I don’t like secrets.
I have been touched by people I never should have been touched by. Battered, bruised, forced to do unspeakable things and held down against my will. I have been called horrific names, told I was worthless and was often sent away.
From a very young age I was forced into a society of secret-keepers– forbidden to speak and made to keep quiet–as if the silence had some sort of power to erase the traumas that shrouded me. If you’ve grown up in a family of secret-keepers, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You are forced to live with this overwhelming pressure not to let any information slip, regardless of what it is. But what is the point of it? To protect someone? To create boundaries? To escape shame?
Waking up everyday, from the time you were a very small child with great big secrets and fully believing that “it’s a good day to die…” is not a way to live. But it’s how many people who survived trauma do in fact live. I have lived that way for years.
Secrets can destroy. Secrets burrow into the soul, take a perfectly created being and change them forever so that they never feel entirely safe with anyone. Never letting their guard down. When secrets are held for such a long time a person is left with a strong urge and need for someone to know our story. For some reason it is necessary. We want someone we trust to know the complete truth. What really happened. Not just what is remembered in our heads, but all of it. We want to find something, or someone, to help our shattered parts come together. We just want to feel love from someone important and to believe that we aren’t bad or wrong.
In the years since the abuse ended I’ve often wondered whether there was anything worse than what had already happened. Could there really be anything more painful than what I already felt and remembered? Were there bigger and deeper secrets that I was not privy to, had forgotten or misplaced?
My answer would have to be a resounding yes.
Within the last year, I’ve been told, on more than one occasion, that my mother didn’t want me, that I was too much for her and that she wishes she never had me. The other night she did it again.
She was watching some documentary on TV (probably on the History Channel or PBS) and I was busy doing something else, but in the same room as her. On the show, the commentator was talking about how the mother never really wanted to be a mother (she just did what was expected of her) and she never really liked her kids or wanted to be around them. Out of the blue, my mother makes the following statement “I know exactly how she feels“.
For years my mother has done a fabulous job of hiding her true feelings, making everyone believe that she cared and was happy to have us. Lately though, something is changing, and whether or not it’s intentional she’s letting things slip. Painful things of how she truly feels. Perhaps she feels like I’m old enough to know the truth.
I thought surviving abuse was hard, but when your own mother comes out and says she didn’t really want you, how exactly are you supposed to feel about it? It is so much bigger than all of the other things combined.
Part of me can’t help but feel that maybe she’s just tired of being a secret-keeper too. But perhaps it is one secret that she should have just kept to herself.