From Tracie: Who Votes for Skipping April?

Monday, April 05, 2010

Who Votes for Skipping April?

I have put off writing this, but in the spirit of open and honest authenticity, here it is: April.

April is hard for me.

April 1st is the anniversary date of the death of my uncle. When I was a kid he was my favorite relative, everyday he spent hours playing board games, telling me stories, watching old movies and tv shows, listening to me read, giving me all his attention. But there was something else he gave me, something I was in denial about for a very long time. Sexual abuse. Every day for five years. 

I clearly remember when he died. He had been in the hospital for several days and in my father's family when someone is in the hospital, life stops. Everyone takes off of work and stays out of school to be at the hospital the entire time. On this day I went to a neighbor's house for a few hours to borrow some books and eat some lunch. She brought me and my cousin back to the hospital that afternoon. A family member met us by the elevators and said, "He died." I was crushed, I remember crying hysterically right there in front of about 25 people waiting for the elevator to arrive. She looked at me and said, "It's over."  Just like that.

"It's over."

What did that even mean? In my nine year old brain I was angry. Angry at her for being so cold. Angry at my family for sending me away from the hospital. Angry at my uncle for dying. Angry at all the people staring at me in the hallway. I also remember my cousin who was also standing there (not the one who had been with me at the neighbor's house) saying "Stop crying." That made me angry too. Here my world was falling apart in the middle of the hallway and he expected me to stop crying. The neighbor took me back to her house. God bless her.

It took me a long time to forgive that family member for doing that to me. I didn't understand why she had acted that way. For years I spent the first day of April in grief. I've never played an April Fools joke; there was no joking on that day in my life. When I got older, I finally admitted to myself that in the midst of all of those memories of attention and fun there were other memories. Memories of abuse. And what plagues me even more, darkness where memories should be. I also eventually made peace with this family member, I came to find that she had her own set of memories from a childhood spent with this man. She had a very good reason to stand there cold and unaffected with only the words "It's over,"  for a eulogy. For me, it still is not over.

Now on this day, I still grieve. I grieve for the man who was probably my best friend as a child. I grieve for the childhood he stole from me and for the person I might have been. I grieve for the other childhoods he stole (at least three he was convicted of before I was born, but no jail sentences given, and others I know of that he was never charged with). I grieve the fact that I had a father and grandparents who knew this man was a child molester, they still sent me into a room alone with him each day for five years with no thought to my safety, and chose to cover up the abuse they knew was happening. I enter into this month feeling conflicted at every turn. I retreat so far into my own mind and memories that I'm sure it is difficult for anyone who has to live with me. 

So what is the answer to all this grief?  Joy! Joy is always the answer.

So today I choose to rejoice.

I rejoice in a husband who holds me when I cry, and understands me the best he can. I rejoice in a God who loves me so much He pursues me with a passion that is simultaneously scary and beautiful. I rejoice in a daughter who, even as I write this, has made me a pretend snack of all of my favorite things. She teaches my inner child how to do fun and carefree everyday. I rejoice in friends who support me in my healing, teach me how to be open, love me even when I feel damaged, and show me my wholeness. 

This April has brought all the conflict and grief of years past and mixed it with the stress and things surrounding me now, until I have thought I would break under the weight of it. As I fight against behaviors rooted in my survivor coping techniques (those techniques that hurt more than they help), I fight to open my mouth and speak out my feelings. To not punish those around me for things that happened so long ago or for things happening today that they can't control any more than I can, and to have real conversations (not mindless fights) about the things we can and should control today.

I was reminded this weekend of a picture I drew several years ago on an April 1st.  I dug back through my archives to find it and was hit with how true that picture still is, so I will leave you with this...
...and I will go make puppets with my daughter.
And live in JOY. 

And as to skipping April? Not me!
I vote to overcome April.
To stand strong throughout it (even if I can only stand on my knees)
Because that is what surviving really is...and I am a survivor! 


  1. Oh, Tracie. I only wish I could give you a hug. I am so proud of you for writing this, for talking abuot how we as survivors are so conflicted sometimes. I love you dearly. I hope you know that, my sister in Christ... you are so special to me! You know I'm struggling too, and if you need me I'm here. Squish!

  2. Dearest Tracie,

    This post sent chills down my spine. I am so sorry that you had to endure what you had to endure. It makes me angry at your relatives that allowed you to spend time with this man. Did they ever apologize? I wish I could give you a hug sweet lady. I am so impressed with your faith and attitude of forgiveness. Blessings

  3. You are loved. And never, never alone.

    I can unfortunately resonate with so much of what you said; the word "uncle" still pangs me. But your outlook and thoughtfulness here shifted everything for me today. Here's to survivorship!

    You are beautiful!

    In solidarity,

  4. At first I couldn't understand why you were upset at the family member for saying "it's over," but as I read I understood that you had not let the abuse surface in your mind and she had. I am very sad to hear stories like yours, all too common, but so glad to hear that you have not let it rule your life.

    April. Bring it on!

  5. Wow Tracie, what an amazing post. Thank you for being so brave and sharing your story with really are a survivor!

  6. I so understand you're feelings. I have similar issues with April. Thanks for sharing this.

  7. Tracie, I love you, and I'm so happy to see you in this moment - Strong and Courageous. It is so difficult to come through the process of thoughts and emotions of an abusive and neglectful childhood. I am so proud of you. You wrote beautifully, and I feel your heart - the pain, and the joy : ) Thank you for sharing your story. You're Rockin' !!
    Warm ((hugs))

  8. Dear friend, you are such a loving, sweet soul. I want to go back in time and snatch up that little girl away from harm. I'm sending you positive thoughts, prayers, and virtual hugs. I love your attitude and spirit. Spring is a time of renewal and hope.

  9. You are such a strong women. I know how you feel though. I was abused by my father and I have learned recently that I am going to try and help other girls so they don't go through this like I have.

  10. Wow!
    "So what is the answer to all this grief? Joy! Joy is always the answer."

    Spoken like a true survivor!!!
    I admire the way you are able to analyse your feelings and choose to focus on the ones that bring you joy.

    Just stumbled across your blog and looking forward to reading more :-)

  11. You are a very strong woman to be able to share such painful and personal memories with us! You are truly an inspiration to other survivors and I feel very blessed to know you...even if only virtually!!!

  12. Very touching post ! It's amazing how our mind reacts and blocks out all bad events which happened to us as children and only leaves a black hole. It take years to fill in the black and it's hard to cope with what we discover. You take the right way, enjoy life now with your daughter and hubby and be happy (even in April :))

  13. wow Tracie! What an open and very honest post. Thank you so much for sharing and being a light for others who may have gone through similar experiences in their childhood and need inspiration. Bless you!
    May the Lord continue to lead your heart each day and to give you comfort when you need it.

  14. What an amazing post. I have ABSOLUTELY no idea what to say. LIke Gattina said... our mind is an incredible instrument, allowing you to block out certain horrors. Have you ever spoke with your dad or grandparents about it? You don't need to share, I just can't help but think.

    I SO admire you for looking forward. That takes a SPECIAL, awe-inspiring, woman!

    In Him,

  15. Wow, thanks for letting us in to this part of your life. It must be so confusing and painful. You seem to be doing a great job despite. You are strong!

  16. Thank you so much for stopping at my blog to share in my feature day.

    And even more so, thank you for sharing a part of your life on your blog for us as readers to learn about. I'm so sorry you went through all of that at such a young age.

    But I am inspired at your strength and resolve to choose joy!!

  17. I really appreciate you sharing about the conflict of loving someone and enjoying the time you had together and the abuse and loss of childhood to the very same person. That juxtaposition can often feel so shameful, but you are able to be so open and honest about it. The fact is that we are often abused by those we love. And in remembering the abuse, we often suffer the loss of a dear relationship, too.
    It sounds like you've come so far. I'm glad that you have joy. You very much deserve it.

  18. Wow! Good good for you. Reading this gave me chills. So happy that you are learning and trying to over come and not let him ruin your April's anymore. Thank you for sharing this. Your strength truly is an inspiration.

  19. Oh Tracie.
    I know saying I'm sorry does not even begin to cover the pain you have experienced. I pray that God fills you with a peace that surpasses understanding during this difficult season.
    I pray that your spirit of forgiveness for what your uncle did to you continues. Not for him. But for you!

    Hugs to you Tracie and thank you for sharing your story and your voice for all those who will not or cannot.

  20. What a powerful picture! I am not sure what you meant in it, but I see the little girl semi-hidden in swirling colors of darkness. Yet, there are rays of golden light coming from above to search her out. I always think of G-d when I see gold. There seems to be a cross of gold (representing Jesus?) coming out of the gold above. Another interesting thing is the blackness that is covered with the gold above. It is as if the gold and the cross are holding it back...protecting you from it. That is why the darkness below has some color in it. It seems to say, to me anyway, that you were divinely protected from total darkness in your life. You were allowed to experience some good memories and times, too.

    Anyway...I may be totally off on that, but it is what I saw. Perhaps that is because that is the way I believe it played out in my own life. I am glad that you shared it. I, too, tend to struggle with this month...for different reasons.

    Sending you gentle hugs...if you want.

  21. wow, you made me tear up a little. I could not even begin to imagine how you feel/felt. All I can say is that I am glad you have all those wonderful things in your life now that you can rejoice in. God Bless!

  22. Thanks for having the courage to tell your story. Grieving--as hard as it is--is good. It is part of healing. I am grieving a lot in my therapy right now myself. (((((((((Tracie)))))))) safe, warm hugs.

    Thanks for asking over at Twitter if you can submit this post to the April BLOG CARNIVAL AGAINST CHILD ABUSE. Yes you can! Here's the submission link: Glad you are joining us this month. Thanks again!

  23. This is me giving you a *GREAT BIG HUG*

  24. I am so touched by this post. You are so courageous for being open and honest about the abuse you suffered. My best friend was abused by her brother and she is also open about it. God totally healed her heart--and I can tell He healed yours as well. Big hugs!!!

  25. Thanks, Tracie, for allowing us to use this wonderful post for this month's BLOG CARNIVAL AGAINST CHILD ABUSE. It's perfect for the theme, "Along The Path Of Healing." I hope you are doing well as April now starts to come to a close. ((((((Tracie))))))

  26. Tracie, my stomach has knots in it right now from reading your post and what I am feeling. I have my own uncle issues that I have only recently decided it is time to look at because of a dream on Easter morning. That dream let me know that this was still an issue for me. Thanks for sharing your story and for submitting it to the April Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse.

  27. Beautiful picture that says so much. It's so hard to understand to conflicted feelings. I should be angry and hateful toward my abuser, but I'm not. Toward the act, but not him. That's difficult for me. I spent so much time thinking I was screwed up because I wanted him to have a good life.

    There is nothing normal about sexual abuse or the feelings and behaviors it leaves us with. Everything about it is screwed up.

    I love the idea of standing on your knees. I, too, find my greatest strength on my knees. Without God, I would be lost in a very real sense.

    Again, thank you for sharing.

  28. wow. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm so glad that you have turned to the Lord for healing not blame. I'm sorry you had to go through this, but I believe it has made you the woman you are today.

  29. You are amazing, and strong, and brave. But more than that, you are a shining example for your daughter of what you can make out of life. We do not have to become our past. We can choose to make our future brighter by changing how we feel about today.