My greatest weakness is also my greatest strength. My inability to remember things is a constant source of frustration. However, I have begun to realize that up until this point in my life, it has been my coping mechanism. My emotions are wild and fierce. They come on fast and often sweep me away in their current. But oh, how my blessed gift of forgetting has been my lifeline in the storm. When life would send a rip current along to pull me from shore, somehow I always found myself warm and safe, forgetting the storm that took me so far from home in the first place.
And so that’s how I managed to make it through. If anything I encountered was too much to handle, I would tightly pack it up in a box and store it away, never to be remembered again. Occasionally a box would fall off of the shelf, and I would find myself lost in a tidal wave of emotion. Soon enough though, I would have everything packed up nice and tight and be moving along on my merry way.
But I can’t do that anymore, because I find myself stuck. I have come to a wall and I am at a crossroads. I can attempt to climb over, dig under, or find a passage through. I can’t say which path is going to get me there fastest and without pain. So which way is best? I’ve always been of the mindset that you need to go big or go home. Since home is where your heart is and that is here with me, the only option here is to go big. Hopefully I can bring the whole damn wall down.
I think the quickest way to bring something down is to go for it’s base. Take out the roots, and the tree topples over. My aim is to take out the first box that started my wall. The first time I felt overwhelmed and in need of storing away emotions I didn’t know how to handle. I’m older now, and in the past few months I feel I have matured more than I have in the last ten years. I feel as though I am finally at a point where I can start purging my boxes, once and for all.
I’ve blocked out so many of the memories, that I can only have a handful of vivid mental pictures of what happened. Him laying on top of me. I remember knowing it wasn’t right, that we shouldn’t be doing that, but I was ashamed. So ashamed. I still am to this day. The adult in me knows that I was only five years old, I didn’t truly know what was happening to me, nor could I have really stopped it. The child who lived every second of it cries for me to hide that shame. I could have told my parents or other family members, and perhaps stopped years and years of similar occurrences, but for whatever reason I turned inward. I bottled up what was happening and carried the burden myself.
I see now why I didn’t turn to family. Having a family member violate you in such a manner, leaves you hollow. Family is supposed to make you whole – to love you and keep you safe. From the beginning, I feel like my family failed me. I don’t blame them for what happened to me. For that, the blame lies solely with the perpetrator. But I do blame them for not giving me the environment I needed to feel like I had someone to turn to. Anyone. I needed someone and as a five year old, I was left to fend for myself against someone much older and bigger than I was.
My family life did not breed honesty. My father turned a blind eye to everything that went on in the house unless my mom forced him to be there, and even then he was only present in body, preferring alcohol to accommodate a “present absence” of sorts. Then there was my mom who has a problem with honesty and doesn’t like to have bad situations brought to her attention. As a five year old, I highly doubt I was cognizant of my parents weaknesses but I am sure that I sensed it was not a good environment for sharing.
It went on for years. I can’t say that when it was happening I felt like I was being victimized. The shame of what we were doing was the overwhelming emotion and still the strongest to this day. Doing that was wrong, doing that with a family member was even worse. I didn’t fight it but I also did not welcome it. It just became a part of my life. Something to be expected.
Of my scattered memories I still hold, I do recall when I stopped letting it happen to me. I was around eleven or twelve and I was scared that he would start with my little sister. He was staying the night again at our house and now my sister would be closest to where he was sleeping. I can remember putting myself in between them, choosing to let it happen to me instead. That’s the last memory I have of those kind of nights. Perhaps when I chose to let it happen, the power it had over me was gone. I don’t know.
I do know that I feel a little lighter now. And warmer, akin to laying out on a warm summer’s day. I’m jittery like I have had one too many cups of coffee and the tears that were streaming as I began to write have stopped. I feel sad but I feel a sense of calm I have never experienced before.
Now more than ever, I believe it is my place to love and care for others. I was meant to give of myself, so others can feel love and warmth in their life. My life, my experiences have shaped me. I am able to give of myself completely, because I never learned not to. I was never given the opportunity to develop a sense of my own body, to protect it from others, having it taken from me at such an early age. My body, my love has always been for someone else’s benefit or needs. Before, I saw that as weakness, believing I was only worthwhile as long as someone needed me. I see strength now. I have lived. I have experienced. And I can still love.
So that is what I have to offer: Love. I think it is the key to breaking down all the walls.