I have loved to write since I first learned how to form letters and words on a blank page in my Big Chief tablet at age 6.
There has always been something about carefully planting words upon the sheet that brought me a sense of fulfillment and release. The garden grows with each new successful sentence. Each new perfect expression of an emotion or experience. I was very aware of holding a blank piece of paper in my hand and having the honor and responsibility to fill it with phrases that would move, touch and provide validation to anyone who might someday read what I had written. Even as a young child, I wanted to write well because I wanted to form a deep connection with the imaginary reader.
Perhaps I had this strong desire because I didn’t have any healthy connections with the real people who populated my life.
When expressing feelings, you can carve and craft your words until the end product presents the desired result. Until you have said what you needed to say. Until you have expressed what was buried in your heart. But life writes your story however it sees fit. You have to take what you get. What it gives you. The story is what it is. You are left with only one option; write fiction or write what you live and know. And describe how you feel about it.
Unfortunately, the life story of that little girl from long ago has not been happy or inspiring, so it’s not a tale readers long to hear or clamor to read. It has been fraught with pain, abuse, fear, hopelessness and rejection. That girl has had to fight battles many people will never know exist and will certainly never understand. She has waged war on that which destroyed her and worked tirelessly to pick up all the fragmented pieces of her soul in a vain attempt to put them all back together again. But then, what else could she do? She lived the story life wrote for her. It was the only story she was given.
With each step, she, the me of days past, filled blank pages with words. Documenting her feelings about her journey.
My journey. Our journey.
We stopped talking long ago, she and I. The pain of our world was too fresh and sharp. Through the years, our only communication has come from the lines we have carved upon a page. That we have typed onto a fresh blank document screen. In writing, I have heard her heart and she has heard mine. In writing, we have been able to connect and come together, if only distantly.
We have now co-authored a book that spans many decades. Someday, sooner rather than later, the final chapter will be written. Our voice will be silenced. The story will be told. The book will be completed.
The story we longed to tell was one of perseverance and triumph. Instead, pain has persevered and destruction has triumphed. This is not at all what we had planned. Not at all what we – I / she – hoped for, dreamed about, or longed for. There is a sadness now in every line we add. Sadness where we expected to write happiness. Emptiness when we expected to be full and fully alive.
The book I have written about my journey is a tale of the deep and unending impact of childhood sexual abuse. When a father uses his daughter sexually to fulfill sick sexual fantasies, a death of the heart and soul occurs. When he rapes her, she is destroyed as surely as if he had plunged a knife straight through her heart. When he makes her perform oral sex, the spear is plunged deep into her gut. She suffers multiple mortal wounds.
Mine is also the tale of the lasting emotional scars of physical abuse, though they seems almost inconsequential in comparison. It is the story of the continuing impact of emotional abuse, manipulation, neglect, rejection and disappointment. It is a story void of love and acceptance. This is the book I have written because this is the life I have lived.
I expected to be over it by the time I got to this chapter. I expected to be able to tie all the tragedy up in words of success and victory.
I expected to have a happy ending.
I thought that happy ending would make my story worth telling. I thought it would make the painful parts worth hearing. I believed a happy ending would bring redemption and joy. And acceptance.
Instead, the book I have written is the story of a life irreparably shattered. It is a story of tenacity, but not of victory. It is not beautiful nor encouraging. It is the reality of how child abuse not only destroys the child, but cripples and limits the adult…forever.
Some wounds are too great to heal. Some leave massive scarring. Some severely limit possibilities and potential. Some eat you from the inside out until nothing is left. This is my story. I wrote it as I struggled to change the outcome. But though I tried to pen a glorious ending and vowed to win each battle, that is not the path my life has taken. Instead, I have been defeated.
The book of my life won’t win any awards or inspire any movies. It will never make the best seller list or be widely discussed by intellectuals in their lofty circles. This story, the only one I have to tell you, the only one my pen can produce with honesty, is not uplifting or breath-taking. It is the story of a child who was destroyed by her parents. It is the story of an adult ruined by childhood abuse. A woman rejected and unwanted. Shunned and avoided. It is the story of a person who could never quite find her way out of the darkness.
It is a sad tale, this book I have written by the living of my days. The child who cherished her Big Chief Tablet so long ago and who loved painting with words on a fresh page was killed at a very young age. Her pain-filled words continued to pour from her dead lips and broken heart, scrawled upon many lined sheets. But she did not survive. Only the pages she has written will remain for a moment, briefly living beyond her. But they will largely go unread and will perish soon enough. Time will erase all memory of her life and agony.
The tablet will be discarded. Remaining unused pages will never be filled. Her story will die with her. My story. It will no longer matter that there is no one who wants to listen because there won’t be anyone left to tell the tale. The paper will rot and return to dust. As will I.