When I was eight years old I lost my voice. Not literally, figuratively. It was buried under the weight of sexual molestation. When I “lost my voice” I found a pen. I couldn’t get past the shame I felt in order to tell someone so I started writing my fears and my secrets between the covers of a tablet that became my childhood diary. While I did eventually tell, my writings had a lot to do with leading me to the point where I understood that I needed to. In black and white the tablet held fear, anger, confusion and finally, healing – But in essence the tablet held my heart.
Years down the road and after 10 years of marriage, I found myself a single mother with four young sons who’s hearts were broken by the absence of their father. As if divorce is not hard enough on a child, my kids’ father was not just absent from their home he was smack in the middle of a cocaine addiction and had little interest and little contact with them at all.
In the process of fighting the odds of ending up on welfare, going back to work, moving them from the only house they ever remembered living in, and convincing them in the midst of the earthquake that had become their lives, that we were going to make it – I saw in their faces the same distrust, the same disbelief that I felt when I was a child in the middle of loss and abuse, the first time someone told me “It’s going to be ok. This storm won’t last forever.”
So…..I couldn’t tell them we would make it to the end of this pain, I had to show them. That illustration began with telling them (gradually) about my childhood story. The story of victory over the pain of the abuse that I endured as a child, so that they could see that healing happens, not just hear it. In order to get to a victory, there first had to be trial. That story of victory began in my childhood journal.
As I thumbed through the writings an idea was born. During this mission to help my sons learn to let go of their anger and heal, maybe I could reach even more people. I decided that I would publish portions of the journal and donate from the proceeds to an organization that helps abused children. That outreach, I decided, would be the best illustration of healing that I could possibly paint for them.
Originally I had planned to publish only the poetry but as I read through them I thought that they might better serve their purpose if I added a little background to the prose. I found myself in touch with pieces of my heart that I had not entertained for years. The project kind of took off without me and took on it’s own form right beneath my nose. The narration turned into a flowing story and the poetry became just a piece of the bigger picture. By the time the manuscript was finished I had in my hands what began as an emotional hurricane and ended as a generously watered garden. A journal of abuse and more importantly healing, that read like a story. My story.
The boys (my kids) and I made it through some incredibly difficult times in the past few years. They had a hands on lesson in the devastation left in the wake of addiction, as they are still sorting through the wreckage. I learned, once again, that I was stronger than I thought I was, though I believe that my strength was a product of my kids’ faith in me. They went from having mom and dad, to just mom, to day cares and babysitters as I took on two jobs to make ends meet, to crummy neighborhoods and frightening neighbors – but we made it! We made it together. We’re wet, but we made it to edge of the storm.
By no means are we a “perfect family” by definition but they are experiencing hope and healing and I have witnessed a beautiful thing happen in them; I have watched them defy the term “hurting people, hurt people” as they have learned by demonstration that – helping people heal, helps heal. The Tablet of My Heart has a little something to do with that in their lives – we hope that publishing it might have a little bit to do with that kind of healing in some one else’s life too.
A portion of the proceeds from The Tablet of My Heart are donated to Childhelp USA for the treatment and prevention of child abuse. Visit them at www.childhelp.org.