No one really cares about child abuse. Especially when you’ve grown up.
That’s how it feels sometimes. I mean, everyone wants to prevent it, wants to stop it, and wishes it didn’t happen in the world, but after, then what? Does it just go away? Does the kid just get over it and it’s done with.
If you follow me on either of my blogs, then you know I journal daily. I have done so for a few years now, and today, somehow, I wrote the immortal words, I was abused. It took me by surprise that these worse existed on my page. Not that I had forgotten, but it’s like a dirty sentence, a thing still to be ashamed of even now. Even after five books documenting it, it feels so strange to say.
Sometimes I feel like a shadow walking through the world amongst all the other people who can’t really see me—the real me. No one ever really sees shadows, they’re just there. They exist as the darkness following people around.
I remember someone saying to me, oh sorry, I didn’t mean to remind you about the abuse. It took me aback to hear that. To realise people were afraid to bring it up with me because hey, I’d forgotten all about it and might suddenly remember and fall apart.
It’s very hard for me to comprehend this, because I don’t forget. That’s the problem. It’s here, in my head, always. I walk up the stairs at night when I am alone in my house … a house where nothing ever happened, and around the corner I might possibly walk into the shadow of my childhood. I stand in the shower and a momentary lapse of judgement; I realise I have turned my back to the door and suddenly that fear is there. Someone is behind me. I wake in the middle of the night, gasping, realising I feel into such a deep sleep.
There isn’t a day goes by where I don’t think about something … some part of such a giant slice of my life. And I don’t think anyone understand that. I type this and bite my lip to keep it from trembling, just so I can go on and get out of my whatever random babble it is I want to say. Of course, I’ll wipe my eyes, and take a deep breath and switch the screen over when my other half comes down the stairs. I’ll plaster on that smile that people understand, because what’s underneath is too hard for them to see, not for me.
I’ll go back to being that person who forgot what happened.
I still haven’t told people my dad is dead. None of the people who know me in life, know he is gone. I mean, of course anyone close to me, my family do, but friends, people I stop and chat with, have a coffee with, have the odd meal with. They don’t know. Every time I see them, I think to say it. But the more time goes on, the harder it is because how do you tell someone, yeah, my father died over two years ago, and I never told you.
I still have his name programmed in my phone and when his mother calls me from the house, my phone announces, Dad is calling. For that split second, my mind jolts and my heart skips.
I think my dad’s death goes in the same box with everything else labelled, things I can’t talk about. Not that I can’t. More it is people can’t listen to. It’s such a terrible situation. I must listen to endless days of the same conversations. What shoes someone has, what they had for dinner, what’s on the television, what the government is doing now, it goes on and on, but if I were to mention my thing more than once, I see that awkwardness in their expression. I see them not knowing what to say, but worse, I feel that I am complaining, that I am going on and on and eventually I know, they’ll be sick of hearing it and tune off. On their breaths are the whisperings of just get over it.
You know what I realise about any kind of child abuse? The times they happened weren’t so bad. Each event, they came, they went. It’s living with it that’s the problem. Because even now, even after all this time, I’m still as silent as I was as a child. The only difference now is people know.