It is my belief that we are primarily on planet earth for two reasons, pleasure and purpose. I came to this revelation a few years ago. Philosophy is the pursuit of wisdom and I’d always been a philosopher at heart. When I was little I spent hours laying on my back watching clouds, following ants as they gathered food for their colony, then watching stars at night. My inquisitive mind rummaged through many rooms in my mind, Why were we here? What are we supposed to do with our life? Why do bad things happen to good people? Where do we go after we die? Why do we have to die? Why do some people commit murder? And so on. I didn’t stumble on any earth shattering answers. It seemed every question I had led only to another question. Without realizing it I was slowly developing my own belief system. It would be years before I assembled all of the pieces and began to create my own map of philosophy.
When I was in fifth grade I was in Marshfield, MO walking with my best friend. We arrived at the back loading dock of the only grocery in town, Dixie Farms. It had boxes and boxes of items to be distributed. It also had six packs of soda bottles all empty. My friend gathered several in to her arms and started to go around to the front. When I inquired what she was doing she said that if she brought these bottles to the checkout stand she could get three cents for each of them and with that money she could buy a lot of candy. My comment was, “but they don’t belong to you. That’s stealing.” She smirked as she gave me her response. “What a dope you are. They won’t know. Come on grab a bunch for yourself.” At my refusal she gave me a condescending look and continued marching to the front of the store. Sure enough she came out a few minutes later with a handful of candy. I didn’t know it at the time but my belief system now contained the moral code, If it doesn’t belong to you don’t take it.
I don’t know why this particular memory is so prominent in my mind. It might have been the beginning of defining my own path in life. I had been taught the Ten Commandment by nuns. They all made a sense and so I decided that if something made sense I would adopt it as a part of my moral code. I knew that hard work was good for me and as a result I enjoyed it. I loved babies and children and so they became a fixed value in my own pursuit of wisdom. The first three commandments had to do with my relationship with God. Since I planned on being a nun I didn’t worry about those. Honor thy father and mother meant I must be obedient to the wishes of my parents. At least that’s what I thought it meant. I had Thou shalt not steal down pat and Thou shalt not kill was a given. I wasn’t sure what “adultery” meant so I skipped it. I also was confused about the word “covet” so I put it in my bag of “I’ll figure that one out later.”
So here I was, quite content with my life. I loved my parents and my siblings. I loved growing up in the Midwest. I loved my spiritual life, Catholicism. What could go wrong? I picked up a few more “loves” as time went on. I loved to read; I loved to eat; I loved the changing of the seasons; I loved to hike and climb trees; I loved to swim in rivers in the summer and ice skate on them in the winter and I loved children especially my baby sister. I pretty much figured out that Pleasure was what life was all about.
Then came November of 1956. I had finished praying my rosary and placed it under my pillow. My baby sister slept in a crib next to our bunk bed and my other sister, a year younger than me slept in the top bunk. I fell asleep instantly and dreamed dreams of bigger things to come. Life was good. Then my father entered my bedroom and quietly closed the door behind him. At the age of thirteen I didn’t even know the meaning of the word rape much less incest.
For the next thirty three years I lived a life of sexual abuse, physical violence, mental confusion, failed suicide attempts, waking up in a Psychiatric Ward twice, one abusive relationship after another, weak boundaries, insomnia, low self esteem and severe depression.
At the age of 45 I entered recovery. I was married to my third abuser by then and knew that I had to either face my incest issue with a program of recovery or die. The last time I had tried to commit suicide was when I was standing on the curb of a busy street and saw a large truck approaching. I knew now that no one could stop me and threw myself in its path. Someone grabbed the back of my shirt and pulled me back just in time. I was furious and turned around to give the rough side of my tongue to whoever it was. There was no one there.
I never tried to kill myself again. Instead I realized that my life had purpose. As I made way across the bridge of recovery I began to piece together what my purpose was. I traveled to my father’s grave and after a grueling and painful diatribe where I dumped all of the anguish of decades of wrong choices at my father’s feet I forced him to accept responsibility. I told him that if he would help me write books that would heal child sexual abuse victims and help me form a movement that would travel around the world offering help to all people who had been abused as children I could forgive him. When I ended my recovery and rid myself of my abuser I devised the program called REPAIR Your Life, a program for those who had been sexually abused as a child. It was published by Loving Healing Press and was soon followed by REPAIR For Teens, REPAIR For Kids, REPAIR For Toddlers and the REPAIR Your Life Workbook. I founded the Lamplighter Movement, an international movement for survivors of child sexual abuse that emphasized the importance of REPAIRing the damage. Today we have 75 chapters in ten countries.
With the help of those on the other side, I had found my purpose.