I’m often annoyed by Facebook’s persistent habit of offering memories for me to re-share on my timeline, since most of the memories are not things I’m interested in posting a second time. Today their offering was like a bucket of ice water in the face. I was already well aware of the significance of today, but I was not prepared for Facebook to assault me with it. There, for my eyes only, (unless, of course, I wanted to share it with everyone on my friends list) was my post from a year ago today. Three pictures of my family’s summer trip to visit my mom and step-dad, along with the caption announcing my step-dad’s death.
I am still surprised by the depth of emotion that accompanies thoughts of my step-dad’s death. Quite honestly, I expected his death to equal freedom; the ability to break the decades-long silence. I thought that when he died I would be free to talk about what happened to me when he joined our family. What he did to me. What he took from me. I thought I would finally be free to remember the fragmented pieces that have been hidden for most of my life. I thought I would finally be free to speak.
I was wrong.
What happened was twofold: On one hand I was deluged with emotions that spanned the spectrum; the good, the bad, and the ugly of my life with him. On the other hand I became keenly aware of all the other people in his life who would still be affected by anything I might say about him in any sort of public forum. So I have held my silence for another year.
I spoke in one of my previous posts about forgiveness, and I suppose that is another factor at play. I have forgiven him. I DO forgive him. But here’s the thing… you can forgive someone every single day until you die, but it doesn’t change the reality of how that person’s actions have affected you, or of how they will continue to affect you, your family, your relationships, and how you view people and the world for the rest of your life.
And what if my silence keeps other people from feeling that they have the freedom to speak out? Which has the greater benefit: my continued silence? Or finally speaking out and maybe having a chance to heal? Maybe helping someone else speak out? Maybe helping someone else to heal?
I don’t know. And I don’t even know yet if I can speak. Often when I try to talk about this I find myself unable to form words. I start to say what is in my heart and a wedge forms in my throat, blocking the words before they can spill forth and be exposed. Will they be able to come out this way, in writing? Or will it be another year before I even have the courage to try again?