I knew when I decided to do an interview with Sharon Rose Vaznis for a local news station, that it’s not something everyone would have done, and that’s ok. In fact, I’m willing to bet most people wouldn’t have taken this route, which is precisely why deciding to do it, was almost an easy yes for me. As a woman, as a mother, and as someone who advocates for others in her professional life; the idea of letting this opportunity pass me by, almost felt dishonest…
I thought a lot about what a privilege it was to even be asked to give a face and voice to what I, and others, have similarly endured. I thought about all of the time I’ve spent in the self help section at Borders and Barnes & Noble. I thought about how my checkout cart on Amazon is always full, with “spiritual” selections… I thought about how many times I’ve felt that the authors of those books had put my feelings into words; and how comforting that was and continues to be for me… I thought about the dozens of messages I’ve gotten from people who have thanked me and told me that they had been scared to share their stories. I thought about how blessed I am; and how impossible it must feel for people without an ARMY of support, to get through big life trauma’s like these. I thought about Brock Turner’s piss poor sentence. I thought about how just this year more than 100 women accused a former USA Gymnastics doctor of sexual abuse. I thought about the parallel of the complete abuse of power in that scenario and the one in which I was merely “collateral damage” in… I thought about all of the sexual perpetrators that are never caught or punished for their crimes…
And of course I thought about Molly. I thought about what she may think or feel when she (some day) discovers that I did an interview, about her father, who sexually abused a fourteen year old student of his. The interview isn’t actually about him, it’s about me, it’s about us (Molly and I), it’s about heartache, it’s about resiliency; but I like to consider the worst case scenario (that this could be her first misconception when she discovers it). I thought about this innocent, precious girl, who is my whole wide world… And I mostly thought about setting an example for her, in how I choose to show up in our lives.
Showing up, standing in the light, being seen, and sharing your story, can look and mean different things to different people. It doesn’t always mean sharing intimate details of your life with complete strangers, or doing an interview for your local news station; but sometimes it does. What’s important is noticing if your thoughts/beliefs are in alignment with your actions. You’ll know they are congruent if and when you feel peace in your heart.
The reason allowing ourselves to be truly and authentically seen is such a courageous act is because it can be painful. It can hurt when others don’t understand, agree with, or support the ways you decide to show up in the world. Especially so, when they are people that you deeply love. Vulnerability is kinda like playing football without any gear on, and hoping that the other team only gently tackles you… It’s high risk behavior; there is a pretty good chance you could get hurt. However, unlike that example of playing a full contact sport without any protection, the reward that comes with true vulnerability supersedes all others; for it is that of connection. In not taking this ultimate risk, we actually risk more. We are never truly seen… It’s just like that poem by Shel Silverstein which reads as follows…
She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by-
And never knew.”
As easy as the yes in my heart was, it quite honestly would have been a lot less painful if I had chosen not to do this interview. It would have been easier on me and on others. It would have been easier not to relive the past 6 months. Throughout this process my dreams morphed back into nightmares, my anxiety rose, my depression grew, and my heart continued to break. I feel safe in assuming that it must have been hard and painful for his family and friends too; and knowing that truly haunted me…
The thing is I’m a firm believer that it’s in feeling and being heard that we heal. I’m determined to do whatever it takes to heal; not only for myself but for my little girl. Molly deserves that. For this very reason I’m willing to talk, scream, cry, write, and yes share! The truth is, just because we don’t talk about something doesn’t mean it goes away…
What he did will never go away. It will always be a part of my/our story… It’s there when Molly asks for her dad. It’s there when she throws a fit and my back sweat streams, as my frustration flares. It’s there when I have nightmares of taking him back. It’s ironically and poignantly present during happy moments too, like when Molly does something remarkable; when she hits a new milestone, or does something funny, or smart, because I thought I would be able to share those moments with him. It’s there when I pay the bills, do the laundry, and clean the house. It’s there when I carry my sleeping daughter upstairs and tuck her in at night. It’s there when I’m alone in my bed unable to sleep and when I open my eyes in the morning. Like a death, I continue to feel and grieve what could have been… but every time I feel heard, and every time I feel seen, I heal.