The Truth Shall Set You Free, or Not.
After very minimal research I am amazed to see how many people post on blogs or boards that they are or were in an abusive relationship. The type of relationship runs the gamut. From dating to decade long marriages, heterosexual to gay, young to old, the make-up may be different but the dynamic is quite similar. One partner abuses the other or in some cases both abuse each other almost equally. During my brief online research I also learned a new abuse type. There are the ones we think of most often physical abuse, mental abuse and emotional abuse. The new term I learned was Financial Abuse. This type of abuse was described as a partner who either drains the finances or keeps them hidden from the abused partner so that the partner cannot leave.
After leaving my husband in late 2002 it took a lot of time and therapy to process all that my daughter and I had been through. During that therapy it was inevitable to follow my trauma timeline all the way back to my childhood. While thinking and talking about abuse is quite difficult and painful, not being able to recall events is equally if not more frustrating. My inability to remember much of my past leaves huge gaps with unknown possibilities making it nearly impossible to determine how I got to where I did and what to change in some areas going forward. My options are to undergo hypnosis to see if I can recall my past, ask family members to share what they remember, let it go and accept that the unknown is in fact unknown for a reason. I hesitate to ask my family members, at least the ones closest to the situation for a few reasons. The strongest one being that the family way was made quite clear when the worst of the abuse was uncovered. Although a spot light was shining brightly, nearly blinding you if you looked for too long. That light was quickly turned off. Like a plugged ripped out of the wall socket. No sooner had the flood light of truth opened the surrounding eyes when darkness once again covered the evil that had crept in and lurked around hidden corners in what was supposed to be the safety of a child’s home. Just when I thought the truth would be spoken it was quickly swept under the rug and we were told not to speak about what had happened to anyone. Not only did we keep the secrets, our grandparents did, our aunts and uncles (the ones that knew) and the Pastors of our very own church. Are they not the ones that preach, the truth shall set you free? Instead they walked the path of the hidden truth for the safety of my father, my mother, they said for us kids, and for their beloved church.
And so I was taught to hide the truth as the truth was embarrassing and shameful. To this day it seems those closest to the situation would rather hide or forget the bad that happened. And that is why I do not ask. I fear all I would hear is the good that they remember. Maybe hearing the good times would be good for me since I don’t remember them hardly at all. I’m learning that maybe I do not remember them due to the fact that I feel I am the only one holding on to the truth. Like the voice crying out in the wilderness, begging for those closest to the situation to wake up and acknowledge the truth. Accept the truth. Maybe then I would be willing to listen to and accept that there were good times as well mixed in with the abuse. The other reason I hesitate talking to those closest to the situation is that I fear my honesty and determination to hold on to what happened will hurt them, make them angry at me, make them push me away even further. And yet, I remind myself the separation already exists. What closeness we have is superficial at best. Hidden truths have a way of creating a barrier seen or unseen, recognized or not, it is there. And so I write.
Writing is how I best process information. It helps me to see it in the black and white, challenge and change as needed, accept and grieve, and then in hope of healing move forward. I am finding that what works for me is not necessarily accepted by others. I have always known that people learn and thus process differently. Having been a home school mother of one child, as well as the mother of two children one being a girl and the other being a boy, I am accustomed to the fact that what works for one does not necessarily work for the other. The first time I started writing about my abusive past I was completely taken aback when a person in my life told me to stop writing or they would cut me off. I do not exaggerate. This individual had a track record in the past of coming into my life only to exit, usually quietly, with no contact for periods no less than 6 months and at times up to 2 years. Only to come back in with the promise that the desertion would not repeat. And yet it did. Those times the desertion was due to her own life choices. Choices that went against how she had been raised, I believe she felt she had to live out her life in private so as not to feel the guilt we might impose upon her just by knowing. I have come to accept that this is just who she was. Years have passed since she walked out of my life yet again. This time for good. More recently I began writing again. Having gone through two different cancer diagnosis the past year I found myself once again in a space of reflection and processing. With time to sit and be, my desire to write once again grew louder and louder. So loud that I have found it difficult to ignore. And so I began to write. My writing seems to be innocent at first. I take precaution and care in what I put down on the page knowing that others will read, will hear what I have to say. My initial writings are often light hearted even cheerful. I found this time that the past seemed to come forth more quickly and with an unexpected fervor. I thought I would write about my cancer journey and found that my abusive childhood and marriage were what were most prevalent every time I sat with my fingers poised to begin typing words that would appear on the screen in front of me. Still I tried to tip toe around the subjects and kept the writings as light or as basic as possible. Not divulging the truth in full detail, not just yet.
One of my recent writings had a singular sentence that referenced the abuse my father subjected us to. It did not detail exactly what he did. And yet, that one sentence stood out like a throbbing, pulsing sore thumb to one reader. And that reader texted right away. While this reader did not tell me to stop writing per say, basically that was the just of their message. Or at least, it was to say if I continued they would no longer be present in my blog life. Will that extend to real life? Only time will tell. The reader went further and un-friended me on Facebook. Now this is not your average Facebook friend. You know the ones that you see their posts in your feed and often scroll on by. Once in while you stop, re-look at their name and ask yourself, Why are we friends on Facebook? We aren’t ‘friends’ in real life. Meaning we do not get together, hang out, go to lunch, chat on the phone (truthfully speaking I do not chat on the phone with anyone). You make the connection, maybe they were a high school friend or acquaintance, a parent of one of the kids on your child’s sports team, or a fellow parent from the school PTA. You know each other now or in the past. You bump into each other on the rarest of occasion and thus are ‘friends’ on Facebook. They have a window into your world and you into theirs. No, this is not one of those friends. This is a person that has been in your life since the day you were born. This person was there day in and day out through it all. You were once very, very close sharing hopes and dreams real and pretend. But that was a long time ago. You were young, oh so young. At some point you grew up and grew apart but the connection was to remain, it had to. You are blood. And so, in time you reconnected and became friends on Facebook. Where all relationships real or fake at least seem real. And so it is with this friend that decided to unfriend me on Facebook so that they would not have to see my blog posts. It surprised me. Not that they didn’t want to see the posts. That part I was prepared for. It was the drastic measure taken to not see, the truth. I was not hurt that they unfriended me. I just didn’t see how it was necessary. I guess I just would have handled it differently. If I did not want to read what someone posted I would scroll on by. That simple. I just wouldn’t read it. I wouldn’t click on the blog link. Or if they posted incessantly I would block their posts from my feed. No need to fill my feed with crap I don’t want to read. But unfriend them? Naw, I wouldn’t do that unless I truly did not want them in my life at all. Unless I really wanted to say to them, ‘We are not connected anymore. Not in real life and not in the fake life of Facebook.’ Or maybe, I would be saying nothing more than, ‘We weren’t really friends anyway and I don’t care to have this window into your life anymore. Let’s close the curtain, okay?’ But that is me, how I would handle the same situation. And yet, I respect that it was a choice they had to make. Facebook being what it is, an online way to stay connected. To not be connected on Facebook is not to say that someone is not my friend. We just aren’t connected on the internet. Instead we are connected or not in real life. I suppose I could go on and on about Facebook, internet and real life connections. I will save that for another day, or not.
My writing going forward will likely include a thought or two about my past, my childhood, my abusive marriage, my year of cancer, my current life and then thoughts that have nothing to do with all of the above. There will be truth and there will be fiction. I will try to decipher between the two for you so you are not left wondering. Although it could be fun if you were at times left wondering. For you and for me.
Truth. Hidden and uncovered. Read or unread. Still remains the truth.
When I was researching the other day it was sparked by being unfriended by this person due to my writing of the truth. Each time I have started to write about my past whether it be my childhood or my first marriage, inevitably I have come to the inner conversation where I wonder who I will lose in the process. I am not so callous as to be able to disregard or ignore the fact that the truth I will write will hurt some people. Some of which in no way at all deserve to be hurt again. For they too were the victims in these stories. Others were simply by standers, guilty if at all only by association. They played no role in the abuse other than being related to the abuser. It was in thinking of these people that I began a search. It was something along the lines of “If you write the truth do you lose family and friends?” or “abuse victims who tell the truth only to lose family and friends”. I didn’t have a lot of time but what I came across was post after post of individuals sharing briefly how they had been or were being abused by their partner. One article spoke of how abusers were often abused themselves as children. Not an excuse just a link to the underlying causes of abuse. The chain that is often never ending. Sometimes it is a heavier chain than others. Sometimes it wears thin and is nearly broken only to be strengthened by the next generation as a new abuser picks up the traits and begins again the cycle of abuse.
Once in a while, I am not sure of the statistics or if there are any, the cycle is broken and the abuse stops. I can only imagine, I must believe in order for this to happen that the truth would first need to come to light. The flood light would need to be turned on and the guilty would need to be at minimum acknowledged as such. The victim would need to share the pain, the hurt. Or maybe the abuser, the guilty one would be the one to shed light on their actions in order to break the chain that binds them. Once broken the victims could be released as well as the guilty. Both or all would be free to speak the truth as they so choose and find a way to heal from what they had been through. Each in their own way could process through all that had happened and determine how to change, how to heal, how to move forward differently. In a way that would not hurt others. Not repeat the cycle yet again. And in that realm of choices would also be the choice to not speak the truth, to not process the pain, to not heal or change but to ignore, hide or sweep if you will the truth back under the rug. And sit in hope. Hope that by ignoring what happened and instead focusing on the good that was there, the bad would over time dissipate or decompose along with the memories. Fading away to leave only room for the good that had once been. And when sitting in that truth of only good memories one could stand in shock and utter disbelief when someone else years after the fact begins to cry out.
At first the voice is small and quiet growing increasingly louder as time and strength allowed. Not in order to seek justice for the guilty but to seek healing for herself and for others who are too weak for their voice to be heard. For those who have questions but have no words and don’t know who to ask. For those who feel pain from the ones who are to protect them and love them and can’t understand why. For those who have not been told that what is happening is not okay and needs to stop. For those who are afraid to leave. Afraid to look like the one giving up, the one walking away, the one who is guilty rather than being seen as who they are, they are the one who is the victim. For the ones who so badly want to hear that they are not alone. They are not the only one that has been treated this way. It is not them, it is the abuser who is bad. Who need to be told they do not need to be ashamed although their past is riddled with shameful events. Their shame can be healed. Self-respect and self-worth can be restored. They can come to a place where they can forgive those who unjustifiably hurt them in ways unimaginable without giving up the fact that what the abuser did was in fact as wrong as wrong gets. That by forgiving they are not justifying but letting go. Letting go of the pain, shame, hurt, guilt, hate and anger that at times consumes them from the inside out. And by letting go they are not doing the abuser a favor but giving themselves the gift they deserve. The gift that the truth has to offer. The truth shall set you free. That is if you choose to acknowledge it and follow the journey it takes you on in order to get to that place where you are free indeed. Your journey and your place of being free may be similar to mine or it may be very, very different. All however, start in looking at the truth square in the face. As horrible or simple, as painful as that may be. Are you ready to be free? To feel free from the burden that weighs you down? I was. I am. And so, it is with that in mind that I look at the truth square in the face and by doing so I write about it.
*I am torn. I feel compelled to write the whole truth. And yet, I feel the hesitation of hurting those I loved in the past and those I love to this day, some more now than back then. I am uncertain as to how I will proceed. To write the truth and post it….or write it and wait to decide if I will publish it as a book….or if writing it in and of itself will be enough.