Listen to Debby read this post by clicking play above.
I experienced unemployment in my late ‘20s that forced me to sit with myself longer than I cared to. During this time, I saw a poster that I have never forgotten. It said, “In the silence of not doing, we begin to hear.” My hearing urged me to reach out for help in sorting through a relentless childhood nightmare.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month. April is my story, and that of 42 million others (see laurenskids.org)—forced upon us, without consent. I can no longer ignore this month as if this piece of my story does not exist.
Because it does.
In light of the coronavirus however, I almost backed out of facing April again this year. Why add more difficult conversations to already difficult times, right? But there’s something in this month’s emphasis that may add value to our current collaborative struggle. For we are in the midst of something forced upon us, without our consent. A situation that we must choose to fight our way through and to rise above. A situation that welcomes collective grief and collective grit.
The Stirring of My Story
My “April” story has been brewing for a while. I’m not exactly sure how long “a while” has been. I just know it’s been there, patiently waiting. And every time I hear about someone else being sexually abused (which has been too often), my story stirs like a restless baby, sometimes falling back to sleep, other times crying out loud, wanting, needing to be consoled and reassured that all is well, that I am well.
I am fifty-five years old and have lived a life affected by childhood sexual abuse. I was one of the fortunate ones though. An arrest happened when I was five, and the abuse stopped.
But it wasn’t until my beloved grandmother died in 2018, followed by my brother’s unexpected death five months later, that I began to understand that the lingering psychological effects on individuals and families do not magically disappear. In my own family, good and decent people gathered to mourn losses. We interacted, but not through collective grieving, or gritting it out together as a family of survivors. Instead, a tendency to criticize had formed our family foundation. It was as if we were competing in a chess match, analyzing one another’s moves and possible motives—all of it so very confusing, contorted and tangled. And then later left to be picked apart. Instead of building up through collective grief and grit, deep-seeded relational patterns of fighting to be heard, to be right, served only to tear down, individually and collectively.
I am doing my best
to lay to rest
the flare ups,
like when physical pain
from an injury, illness, or accident.
Triggers in the present
can resurrect the past;
but through conscious choosing,
I can formulate
yet another chance
in all its glory
and with all its strife.
here I am, in April.
And here is April, in me.
I have a lot on my heart and mind, including digging into words such as dignity, forgiveness, pain, and their implications for the past, present, and future.
Why Speak Now?
My aim for entering April is to support a better self and a better world—an intention that welcomes collective grief and collective grit.
Please, stay tuned.
Please, stay well.
And please, stay momentous.