It’s difficult to come from such an ugly family history. Abuse, lies, deceit, denial…but at the end of everyday, there isn’t a moment where I don’t want to love on those that shaped the me I am today.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the death of the matriarch of my father’s family. I lost my other grandmother 2 years ago, so I am in a world with no grandma’s and sometimes that makes me immensely sad. I was very close to my paternal grandmother as a child. I spent 14 years of my life loving her unconditionally. My memories are mine. Some are tarnished by what that man did to all of us, but there are moments I will hold onto for the rest of my life. The memories we all share as a family are very different. Some of us choose to live in the negativity of what happened to us, some of choose to ignore it and sweep it under the rug, some of us are in complete denial, but some of us are very conflicted. A lot of what I learned about our family, about her, wasn’t until after she passed away. I didn’t know all of the dark family secrets and in all honesty, probably should’ve never been told, though had I not been, it may not have shaped me the way it did or made me choose the path that I did.
I’m the youngest of 3, my two older sisters being the first grandchildren. They dealt with the brunt of the sexual abuse. I’m sure they experienced things just to protect one another, and even me and that is heart breaking. My protectors. They weren’t always there, but I didn’t suffer anywhere near where they did. I didn’t learn their stories until I got older and I had no idea. We’ve all dealt with our trauma in different ways and we weren’t as gracious as young teens or as young adults in dealing with the knowledge of such a tragic family history. Abuse that stemmed across generations. The difference is 2 of us don’t live in that negativity. It took a lot of work emotionally to be able to shift our perspective from being angry things happened, to focusing and sharing the good memories.
No family is without flaw and there is definitely worse that could have happened, but at this point in our lives I feel like we should reflect on the positive. We cant be angry forever. I feel for those in my family, my own sister and mother, who dwell on all the bad that has happened to them. It’s funny that they butt heads so much and don’t see they are exactly the same in that aspect. They choose to live in every bad thing that has ever happened to them, so much so that they alienate themselves and everyone around them. I have never used my trauma as an excuse to treat anyone a certain way. I’ve never used it as ammunition to win in an argument. I’ve never used it as a means to gain love. Shit happens and shit happens to GOOD people. It’s how you choose to channel that energy from those circumstances to live a better life and to a better person. Humans are so complex and that’s why trauma affects all in such different ways, but I choose to use that trauma as a means to be a voice, even if a silent or anonymous voice to help someone in the world struggling. Help someone not feel alone in the world about it. Some of my family member’s chooses to feel like victims, but in my personal opinion, the moment you feel like a victim, you take away your own power. The moment you let the demons win is the moment you lose the ability to create change.
The sad thing about all of this is that the man who inflicted all of this pain is still alive. My mother and sister I think feel as though it’s some type of punishment for us and for them, when I look at it completely differently. When my grandmother passed away I kept thinking to myself “Why didn’t he die?” and then years later I kept wishing he would. I actually planned ways to murder him myself, but I wouldn’t dare risk my life for him. Once my cousins started to share, all hell broke loose. And for years he just kept living. And living. There was a time in my life, I cant remember when, that I started to understand this. If there is a God, a creator and higher power or whatever, I believe that man will be on this earth until he feels every ounce of dying and death. I feel that it is his punishment to remain on this earth and fucking suffer and THAT is what gives me justice. To know recently that his heart is failing gave me great happiness…but, here comes the conflict, as a child he was subjected to horrible sexual abuse. Sold to men and women as an object for sex. There is absolutely NO excuse not to break that cycle, but I still continue to feel it is all a part of his punishment and I can rest easy with that thought and also as human apart from him, feel empathy for the circumstances he experienced. I feel like its sick, but to know that he wants to die and cant, gives me great satisfaction that he will live on this earth until the life has left him and then he will spend an eternity wherever bad souls go. Justice will be served though we may not all be there to witness it.
My family though, aunts and uncles are not well. They celebrate his life on birthdays, they threw a party for him not too long ago “just because” which disturbed me to no end BUT again, we don’t choose our parents. They are the start of our legacy and who doesn’t want to love them or to be accepted by them. I’ve tried to explain this to my sister and mother, neither want to step too far outside of their trauma to see that for what it is and that’s okay, because its their choice to live how they want. We have to be understand that just like every other person, they want the unconditional love even though, yes it seems disturbing given the circumstances. I just can’t live my life like that. Whether my grandmother knew or somehow had a part in the abuse, I can’t say. I don’t want to know. What would it do at this point in my life to know? I choose to hold onto the good I remember. To the memories that were genuine. Because when they happened, I didn’t know this shit, I suffered silently and that’s what makes my moments with her pure. And trust me, it takes a lot of effort to not tarnish them myself with the why’s and the what if’s.
No family is “perfect” and if they seem it, trust me I am sure there are things bubbling under the surface that you may not be able to comprehend. Being as complex as were as beings, of course we’re flawed. We all have different experiences that have taken part in how we have reached this point and who we have become. There is nothing wrong with choosing to live a life free of that negativity, trauma or abuse and still being able to see yourself as a good individual who should be valued. What happened isn’t anyone’s fault. Not ours, not our parents. Regardless of the truth, my grandmother’s death was the most significant moment of my life at that time. It shaped the very core of who I was. I was 14 years old, I had only know her for such a short time and aside from what I learned later on I know that she just tried to be good to other people. That was what I saw. A loving, caring, hard working woman. The matriarch. I am only just now learning, at 36, that she touched so many peoples lives and the good that she did. I don’t know what her life was like, I don’t know what she suffered through. I will never know. I do know that I see a great deal of her in my father and his need to always be good to people when they don’t do the same for him, and I see them both in myself. Tough, loving, sometimes weak, more times strong. I am not ashamed of my trauma or of my family. I am not ashamed to share my experiences and my choices and the lessons I’ve learned. I am not afraid to love them all with my whole heart aside from the bad.
Family is all you have. They are the only people you can 100% relate to. Literally! They are the people you see yourself in, the ones who can help validate your very identity. I know people have their issues and maybe some choose to not be with or around family and just can’t because of the damage that was done. Again, no judgment from me, that is their choice and I only hope one day things change not only for us, but for everyone who may be struggling. For me, I can look beyond the negativity and see myself in each one of them. See the similarities in appearance, personality, even life choices and it gives me great confirmation that I come from a group of people who are unique, if not damaged, in their own right. Our legacy is all we leave behind.