It was a ride I was on for probably 15 years. From the age of 10 or so I realized my family life was not as it appeared. It was a faithful catholic family on the outside.
This is the only picture I found of my First Holy Communion. There is no picture of me with my mom on this very special day. Being the baby girl, I remember feeling the anticipation of the special moments ahead, since I had watched my older sister’s go through the same rituals. However, that wasn’t how it was for me. It was always different. No fan fare! No group photos other then this one was found. Until while up for the memorial I was given this picture from my best friend. Had no idea it even existed.
My best friend is on the right of me. She had no idea I didn’t have this picture and will look through more of her parents for others.
I didn’t understand why back then. I just rolled with it, or rode it out, which did eventually turn into rebellion. I remember I was not enjoying the Merry-Go-Round.
I’ve mentioned before that I was a victim of sexual abuse as a child. Not by just my father, but by my brother, my brother-in-law, some cousins, and then a couple boyfriends. Their actions are what created that DOUBT within me that would stick around a long time. The path I was on was going to be wild, crazy, and at times unpredictable. It took a while but I soon learned it was God’s plan for me to be the one to stand tall and to see it through. He helped me to see the sins of another were not my sins. I felt betrayed by a religion that protected the men and left the victims broken. God didn’t give up on me though. He knew my heart. God taught me that though broken by man, I was not broken in His eyes. He knew what was ahead and He was with me all the way. He took me off the Merry-Go-Round and introduced me to the Roller Coaster.
I LOVED the Roller Coaster! Sometimes I would ride the same ride over and over. At times, and there were many, I wanted OFF! Why do I have to ride it again! God kept me on it for reasons of His own and at the time, none of us know exactly why until the ride is over. It did scare me, but thrilled me at the same time. It wasn’t long before I learned how to navigate all the dips. That’s what life is made of.
But coming out of a family who still riding the Merry-G-Round, I was betraying them. I truly was alone in my healing. No one really wanted to face it and those that tried, were only able to skim over it. I remember all so well the fear of the family. Black balled. Banished. Discredited. Ignored. Disowned. Those feelings overwhelmed me so I could only imagine how it must have overwhelmed them too. I had to push beyond it because I knew from all the therapy this was the right of passage. All that crap they threw me was their way to control the victims. After all, for years and I mean YEARS, so many things were swept under the carpet with hands slapped. When the carpet didn’t work any more, they were thrown into the biggest closet possible! Yes, that is how many victims there are, and it had to be a walk in closet to boot!
Fast forward to the present…the last of my family victims (or so I thought) are now in their late twenties to mid thirties. Unfortunately some victims can grow up to be abusers. Some now have families of their own now. And guess what? Yup, that closet door has been opened again.
This time I do not feel compelled to do the work of making sure justice is received. I already did it! My kids were protected. However, what I am seeing this time is how the family is supporting the victims. When we pressed our charges, everyone was protecting that man. What was best for him? We stood alone with the prosecution and were persecuted for putting him through it. A daughter shouldn’t press charges against her father? Seriously! I remember during a family session that was intended to be a place for us to work on this as a family, my brother saying, “it isn’t about you but about him getting the help he needs!” Again, seriously. Did I hear him right? I felt it was always a joke to him. Honestly, I think they were more concerned with what I might say, what I remembered, to what can they do to control me. They weren’t prepared for the direction I went.
23 years later...
I am so happy for this young lady, and for the others that came forward as well. I do have mixed feelings because life for me and my family might have been different had we had the same family support, but that was then and this is now. I know I had to go through what I did so these victims can get through it too! I guess in a way I set the path for them to be able to walk out of the darkness. There is LIFE after the healing!
Me, Myself & Lies by Jennifer Rothschild
I refused to give up! I just found that cleaning my closet in a group was not what I needed. But it did need done. I have yet to finish it completely but have a strong feeling God’s plan is working here. Call it a sign, but by that closet opening again, God wants me to do the work He has planned for me to do so that it can close for good. I can’t deny His direction. This closet needs to be cleaned out for the last time. God knew I just needed someone else to open the door.
This time I am not on the Merry-Go-Round but will watch over those riding, well once I get off my Roller Coaster that is!