ve fought to quell these fears. Yet, knowing I can overcome it just is not enough.

I went to sleep last night praying I would not dream of questions that are on my mind. Somehow, it seems it would be more terrifying to remember in a dream.  I really do not want to travel down this path.  I’m not even sure there is anything at the other end, yet the possibility of finding something terrifies me.  I’m not sure why it still scares me so much.  Haven’t I been dealing with flashbacks since I was fourteen?  Shouldn’t I be prepared for that queasy feeling that everyone gets when approaching the dangerous unknown?

In my mind, the answer is, “No, Kylee. No matter how long you are on the path, this part of the journey will always feel the same.”  Still, I keep wishing there was a different answer.  I know I have the tools.  I am strong.  I have conquered the darkness many times before.

I guess, even though the memories are mine alone, I’m just a little afraid to do this on my own…

Something I Can’t Remember… *Trigger Warning*

Have you ever had something that you just cannot remember?  You know it is something you need to know or say, but for some reason, no matter how long you wait, it never comes to mind?

There is this memory – one I cannot shake.  I am not sure how old I was, so I cannot place it on a time line.  All I can remember is taking a bath at my grandmother’s and being afraid.  You see, there was an older man there (my step-grandfather), and I was anxious that he would come in to the bathroom while I was alone.  I am not sure if this is a normal fear for most children, as it is something I was always afraid of as a child.  Since I cannot remember how old I was, I am not sure if this moment came after my grandfather molested me or not.

There are a few memories I have of this place where my grandmother lived.  I am not sure how many of them are from separate times, and how many were from the same visit. What I know is that I remember every place I have ever slept, except that one.  For some reason, I have always memorized every room, even if I only slept there one time.  Yet, I spent the night at this place, and do not remember a single thing about it.

Those two puzzle pieces, coupled with one other, make me feel as though something more went on.  One afternoon, after my grandmother, aunt, cousin and I had been on an outing (this I do not remember either), we returned to the house to find the door locked.  When we tried to get in, this man came to the door and told my grandmother to leave and never return.  He was angry and he was accusing her of something.  I was confused.  I did not know what was going on.  All I could think of was that my doll and my clothes were in the house.  I begged and pleaded with him to let us come in and get our things.  The memory fades from there, but I think he might have set my things outside the door.

Honestly, if there is more, I do not want to know.  Yet there is this nagging feeling that I cannot escape.  It is a very uncomfortable feeling that I wish I could just ignore.

Balancing the evil with good…

Sometimes I just wish that I could say their names out loud.  I wish I could just point them out to others and say, they are the ones who abused me.  Sometimes, I just wish that the rest of the world knew the kind of people they are.  Yet, I still hold back.  Why?  I am not sure.  At times, I think it is self-preservation.  I fear that if I speak their names publicly, then I will bring their wrath, opening myself and my character up for more abuse.  Yet at other times, I wonder if I am still doing it to “protect” them from my anger.  I still worry about skewing the perception of others against them, I feel like pointing them out would be asking others to judge them.

Then I have to ask myself, why do I want to say their names out loud?  Most times, I just want to say them because they are a SECRET that burns inside my mind.  Other times, I feel that, although I know they will never admit to the wrongs they have done, I would like for them to still be responsible for them.  While I keep their names secret, they go on with their lives.  They do not have to live with the burden of having done something wrong, because no one is openly telling them they did wrong. Maybe sometimes, I just want them to feel a fraction of the pain I have felt.  Maybe I would like for them to feel what it is like to be shunned, misunderstood, and disliked. Yet, the one reason that concerns me most is, how many other children have been/are in danger because I have not spoken the names of my abusers?

While this conflict tears me apart at times, I think about my list of abusers and their enablers.  It is a fairly short list.  It amazes me to think how such a few people could have had such a negative impact on my life.  Their actions have haunted, hurt, and tormented me for over 20 years, and it has taken twice as many positive people to overcome the damage they have done.

Positive people.  I can list those.  There is no stigma attached to the people who have supported me, nor is there shame in saying their names out loud.  Saying their names reminds me that there is hope, and it also reminds me that there is good.  With that said, here is a list of the people who were a part of the major turning points in my healing journey:

John*
Paulette*
Ott*
Kim*
Sandy*
Lisa*
Gary*
Lynn
Brittney*
Denise*
Matt*
Mike*
Bryan*
Ryan*
Ronnie*
Horace*
Carol
Bill*
Kyle
Alana
Natalie
Michael
Sharika
Joanna
Karen
Anne
Erin*

While those listed may never have known what I was going through, I can remember exactly what they did to change something in my life.  The ones who are starred, either were the catalyst for one of my blog posts, or have been mentioned anonymously in the posts or journal entries that I have shared. Whether it be linking me to new friends, giving me a chance to express myself, giving me the courage to speak up, or fueling an emotional breakthrough, they have each done something extremely important in my life.  I am thankful for their presence, and I know I would not be the person I am today if it were not for their support.

Inspired…

Earlier this week I wrote about being inspired by a group of youth to share more of my journey with the world. Although it has been somewhat scary to share this, it has also been inspiring at the same time.

Through my late teen years and early twenties, I spent a great deal of time learning to express myself through poetry and prose. Since I began writing, precious few have seen my works, as I always felt they were deeply personal. Because I felt so many things in my life had been taken without my permission, I viewed my poetry and journals – my thoughts – as one of the few things that I truly owned.  I have always been weary to share them with others for fear that they would be stolen or ridiculed.

In spite of those fears, I finally published my first book this week.  After editing the text and designing the cover, I felt a great sense of accomplishment once I saw the finished product posted online.  Yet, even with that wonderful feeling in my heart, there are still moments when I look at it on Lulu.com and wonder, “Am I really doing the right thing?”

In those moments of doubt, the words of my high school literature teacher come back to me.  On the last day of my Senior year, she said to a group of my friends, “Be good to her because one day, your children will be reading her poetry.”  While I do not hold lofty aspirations, and it is well past time for many of those children to be reading what I have written, her words remind me that someone cared.  Someone believed that I had something of value to share with the world, and even though there are times that I want to take my poems and hide, I should do my best to live up to that belief.

On that note, I should get back to work – I have 10 years worth of poetry type up.