Ripples

You will find an entry on Halloween (Samhain) on October 2, 2011.

I decided to share something personal that I find uplifting on this least up-lifting of days. It was published in the Survivorship Journal, Vol. 17 No.1 (March 2011.)

When you drop a stone into a pond, you never know exactly where the ripples will go, what they will touch, or how long it will take them to fade out. So it is with every time we say something about ritual abuse.

This instance still makes me shiver.

Twenty-four years ago, when I first remembered, I disclosed to my college-aged children. I tried to give them just enough but not too much information. I don’t know how well I did; perhaps I could have made it a little easier for them at the time, but I did the best I could.

About six months later my youngest daughter organized a “Take Back the Night” rally at college. She felt she should disclose something in her speech because everybody else would be talking about times they were raped, sexually assaulted, or sexually harassed. But nothing much had ever happened to her.

So she said that she was very lucky that nothing major had happened to her, but that her mother had recently told her that she had been sexually and satanically abused as a child. She spoke about her reaction to the news — besides being horrified, she was so grateful that I had kept her safe.

When the event was over. she thought that what she had said probably fell on deaf ears. Nobody would have been able to relate; it was a small college and only a couple of hundred people had come to the rally. The chances of anybody having been ritually abused were zilch. Many would have outright disbelieved her. In fact, not a single person came up to her afterwards to talk about what she had said.

Two days later, a boy approached her and said that he was really glad she had talked about her mother. That was his story, too. He had decided in his childhood that he never would have children. He was afraid he would abuse them, and, even if he didn’t, he assumed that he would be a terrible parent. But he knew her from classes, and he thought she was great. If her mother could raise her to be competent and healthy and happy, perhaps he, too, could be a decent parent.

She was totally amazed. When she told me, so was I!

My decision to disclose led to her decision to speak out about ritual abuse, led to that young man’s decision to reevaluate his potential as a parent. Who knows, it even may have, by now, led to a new human life.

And so it is, not only with what we say, but with what we do. Every time we are kind or honest or brave we affect those around us. And they affect others. Our words and actions ripple far into the future.

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6 thoughts on “Ripples

  1. Dear Orna:

    You sound so deeply depressed! I recognize it because I was in a similar place for many years. Are you getting help? If not, would you consider looking for somebody who could help you? If you wish, I can put you in touch with other survivors through Internet message boards.

    For me, depression is like a great black cloud that spreads back in time and into the future. I feel like it has always been this way, and will never change. It covers every part of my life with despair. Now I am blessed with having found a medication that works for me, and the black cloud has become a pale grey most days.

    It distorted my thinking, and I believed I was a terrible mother, a hateful person, a bad friend, and that nothing I did had any value. When the depression lifted, I could see that these beliefs were distortions, not an accurate description of myself and my life, and that I wasn’t so bad after all.

    The truth is that if you disappeared, your husband and children would be devastated, not left in peace and prosperity. They would blame themselves and miss you terribly. There would be a huge hole in their hearts and in their lives. Even if you are negative and cannot do the things you would like with them, you are loved and needed, even though you do not believe it.

    If you would like to correspond with me, just add another comment and I will answer you by e-mail.

    Jean

  2. This is so true and I am also glad about your sharing.
    Thing is, I think I am destroying my life with the ripple effect of my words of desperation and depression…..it takes one sentence to influence someones life, I have spoken many sentences this morning that is negative and I guess I will be paying the price in the future. Sometimes I wonder if everything was worth it, should I just disappear and allow my husband and children to live in peace and prosperity? Was the long road to healing really worth it, all the hurt it caused them, all the crap that happened because of my inability to cope, to handle life?

  3. This was a wonderful piece Jeannie. It touched my heart. Sometimes I think I haven’t done much to affect other people’s lives, then something like this incident happens, and I’m humbled. Spirit puts all kinds of people in my path, who may be affected by my actions or words, even my story. Then I realize I stepped into the “poor-me’s” and shake myself off and get on with my life… whatever that may be. Thanks for this article.

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