ghosts, elephants and such

There are some ghosts that I think, perhaps, we never really lay to rest. I mean we learn to live with and work with them but, they are never really at peace. Maybe we agree to tolerate one another, work around one another, cope with each other but, once they take up residence with us, their shadow is always present.

I have come to believe that the spectre of abuse is a ghost that I must form an uneasy truce with. I don’t want a truce. I want complete surrender and destruction for this ghost of mine. I want freedom from nightmares and triggers and anxiety and tears. I’m trying to be grateful for the cease fire and accept that every now and again there will be a minor firestorm and then calm will reign again. It is so hard some days.

Last night I learned that Monica (the daughter of one of my cousins) was molested by her step-father. Recently. As in a few months ago. Monica did what lots of kids do and didn’t tell right away. She didn’t want to be responsible for her mom getting divorced again. She was 14 when this episode occurred. She just turned 15 last week. I don’t know what prompted her to finally tell but tell she did.

The first words out of my mouth were “Oh fuck.” The next words out of my mouth were “Tell me Sonya got them all out of there.” (Sonya is Monica’s mom) Deb (Sonya’s oldest sister) said “Oh yea, she packed them up, went to her ex in laws and stayed a few days until she got a protection order and had Bill (the slimeball) removed from the house.” I literally broke down sobbing. (say it with me, “oh brother!”)

I asked who in our family knew about it and Deb told me that Sonya had told her mom (Sharon, my mom’s oldest sister and caretaker during her illness) and aunt Linda (my mom’s baby sister). I wanted to know what they said and apparently Sharon asked Sonya why Monica hadn’t told sooner. Sonya replied that Monica didn’t want to be the cause of her getting another divorce. To which my oh so enlightened (yeah, go ahead, insert sarcasm) aunt said “Oh bullshit!” I’m quite sure there was more but I wasn’t talking with Sonya yet so I didn’t even ask. I can hear it already. I have heard it already. Alot. It sounds like this:

adult: Why didn’t you tell me before?

child:  I was scared.

adult: Bullshit! You must have liked it or encouraged it or asked for it or something otherwise you would have told me!

child:  No mommy, I was afraid. He said he’d hurt me and you both.

adult: Slaps or hits or spanks or bruises child while yelling and screaming at child about trouble she’s causing.

It’s stuff like this that creates the veil of secrecy in families. My family is very masterful with secrets. The pink elephant in the room is always there and everyone always avoids looking at it or speaking about it or doing anything about it at all. I’m sure they hope that if the elephant is continually ignored, it will eventually go away. The problem with this mindset is that the elephant actually grows and gets bigger until pretty soon all the air is sucked out of the room and no one can speak to anyone else for fear of suffocating.

When I was finished talking with Deb, I called Sonya. This is what I said when she answered the phone: “I am so proud of you. You did exactly the right thing when Monica told you what happened. I’m so grateful you got her out of there and listened to her and believed her. When she’s 40 years old it’s going to mean even more to her than it does now.” Sonya said: “What happened to you Trace?” I replied: “Lets just let it go with my mom didn’t listen to me or protect me ok? I didn’t call to talk about me. I called to tell you what a wonderful thing you did for your baby and how much it means to me to know you didn’t ask questions…you just accepted what she said and you took her and her sister and got the hell out of that house. You are the best mom!” Sonya started crying and thanked me and told me it meant alot that I called to tell her that because she felt like she was crazy.

Crazy? This is a feeling I know. Interestingly enough, once I was done talking with Sonya and hung up, Deb got online to chat a bit more and said “Some things never change I see. I remember when we were kids we were never allowed to have our own feelings or opinions or thoughts.” I felt amazement again to be honest. When someone else in my family says something that confirms what I already know in my head, my heart sighs with relief. I don’t know if that makes sense or not but when you spend your lifetime being told you are nuts and don’t know what you’re talking about…you end up believing you are nuts and don’t know what you’re talking about.

I cried myself to sleep last night. I cried for Monica and for Sonya and for me and for my family. The ghost of abuse has followed us all for a very long time. I woke this morning to eyes so puffy I could barely see. I’ve spent most of the day close to tears. The sadness has felt so big. Now it’s getting late and I knew I needed to get this all out of my head if I want to have any hope of resting tonight.

I’m still weepy however writing it all down has reminded me of the beautiful piece of this ugly puzzle. Yes, there really is something amazing in all of this. A gift I didn’t expect. Hope.

I’m not the only person in my family who knows or believes or accepts. I’m not the only one who sees the ghost that haunts us all. The pink elephant isn’t ignored by everyone in the room anymore. I’m not the only one who has stopped the abuse cycle. My beautiful cousin saved her daughter. She heard, she listened, she protected her baby. Her daughter’s life will be much different than mine because someone believed her. That is a gift…wrapped in the most amazingly lovely paper and tied up with a big red bow and sitting right in the middle of the room for the whole world to see…for me to see…Hope. We should all be so lucky.



11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by franklie on Saturday, July 29, 2006 at 6:49 am



  2. God bless Monica and Sonya and Deb and Traci. Amen.


  3. Just letting you know I was here. I AM here.
    And Amen.


  4. This post brought tears to my eyes.. and hope to my heart.




  5. I wish the ghost would go away for everyone who has had to live this nightmare. Unfortunately, even a single cell of the ghost wedged in one’s mind, will reproduce into the full ghost over and over. Keep up your battle, your campaign. Blessings to all who have met this demon.


  6. Posted by scribbleandscribe on Sunday, July 30, 2006 at 12:59 pm

    wow, ok never mind why I originally came by…

    I am so proud of you for being able to write all of this. I have to
    say again, I’m pretty sure we lived in the same house growing up.
    As I read I realized I was holding my breath. It’s all so awful.
    Thank you for thanking her because, she will now pay that
    forward someday.
    She will encourge someone else to tell, or to defend
    their child and not scream Bullshit.
    You are amazing.


  7. My thoughts are all over the place on this one. First I want to say, may all the ghosts be chased out…of your life, of my life, out of the lives of every abuse survivor on the planet. Next…how aweful that your family member had to endure abuse…and how wonderful that she was able to tell. I’m so happy when I hear about the abuse cycle being broken in families! Validation is a funny thing. Several times my brother has said something to me that has left me with a reaction of “that really happened?” or “you got that message too?” or “I didn’t make that up?”. It’s an odd feeling when something in an abusive history is validated…a mixture of relief and terrible saddness. On one hand it feels wonderful to know “I’m NOT crazy” but at the same time a person can no longer have that little thought that maybe, just maybe it isn’t true.



  8. I bounced over here from another blog. Wow. I kept my mouth shut for 24 years. Because of a recent reminder, I am dealing with insomnia again. Every time things get better, I keep hoping it will never come back. Now with screwy dreams and disremembered images again, I’m dreading the moment when the snapshots turn into a moving picture. I can’t be sure it will happen that way again, but it’s in the back of my mind. I’m just trying to keep on going in spite of it. I don’t know what else to do. Lynn


  9. Wow. So poignant.


  10. And you Traci, are a brave and wonderful woman. Your strength has helped more than one of us to break silences and come out stronger.
    Thank you.


  11. I have been absent so long my friend. I didn’t have a clue that you had this on your plate along with the rest of the buffet that is already there. Iam so sorry.

    Loving you friend,


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