It was a year ago yesterday that my daughter came to me to tell me that she had been molested. Even now, I can close my eyes and be in the same room we were in when she told me, and can feel that absolute punch in the gut I felt then. I remember saying in shock, “What? CF? What?” but even though I didn’t believe he was capable, I didn’t disbelieve my daughter for a second. She threw herself into my arms and sobbed, hard bullets of tears, and all I could do was hold her and keep thinking, “What? What the fuck?” over and over again. Even though I had no inclination, no buzz, no idea, I also knew from my own personal experience that yes, these things happen, and it is sometimes the least likely person to perpetrate them. Yes, indeed.
I would say that the rest is history, but that would indicate that it is simply over and done with, never to be thought of again. Most of you have been along with me and my daughter throughout this journey, and those of you who haven’t, well, I suppose you could search through my archives starting in November of last year to get up to speed-no matter. The legal part of it is over, the long weeks and months of waiting for some kind of justice to be meted out finished, and we are for the most part pleased with the outcome. Not that there was any one thing that was suddenly going to make all of this okay, but at least there was some sort of legal resolution.
I have spent a lot of time over the last year feeling as if I were floundering; there were days where I just didn’t think I could do it anymore, do what I needed to do to see Hannah through the experience, deal with my own long-hidden but still fresh feelings of my own childhood abuse, handle the enormous task of jumping through legal hoops and talking with prosecutors and still living life. There have been many, many days where I would sit at my desk and weep with exhaustion, or muster up every bit of energy required to simply get out of bed. There were the nights where Hannah couldn’t sleep, or when she felt so dirty and ashamed that she would take bath after bath, or the days where it all just seemed like too much. Do you all remember those days? I felt like we were somehow being punished, and that there was nothing I could do to fix it, or change it, other than just keep taking each step as it came.
But now, a year later, I can look back and see that even though what happened was beyond terrible (and frankly, still is), we-I-were incredibly blessed. Let me say first that I don’t believe it when people say that what happened was God’s will-because what kind of an asshole prick God would cause something so awful to happen in the lives of people He loves? No God I know, that’s for sure. But what happened was this: He looked down and said, “Oh, myself, this is horrible. That poor sweet family,” and then He got busy. What I didn’t have was any kind of feeling that we would wake up and this would all be over. I didn’t have any feeling that somehow it was all going to be all right with my world again; I didn’t have any of that.
What I did have was this: people who rallied together and bought Christmas for my family, because on top of the whole CF situation, there were overwhelming financial issues going on as well. It was as if they were saying, “Okay, we can’t help you through the emotional and legal aspect of it, but we can give you Christmas so that you have one less thing to worry about.” I have been surrounded by people who could handle my anger and my pain and just loved me anyway, even when they didn’t or couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. I have had any number of hands there to lift me up when I just didn’t think I could take a single step further. There have been people who said, “Oh, honey, I have been there,” both to me and, more importantly, to my daughter. People-strong, beautiful, wonderful, thriving people have sat down and poured their hearts out in letters to my daughter, telling her hey, yes, this sucks and I am so sorry but let me tell you this. I could sit here for the entire day and tell you all how many blessings have been poured onto us, even when it didn’t feel like it, and I still would not be able to tell you how much it has meant, how so many of you, simply by being here, have pulled us through. There aren’t enough words in the world to explain how the bitterness and anger and pain have been sweetened by each one of you, in a thousand ways that you aren’t even aware of.
It has been a year, but it isn’t over yet. I wrote last week about the things I am being told to do, and whether I like it or not, God is whispering to me, “Forgiveness…” and over and over again I keep hearing that we are all so loved, even the most vile of people, that none are beyond redemption. I really don’t like to hear that; I want to hear God telling me that CF is being punished in this life and it is nothing compared to the punishment he will receive in the next, but-I don’t think that is going to happen. Maybe he will, I don’t know, but it isn’t my job to try to orchestrate any of that. What my job here on earth is, is to love, and find compassion, to serve other people, and to forgive.
I am not there with CF yet, and frankly, I don’t know that I ever will be. Really. As far as HE goes, well, I am just working on at some point maybe, possibly, at some point in the future becoming willing to forgive. That’s all I can do at the moment is entertain the idea. and for the moment, well, it’s enough.
But what I can do, what I am working on right now this moment with every breath, is forgiving myself. I am working on forgiving myself for not seeing the signs, because no matter how much my rational mind tells me that there aren’t always signs, I have been holding on to this idea that I should have known. I am working on forgiving myself for that one. I am trying to forgive myself for bringing him into our home and learning to trust him-because that part has nothing to do with me. And oh God, this is a hard one, I am trying so hard to forgive myself for the reason the asshole was even in a position to get his hands on my daughter-because I had taken the opportunity to have a romantic interlude with Steve that afternoon at his house. It is such a burden knowing that my own selfish desires are why I left them alone, that had I simply waited ten or 15 minutes longer before leaving, this could have been prevented. I tell Hannah and God over and over again how sorry I am, and God, I still struggle.
I work, too, to forgive those friends who chose to to distance themselves because they couldn’t handle my toxic anger, or couldn’t deal with the raw, sharp edges of my pain. I try to forgive those who don’t know what it is like, for not supporting us at all. It doesn’t mean I am going to re-invite those particular ones to be part of my life again, but I can forgive; I know that what we did was right, and it can no longer matter to me what those supporters of CF think or feel about me and mine.
I really don’t know very much in this life. As I sit here and try to get out all of the words and thoughts and feelings that are welling up, overflowing, all I really can do is weep. I have been in so much pain, for myself and my daughter and my family, for every woman who has stood up with us and said, “Me, too.” I have hurt so badly, and yet at the same time I have been so loved and cared for and nurtured that it fills me up and gives me just enough to keep moving forward. To know I am loved, to feel it, is no small thing; I know this just as surely as I know that whether I see it or not, the sun is going to come up in the morning.
So much can happen in a year; I feel so grateful. Not that any of this happened, but that we were given what we needed every day, even if it was just the amount of energy necessary to get up. Call it God, which I do, or good karma or simply people showing their true natures (which my god aren’t you all so beautiful?) and showing up when they are needed. I don’t know what the answer is for you, but today, for me, it’s just all about love. Maybe in the end that really IS all we have, but for me, today? It’s enough.