The journey to my childhood home

I knew at 3AM that I had to go to the lake. I had to go to Lilly Lake. My brother sold the house a few months ago. I have had sleepless nights since. I have mourned the loss of the lake, the peace I got from being in the water, the memories of raising my daughter there, and more. I mourned the loss of my family, the abandonment of everything in my childhood. I woke up and asked my husband if he could drive me there to get the closure that I needed. I had no idea what to expect. A new owner lives in the house now. I knew that “letting go” was not what I was looking to achieve.

“Letting go” is not part of my vocabulary.

CLOSURE is what is part of my vocabulary. Closed doors. Trying to move forward with understanding and awareness. My intention was to go to the lake house that I grew up in, was surrounded by abuse in, and find answers to the nightmares. I had no idea what I would I would find. I just wanted some sort of closure.

I drove the long road to the small town of Melrose. Trees, woods, and swampy area line the roads there. Farm land and dirt roads led us back to my “home.” There is one light in Melrose and a gas station that still pumps gas for you!!!

We turned down Neale road, a clay road that I walked down most of my childhood. We took a turn onto Austin Road. I stopped to look at the clay puddles. I briefly reminisced about the clay animals we used to make on that road with our lake friends.

A beautiful purple flower caught my eye. Then my husband found my orange flower. The orange flower that I used to skip from my house to my nana’s house and stop and look at and admire. 

We followed Austin road to my old driveway. Turning up the driveway we drove so slowly. I looked at all of the trees. I observed each and every tree, the length of the driveway we walked to get to the school bus in the dark every morning. I even saw the part of the woods that I went to when I was a little girl to ponder this life.

I brought some special things. I wanted to bury them there and more than just release those parts of me but more give gifts to the painful parts of those parts of myself. I threw a blue gem out into the woods where I sat when I was 8 years old.

We pulled up the driveway. There is one spot at the top of the driveway that you barely come over the hill and you see the lake. It always makes me catch my breath. You can see the green. So much green. All of the bushes my mother planted still thriving. The moss hanging from the trees filtering the sun through the trees, water, and grass. It is beautiful.

We pulled up and found a truck in the driveway. I walked to the front door. I stepped up the steps I walked up for 40 years. We moved into this house when I was 4 years old. I knocked. It took him a few minutes to come to the door. I had already planned on what I wanted to say. I needed closure because my twin brother sold the house and I just wanted to say goodbye.

He was extremely kind and graciously allowed me to go to the water. He went back inside and said it was simply “neighborly” to let me go to the water. I beckoned my husband from the car. I cannot walk to the water. I have not been able to for years. My husband carried me down to the dock. He waited as I took my shoes off and stood in the white sand. I walked to the water. It was clear as always. I could see my toes. The water was warmer than a bath. I saw at the beginning of the dock was a stature of an owl. How comforting was that!

I looked across the lake to my Nana’s house. I remembered swimming across the lake to her house.

I sat down and grasped the sand and tried to remember the sand castles my mom used to build with me.

I looked up and there they all were. The ski team. They pointed at me. Then others pointed at me.

The water was not so calming anymore. The sand didn’t seem so soft anymore. Watching the waves land on my feet didn’t make me feel free anylonger.

I brought my daughter to this place where I grew up to try and reframe the bad. I wanted her to grow up in this lake of clear water and white sand. I wanted her to feel the bits of good that I had felt. I brought her to evil. I was too manipulated and damaged to see the truth back then. I sw it now.

I realized in this very moment that I had tried to reframe something that was unframeable. I brought my daughter to a lake full of people that represented evil. These people were evil. These ski club members were still skiing on this lake. So many people who betrayed, did not protect, and physically and emotionally harmed me were STILL HERE! I experienced what was a completely confused, delusional, groomed, abused girl emotion. I had misplaced, misguided hope. I had not comprehended what these people had done to me until RIGHT NOW>

I grasped the sand in my hand and started to cry. I had come back to a place that represented nothing but tragedy and extreme pain. I walked to the end of the dock and threw my baby bracelet in the water. It was kind of a gift, to the water for giving me the one peace I was ever allowed to feel away from the hands of men and also a way to let that part of me know I heard her.

I stood on that beach and I faced my fears. I did not run away. I did not live in denial or fear. I drove out and faced my fear.

This photo is the only one taken by my husband:

My husband carried me to my car.

He stroked my back. I wanted to drive to my Nana’s house now. I wanted to feel what it felt like to see as an adult how far did I walk alone after I swam to her house, walking back home. It was much further than I thought.

I drove to nana’s driveway. I left a small piece of something special there too. Something to remind me that part of me and my love for her would remain. Her driveway will always fill my heart with peace. So here it is:

We then drove to the church where abuse also occurred.

It was pouring down rain.

You can see the farm land here in the rain too.

In each of these places that I visited today I outwardly said, “ I don’t need these memories any more.” I went to these places to purposely, with intention, bring closure to their thoughts and nightmares. I TRY. I have no idea what my efforts will bring in results wise  but I still try. I still find the flowers. I still went to see the only  light in town. I went to see the Hardee’s that we frequented when we were teenagers as a hang out place… even stopped by my first ever job on the corner.

We drove through town and the one light that is still there. We stopped at Mallards to see the five and dime storewhere my nana used to get me dollar barbies. We stopped to see where I learned to swim and the park nana took me too after we went to the library. We STILL found good!

On the way home I wanted to see my Nana’s grave stone. I have never seen it. It has been 21 years. I was forced to hide my pregnancy when y nana passed away. God forbid me bring shame to the family. Not that my mother had a child out of wedlock! Not that my family did NOTHING but continued skiing witha child molester. But I was pregnant with a man I loved and have been married to for 20 years now. But it had to be hidden . My family has and always will be ashamed of me.  When THEY SHOULD BE ASHAMED. Sickening.

I wanted to visit my nana’s grave stone. We couldn’t  find it. Drove forever searching. My husband got out of the car in the rain and searched the entire cemetery for what felt like forever until he found it. He was determined.

I left a picture of my daughter, as my nana was the only one other than me that knew I was having a girl, on her grave stone.  Nana passed away when I was only 4 months pregnant. She told me she knew I was having a girl and to take good care of her so I felt it appropriate to leave a picture of my daughter on her grave stone. I cried again. I left a picture of myself, a stone (for my Jewish heritage), and my necklace that I felt led to leave. I took it off my neck and left it over her name “let God” with a cross.

I set out on this journey with the intention to get closure. I had no idea what I would end with. I will never go back to Lake Lilly. Lake Lilly is a representation of a LARGE group of liars, denials, betrayals, and family that are willing to choose a pedophile over a good girl. Yep, I can tell you this beyond a shadow of a doubt. I am a good girl. My heart is pure. I put others before myself. I put animals, children, those I love, before me. I know when I look at myself in the mirror that my heart is pure. When I looked out on that lake all I saw was evil. My own family willing to sacrifice their own daughter/sister to be…what? Why? Because of the stigma of abuse? To have a “name” in this country dirt road town where white church going men get to get away with raping little girls.

Shouldn’t they be more concerned with their honor, their integrity? Their little girl? Their daughter?

I cried on that lake at the fury and hatred that I felt for all of the ski team who trafficked a little girl and discarded her over and over again. I cried at the people assigned to me as my family. It was their job to love me no matter what.

They did not.

Pedophile privilege. It exists. It lives. It destroys.
I stood on that beach and I knew I did not matter to any of those people and I never would. So no, I will not forgive them, I will not let them go, I will not release them. The damage they ALL did to me is on them. It is their shame. They can decide what they want to do wtih it.

For today, I will just close the door on them and walk away and watch the sunset instead.

I have not given up. I CHOSE to face these Demons with my “fear no evil” shirt on for a purpose. I stood on that beach and I discovered the truth. Finally. 

Thank you God. I am finally HOME!

28 thoughts on “The journey to my childhood home

  1. Really powerful piece. Closure is so, so hard when it’s linked to such powerful and harmful emotions. There’s no advice or clever things I can say to make anything better, but I am very proud to be able to read your story and will continue to do so.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, I had goose bumps as soon as you started up the driveway. Good for you, Bethany for knowing this was the time to go back and leave mementos in places of meaning. To have your feet in the water, remembering and look up to see your animal totem the owl, on the dock giving you peace and strength. You are so inspiring to me, with your gifts of strength and your absolute connection to the earth flowers and critters. On that note, enjoy the eclipse today. We will be about 80% totality in MN. Love to you! ❤️


  3. What a beautiful way to heal. I know you’ve talked about how you felt and have talked about your journey and overcoming the shame of sexual abuse, but as I read this and traveled with you through the pictures. I felt the things that you felt and I felt the healing that you felt at the end. I said to myself “That’s my girl.” I’m so proud of you! I love you so much!!


  4. That was an awesome, brave journey. Your family didn’t deserve you – they did exploit you, and now they’ve lost the opportunity to have someone in their lives (you) who could have inspired and made their lives better, more fulfilling in so many ways. Their loss. With them out of your life, there’s more room for good, decent people. 🙂


  5. You’re so brave going back. I am too scared to revisit the places where my abuse happened. I’m sure I’d break down. I feel your anger and hurt and injustice. They are feelings I share. I’m really proud of your strength. You are a bloody fabulous person and will move mountains with your strength xxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • 🙂 thank you!!!! I just kept moving from place to place with my very kind driver/husband supporting all the way.
      I didnt know it would be so difficult but it was beyond time to do it


  6. God, I found this difficult, Bethany. But I had to read it to the end, no matter how awful the journey – because the bad things I was feeling were nothing compared to your pain as you faced your demons on this journey. It must have been tough on your husband. Bless him. Bless you. No matter how much hurt you’re feeling, you don’t give up. I’m in awe…


    • I had to put them to rest. It was the only way i knew how. Thank yyou for sticking with it, i know it was long but it was a long day journey. Took 45 min to get there then 45 to get back then everything in between. He was a real trooper my husband. Always is


  7. I felt like I was with you almost through this journey as I read and was able to see through the pictures.

    I love how you were very much in your own moment for the most part, (meaning you knew you needed to do this and it didn’t matter that there was someone else living in your old house and it didn’t matter what he or anyone thought about you being there) while also going back to the past to face it.

    Your husband and the owl! Two great supports to be with you through it.


    • I’m so glad you came along. I really wanted to share this journey. It meant so much to me. It was so powerful and I felt so much more than I thought I would. I know it is long . I so appreciate you reading it all. I am processing so much. Trying to get through the processing so that I can take tiny steps forward. This was huge for me because I was wasting time mourning a place that only caused pain and betrayal. I took the pictures so everyone could see how back woods and dirt roads and in the middle of fucking no where this place was so it was really isolated and the people who knew kept it secret there.
      Thank you for being there for me

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for sharing it. It’s a sensitive thing to share with people. Even us here at WP who mostly get it.

        I totally understand about the huge amount there is to process, just in general from everything PLUS going there and facing the ghosts.

        As much pain as the place caused, it’s still difficult to not get nostalgic and miss certain things. Even if they are things that never happened.

        I hope this helps you take those steps in moving forward. It sucks to be stuck, I know.

        Also, forgot to mention before, I love that shirt!


      • It’s bad ass right?!!! I had to wear it out there to give me BACK! It was a very emotional day but things needed to be moved on from. I have a lot on my plate so that , some of that at least needed to be removed.
        It will help me so much going there and moving on. Had to happen!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. You are incredibly strong to make this journey. It was definitely the right thing to do for your recovery. I read in one of your other posts it has only been 2 years since leaving your family and getting treatment. That is not a long time and you have come so far. You are doing a marvelous job.

    I wish I could tell you my recovery was fast, but it was a very slow process for me. Still, it was an onward process with me getting better each year. I think you have better therapists than I did. I felt none of them understood what I was going through. However, that may have been my fault. One of them said I tell them horrible things with no emotion on my face. I spoke so calmly about it all, never crying, angry or looking sad. That is probably why it took me a long time. Your anger is a good thing, I think. I’ve always buried mine.


    • Its ironic you wrote this because my husband was reading the comment that was written that I was angry and he was like UM SHES ONLY BEEN ANGRY FOR LIKE A MONTH after 40 years of pain and suffering. Like really???!!!!!!
      The love I have received here far out weighs the evils. I just need to process this and try to see where I need to go from here. Prayers and love to you

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Dear Bethany,
    my english is not so good, that i can write you what i feel when i read your words and see the pictures ……………

    Greetings from germany


    • Hello Bettina. I had a friend from Germany named Bettina and her English was not very good either. She lived here in Florida for a little while and I lost touch. Thank you for your comment


    • I really appreciate you reading it. So many people don’t know the beginning of my story and so I thought I would share this part. It was an important day for me. Something I never imagined I would do until I just woke up and did it. So many things I have not been able to let go of but this was one I needed to. Have not had one bad dream about that place since!


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