I grew up in a small town on a lake with my mother, father and twin brother. Across the lake lived my “Nana.” My father worked and my mother stayed home with us. Every Wednesday my parents had choir practice and we spent the evening with Nana. I vaguely remember the sweetness of being carried out to the car then put into bed by my dad after they got home. We were supposed to fall asleep at Nana’s but we always tried to stay awake to see what she was watching on TV. We would crack the door to the bedroom and think we were so smart. One Wednesday she moved her rocking chair over. She never said a word, but we knew we were caught and soon after just fell asleep. Every Sunday we sat on the back pew at church with Nana while my parents sang in the church choir. I loved sitting with her because we doodled notes back and forth and she always had a mint to suck on. It’s the little things! I loved those mints! Most weekends we waterskied. We were also part of a music theater where we performed Gilbert and Sullivan productions. When we weren’t skiing or performing theater we spent a lot of our time with Nana. She had an Easter egg hunt every year at her house and we always went to her house on Christmas mornings. The picnics she made for us were too many to count. She made the best ham sandwiches with pickles and boiled eggs. I loved that. After we would swim in the lake. She always warmed a towel in the dryer for us to wrap up in.
My mom was always there when we got out of school and when my dad got home from work we often went down and swam in the lake. Growing up, our house was where all the kids came. My mom took in stray animals and stray kids. We always had a lost kitten or a mangy dog that my mom had to nurse back to health. Any child who didn’t have loving parents typically ended up at our house after school eating my mom’s lemon bars and watching movies. She never turned any of our friends away. She would let them in any time day or night.
I don’t ever remember being spanked. I’m pretty sure I never was. My parents were very loving and taught us great values. They never argued. I rarely remember a cuss word out of either of their mouths. And Nana was pretty much always there. I adored my Nana. She had a quiet way about her. She was very strong, yet I still remember her sitting at the table staring out over the lake quietly.
My granddaddy passed away when I was 7. But not before he taught me how to fish properly! He had a little jon boat with a trolling motor. When Nana was staring at the lake, I often thought that she was thinking of him. She never remarried. She was a school teacher and after school she spent all her time with us.
My Nana also took in those in need. She had a few young people living with her that needed a place to stay. I was surrounded by a very caring and empathetic family when I was a little girl. I remember dancing with my dad in the living room, putting up massive Christmas trees every year, and sitting at the picnic table by the water eating watermelon. I have wonderful memories.
My childhood was full of love. My family loved me. I felt loved. I have absolutely no doubt my parents gave me the best upbringing that they could. They had us involved in sports, ballet and theater.
So, I was loved. I had parents and grandparents who loved me my entire childhood. Nothing takes that away. Nothing takes away the thousands of beautiful memories that I have. My dad singing happy birthday to Jesus on the way to Nana’s house Christmas morning, my mom taking care of me when I was sick and my Nana bringing me flowers after I had surgery. I remember it all.
I was very young when the sexual abuse started. It started with a trusted friend of the family; Someone we were around every weekend; Someone that no one would have ever thought twice would be a child molester. Everyone loved him. He and countless others abused me throughout my childhood and teenage years.
Part of my story is that abuse. It’s about how that abuse happened. It’s how that abuse affected me. It’s about the chain of events after the abuse. My entire story needs to be told. The bad and the good.
I am in the middle of my story now.
I have an amazing daughter. I have tried to give my daughter the good experiences that my family gave me. I have taken her to ballet. We have taken care of rescued animals. And I have raised her gently and lovingly. My daughter knows she is loved. She is the joy of my life. And my daughter brought all the joy back to my life.
I have an incredible husband. I like to say my husband saved me. My husband has honor, something you don’t see much anymore. My daughter has been taught that and shows it every day. She stands up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. She is honest and true to herself and others. She genuinely cares about every single living creature on this earth. Blessed. I am truly and completely blessed having these two to share my life. I could write for days about both of them.
The intention of my story is to help others who have been sexually abused. I want to share the details of the abuse that I endured so that no one feels they have gone through this alone. I want to share both my successes and my failures. I want to share the raw secrets of my past and how I have coped and survived. I want to share all of my feelings and all of my struggles.
My story began with love. After you read the details of the abuse you will see that there has been much turmoil and loss.
Abuse can take a lot away from you. It can take away parts of yourself, your family, your friends and sometimes, temporarily, your faith.
But in the end it is what you do with these experiences in your life. I am sharing mine with you.
I don’t know what is yet to come, but my story is not over yet.