Bus Rides

The first time I ever punched someone in the face I was in kindergarten. I would like to say it was the last, but I grew up in a manner in which fighting was at times necessary. That first time though, I have not thought about it in years.

It was an older girl that I punched. She must have been in the fourth or fifth grade. We were on the bus and she was making fun of me. She often did. I was as quiet then as I am now and just a tiny little thing. I suppose I was an easy target. She was making fun of my teeth, I remember that. Telling me they were yellow and asking why I couldn’t afford a toothbrush. Then she started in on my clothes, laughing about how dirty and smelly they were. I’m sure she was right. We couldn’t afford a washing machine. Years later I tried “earning one” for my family by working at the appliance store in the neighborhood but that’s a story for another time.

I didn’t punch her because she said I smelled or made fun of my teeth. I punched her when she said something about my dad. Called him a name that I didn’t even understand but I knew it was bad. She was making fun of my dad who had just been hauled off to jail a few weeks previous. Taken away by two tall men in suits that knocked on the door three days before Christmas.

I let them in.

I watched as they put him in handcuffs in front of me and I remember screaming and crying, begging those men not to take my daddy away. Asking why they were doing it.

The girl I punched in the face punched me back. With quite a bit of force. We were both suspended from the bus for a week. It has taken me thirty five years to figure out that my dad probably at some point in time hurt that girl and that she was making fun of me to ease some pain he inflicted.It also just recently occurred to me that her older brother is the one who hurt me a couple of years later, filling the void in the neighborhood that my dad had left vacant.

These memories, these connections, I never would have thought about them differently if I was not doing the work I’m doing now. I would have just had vague whispers in my brain of that mean girl I punched one time. The girl that was in just as much pain as I was. Who I’m sure still is, just as I know I still am. Thinking about these things hurt and they open up faucets in our minds that may be easier not to turn, but I’m grateful I can think about it differently now. That is how we make this madness stop. How cycles of violence and hurt can be broken. Acknowledge, recognize and know that children are hurting everywhere because of this and that kids who are hurting hurt other kids. Physically, emotionally or God forbid in ways we are all far too familiar with.

repost

Some incredibly kind and supportive people have asked me why I have not written much as of late. I have been writing, just forgetting to share it here. Much of what I have written recently has been posted directly to my awareness page. I forget of course that not everyone knows about the page. I’m  a bit challenged as far as linking all of my sites, still figuring all of this out as I go. I am re posting a couple of things I have written most recently for those who have asked. Thank you for the encouragement. I apologize for the redundancy if any of you have read these pieces already.

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When I was around 17 years old, I read a book titled Turning Stones. It was written by a man named Marc Parent. In this autobiographical account, he shared his experiences working as a case worker. The book moved me so deeply I recommended it to several people. Each person told me they never finished the book. That it was too hard, the stories he had shared too horrific. I remember the individual stories of course, but that’s not why I recommended it and not the overall message I have kept with me all of this time.

The reason I loved the book then and recall it now is because of how he chose to end it. He shared a story passed on to him about a nun on a trip. Specific details are hazy here, it’s been a long time since I read it but as I recall the nun would make a point to go off on every stop in the group of people she was traveling with to find a stone and turn it over. No matter if it was a rest stop, a scenic stop, a scheduled Place to visit. She never got back into the van without first having found a stone to turn over. When someone asked her why, she simply replied ” Because this place is different now that I have been here.”

A year ago today I started this page. It has been one full year of trying to share my story. One year of spreading awareness of childhood sexual abuse and its aftermath with the world in hopes that no child will have to endure what so many of us have. One full year of trying to explain that the reason the page is public is because to make it private for me personally added to the feelings of shame and guilt that have been imbedded so deep in my veins that I honestly thought I had done something wrong as a child. That I had a reason to feel afraid or worthless or inferior or to not give a voice to these truths.

What have I learned in a year?

I have learned that I will never be silenced again. I have learned that my story has helped others and that far too many have lived the entirety of their lives never feeling safe to utter a word due to what they still carry around that was never theirs to have. The guilt, the shame, the pain and the never ending fuc#%ing hurt. Still shaping their lives because this subject is not talked about enough. I have learned that I will fight for those that cannot or will not fight for themselves and I have learned that I’m proud of that. I have learned that there will always be people that will not understand why I’m doing this in the way that I am and that is okay, but it will not deter me from reaching those that do understand and need my voice and it will not shape my choices as to the way I try to heal. have learned that hurt comes from the most unexpected places and that some people may try to silence me even as an adult in ways that I may never see coming. In the most horrible, personal and intentional ways. I have learned to forgive these people and to recognize that although they are probably hurting too, I will never again give anyone the power or permission to make me feel less worthy based on their own unrecognizable feelings of worthlessness.

I have learned I can love people without letting them take advantage of me. That sometimes drawing boundaries for my safety and growth means letting go of people it hurts to lose, but that I cannot help anyone or change anyone or save anyone unless they want that for themselves and that I will not compromise myself while they wait to figure it out.

I have learned I have a lot to learn. That I need to put in hard work and fight every day. That spreading awareness is not a concept but an action and that it’s going to take every ounce of spite, fight, breath, anger, blood, sweat, rage, hope, vision and love that I have in me to keep doing what I have been doing. I have learned that I’m accountable for my own actions, that my past does not and will not define me and that using the pain from my childhood as an excuse not to try to change my life now and own the mess it had become is the only shame I should have been carrying.

Most importantly, I have learned that this place is different because I was here. Because I took a step into the unknown and wanted to make a difference for myself and others. Because I tried. Because so many of you heard me and were ready to speak as well and willing to listen to my story. The story that is still being written, unfolding every day. The one I wanted to close a million times because I thought it would hurt less to quit. The story that started so horrendously it would have been easier to look away, to not think about those things.

This place is different because I was here. Because all of us have been. And that has changed my life.

#awarenessofchildhoodsexualabuse