I handled my abuse with amnesia (a form of denial) and was fifty-one years old before the first memories trickled back to my consciousness. As the painful memories emerged, my wife held my hand and my friend David gave me his shoulder. They encouraged me and infused me with confidence to speak about my molestation.
Every time I spoke about my abuse to anyone else, it emboldened me to speak more freely. But I didn't tell my family of origin or my own children. I made dozens of excuses for myself, such as:
* It no longer matters.
* They don't care.
* What difference does it make?
* I talk about it to others; why should I have to bring in my siblings or my kids?
* It will only stir up anger and hurt.
* They probably won't believe me.
I lived and grew up in a dysfunctional family. We didn't talk about secret things. When I was growing up, my family didn't even use words like pregnant. My mother would say, "She's that way." Her emphasis on those two words made it clear to me what she meant. It also reminds me of the way life was in those days.
A thought came to me one day. Perhaps speaking to my siblings would bring healing for all of us. Perhaps all of us could face our painful childhood—even though our issues were not the same.
Most of all, I admitted to myself that if I opened up, it would help me. By the time I was able to face my abuse, my parents were dead, and both my abusers were dead.
I opened up and truly shattered the silence. To my surprise, my three surviving siblings understand what I went through.