Saturday, July 28, 2012

My Scarlet Letter ~ Tired of Secrets

"If you ever tell your Granny about this, it will kill her" echoes in my memory. One of many lies I was told to keep me in line, to keep his secret.  My father's mother is who it would kill.  I was horrified by the thought that revealing his secret could cause, what I imagined to be, the instant death of my grandmother.  This woman who had helped raise me, who had taken care of me many summers while both parents worked.  My afternoons after school were spent there too, when my family lived in the same town.  She was just a block down the street and I could walk there by myself anytime.  The thing she and I shared was her love of a soap opera.  I recall sitting right next to her in her chair dipping her snuff with me on the rug in front of the telly watching 'Days of Our Lives'.  If me and my brothers were quiet during her soap hour, then it was cartoons in the hours following.  
The bond that my grandmother and I created in those couple of summers would transcend many years. As I grew older, I continued to keep up with her soap. When I was able to see her, it didn't matter what was going on with anyone else in the family she and I always had something to share. This bond allowed she and I to talk about most things that can happen in real life. The similarities between the lives portrayed on a soap and our own is striking. There are life lessons that can be applied as the characters learn some of their own.
In the year after I had begun intense psychotherapy, I took the time to go over and re-connect with my granny. It was on one of these occasions that I slipped.  After so many years of keeping the horror deep within me.  I didn't mean too.  But it was just enough for her to put two and two together. And, one of her soap opera characters had revealed she had survived child sexual abuse by her own father. 
She once said there would be nothing her son could do that would make her not love him. Knowingly, sometimes, those who are supposed to love and care for us, care for someone else more and really don't want to see the truth.  How many times could she have asked  questions.  Why didn't she?  She wasn't prepared to know the truth about her son.  In her way, she was asking me why I didn't feel the same way.  She picked up the picture of my father and his second wife and asked 'what is it about Rosemary that bothers you?" 
Without a thought, I blurted, "Granny, it's because she's eight months older than me." 
Her eyes blinked in an attempt to relive that moment of truth.  Silence filled the room and I turned to escape before anything else could be asked.   
The last time I spoke with her, I believe in my heart she knew what he had done to me.  There was an inkling in her voice with the questions she asked that last time we conversed.  Her direct inquiry to details of what was going on with me indicated she had come to understand the depth of his scars.  She passed away in her sleep two weeks following.  
Who knows, maybe she was tired, tired of all the secrets.