|IMAGE CREDIT: https://pixabay.com/en/nature-hand-natural-people-green-669592/|
Eleven years ago, at the age of 31, I encountered Childhood Sexual Abuse for the first time.
At a women’s conference near the Shenandoah Valley, I sat and listened. I don’t remember what the speaker’s presentation was about that evening, but I remember asking if I could speak with her. I remember telling her that I didn’t understand why I had become such an angry person, with yelling fits and difficulty controlling my emotions. She asked if she could ask me a few questions and her response changed my world… forever.
As I sat in a room full of chattering strangers, the only thing I seemed to hear were words of one sentence that I had never heard before. The retreat speaker told me, “You were abused as a child...” I think I was somewhat unemotional at the time, I can’t really remember. But since, I’ve wondered about her statement. Was it true? How did she know? Should she have told me even if it was true? …is this was why I was always called “special” growing up. Was this what was “special” about me?
I returned to my room at the conference center. I sat in the corner of the room and stared out of the over-sized windows into the distant mountains. A cool, spring breeze flowed through the windows bringing calm to such sterile news, yet covered me with muddled and perplexing astonishment at the same time. I wondered what just happened to my perfect childhood. I wondered what my husband going to say… he didn’t marry me broken, I thought! Yet, I’ve been broken all this time and didn’t know it!
Now I can see an astringed and lonely, school-aged girl on the playground seeking seclusion from classmates - yet hoping for her teacher’s approval and loyalty. A shy little girl with undetected learning disabilities that made reading and writing difficult, abstract and exhausting - yet allowed her imagination the ability to protect her spirit. A reserved little girl living in complete co-dependency on her “perfect” family – yet, not understanding that, sometimes, the most perfect families are often the families with the most to hide. A respectful little girl never bending the rules, never questioning the rules or rebelling against them – yet, always thankful for the protection they provided her to hide within.
In some ways, it feels like I am still in that room overlooking the mountains still today… left wondering if that little girl’s life was a lie.