I don’t profess to have any idea of an overall “theme” for my blog posts, but there is an underlying message, or currency, that I’m very conscious of. My impetus for starting this writing project was born out of trauma and my attempt to make sense of that trauma in my life. There has been much written and recorded about the devastating effects of childhood sexual abuse, and you can find accounts of people who have managed to build a life after the trauma, but there is void of information about personal accounts of people processing the trauma and the period of transformation itself. My blog entries are the manifestation of that process of transformation, in real time, delivered with an intense honesty.
Childhood sexual abuse is so devastating because it rips apart the core of what we all need to feel “human”, a sense of connection with those around us. It’s this need for connection that lies at the heart of every life story, in every single one of us. A significant aspect of my transformation involves me trying to “own my story”. For most of my life, I buried my story because it wasn’t the script I wanted to live. So many times I envied what I thought others had, a happy childhood, an infinite well of self-confidence, and a clear idea of where their life was headed. Of course, this is just a fallacy because we all harbor pain and secrets that don’t jive with the storybook ending. I’m trying to remind myself that owning my story will involve accepting all the drama that comes with my life. It’s the scars, imperfections, and bumps that make us all unique and lovable. I find it helpful to remember that a smooth life, a safe life, may in fact be a boring life. As the poet William Archer said: “Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty.” So, if you’d like to keep reading, I’d be honored to share some of this “uncertainty” that’s been present in my life recently.
I was talking to my wife after dinner last night and I mentioned to her how important I feel it is to share in blog not only the good things but also the struggles I’m going through. Have you ever thought about the idea that what we don’t share, is lost forever? That gorgeous sunrise you saw sitting alone on the dock does stay in your memory, but once you are gone, the memory is lost forever unless you share it with someone else. It’s through this sharing of what happens to us, or what we witness, that these events acquire meaning or come to life. By sharing about the abuse that I experienced as a child, I give meaning to what occurred, and it’s this connection with one, or many of you, that gives "my story" a purpose.
This brings me to what’s been happening in my story lately. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been plagued by the onset of night terrors, as I wake up screaming and flushed with the images of the sexual assault I lived through as a child playing in my mind like an old newsreel. I’m not really sure what to make of this new development because up until recently, I had never dreamt about the childhood sexual abuse before. My therapist assures me that this is a natural process that the brain experiences as I delve deeper into the abuse in my childhood and my mind attempts to reconnect to the traumatic memories that lay parceled away for so many years to keep me safe. It’s just another example of how sometimes things need to fall apart so that we can put them back together in a better way.
I greatly appreciate all of the emails and comments that you’ve sent me encouraging me along this journey, and how you often remark on the beauty of this transformational process. I feel that my gratitude to you can only be wholeheartedly expressed if I am honest with you. Setbacks are inevitable, and progress may take the form of regress at times. The tools I’m learning to incorporate as a means to “breathe through” the setbacks are: First, to acknowledge that something is neither “good” nor “bad”, it “just is.” Second, to eliminate blame from the equation because personal growth can’t thrive in an environment of negativity. Third, to seek the answer inside myself by using spiritual means such as yoga, meditation, and gratitude. Finally, to give myself the gift of time and believe that I’m worthy of the time and effort this journey will take.
I’d like to end this post with a little story of serendipity. As you can probably tell, I was on quite a low today, and to my surprise, the universe gave me just the tonic I needed. When I got home and collected the mail, I opened a letter from someone I knew in high school and with whom I’ve kept in sporadic contact on Facebook. She sent me a little note, and inside the card was an old black-and-white photo of me as an infant that she had found amongst her mother’s things when the family was cleaning out the house after her mother’s death. When I look into the eyes of that younger “me” in that photo, all I see is hope and trust in his eyes. Finding that child again has now become my “life story”. The picture you see above, is that boy.