“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.” ― Nelson Mandela.
Over a dozen 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, if you will, 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, 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.