|"Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in your memory, as the wish to forget it." Michel deMontaigne, A French Philosopher, 1533A.D.
CHILDREN KEEPING SECRETS
The significant secret I kept from age eleven to age thirty, was the most negative, filled with pain and rage, was that an old toothless uncle sexually assaulted me during my tenth to eleventh year of life.
At age thirty, I told my husband of the decade; and he then told me his church pastor had assaulted him at the age of nine. Horrible secrets fill the soul with heavy negativeness and can never be positive whether told or not told; too often it's the youngest child in the family with such a heavy burden; to tell it is to cause the hearer to also suffer. In those days before 1950 there were no laws to protect children and if the criminal was found out, there were no laws to keep him out of society.
Writing about the horrible secret has helped to relieve the heavy burden, carried by the dear child in my being; however the awful memories never, never, leave the mind. I'm now 75, and just last night before dropping off to sleep, my mind replayed some of those horrible memories and thought about how the adult I grew up to be, wishes she could have dealt with the toothless old uncle: I could 'see; the young adult 'me' tying a rope around his neck while telling all the family, including his brother my wonderful grandfather, all the ugly things he did to my tiny body, the weakling I was that year and the shy, timid child I was. In my mind, the speedy images were: I was telling the whole family that they should help me stake him to the top of a red anthill, well stirred into a frenzy with a shovel, pin him to the ground totally naked and leave him on the anthill for a few days/ then I could imagine my father taking an axe to chop off his balls...his cold limpy penis never entered the child but he tried to.
THIS IS THE WAY CHILD RAPE CONTINUALLY ASSAULTS THE THOUGHTS OF THE CHILD VICTIM ALL THE DAYS OF HER/HIS LIFE....THE MEMORY IS DAMAGING EVERYTIME.
If my reader even 'thinks' a person is just paying too much attention to a child, please ask the child what's happening.
When does a person start keeping secrets? Why must a secret be kept to oneself? Does the power of the secret diminish while it is kept? Does keeping a secret prevent hurt to anyone? I wonder.
I started keeping a secret when I was ten years old. It was an ugly secret that made me feel drastically ashamed. Shame was something that children were taught early in childhood by remarks such as, "You should be ashamed of yourself."
The remarks were made at a child who hit another child, at a child who wet his pants or a child who repeated a four-letter word that he had heard his father speak. It didn't matter what the action was; what seemed to matter to adults was for the child to feel worthless and worthy of serious punishment. Usually, no information or explanation accompanied the shamming remark; for that reason, the child was required to feel damned just for existing.
If I were to tell the horrible secret to anyone, would I be damned and hated? Would anyone save me from the ugliness of the secret or would they blame or punish me? Who could I tell that would love me and protect me and never shame me?
I kept the secret deep inside, never speaking about it to anyone. It seemed to eat away at the inside of me. Keeping the secret became more and more difficult as the shame was accompanied by fear. If I told it to my mother, my grandmother, my father, what would happen, what would they do? Would anyone believe me or would I be punished and shamed if they said it was a lie? I was even afraid that someone might even kill me if I told the awful secret.
It takes more strength and power to hold a secret deep inside. I always felt the fear building up inside me. It was like a black cloud around me and I began to stay quiet no matter who was near me. I began to wish I could die but as a child, I didn't know how to make that happen. A part of me seemed to die and I tried to bury in as deep inside of me as was possible.
I didn't tell anyone even during the year that my father was gone away. I didn't tell him or anyone when my father returned and moved our family three thousand miles away. The pressure of the secret and the fear became greater and I didn't tell anyone; instead, I became more and more shy and quiet around people. Worst was when I went to church with my mother and felt the shame and fear inside me even then.
I didn't know that if I told the secret, my father would believe me. I also did not know that if he knew that he might murder someone. I withdrew into myself and became depressed.
The depression took away any joy and sense of happiness that I so wanted to know. It led me to hate a part of myself, the part that stayed buried with the shame and fear caused by the secret.
I went to college and I married and tried to be a good Christian; and, I kept the secret buried. Perhaps I believed that the memory of the ugliness of the secret would go away; maybe, be buried so deep inside that it would just dissolve. But, it did not.
Every day of my life in some way, it was on my mind. I finally told someone when I was almost thirty-two years old and taking anti-depressants to avoid suicide.
First, I told my husband; and then, I told my psychiatrist. They believed me and understood the pain that I had carried deep inside for thirty years. They did not make me feel ashamed. Just telling it to them gave me relief; but it took another thirty years before I finally was able to find healing from the damage of that ugly secret: that an old, toothless uncle of my mother's, had sexually abused and hurt me for two years.
Children's secrets can damage them all of their lives if they do not know who they can tell.