I have been writing about child sexual abuse for more than two decades, both in books and hundreds of blogs. I have published eight books covering the subject after developing the REPAIR Your Life program. I have answered thousands of emails over the last more than ten years since I first founded the Lamplighter Movement, an international movement for the recovery of incest and child sexual abuse. We currently have 77 chapters in ten countries. My webmaster designed a fantastic website for me; I created several Facebook pages on my different books, spoke at community events, joined Domestic Violence groups, developed a children’s hands on program for recovery from sexual abuse, hosted Lamplighter chapters myself here in the community where I live and read many accounts from other survivors when they sent me their memoirs and answered with as much compassion and understanding as I could. I have mailed many free books to people, donated books to libraries and called (and continued to call) dozens of domestic violence shelters across the country in an attempt to educate them about the REPAIR program by offering them a free book at the kindness of Victor Volkman, my publisher. In short I have been busy. But…………..
I’m tired. I’m tired of the grief I hear splashed across the pages. I’m tired of the pain I hear in people’s voices when they’ve call me. I’m tired of friends and family being ashamed and non-supportive of my endeavors. I’m tired of being afraid to try to sell my memoir in my hometown for fear they might tar and feather me. I’m tired of crying and praying and banging my brain in an attempt to fight this heinous crime. It’s not the tired that comes from exhaustion; it’s the tired that limps into my soul creating an ache that never goes away. After all these years I still knot up my stomach and fight back tears when I hear or read one more account that hardly seems possible. To think that mankind is capable of such horror is sometimes beyond my capacity to understand. To me the life of a child is the most precious thing in the world, a God given miracle. Those who bring pain and shame to a child should be locked up and the key thrown away, be they laymen or priests.
I’m not finished fighting back but I am taking a time out from all this child abuse to try to remember the good in people and the wonder in life. I’m traveling back in time to before my horror began and remembering my mother rocking me when I was a tiny child saying, “what am I going to do when my baby grows up?” I see my father playing Chopin and Beethoven on our piano as I discover the joy of classical music and beam with pride as he teaches me how to play piano. I watch as my family each gets a row in the garden to cultivate and we work together through spring planting, summer and then the harvest. I relive going out in blizzards to take frozen clothes off clotheslines and laying them on furniture to dry as we laugh and giggle, standing in front of the stove our backsides warming as we wonder at the paintings on the windows of Jack Frost. The seasons in the Midwest where I grew up enchanted me each one bringing new miracles. Visiting my Finnish Grandma and Grandpa in northern Minnesota when we were kids was like spending time with Santa Claus as Grandma spoiled us and Grandpa sat near by with stern looks and loving hugs. Time spent out at their cabin by Laminade Lake when all of our Finnish aunts and uncles and cousins joined us for swimming in the lake, fishing, taking saunas, hiking in the woods, listening to Bing Crosby croon songs on the ancient Victrola and the smells of chicken frying and pies baking in the old black stove all remain memories so vivid in my mind that I need only close my eyes and I can smell the pine trees that surrounded the cabin. I can travel back in time and relive it all.
I remember avidly reading Nancy Drew Mysteries and European classics, singing in the choir at St. John the Baptist, midnight mass at Christmas with all of its mystery, its scents and sights. The lilac bush outside my bedroom window waking me up in the spring as I heard the birds splashing in the bird bath. Running barefoot out to Rae Creek, climbing my favorite oak tree, writing poetry about all the joy in my life.
Soon it will be spring where Tom and I live and I see the tiny buds on our fruitless mulberry getting ready to enter a new world. I hear the robins as they approach for a new season bringing me back in time to all the robins out at Rae Creek. The grass in our three lawns are greening up, the tombstone rosebush and the honeysuckle vine are turning green as well. I think of all of it, mother nature with its wonder, my grandchildren and their children and all the children to come and I am happy. I am free of despair and sadness. Life is good.
I think of the good side to humans. Their kindness, their generosity, their gentleness. I think of God’s forgiveness when I went to confession. I remember the townspeople of Petersburg, smiles and friendliness, teasing, being there for their neighbors, the men racing after the volunteer fire truck in time of an emergency. For there is an innate goodness in man that transcends all of his evil. We could not endure in the human race if we did not believe that. A glass is always half full; positive thoughts are more powerful than negative ones; we can overcome anything sent to us because we are strong, we are capable, we believe in love and kindness and being there for others. Because we believe in family, in community, in our faith we can survive anything, even the evil of child sexual abuse.
And so I step back just for awhile and put the dark thoughts and memories back into the closets in my mind, lock them up gently and tell them to leave me alone……just for awhile. Soon I will again go out into reality and do what I can to help combat this dreadful scourge.
Just not yet.