Like many victims, I packaged up all the baggage and thought my past was behind me. I thought it was normal to be scared of my own shadow, fear being alone in a room with someone’s father, check under my bed and in my closets for the boogie man and for Smokey Robinson’s voice to run through my head at social functions:
People say I’m the life of the party
‘Cause I tell a joke or two
Although I might be laughing loud and hearty
Deep inside I’m blue
I was sad inside, but living a happy life on the outside: I had a dream job, I was happily engaged and living the life in New York City surrounded by kind, wonderful friends. I didn’t think about my childhood and no one knew about my past, because I never shared it with anyone . . . but my past was about to find me.
My past came back to haunt me after a family trip to Las Vegas. I was 26 years old (sixteen years after we had escaped). My sister, mother and I drove by our former home and like a tidal wave, I was sucked in. All the memories I had compartmentalized came rushing out.
My memoir begins with this trip to Vegas and takes you on trough the details of my year-long time in therapy. Therapy that led me to face-to-face with my childhood demons and eventually, my healing.
The story I published was supported my entire family. My mother provided me very personal stories that she would have rather not been told, but did for the sake of my personal writing journey. My sister was my biggest cheerleader. She shared stories that broke my heart. She was the oldest and had the most vivid memories of what went on inside our home.
The day I got married in 1997, I remember the feeling of release . . . I was going to have a happy future with someone who was kind, respected and loved me. When I had children, I was overwhelmed with how lucky and blissful I was in life.
When I began writing To Vegas and Back, I was at a point in my life where I was able to write about my past. The timing was right. I was not ashamed or scared anymore, I was proud. I must have called my sister and mother over 100 times telling her how proud I was of “us”.
The most common statement I hear at speaking engagements is: “It must have been cathartic to write your story”. I always answer the same way, “No, it was not cathartic. I was hard, even though I overcame my past long ago, I did not like reliving it, but I knew I wanted to get our story out there in an effort to help others. Survivors of abuse should know they do not have to let what robbed them of their past, rob them of thier future.”
The most common question is: “How did you ever forgive your mother?” What I wanted people to understand is that I never blamed my mother. She thought she was doing the best she could. She was unaware of the abuse thrust upon her daughters (until the very end). She was a victim also. Even though I did not blame anyone for what happened to me, I tell people that I believe “the one that does not forgive is the one that ends up suffering the most”.