I grew up on a beautiful crystal clear white sandy bottom lake. I loved that lake. I loved the water. I loved swimming from my house, across the lake to my nana’s house, and stopping in the middle to float and look up at the sky.
When my mother remarried she sold our house to my twin brother. He has been living in the house since. I loved going out there as my daughter has grown up when either my brother or my mother was still living there. I wanted her to enjoy the water like I did when I was little.
I loved my house. I still think of it as my house. I mean, I spent half of my life there. I loved my house so much that when my husband and I built a home of our own 13 years ago, I went out and took measurements of the lake house. I wanted the living room and the kitchen to be connected the same way with the same dimensions. I loved the eat in kitchen without a seperate dining room. I love that the rooms were down a long hall so that when you were asleep, the kitchen sounds didn’t wake you. So I made my bedrooms down a long hallway away from the kitchen.
I heard through the grapevine that my brother is selling the lake house. When I heard this I got a pit in my stomach, weak in the legs, and tears in my eyes. In the far back of my mind, way back in a spot rarely visited, I hoped. I hoped that eventually the man who abused me would be gone from that lake. I hoped that my family, who somehow viewed me as the villain for uncovering the truth of the abuse would realize the mistakes they had made. I hoped that regardless of anything that happened to anyone’s choices to not choose me, fate would bring me back to that lake. I had hoped that peace from all the turmoil surrounding my abuse would be found and I would celebrate the victory by floating in the lake once again. Way in the back of my mind, I had hoped I would dive in the warm water and feel the freedom I used to feel, the peace that once surrounded me, achieved only by being home in that water. I longed for that again. To have that moment I used to feel when danger was all around but the lake gave me protection.
I have to say I was surprised by my emotions and reaction to my brother selling that house. I was then suprised at the realization that I built a house just like his to live in now.
I didn’t love that house. I didn’t love my bedroom. I didn’t love anything about living on that lake. I should have rejoiced at the mere mention of my brother finally getting rid of the memory of abandonment, fear, deception, lies, autrocities. That house represented a place where my childhood was stolen, an entire town of people supported the child molester, and my entire family chose pride over me. I was painted as the villain again and again through blame and accusations. How dare I speak of child molestation. How dare I hold anyone accountable for what happened to me then and after. The truth is not spoken in Keystone. Keystone is a place where adults get to have sex with highschool students and NO ONE CARES. Keystone is a place where people cheat and lie and NO ONE CARES. Keystone is a place where children get molested and NO ONE CARES. I learned this a long time ago. Yet, the mention of my brother selling our house, made me want to run to the lake and jump in it one last time. A leap through the fire and into the water.
But with all of the darkness in that house, I always focused on the light. My house was a place I waited under the kitchen table with my brother for Santa. It was the fireplace we slept around when the heat went out. It was where my daughter celebrated her 16th birthday. It was where I danced on my father’s shoes, dressed up in my mom’s dresses, and ran through the house dripping wet from a day in the water and sun. Swirling light intertwined in the darkness. But isn’t that how memories always are. There was good, and I remember it.
I always looked for the light in the darkness. I always focused on it, especially on that lake. I ignored the darkness and I kept going back because of the tiny rays of light that shone through. I wanted, I hoped, that my happy ending would be like all fairy tales. A happy ending where everyone woke up one morning and thought, “Oh my gosh, we have done Bethany a terrible injustice! We have vilified her when she was an innocent victim of abuse! What were we all thinking! Lets finally rally around her and love her like we should have all along,” cue music, embrace, and me running down to the water and finally feeling the peace I once felt on that lake.
Here is the thing about ignoring darkness and only seeing the good in things. It is dangerous. Dangerous physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. That darkness IS there. Ignoring it and only finding the good, constantly put me back in a place that was not only unhealthy for me, but physically unsafe for me to be in. Ignoring my instinct of fear, ignoring the pit in my stomach that reminded me a child molester and all of his supporters surrounded me every single time I was on that lake was, dellusional, it was denial. Denial of my own rights to validation and respect. I was willing to keep jumping through the darkness just to land in a lake that once, long long ago, was my safety.
The only light that streamed through were the very old memories of a life that was before an abuser won. After that happened, the only light I saw was a figment of my imagination. It was me trying desperately to find the good in all of the bad. There is a place for that in life. Finding the good. Finding the grace. Finding gratitude in the midst of a storm. But not in this situation. Not in abuse. Don’t try to find the good in abuse, abusers, narcissists, or manipulators, get out and stay away.
Recognizing darkness is crucially important for healing. Recognizing it and staying far far away from it. Storing up hope in the far corners of your mind for people who have proven over and over again will put you last, is unhealthy. Those people will not change. Instead of putting hope in them, there must be a moment we turn that hope to ourselves. I can change myself. I can work on myself. I can heal myself. But I have no control over other people and they made their choice, which was not me, years and years ago.
The water was my solace. Nomatter what abuse happened, I could swim under the water and look up at the sun and feel free. All around that beautiful crystal clear water was darkness. Darkness in the souls of most people there. The water was my protective bubble. Why go back through the darkness to have one moment in a bubble? Why would I want to surround myself with pain just for the memory a lake’s water could give me? There are healthier ways to feel safe and protected that don’t involve walking through darkness.
Selling that house is the best thing he can do. I never need to go back there. I never need to be in a place of darkness grasping desperately at the little rays of light I can find. I need to be in the light surrounded by the sun. Surrounded by people that build me up, love me unconditionally, and ground me in their faith.
If we hold onto hope surrounded by darkness living in a tiny bubble of protective light, that bubble will eventually pop and we will find ourselves consumed by the darkness around us. Hope needs to be rooted in the light, moving forward, healing. We can’t have hope that those living in the dark will one day see the light. That is not for us to decide, it is for them.
I won’t ever swim in my lake again. My brother will sell the house. Maybe, just knowing my twin isn’t on the lake of darkness anymore, will somehow give me some peace. I don’t yet know. All I do know is I need to find a new place to float and look up at the sun. I don’t ever need to go back. And that place in my mind that hoped I could, has finally been erased.