“I don’t care, I would never do that!” stated another directly to me. She was referring to a choice that I made many years ago. My choice had harmed no one nor was it catastrophic by any means, except to this stranger that I had met only two hours before.
And I believed her, I believed that she would not have made the same decisions as me. She had not endured sexual abuse from the age of four to twenty- one by her father. She had not been fondled by a teenager when she was the tender age of about five. She had not sat beside her flute teacher that molested her each week at a scheduled time and place. She was not witness to the strangulation of her mother and her dog for at least the first twelve years of her life by the man she called “Dad”. She didn’t stand in horror as “Dad” stomped on her brother’s head. She had not made attempts to save her mother time and time again from the physical and emotional pain- because no one else would. She wasn’t strangled herself for speaking up about the sexual abuse. She did not suffer the greatest betrayal of all- that her mother would then turn on her, strangling her too. She didn’t spend her childhood wondering if she would die that night in her very own home at the hands of her very own father.
And she knew all of this about me and more as she had recently read my memoir. She knew it all but proclaimed her statement with such assuredness that I was left dumbfounded.
She sat in a place of luxury to be able to make that proclamation. Certainly, she knew nothing of the torture, self-doubt, anxiety, rage, panic, self-loathing and worthlessness that plagued me daily and for years- not the mention the desperation to be loved. No, that wasn’t in her tale but I am not envious of her.
Because my life taught me empathy. I came to know that when life brings us to our knees, we need a hand up, not a shove to the ground. I learned that even when we don’t hit the bulls-eye of what is our best, we still get points for trying. I understood that growth and healing is a process of trial and error and that we cannot know what we have never been taught. I found that the best type of understanding and compassion came from the self; and when I had enough to spare I gave it to my abusers in my attempts to understand their actions. I had been schooled by my life’s history and it was an oft times a painful lesson.
And I wish none of that for her. What I do wish for her is that she is never brought so low that she can’t find her way out and if she does get lost, I pray someone is there to light the path and hold the door open for her. What I hope is that if life does knock the wind out of her, there is another to offer her the empathy she never handed me.
Be well and happy.