Brave though I am, releasing my story into the world to be judged and picked apart, I have been more scared about my daughter reading my story, and the impact it could have on her. She is nearly fifteen, but I am certain this is not her first time on this planet. But still, it is a mother’s job to protect their child from the evil that exists in this world. As a mom, especially a mom with a background of severe abuse, it is a top priority for me to ensure my children have a childhood that is the polar opposite to the one I endured growing up. And for nearly fifteen years, I did just that. And my biggest challenge was the balancing act between not being over protective and paranoid for their safety, and at the same time remaining vague and busting my ass to protect them from the darkness of my past. I never wanted them to know what happened to me.
I have always been very selective with whom I share that part of my life with – until last year when I decided I needed to come forward with my story to be a point of light for so many souls still struggling in the dark. I am very proud of the body of work I am releasing into the world. But I am also aware that people can be cruel and I will be judged. This terrified me for selfish reasons (nobody likes to be torn apart by insensitive, ignorant people) but it mostly worried me for my girls…until last night.
I lost all fear of that after writing in the very first copy of my book as I handed it over to my daughter. I don’t even know why, but as soon as I wrote what I did, I knew she would get it. And this foreign feeling of comfort seeped into my bones. (Don’t get me wrong, I still felt like I was gonna have a heart attack after releasing it to her) She then went upstairs to bed to begin reading it. A few minutes later I was alerted that she had tagged me in a facebook post (she’s 15, so as you can imagine, this never happens!)
Her words have humbled me beyond measure, made me proud, made me ugly cry and marvel at the young woman she is becoming. And as a result of this, has made me more driven than ever and ready to own my story so that others may do the same.
Although relieved, I still remained wide awake in bed as the time ticked on and I tried to imagine what part she was up to and hoped she was ok. Just after 11pm I caved in and sent her a quick text asking if she was alright. She said that she had just come across a shocking bit. I took a deep breath and replied, “End of chapter three?” She said, “Yup. But I am ok.” I believed her, mostly because I had to and for years I knew that she wondered and her questions were finally being answered. I owed her that much. We never spoke about him. She may have asked about him half a dozen times when she was really little, but I just instinctively dismissed it and moved on to better topics… anything really. I can’t even recall how I would have gotten out of it. She has been a switched on kid from the moment she was born. My change in demeanour, perhaps the terror in my eyes I tried unsuccessfully to mask. But whatever the explanation, she knew not to push it further. And so for years, we left it. An unspoken topic. The elephant in the room that neither one of us dared to address.
The hours passed and my anxiety grew. 2 am – surely she was sleeping. As I lay in the dark, surrendering to my heavy lids, my phone lit up. It was three in the morning when her text came through. She had finished reading my entire book.
And she gets it! She, at nearly 15 years of age, had the ability to look beyond the darkness and into the light to receive the essence of my message. Something some adults haven’t been able to do. There have been some who haven’t been able to read my book because they find it too traumatising. My defensive response, although never verbalised was initially, “I am so sorry that my lived experience, which I have been painstakingly careful writing about, with the protection of the reader (and myself) in mind, has somehow been too difficult for you to digest. (sarcasm is my go to defensive comfort spot) But that isn’t fair for me to do, and so I try to be mindful and empathise with another’s shock or compassionate when all they can have for me is pity and they miss the whole point of my intended message because they get stuck on the detail.
But now, I can honestly say, I am no longer worried about how my book will be received by the public. Many will get it. Some will not. But nobody has the world as her audience. To be honest with you, the way I see it, I have already won. One of the 2 most important people in my life has put my mind at ease. So anything that happens after this… is all ok with me.