In chapter 12 of my book I write about the Ongoing Journey. Life is an ongoing journey for all of us but it does take on special characteristics for survivors of sexual abuse. In my September post I wrote about “old stuff” creeping back in and some strategies for dealing with that. Today I want to talk about confronting places that were connected to your abuse.
This past week I had to go back to “the hood.” A friend’s mom passed away and I was attending the funeral. On my first trip back, a few days before the funeral, I drove through my old neighborhood and the house where my abuse took place. It was an innocent passage. I wanted to deliver a meal to the grieving family and never stopped to think of the streets I would take to get there, streets that my girlfriends and I walked, streets that were my path to school. It brought back memories of that young girl living behind a very dark secret. When I passed the actual house I did one of those brief glances like driving by an accident, wanting and yet not wanting to see.
Two days later I returned for the funeral. It was held in the same church I attended growing up. In church I fought to concentrate on the words of the priest. I kept drifting to thoughts of what my abusive mother’s funeral will be like. I won’t be there but I know nice things will be said. That’s what priests do. To squelch my anger I fantasized about going to the lectern and telling people the truth about her involvement in my abuse.
As we approached the cemetery, where my father is buried, I held my breath hoping the procession would not drive right past his grave. I was able to laugh telling my friend about my failed attempt years ago trying to carve “Child Molester” with my key on his foot stone.
My reflections on the week: Driving through the neighborhood I felt sad for the young girl who walked those streets in silent pain. Driving by the house I felt fear well up inside. Sitting in the church I craved the truth be known and in the cemetery I was able to smile at myself.
What does all of this mean? I could have come up with an excuse and avoided the whole experience but I’m glad I didn’t. I know I am in a good place because I can feel sadness, fear, and anger, but not be pulled back to the sadness, fear or anger I once lived with. It is all in perspective and healthy. I’ve gained some strength and pride this week realizing how far I’ve come.
As survivors, our pasts are sad, fearful and filled with anger but they are just that-our pasts. We can move forward, be strong and emotionally well even if we have to revisit “the hood.”
That my fellow survivors is good news! A little bit of the old feelings are natural and once they pass the feeling you should experience is Pride! You made it…I made it. I wish you the same on your Ongoing Journey. Roberta