When I was six I was molested at my daycare.
It has taken me 36 years to write that and to speak that without shame. I blamed myself for so many years. I thought if only I was good enough life could go well. I learned to hide as well – thinking that if I was better than people would like me and love me and thus perhaps leave me alone.
When I was six years old I learned to hide my heart.
I focused so much on the externals that for most of my life I forgot the internals.
I mothered with fierceness, but deep fear too. I didn’t want anything to happen to those little ones that call me mom. I thought if I could control everything then life could be safe and good.
It wasn’t. I learned that the hard way. I learned that gripping too tight doesn’t equal freedom, but rather frustration. I learned that being afraid to be real and let go doesn’t mean utopia, but rather, as in my world, dysfunction. Yet, when I went through my divorce four years ago I had to deal with the greatest pain ever of letting my kids down. That’s what I felt inside. But just like that six year old girl did, I slapped on a mask, and kept on going.
I was a hider.
Behind perfectionism and massive to-do lists and the words I’m fine when inside I really was a mess. But, but, I started to learn some truth in this journey, this motherhood space of thinking I let my kids down — and it’s this — I am doing the best I can with the resources and knowledge I have now. That little girl learned to hide, this adult girl is learning that the only healing can happen when you don’t hide.
We all have stuff. Everyone of us wandering the world has a whole bunch of stuff. The real power comes when we decide to define ourselves by the past or we decide to let go of those past spaces. The power is the choice of what you cling to – it leads to either bitterness or joy. And maybe, maybe if you can let go, you just maybe will learn to love the girl in that space again. That part of us, that heart part, that’s what makes us beautiful. It is the part that knows just how to soothe our littles in the middle of the night or muster the courage to say, just like I did, “enough” to something that was broken and upside down.
Living with our hearts whole means unearthing bravery. It’s hard to be brave when you’re holding up masks.
Listen. Your story might have spaces in it that are messy. They don’t define you now. They don’t define your ability to mother or make a difference or to create change. You create change every morning you wake up and look at those kids and fight for them to have a better life.
And in that fight, I have learned that the greatest freedom is when I don’t cling so tight but let them go. I let them stumble and let them learn and watch and be diligent but believe in them.
That’s how I feel about you too.
I believe in you, the you now. The only thing the masks and hiding do is hold you down. They make you question your decisions and suck at the joy in the today. You don’t need to hide behind your past or by the spaces where you feel you’ve messed up. Those spaces are still part of you, part of your voice, part of your journey on this earth.
Sweet sister, trust me, you don’t need the masks to thrive.
Do you know why I know?
When I was 42 years old I found freedom.
And so can you, being you.
why did I write this? Maybe, just maybe there is one of you reading this who needed to know that you are not alone. You are not. And I am telling you – if I can find joy and thrive in this life – so can you. I believe in you.
Rachel, I read this through tears…your story is so similiar to mine. For 35 years I hid. Shame was all I knew, and I’ve been in it’s grip for too long. But praise God, through various circumstances, I am on the road to true freedom! I’m a work in progress, but I’m filled with hope that I will soon be walking in the freedom that Jesus has for me! Thank you for sharing, you have no idea how your bravery has inspired me to share my story.
Bless you Patty, bless you. Thank you for writing me and for your bravery too.
I was 3 and 4 and didn’t know the words or the problem solving, only that I didn’t like what he said and did. But he was Mommy and Daddy’s friend and a respected man in the community… so glad you reached this point even earlier than I did. Your message is a blessing. 💕
(((Hugs))) to you Sue. Your words to me are a blessing in return.
Thank you for being brave and talking about it. I used to be groped in the crotch by my aunt’s boyfriend whenever we passed in the hall of her home, which was often. She babysat me from the time I was a newborn until I was almost 9 years old. And even though my aunt was married to my uncle, this boyfriend of hers was always there during the day. As I remember back then, nothing more ever happened to me, but when I would see him coming in the hall, my hands would automatically try to block my lower end, but he thought it was a game and would manage to pin my hands and then with his other he would grope me in the crotch area, outside of my clothes. It never lasted for more than a second or two or three, but I remember the feeling of helplessness. I remember how much I hated it! And now, to this day, even if my husband is being playful with me, I cannot tolerate having my hands pinned behind my back, or held in any way that keeps me from being able to use them. I literally have a panic attack whenever that happens. Thinking back, I think what disturbs me the most about this is that my little-girl mind thought that it was somehow okay that an adult treated me this way, that it was not worth mentioning. I never told anyone; not my mom, not my aunt. No one. Why didn’t I mention it? Why didn’t I tell on him? He never threatened me. He was never mean to me, just annoying. I didn’t fear him, I just loathed him. So why didn’t I tell?
Rachel, this was beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story and inspiring ours. So much truth here.