Has there ever been someone in your life you wish you could go back and thank for what they taught you? This week I have that chance. Today I want to share something extremely personal, something I never thought I would consider sharing with the world.
I had 3 parts to my childhood. The first two and a half years I was a sickly child but surrounded by love. No one knew then what was wrong with me but knew I wasn’t reaching any of the normal physical milestones. My parents didn’t want me so my grandparents cared for me.
That all came to a halt when my mother remarried a man who knew about my existence. No one knew he was a pedophile at the time and I would be his longest victim. My mother for her part was physically and verbally abusive to me from a deep resentment of feeling stuck with me.
That marriage ended after 6 years, it was during the divorce that my mother learned what I had gone through, but instead of being outraged or choosing to help me she saw an opportunity for herself. She met me one morning as I was getting breakfast before school. She told me she had believed God was punishing her for something by giving her a “cripple” for a child. But now she saw I was her way to have the life she deserved. She handed me a piece of paper, it was a wish list of all the material things she wanted but couldn’t afford. She had no plans to find a job but could now have what she wanted because “cripples don’t have feelings”.
My mother took what her husband had done to me and took it to a whole new level. She sold me for the next 8 years. I became suicidal, by 14 I couldn’t see living through more of this for another 4 years till I was 18. To control me she fed me drugs and alcohol which I quickly became hooked on.
Then one night a neighbor found me unconscious from a self- inflicted drug overdose and sought not only the necessary medical attention I needed immediately but contacted my grandparents to tell them I wasn’t going to be around much longer if they didn’t do something.
This began part 3 off my childhood. At 14, I now had a safe place to live, but the damage didn’t end. My grandmother told me I was lucky because now I knew what all men were like. She said once they knew they could get what they wanted they wouldn’t care how badly they physically hurt you and for me to never tell anyone what I had gone through because no one would want to know me, I was damaged goods. This was so confusing to me, but it began a pattern of secrets and never letting anyone get to close.
My grandfather’s words were even worse. I don’t believe he wanted to hurt me, but to protect me. His generation’s views were very different. He told me not to consider dating because no man wants a woman they might have to take care of. He explained a man would never want to admit he had to stoop to being with a cripple and would move on as soon as someone better came along.
Needless to say I didn’t date. I was afraid of people and these comments stuck in my head making everything worse. But when I was 16 I net someone who I did want to know better. It took me an entire year to build up enough trust to go out with him, but it was doomed, I couldn’t trust enough no matter how patient he was with me, I ended things once I realized I wasn’t ready.
Shortly after realizing I was seriously messed up I met someone else. I gave him a hard time, again refusing to go out with him. Nearly three months later I saw the depth of who he was and was about to let my guard down when he presented me with a deal. Go out with him once and if I didn’t have fun he would never bother me again. That one date turned into months, I never did tell him I was about to go out with him moments before he made me that deal. I still gave him a hard time because I couldn’t say aloud that I had begun to care for him and even look forward to his showing up. I didn’t know how this would ever work and I was terrified of him seeing the real me and my hurting him. Yet I had never known anyone so patient and caring. In the course of just a couple of months I had met two of the kindest people I’d ever known.
I always believed he deserved someone better, but I had fallen for him. Things came to a crashing halt when my current boyfriend and my previous one met. I was so uncomfortable being with the two if them. It kept running through my head that my first boyfriend was hurt because I couldn’t learn to trust him and that seeing me with someone I did completely trust was painful to him.
By the next day my boyfriend walked away. He never knew I loved him because I had been too afraid to tell him. I held everything inside because I couldn’t handle the feelings I had for the first time in my life. It was too much too soon for me. My boyfriend thought I was in love with my ex and was hurt now too. As he walked away I wanted to explain all of this to him, but I heard my grandfathers words and told myself to let him walk away. I convinced myself at that moment he could do so much better than me.
I never wanted to feel that kind of pain again,the pain of loss or the pain of knowing I had hurt another person, although unintentionally. I decided to try to fit in. I would date but only men I didn’t like so I would never again care so much for another person. In some ways it worked. I didn’t get hurt emotionally, but I ended up in several abusive situations.
That all changed when I was 23. I was pregnant, fighting cervical cancer that was a direct result of my childhood abuse, and single again when my baby’s father left because he didn’t want his family or friends to learn that he “got someone like me pregnant”.
I stopped being a victim at that moment. I looked back at the turning point in my life. I was given love and patience. I had learned to trust but threw it away and buried those feelings once again in drugs and alcohol. But that was over. I wanted, for probably the first time, to live. I wanted to feel. I wanted to laugh and have real friendships where I didn’t have to hide the real me. And most of all I wanted to be a good mother. I dealt with all the baggage I carried for years, cleaned up my act and moved on. I have been straight and sober since January 1987. But there was one thing I never had the guts to do. That was to reach out to that special guy and tell him how he saved my life by showing up in a dark period and showing me there was good in the world.
it took me a long time go heal from my heartbreak, but as I did I realized I met him at the wrong time because I wasn’t whole, but I met him exactly when I needed to because I wasn’t whole. When it came time to really live and create a life I wanted I could look back and grab hold of those feelings of love and acceptance he gave me and learn to find it in myself first.
Today I received a request to become friends with him on Facebook. Talk about shocked.If he’s interested in reading this he will now know how he was responsible for teaching me how to save myself. I only have to tell him I wrote this and he will know how large of a role he played in my life.
I now have broken my Facebook rule and have one friend who isn’t family.
who do you wish you could thank?