Message in a Bottle

Once a very wise person lost a child. Maybe children. He mourned because he loved them. so he came up with a plan. Put fire in the sky to guide them at night. Put smoke in the sky to guide them by day. Give them rules on something durable to keep them safe. Tell them from the beginning that you have a plan. Don’t worry, a plan of love.

Send messengers to remind them. Send someone like a son to find them. Document who you are and who they are. Leave a record of your love. Do everything because they are everything to you.

Understand that the story they are told about you may not be all true. Understand they may not want you in the end. Understand that no matter what no matter where no matter how, you will always love them. Because you are their dad. Because it is your nature.

Oh yeh, and write a book. Tell them in the book how much you love them. Pray they read it. Because it means everything.

If what i do ever seems a little crazy, remember that I am following that guy, that Wise Guy, so that one day I can tell my daughter face to face…

I have always loved you.

How to heal sexual abuse

Imagine your child is the most beautiful baby in the world. Now imagine they are a beautiful toddler, then preschooler and then kindergartner.

(yes, I know your child is the most beautiful of all these things–this is why I wrote it that way– so you could empathize)

Imagine you homeschool because you enjoy time with your child so much. Imagine your child is both smart and good, charming and graceful and funny.

Now imagine you discover that your child has been sexually abused by someone they trusted. Someone you let be around your child. You trusted the abuser too.

When you find out that all this has happened before your child is 6, how will you feel? What will you do?

I can only tell you what I did. The first thing I did was grieve. I cried for at least a month. I cried for three years. I cried yesterday.

The next thing I did was ask how could I have missed it? The abuser was highly deceptive. Most are.

Then I stared right into the face of an awful list. On it were:

Acting out sexually
Academic problems
Bedwetting
Anger issues
Small cutting
Depression
Suicidal behavior
Poor hygiene
Gender identity crisis
Eating disorder
Low self esteem

Imagine you are the mother of the most beautiful child in the world and you do not want your child to struggle with the things on that list. You want healing.

I prayed and the answer I got was remarkably simple: the truth will set you free.

I had a hard time at first because of the list. I hated the idea that people would judge my child because of what had been done to her instead of seeing she was not those things.
She was just another 5 year old crime victim. Five year old rape victim.

You don’t get your head around that right away. Hurts too much.

But I began to tell our story. I used the language of the criminal code because what had been done was a crime.

As I told the story I found out one thing for sure: the list is wrong, really wrong.

How do I know? Because the vast majority of rape and child sexual abuse survivors never show up on the list, never reveal their stories.

They live quiet, normal, functioning lives with no predetermined set of symptoms from the list except the terrible loneliness and pain that comes with the betrayal of their innocence and the added weight of attempting to heal alone.

Why would they need to heal alone?
The list.
Who wants to have to deal with terrible pain of sexual abuse AND the stigma of that list?

Not me. I wouldn’t. But I have chosen to let the truth set me free and it has.

My beautiful child is no more at risk of the things on that list than any other child. In fact she is far less so.

Why?
Because she has me and I would swallow a world of pain, humiliation and prejudice before I would let her walk the road into adulthood alone.

In fact. I want to get rid of the list. It a terrible fiction.

The stages of grief

I stay up too late. I am looking for meaning. I feel like an old woman rummaging through her things, longing for the people attached to them–
Tom’s chair
Ruby’s dress

The people I want back are mostly living. I want them to be braver or more honorable, kinder or stronger.

But they are not. So I rummage

For meaning
For hope
For the person I once was
This is my nightly vigil
My grief.

100 books

the day i let go of the rope i decided, why not write?

if someone mined the interior of my computer they would find fragments of the same terrible story–for years i wrote to stay sane

when i finally wrote the book it was an act of defense not just for my children but for the millions of other children who have been silenced and marginalized by abuse, especially sexual abuse

after I wrote the book I sprinted to edit it and clean it up and then I bought a hundred copies.  I have given them out.  That was the goal I had set for myself and the image that goes with it has been with me for years:

When M. and C. were little they had so many tantrums so regularly I often thought about the climatic moment in the now ancient movie The Witness–the bad guys are about to win when a contingent of Amish neighbors appear on the horizon.  Their numbers and witness prevent violence.  Over the years I have longed for those Amish people–a group of witnesses preventing violence.  And that was the idea–one hundred books, one hundred witnesses.  The justice system is falling short and sexual predators are allowed to do much more damage than they should because we do not have an effective system to just identify them and prevent them access to children.  If you add the terrible price of silence and the way it cuts children off from healing and community–something needs to change.

Now that I have gotten to the watermark of 100 books I feel compelled to reiterate my offer.  Want a copy?  Send me your address.