“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Easier said than done, especially if you endured a traumatic event in childhood. As my sister, Annette, stated in my “Spousal Abuse” blog, “suffering” is a door many of us choose not to open. It’s easier to avoid the past than to confront it, I think.
Unfortunately, I have been blessed with the “gift” of brutal honesty, and follow my heart on sharing the tumult of my past. You, the reader, sigh a breath of fresh air when you read of someone else’s pain, knowing you are not alone.
So with that in mind, here we go…
When I was in kindergarten, a sixth grade neighbor boy abused me. As is typical of childhood abuse victims, adult issues came flooding into my five-year-old mind, and caused mountainous turmoil. I was too young to process what was happening. I was confused and hurt, and by the time I turned 12, my way of “dealing with it” was to steal adult magazines from the local grocery store (since this was long before internet and the unfortunate ease of online pornography).
I withdrew into my own little world, and decided to try and keep my head down and avoid life in general, praying for adulthood. I was so backwards, so frightened, when I started getting beat up in freshman high school football, I couldn’t garner the courage to fight back. This continued for a year and a half until I finally had the guts to stand up to them.
When I graduated high school I moved four hours south and changed my whole personality. “Robert” became “Rob,” and the frightened little boy was locked in a dungeon. I came out thundering with attitude, and wouldn’t take anything off anybody.
But the abuse of my childhood gave birth to an anger I could barely contain. Eventually, an ember became a roaring flame which nearly engulfed my wife, my young daughter and myself. Over time I was able to begin working through the past, and today I’ve made peace with most of it, but the demons of yesteryear nearly sabotaged my entire existence.
No, my parents never harmed me. Yes, I know my abuse was “mild” compared to some, but it was real, and traumatic, no matter what kind of scale you try and weigh it on. Don’t think because the dark gray in your soul isn’t as BLACK as the pitch of night in others, that your pain is any less real.
Our injuries are no less damaging.
You see, I understand the monster behind the curtain; I’ve listened in fear to the raspy breath of the beast on the other side of the door. The thought of opening up old wounds is sickening, disgusting, I get it, but if you don’t, at some point the creature will claw through the walls you’ve erected, and destroy you.
Nobody talked about abuse when I was young, so I never told anyone. I didn’t have a buddy I could fully trust with such sensitive and potentially embarrassing details. Oh, I have no doubt my dad would’ve defended me. I also had grandpas and uncles who would’ve gone to prison before they’d let me get hurt. But again, I was raised in an age where nobody talked about these types of issues. Thus, I was ashamed, and never told a living soul.
If you’ve locked your inner child in a dungeon somewhere—the tortured and foul pieces of a fragmented past—I would encourage you to find a counselor, psychiatrist or a “group” to which you feel comfortable bearing your soul. If the fiend is still imprisoned behind your carefully assembled barricade, I pray you reach out to somebody about it. You are more powerful than the villain of days past; don’t let the shackled imps convince you otherwise.
It’s not easy to discuss these issues, but if we can find other like-minded individuals to whom we can bear our soul, we can begin to purge our spirits of the pent-up bitterness of this lingering dark.
You’ve carried the shadowed weight of yesterday far too long. It’s time to be free, don’t you think?
“Be careful. Don’t think these little children are not important. I tell you that these children have angels in heaven. And those angels are always with my Father in heaven (Matthew 18:10).”
“Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming my Father who sent me! (Mark 9:37)”