Friday, January 27, 2012

A Birthday Present To Myself

or... My Mother Told Me If I Ever Told Anyone, They'd Never Believe Me

...and now I have to tell the truth one more time.  Now I am ready to really let this go.

My mother was right about nobody believing me, for a long time.  Because I made sure she was right.

I've wanted to write about certain things for quite a while now.  But I hadn't figured out a way to do it without being negative.   I mean, yeah it's important to me to get things out there- mostly because it might just help someone else to not repeat certain things that are not so productive.  But then, being negative is just not all that productive either.

So I think I've found a way to do this without hitting the 'oh feel sorry for me' notes.  After all, that would defeat the purpose. 

So here goes...

I've been told by friends that I am one of the most honest people they know.  I value that appraisal so very much.  But it wasn't always that way.

There was a time when I was very small, so small that I don't even remember anything before that time, that I first faced the choice.  It was a choice between the truth and dangers that I perceived as even worse.  I have always been a super fast learner.  It didn't take me any time at all to see that lying was the only viable way to remain safe.

I wish that I could say that I didn't know any better.  That I was under the impression that everyone lived the way that I did.  It might have been easier in some ways if I had thought that way.  But that would be a lie.  Not only have I always been a super fast learner, I also have always had razor sharp perceptions.  I knew things I shouldn't know for my age way before my peers.  I knew and understood complex things without ever having them explained to me. 

From the very first time that I lied to cover up the ugly truth, I knew it was wrong.  Over the years, I felt myself disappearing into a hole where no one would ever be able to find me.  And certainly never be able to help me.  At the same time, I was continuously reminded of how fortunate I was to be living the life I had.  At some point, I think I believed that I was too lost to ever be found and unworthy of anything or anyone.  I hate to admit this, but I became brainwashed thoroughly enough that I finally gave in to the darkness.

I lied and lied and lied.  With a smile on my face.  I made certain that NOBODY ever knew what my life was really like.  I performed perfectly on cue.  It was Oscar worthy, really.  When somebody got suspicious, that's when I pulled out the big guns.  I made sure that every word, every motion, every nuance was perfectly positive in every way.  I eventually fooled myself as well.

For many, many years I honestly believed that the life I had was all that I would ever have.  I dreamed so small.  I did crazy things to make sure that I stayed stuck right where I was.  School was my only reprieve and I would count the hours every night until I could go back.  The weekends seemed endless and summer break was a kind of torture.  My charade was growing old and once in a while I allowed myself a close friendship, but never for very long.

It was not a real life.  And as I got older and more mature I realized that sooner or later this would have to end.  I just had no idea how to get out of the darkness, the insanity, the uncertainty.  Still, in the back of my mind there remained a bit of hope that never quite died, no matter how bad things got.

I did have chances to tell someone.  Over time I allowed more people into my world to some degree.  But I just never could bring myself to tell the whole truth.  I think I had actually forgotten exactly what the truth was.

I managed to move out of my mother's house and into an apartment with room mates.  And then to get married- all without truly facing my demons.  Why I didn't tell the truth at this point is beyond me.  There was no longer a tangible reason to hold back.  All I can say is that I had been well trained and complete control is a difficult bond to break.  The mind can be a funny thing with all its' myriad locks and keys.

One day, I experienced a change.  It was my 30th birthday.  I never saw it coming.  It was as if a dam had broken loose in me and the truth just would not stop flowing out.  All those years of lies bubbled up like a volcano.  I was done.  I wouldn't have it anymore.  It felt good and bad at the same time.  I was so embarrassed that it had taken me so long to get to that point.

I had to fight harder than I ever imagined to complete the process.  I needed to do things that I never imagined I would ever dream of doing.  Harsh things.  Things that cannot be undone.  The lies came back to haunt me.  My guilt was immense.  I had wasted so much time and broken people I loved.  Things would never be the same and I knew it.  And yet, there I was in the rubble- finally free.

I will never be able to explain completely why I didn't stop what was going on much sooner than I did.  I will never know why this one lesson was so hard for me to learn.  I will always be sorry for the people I lied to.  I will never be proud of how I took my husband down the rabbit hole with me.  I am still sorry I resented people who failed to help me, even though I made sure they wouldn't.  I hope that one day I am able to get over the fact that there were things I didn't see while I was still dealing with this that caused me to allow my nephew to be hurt.

I don't say these things so I can pile another guilt trip on myself.  I say it because I'm being honest and that finally feels right.  I started going through the motions of stopping the actions that were keeping me from being who I'm supposed to be 8 years ago.  It's been a long and difficult process.  And now, although it's not a perfect picture I present here, it's a real one.  And that's all I ever wanted. 


  1. Children are programmed to love their parents no matter what those parents do. Parents can be physically abusive and a child will choose to stay in that home rather than go somewhere unknown. They are wily and will lie and will find all manner of ways to cover up what is going on. Since I don't think you were dealing with physical abuse, but something actually more twisted in its own way, it was probably easier to cover. But the damage was greater.

    The important thing here is that you unearthed this monster and let it out. As you know, not everyone can do it. For some people it gets in like grappling hooks and won't let go. BTW, that isn't your fault. You can only take responsibility for you. Just like they have to take responsibility for them.

    As you said to me, not everyone is capable of that level of honesty...

  2. "Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive." Is that the reason for the spider web? Children learn pretty quickly and being extra intelligent enabled you to perfect the lie. Without the wisdom of having lived much you were unable to anticipate the consequences. Don't beat yourself up. It's out there now, take a deep breath, and be the honest person that you have become.

  3. To be honest and to feel free from some of that is a great thing. I feel for you. From this post and many others in the past, I know you had a great deal to live with from a young age. A child should have good memories of their childhood and they should have memories of a loving faimily. My heart hurts for so many who I feel we're robbed of their childhood.
    I'm glad you have been able to let so much out!
    My thoughts and prayers are with you!

  4. The hardest part of all of the past is keeping it hidden. But we don't know that until we drag it out and expose it..When it's hidden, it's this huge monster that just squeezes every bit of joy out of life. You feel guilty. Even though you shouldn't. You feel responsible, even though it was done TO you. Then one day, you unpack your crap and everyone stands there and tells you. It's not your fault,....then you feel stupid for not having done it sooner, or guilty because someone else got hurt. Well, to be don't have a crystal ball..and the pain inflicted on you shook your trust in people. It's the nature of doesn't just damage you, it damages the way you look at don't expect much from people. The great things is that now you can unpack it..and drop the load of guilt on top of the rest of that crap and leave it where it belongs..on the doorstep of the one who heaped it on top of you. Hugs.

  5. I do so appreciate the understanding feedback I get, even when I feel the need to post such heavy stuff.

    @Robin- so glad you get me like you do. Wish I lived closer.

    @Downsizers- Thanks. I think you know how good it feels to finally let stuff go. And yup, the spiderweb is beautifully menacing and actually quite fragile.

    @Amber- Being able to watch other families do things in a 'normal' way is so good for me. It gives me hope and lets me know how different things can be. Just because I didn't live normal then doesn't mean I can't now and I'm so grateful for that.

    @Christine- You're not kidding. We always think people will be so disgusted with our crap pile. I am understanding now that good people are actually sickened by those who heaped that crap upon us. So nice to be able to realize that it's OK to have expectations of how others should treat you without being told that I am judgmental and spoiled. Amazing how different the view from a point of reality is once you actually acknowledge it.

  6. Jasmine: There is an old Chinese saying that I tried to adhere to my whole life. It has served me well. "The past is filled with regrets, and the future dilutes the present. Live life at the moment." It works.

  7. I find this eerily familiar to me. Probably because I relate to it on so many levels. I think coming to terms with who you were versus who you are now, is a huge step for you! Good on you!!!


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