I don’t want to be the person who has this story to tell. I don’t want to be the person trying this hard to tell it, either. I don’t want this story. Period.
I don’t want this sleepless night. I don’t want these tears. I don’t want this pain inside that I know will never go away as long as I live. The best I do on the good days I try so hard to have, one after the other, is to try as hard as I can not to remember, not to remember who I really am.
On the good days I write about courage. I write about bravery, about being a hero, about enduring, about surviving. I write about all sorts of things that do not tell my story. This decision that I made, this commitment I have made in my own heart, this that I pray for every day of my life — “Please God, help me help someone else.” This prayer, knowing there are millions upon millions of people suffering on this planet. This prayer, knowing there are human beings all over this globe that suffer. This prayer, knowing there are, worst of all, parents who have brought children into this world only to reject, abuse and hurt them.
I have hoped somehow that if I can be one of the people who can tell my story of 18 years of suffering child abuse in one coherent line that I can prove against all odds that this impossible task can be done. I am one that knows that my mother’s story of trauma, neglect and abuse in her own childhood was too much of a story for her. It broke her. It broke her in so many pieces that nobody could ever count them all, let alone help her put them all back together again. Her story was too big.
The broken woman that she was hurt me very badly. I have never been able to say that she knew what she did to me. Do parents who do more than the occasional WRONG act of violence on any level of any kind to a child know what they are doing? Is what they are doing forgotten even as the act is being committed? Neuroscience can say this can be true.
But if I am going to move forward now in my book writing into what I know is a new era in my development when I passed my 9th birthday I will not be able to count on, depend on or really even use any single piece of outside information from any source anywhere to help me. Other than God.
And I am afraid.
Tonight, not being able to sleep, all the sleepless nights filled with tears of my childhood are roaring around outside my house. Those nights scream in the silence I have forced upon them. I don’t want to remember that, “Yes, Linda. There were entire nights you were forced to stand in a corner. All night. All night long while the rest of the family was asleep in their beds. All night you stood there alone in the darkness, terrified to move, terrified to sit down, aching in body from blow after blow after blow – too many to be counted — upon your small thin body.”
I don’t want to know my own story. As I continue to write for the book I am progressing in age to encounter ‘the one who remembers to forget’.
Dare I bother her, tap her on the shoulder where she stands alone in a corner in the darkness to ask for her story? Will she tell me, as my body memory is telling me tonight, how tired I was! How tired past endurance I was standing there all night, and yet I did endure — but tonight that fact gives me no glory. There is no applause at the end of such a night. No fame, glory or fortune.
There is suffering, the kind that never goes away, never gets shared and if we are lucky, never appears in any memories with words.
Where are you tonight around this globe, suffering children? Who is hurting you? How can I help you? How can those of us with compassion in our cells awaken a caring in enough others that maltreatment of children will end?
I have vowed to tell my story because somehow I hope somehow it will help others who suffer. But I am afraid. I am afraid I will disappear again into that void I knew so well with my mother as my mother.
Yet I see today that I will not always be able to count on the light of insight to guide my way through this book writing. There are times back then that were so wrong and so dark that I’m not sure any light on earth would have been powerful enough to illuminate what my mother held in her heart against me — so sick was she.
“I grew up. I escaped. Isn’t that enough?” I ask. “But the ‘me’ that made it through, doesn’t she have something to offer to help someone else?”
What do I have to lose by trying as hard as I can to remember myself in my own life other than sleep and kleenex?