Today I woke up to heartbreak.
Clear and strong, like a window cracked into giant glass slivers.
Another survivor, bearing the burden of proof.
A family chanting and then berating. Pushing for a more palatable story and when not rewarded with what they wanted, they turned to petty attacks and cutting words.
I won’t repeat them here. It’s not my story to tell.
I did have advice though.
Every time I tell my story, there are consequences for the people in my family.
I fear my mother will never release the guilt she feels about her inability to see what was hidden so expertly.
My brother mourned a father I only know in pieces and parts that don’t reconcile themselves to one another.
My father’s family experiences a range of emotions and reactions that I will never understand.
It is my story.
It is my truth but sharing it hurts. It hurts others and sometimes – damn it – it hurts myself.
Even though I wish it didn’t any more.
However, I did not conjure up this pain. I did not bring this upon us all like some plague.
My father did this.
He made choices that turned his only daughter into his victim.
He ruined his own reputation and sullied his own good name.
I am only telling the truth.
It’s not an easy truth but my story belongs and I have rarely been made to feel otherwise.
Your story belongs too.
This morning, I recognized a truth being stifled. I saw a true story being shoved out into the open where it was insulted and scolded in an effort to change the truth.
It was heartbreaking.
And it will happen again. It’s probably happening right now in some corner of the world and just down the street.
I’d like to say I don’t understand why families of victims behave this way but I do.
Deeply, in my heart, I also wish that my father had lived up to his good reputation. I wish it were as simple as the wrong outfit, the wrong place, too many cocktails, flirty behavior or unclear boundaries.
I recognize, deep in my heart that when you see that no one is safe, you start to realize that it could happen to you and you panic.
Those excuses only take the focus off of the only person in the situation who deserves to be shamed, punished and seeking repentance – the perpetrator.
If someone has enough faith in you to share the burden of their most terrible story, please, please believe them. Please.
Give faith in return for faith.
If you fail a loved one in this manner, it will have dire, long-lasting and sometimes irrevocable consequences for you both.
Believe me. I know.
PS – I had to add this sassy picture to drive home the point. Ya dig?