Sunday, February 28, 2010

A prayer for the broken

And this, my friends, is what happens when you play the Secret Game. I promise the snark, sarcasm, and funny stuff will be back soon.

Of all the compliments I've ever received, "
You're hands down the most honest person I've ever met" is one of my very favorite. Ask anyone who knows me well to describe me, and you'll most likely hear a lot of things about how unusually (and occasionally inappropriately) open I am about my life. I've told near strangers about everything from growing up in a weird cult to helping pull the charred corpses of little girls out of a car my brothers in the Corps had blown up with a Mk-19.

It wasn't that I was unaffected by these things. I just really and truly believe that honesty is always best, you can't heal from things you won't talk about, and that holding all the dark things in your heart serves only to stain and corrupt all the good that you might want to keep safe. So I have no secrets, or almost none.

As you might imagine, this leads to a lot of trouble when I try to play the Secret Game. The Secret Game is my name for the age old practice of asking someone you love "So tell me a secret about yourself" and replying with a secret of your own. It's a bonding thing, a way of expressing trust, and of course a lot of fun for the professionally curious. I have a dear friend who shares my love for this game, but it's always tough for me as I just don't have many secrets. And the ones I do have...

There are a lot of bad things in my past, and they still inspire a lot of emotions in me today. Sadness, anger, despair, hopelessness; even filtered by the nepenthe of time and healing, nothing can ever make the deaths of those little girls ok, or erase the suicidal misery I felt when I was at the worst of my depression. But I talk about them, and every time they lose a little of their power. But there was something I always held back...

Shame is a powerful emotion, but sadly the people who most need it rarely seem to feel it. For over 20 years it's been there for me, and unlike any of the other emotions the past brings up it was enough to stop me from being honest. And I hate that it keeps me from that principle, hate that it's so illogical I feel it, and I won't let it be that way anymore.

When I was 5, a family member molested me several times. It happened again about 4 years later, but by a stranger on an airplane. Before today I'd never told anyone that, and I always wondered... Did they hurt other kids after me? If I'd said something, would they have been stopped, and the others saved? I feel so much guilt, so much shame. And it's goddamned illogical, all of it. None of it was my fault.

In reality, I've gotten off quite easily. The abuse was incredibly minor (I believe inappropriate touching is the technical term), it came from both a man and a woman so if I have any issues they're at least equal opportunity, and it actually has resulted in some positive things in my life. Exceedingly protective attitude towards kids (and women for that matter), a great deal of empathy for strippers/hookers/sexy barristas etc (damn near %100 of the women in those trades were sexually abused as kids), and a strong belief in the moral necessity of resisting evil.

And, in what is perhaps an arrogant gesture, I hope that my talking about it now can help others. Given the incredibly limited readership of this blog it's pretty unlikely anyone will actually see this who needs it, but I feel like I need to at least make the effort. So if you've been hurt, and feel broken please just know... You aren't alone.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. It's hard to believe no one else has posted a comment here for you. You can see how seriously most of us play "The Shame Game." I, too, was "inappropriately touched" as a child by a family member. I did tell family what happened and basically was told to shut up and forget it. As a result, I have spent the rest of my life to this point determined to protect myself, believing that no one else will. And I have shadow boxed with the elusive enemy, Shame. He's a master of disguises, however, and it has taken until recently for me to recognize that the condemnation I have taken in many areas of my life can actually be traced back to the one Liar - Shame. Jesus is the Shame Breaker. He's the Truth Teller. The Heart Healer. My mask is off to you, John, for refusing to hide anymore and for exposing the truth of the lie. You're a brave man. And you inspire bravery in others.