“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
― Nelson Mandela.
Twelve years ago, I climbed a great hill.
Sitting in the mall parking lot in the passenger’s seat of my mother’s Oldsmobile, I told her the family secret I had harbored for over twenty years; that her then husband of twenty five years sexually abused me as a child.
When the words finally came out, my body decompressed like a flattened tire. I thought I was done, fixed, as if sharing the information would mend everything and solve all problems. That New Year’s Eve morning, I stood at the top of my hill expecting to see a welcoming horizon. At first, I did. But knowing I couldn’t stand in one spot forever, I continued on my way.
I consider myself lucky.
I was born into a generation of women and men who, when experience trauma, are often encouraged to talk about it and seek help. I had the guidance of a talented professional who gave me the tools I needed to work through the rises and falls, and I have a husband who has supported me every step of the way. Even the bad guy went to jail for a short time.
These fortunate circumstances coupled with a determination to live clean, helped me move forward. As a result, I have been able to scale more overgrown, rocky, and unmarked hills than I thought existed. And although I wasn’t able to reach the top every time, I’m happy with where I ended up.
There are consequences to pursuing one’s truth. Expecting people to reflect, discuss, and perhaps change is a tall order. I’ve had family haul off like a Real Housewife of New Jersey, friends throw in the towel, and to mourn relationships of those who weren’t able to meet me half way.
So why rock the boat? Because when I started to value myself, I realized regardless of what I was going to get back, I had to let people know where I was coming from.
I’ve often wondered if it’s worth some of the residual agita to continue my version of clean living. It may sound reminiscent of a Kelly Clarkson song, but for someone who lived the first third of her life putting up walls, keeping things surface, and feeding the elephants in the room, I intend to spend the next two thirds of it living the most honest, genuine, meaningful, loving, and forthright way I can.
For myself, loved ones, husband and most importantly our children; this I resolve to do.