Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I can do this

I can do this, I thought to myself as I was getting ready for the day. The morning went on as usual, making breakfast for the kids, jumping into the shower, getting everyone dressed and The Preschooler ready for school, making sure a diaper bag was fully stocked because The Toddler was coming with me to our monthly MOMS Club meeting.

I can do this, I thought to myself as I started the car, driving down the street and pulling into the school parking lot, waving "Hi!" to other moms dropping of their 4 year old kids dressed in dinosaur t-shirts and wearing princess backpacks. The Preschooler safe in class and ready to learn about bugs, I made my way to the meeting.

I can do this, I thought to myself.

I walked into the meeting, putting my business side first, conducting the meeting as the chapter president. I completely turned off the side of my brain that was thinking about what was soon to happen. I went over the upcoming activities that were planned for our group, park days, ice cream shop tours, a craft that my boys and I would probably skip because I can't stand glitter and glue. I went over the service project details, one where we were working on raising money for a non-profit that helps single moms gain independence and survive without the help of welfare.

I can do this, I thought to myself as our guest speaker was introduced to the group.

A sweet woman dressed in a chic purple sweater and cute high heeled boots smiled nicely as she talked about her job as a Forensic Interviewer for the Child Advocacy Center. She explained that she would talk about ways to help prevent sexual assault and talk with our kids about their body parts and safety.

I can do this, I thought to myself.

She talked about statistics, ways to talk to our kids about privacy and what to do in situations like sleep-overs. She was humorous with an intense topic, easing the room into more difficult questions. The wall that I had built going in slowly started to wear as she described the steps that happened after an assault was reported. Pieces began to fall after she talked about children sitting with her in a therapy room video taping their accusations of abuse for evidence in court.

I can do this quickly turned into Why? and How?

While some moms struggled with ways they were going to talk to their kids about body parts, unable to utter the words "penis" and "vagina" due to unbelievably strict Catholic upbringing, I struggled with ways to keep the wall up as it crumbled inside of me. The words "forensic interview" and "video taped accusations" caused a complete earthquake inside my soul.

Keeping a thinly veiled appearance of stability, I had an uncontrollable urge to ask, why? and how?

After the speaker completed her presentation and lingering people had been satisfied with their private questions afterward, I had tunnel vision. Watching her pack up her things and begin to make her way out of the room, I brushed off people asking me about business details on for the service project and what to do about trivial little things that I had no interest in caring about at the moment. Ignoring them much like I do with my children when they have questions at inappropriate times, I made the b-line to ask, why? and how?

"What are the steps that happen after a child reports an incident of abuse? How does it exactly work after the forensic interview"?

She rambled off the steps as if she were reading the text from a human resources manual.

"Oh, Ok." I said quietly. "Because my perpetrator is still out there and was never jailed".

Her demeanor quickly softened as she asked questions. The wall completely destroyed, tears welled up in my eyes as that old pain of why? and how? came to the surface. "I'm sorry. I thought I could do this", I apologized.

Excusing myself from the room, she followed to talk. I told her about my story, about my own forensic interview and how it never went to trial. How my perpetrator violated me without consequence, moving on to enjoy exotic vacations in Mexico and build a thriving business. Meanwhile, I spent years in therapy asking why didn't I have anyone to protect me? and how did he get away with this? and repeating to myself, I can do this. I can survive.

I wiped away tears as she sympathized shaking her head saying "It never ends. It's a roller coaster where sometimes you're fine and other times you're not". Indeed. I was fine before today, the happiest I'd ever been in my life with a wonderful husband and two great kids, a rewarding job and a full social schedule. Then, in a matter of 45 minutes, a crying mess with old wound ripping open again.

Handing her card to me, she said she would email me. I thanked her and put myself back together again. Quickly building that wall back up, I thought to myself, once again, I can do this, promptly ignoring the unanswerable why? and how?, the questions I realized for the one millionth time that I'd never get solid answers to. I walked back into the meeting room assuming the role of chapter president again, finishing up loose ends before having to run out the door to pick up The Preschooler from school. I can do this, I thought to myself.

For the rest of the day, emotionally exhausted while my kids needed me for things; for lunch, for entertainment, for love, I thought to myself, I can do this. I can survive.


getbornmagmomma said...

Scathing, emotionally raw, and utterly painful. Your telling was spot on, and there's nothing more to say but, I'm so, so sorry. What pain we endure. Talk about scars, indeed. While I thank you for sharing, I'm so sorry for the need to.

www.theevolvinghomemaker.com said...

WOW. Can I again say how blown away I am at the Reality Writes team for there sheer honesty? Thank you for sharing what was so raw for you. Because I utter "I can do this" too.

You're amazing.


One Girl Creative said...

Wow Kristen, I am moved, simply moved by your bravery and your struggle. You're a pillar of strength.

Thank you for sharing this with us.


Kristina said...

You're strong, Kristin. Yes, you CAN do this. Thank you for baring your soul - perhaps this writing is part of your restoration. Too many women are silent. Sorry for the hell you went through and it's lingering effects.