“BEFORE” He Wrote it Down

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My plan was to finish setting the table and hit the sack. I looked forward to the next day,  Thanksgiving Day, which promised to be a memory maker surrounded by family, enough food to feed a small country and football, as you probably figured.  I turned in early and cozied up in bed next to my husband who had long been asleep and turned my attention to my evening routine of checking the newsfeed on Facebook. Ahhh.

 

Many of the posts were about being thankful or turkey size or sharing photos taken hours before at high school reunions.

 

Holidays make me nostalgic. Until I remarried several years ago, I did not have much family. But, at one time I did.

 

I thought about my cousins frequently. My aunt got my cousins in their divorce settlement, and since I was a member of that side of the family, I didn’t get them. I never understood why. I was young. I later learned that at that time I only knew part of the story.  All I knew was that I was told that my aunt was bad, and so were my cousins, you know, that “association thing.”

 

As children, we spent so much time together and were so close. We played countless games of four square and re-enacted endless episodes of Little House on the Prairie wearing our calico maxi dresses and the bonnets that my mom sewed for us. I predictably played the part of Mary and Laura played Laura. Of course.

 

Where were my cousins? What were they doing? Were they happy? Did they have children? Were they cooking a turkey tomorrow? Stuffing; cornbread or savory sausage? And who would carve the bird, break bread and give thanks with them?

 

Dammit! We were supposed to grow up together, to be each other’s bridesmaids and hold each other’s hair back and hold each other’s babies!  We were supposed to hold hands through life’s highs and lows. They were supposed to be the sisters that my mother did not bear. It was incredibly unfair. I tried to figure out who to blame and then I decided. Our grandfather.

 

Then, it happened.

 

On that Thanksgiving Eve, 2014, I had the chutzpah to look for my girls and there they were, as beautiful as ever. THANK YOU FB.

 

And the happy dance happened.

 

Just as I predicted, Laura and I still held a strong resemblance to each other. I looked at her photo with her great big smile and her gentle eyes and had a very strong feeling that this was meant to be. A reunion.

 

Snuggled in bed I struggled between biting my index finger/ my fingers hovering over the keyboard, biting my index finger/ my fingers hovering over the keyboard, repeat, repeat and then I mustered up the courage and did it. “Friend Request Sent”. There was a wave in my gut of “Oh my Gosh, I did it!” mixed with, “What if they hit the “Ignore Request” icon?

 

On Thanksgiving Day, after a very long 35-year hiatus I had my Laura back.  So thankful for that.

 

Our first call lasted over three hours.

 

Me, “Why did we lose each other? Why did we never see each other again?”

 

Laura, “Well, I think that there were lots of reasons.”

 

Me, “Ok, I am going to call the pink elephant out of the room. Let me tell you a story.” This is what I said.

 

On a summer day when I was only 12-ish, we had just finished dinner and were cleaning up. My uncle, who was living with us during his divorce, had come home with a nest of bees in his bonnet claiming that my aunt had fabricated a story that my grandfather had molested  my cousins and proceeded to obtain a restraining order against him.

 

I watched and then with about as much bravery and courage that any little girl could muster, tabled my shame and said in a small voice, “He did that to me.”

 

Stop. Pause. Turn. Head cock. Dish towel down.

 

Parent “I wish you had told me that.”

 

Me, “Well, I am telling you now.”

 

That was it.  That was all. The moment turned from little, petrified and ashamed Mary to the importance of those dinner dishes getting cleaned RIGHT AWAY.

 

This time, THIS abuse, was worse than at the hand of my grandfather. Who was going to protect me? Did they love me? Why won’t they believe me? I must be bad. That was it.

 

On that day, with all my might I bravely stepped out of that dark scary place,believing that if I could get myself there, if I could stand in the light just for a moment that it would be ok.

 

I held that abuse, my shame and my self-loathing inside that little body of mine, and it festered there for years having a say in my choices, my decisions, my life.

 

In January, for the first time in 35 years, Laura and I met. Wrapped in cozy blankets with copious amounts of chamomile tea and in front of a well-tended fire, courtesy of my husband, we let it rip, shared it all and figured out many of the missing pieces. Together we agreed that Grandpa had our past but he will never, ever have our future.

 

We decided to put that to rest on the next day by dancing on his grave. And so it happened.

 

“We drove to the town where he lived, and where he is buried. We drove to the town where we were abused. “

 

The next thing that happened?

 

HE WROTE IT DOWN

To view the sequel to this story, a story that has resonated with so many, written by my beautiful cousin, click below.

Bless!

That’s all.

 

http://inotherswords.com/2015/01/18/1473/

 

 

38 thoughts on ““BEFORE” He Wrote it Down

  1. Pingback: How it came to be. | In Others' Words…

  2. Hi Mary. Thank you so much for sharing your story. “He Wrote it Down” was such an inspiration to me. You are an inspiration to me. So many years have gone by since my abuse – I’m 52 now. I recently found, contacted and confronted one of my abusers, but I’m still looking for the other one. I now live in South Africa (talk about getting as far away as possible!), and the statute of limitation is long over, but guess what I’m going to do next time I’m in the States? I’m going to report at least one of my abusers, thanks to your story! Thank you and thank you again. I’m so glad you and your cousin “found” each other again 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you for reading our story and for really hearing our message. I AM SO PROUD of you for speaking up and for deciding to report your abusers when you return to the U.S. We are behind you 100%. It is cathartic and empowering. You can do it! Love, Mary

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Thank you for your bravery, Mary. I’ve been watching Laura’s blog since someone linked to “He Wrote it Down” in my FB feed (not having any idea how it would resonate with me). I’ve read every. single. comment to “He Wrote it Down.” Those stories are important. Thank you for being a part of it. I’ll be keeping an eye on your blog now, too! 🙂 BTW- this was my response after reading Laura’s post: http://jenndietz.blogspot.com/2015/03/into-silence.html. Thank you for your part in giving me the desire to be one of those who steps out and shares it all in an effort to bring healing to others. 🙂

    Like

    • Dear Jennifer,

      Wow, Wow, Wow. Congratulations to you for going there. It is so hard to allow yourself to go back, to recall, to accept, to speak, to address and then to move on! Your post is heart wrenching, raw and real. It is SO hard to say it and you did. Beautifully.Look where you are now.

      You are a treasure. You are profound. You are brave.

      Isn’t it liberating to set the truth free? To tell your story and to be heard?

      From one survivor to another. IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT. You did not ask for it, agree to it, accept it. Your journey has be so hard but look at you now.

      You continue to heal. You have shined a light on it. You are amazing.

      Sending you LOVE (and a HUGE hug)
      Mary

      Like

    • Jennifer, that was amazing! I have not been through the agonies that you and Laura and Mary and Laura’s sister have, but I have learned a lot by reading theirs and others’ writing. Your story is heartrending but beautifully, painfully told there. I am so happy you have reached a better place.

      Like

    • THANK YOU! I am so grateful for your support. Others are stepping into the light, Others are telling their stories and wonderful people like you are spreading the word and supporting our message.
      Blessings!
      Mary
      THANK
      YOU!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very happy that you and Laura found one another, so that the truth could finally be acknowledged by someone outside yourselves. Little did you know that doing so would affect such a huge number of people, allowing them pieces of light and hope that they never knew existed.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Speaking out about and shining a light on something that was so horrible in our lives, something that caused so much shame and pain has been empowering. In turn, seeing how our story has inspired so many to speak out and how many have found comfort is humbling. Thank you for supporting us! Love, Mary

      Like

  5. Now, Mary, you do understand the reasons you never saw your aunt or cousins after the divorce. Am so glad you and Laura are in the process of healing and of helping others. And, so very glad to have my niece back….looking forward to somehow seeing you this summer. It has been far too long and you and all of us have missed out on too much. Love you. Proud of you and all of my daughters. ❤

    Liked by 4 people

    • You are a strong mom for protecting your girls…many mom’s don’t..but make the child think they are bad…or feel crazy…it is a family issue and until the truth comes out no one can heal or grow. Blessings to you and your daughters…and to Mary…who knew back in high school we had so much in common.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oooh.. I’d noticed you were commenting lately on Laura’s blog and I saw her say “thank you, Mom” several times, and I wondered …. but now, knowing you acted to protect her, okay, that makes so much more sense. (If she posted that along the way and I missed it, I am sorry. I didn’t find her until later when I think Jen Hatmaker picked her up.)

      From those of us who didn’t have anyone safe to turn to… thank you for being there for yours. I don’t think that’s typical. And raising someone willing to share her light in the world of darkness for others.

      Like

  6. Bravery at its best.

    It took so very much courage for your 12 year old self to open your mouth and to say those words. I’m so sorry they didn’t hear you, honey.

    I’m glad someone eventually did, I’m glad you were taken seriously and treated with the care and kindness you should have been treated with the first time.

    I’m glad that even though your bravery hit you in the face back then, you were still able to muster that little bit more and try again.

    Thank you for it, it is helping in more ways than you could ever imagine.

    X

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you, thank you, thank you for believing, acknowledging and supporting me. It has been a really rough road but the future is so bright. I am so happy that he future holds so much.

      Sending love,
      Mary

      Like

    • He DOES!

      Your message is what the world needs to hear, “May we all respect our children’s voices and words a little bit more.” Right on.
      Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

      Bless you,
      Mary

      Like

  7. Officer Paul, if you are reading this…
    Thank you for your compassion, for your understanding, for your caring. I want you to know how many lives you’ve touched. You’ve made a difference in the world of survivors. Take that and hold it in your heart.
    Thank you, thank you and thank you again.
    Debbie

    Liked by 2 people

    • Debbie, thank you for your comment. I am not sure if he saw this. I hope that he did. BUT you must know that Officer Paul is the most humble, down to earth, sensitive and kind human being. At the end of the day he just says that he was doing his job. A- MAZING.
      Bless, Mary

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Mary, Laura, and Officer Paul: You are all beautiful humans. Your willingness to love actively and with brave hearts is so moving. Thank you for being present for each other and for sharing yourselves with all of us.

    Like

    • “Yet” is the key word! It took me 36 years to get to the point where I was able to come forward and speak up. Keep doing what you are doing. Reach out. Pull from other’s stories.
      I believe you.
      You will be brave when you are ready. It is a marathon, my friend, not a sprint.
      Sending love, Mary

      Liked by 2 people

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