Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.

— Winston Churchill

Empowering a Child with Stories from Our Past

One of the most important things I can do as a parent is help my child to feel empowered.

Prompted by some recent preschool playground tomfoolery, I’ve been talking with Aaron about what it means to be a good friend and how important it is to stand up for ourselves and each other, not to be a follower when your instincts tell you to lead in a different direction and how it’s critical to help people who don’t have a voice.  Sometimes our actions can change people’s lives. These are all big concepts for a 5-year-old and the examples I try to pull out of my hat have to be simple and age appropriate.

When he’s older and our conversations can take on more depth, this is one of the stories I’ll tell him…

My mother and her three sisters never discussed that their father was molesting them. Mom believed she was the only one. Aunt K thought all fathers ran their hands over naked, prepubescent bodies. Their definition of normal was exactly what they knew.

In December when I started gathering material for the book, I was sitting with my mother and two of her sisters at a long, wooden kitchen table. Bantering my first round of questions, trying to initiate discussion, and although awkward at first and unsure how they were really going to respond to someone prodding memories from old caves, I was excited by their honesty and willingness to share with me.

Memories don’t shake dust in straight lines. They pop out unexpectedly, initiated by a word or glance and often they have their own chronological desires. Later memories are easier to call forward than the earliest series of betrayals and so we’ve spent much time dancing together through unhinged cobwebs.

While discussing story beginnings we jumped to the story’s middle when Aunt K told us about her 13-year-old self crossing the line. As her father tried taming her soul to satisfy his warped sexual desires, she felt her mind exploding. A childhood spent in fear, confusion and pain fueled her tiny body. The years of needing someone to see, to listen and to stand up for her when nobody would somehow gave her a resolve she’d never been empowered to have. She screamed. She yanked herself away. She threw her foot back and drop kicked him in the groin. As he fell to the floor clutching himself, she swore through clenched teeth and waving fists ready to batter a bigger parent, that if he ever touched her again, she’d kill him.

He never did.

Hearing her sister’s story, Aunt L’s chin quivered and her eyes cascaded. “If you were 13,” she quickly realized, “I was 15 and that’s when the abuse stopped for me too. It just all of a sudden stopped.” She reached kitty-corner across the table and pulled Aunt K’s hands into her own, “You saved me too.”

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18 comments to Empowering a Child with Stories from Our Past

  • wow thats powerful

    coffeejitters (Judy Haley)s last blog post..Letting Her Grow

  • donna

    We all wish that we had the foresight to do that to him, but we did not.Your voice has given us the courage to come forward and wrap our arms around each other and help us all through this. I have decided that I am no longer going to be a victim , I am a survivor. I am proud of that . I have a long way to go as my sisters do as well. The important thing is that we all keep talking about it. Your voice is your best weapon, use it. We all are now and it is very empowering. Tricia is telling our story and we are all helping her. This has sent me on a journey that even I did not expect. I am growing stronger by the day and working through things that have been buried. I have a very patient husband and he is helping me through this. HE is the strength that I need to get through this. I also have a great therapist. And then there is Tricia. What more do I have to say to that. Surround yourself with great people and a great therapist.

    Tricia I may have been a very young mom, but this mom could no be more proud of that and you. I would not change any part of that , “EVER”. You have helped me more than I think even you will ever know. You are our voice and our strength. You were meant to come into this world and be a strong person to give people a voice. You have touched a lot of people’s lives. Keep on writing.
    This Mom really loves you.

  • Tricia

    @Judy: It is isn’t it. This is one of the stories that keeps playing in my head.

    @Donna: How could you have had the foresight, you were never empowered, but you are now. I’m just the story teller, you’re doing all the work and what a wonderful job you’re doing. Thank you for what you wrote. It touches my heart, but even more, thank you for having the courage and conviction to stand up and be counted…to find your voice, which is getting stronger every day. It’s such a joy to see. We choose our paths and deciding to step away from the victim’s path and put one foot after another on a different journey will redefine us. I promise.

  • It is amazing that all it takes sometimes is one person standing up to someone to get them to stop being a bully or an abuser. I hope that Aaron continues to fight for the weak against the evil strong.

    WickedStepMoms last blog post..Sushi Grade Award

  • Tricia and Donna,

    You have both touched me deeply this morning. As I reflect on my own past – which I thought was long ago buried – I recognize so many ways I am still allowing myself to be a vicitm (something I would NEVER have admitted a very short time ago). Sadly, my own mother has not had the courage or strength to talk about my abuse and our relationship has been deteriorating for some time. You are so lucky to have each other, to be finding your voice and so very brave to work through this together. You are an inspiration.


    Danielles last blog post..Boys

  • Tricia and Donna,Both of you have touched me today. Donna,(and your sisters) thank you for having the courage to share your story, for having the courage to seek the help to triump over these things and to no longer be the victim. Wow! I am thankful that the abuse you all endured caused you to embrace each other. That is beautiful.

    Some times when abuse happens it seperates those that are being abused…such as the case in my family. Growing up in an abusive home, and in a large family, we did not bond with one another in what was going on. We never talked about it. We still don’t to this day(for the most part). My dad has mellowed some, yet he is still mean. My mom continues to endure him and will not ever leave him. We tried but she wouldn’t listen. Some of us siblings have come together more now that we are adults and my brother and I bonded over working through some of these issues.

    I wish with all my heart that my mom could stop being a victim but it is all she knows. She never fights back. I understand her because it’s all I knew and what I chose for my life until about 4-5 years ago. I never fought back either and until recently never understood why I didn’t. As you know Tricia, I am dealing with a lot of issues in my life right now and this is one of them. I am always trying to make sense of these things.

    Tricia, don’t ever stop teaching these things to your son.Even if it seems like he isn’t understanding fully, he will eventually. These are the things I taught my children and now that they are adults, these things shine from their lives. I now teach these things to my little people.

    Thank you once again for sharing this story…for being the voice to something that needs to be heard. This story encourages me to keep moving forward in my healing and wholeness. Bless all of you for this! Hugs, Lori

    Loris last blog post..A Rite of Passage

  • What an incredible story. I am constantly amazed at the pain that people can endure and still come out so strong.

  • Jan

    This is just overwhelming for me in a lot of ways. It makes me sad, angry and grateful all at the same time. Mostly grateful, though, that my daughter has never experienced the things that my sisters and I did at the hands of our uncle and older cousin.

    Jans last blog post..Sweet Potato Salad

  • I wish I could give your family a great big hug. You are all courageous women, and Aaron and future generations will richly benefit from that. Hats off to all of you.

    Hilarys last blog post..A Raccoon Tale (Part Two)

  • What your young aunt did was so amazing. She found her power. Good for her, and her sisters!

    Has anyone explored your grandfather’s childhood to see what could have turned him into this kind of person? I wonder if he was a victim at one time too. Not that it would be an excuse.

    HeatherPrides last blog post..Duck Salad

    • Tricia

      Heather: there’s always that desire for an answer to the “why”, but we’ll never have one, and even if we did, it couldn’t erase or ease the implications of his monstrosity. His family certainly had it’s share of dysfunction as do most families, but he swore he’d not been sexually abused as a child, so who knows. I think in reality he was simply one of the evil ones.

  • That truly is an amazing story. Full of strength, the kind of strength that inspires us all.

  • Hugs to you Tricia and Donna, Aunt L and Aunt K. This is very powerful. I hope that by opening your voices that healing can continue. You ladies are beautiful and inspirational to say the very least.

    Amy @ Five Flower Moms last blog post..Wordless/Wordful Wednesday – Minerva Louise

  • Oh, I have chills. I hope that in the sharing of these stories, your mother and her sisters are experiencing a healing process. It seems like they are. What courageous women to be willing to journey together and tell their stories!

  • Shiela

    wow. what a journey you all are on together. keep it up and be proud of how far you have come and how strong you all are.

  • Oh I like your Aunt K!

    Tricia…did their mother have any idea of what was happening?
    It is sickening that a man would molest a child…even more so his own child. Makes you wonder if he abused any other children over the years…such as nieces, cousins, friends etc.
    Your mom and her sisters are very brave to share this painful memory…but it also has to be a relief to unload bottled up feelings. I hope their story through your book will help other girls who have been subjected to this abuse!

    Monicas last blog post..It’s All About Change

  • Tricia, I’m reading this post on Mother’s Day and I see you have given your Mom and her sister’s the best MD gift ever. You’re giving them the gift of healing. Healing for their troubled souls. Your Mother is/was an extraordinary Mom to have endured what she did growing up and then rose up through that pain and raised a daughter such as yourself.

    HUGS and Happy Mother’s Day to you.

    Midlife Slicess last blog post..Happy Mother’s Day

  • WOW! This one has (almost) left me speechless. And that’s not an easy thing to do.

    Smart Mouth Broads last blog post..WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SO IN THE FIRST PLACE

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