by Alexis Acker-Halbur
As a child during the winter, I laid on the snow, waved my arms and legs, and shaped an angel below my bedroom window. I needed the snow angel because my father would sometimes enter my bedroom and do bad things to me. When morning dawned, I was always comforted to see my snow angel right where I created her. One evening while my mother was gone, my father suddenly appeared in my bedroom and hurt me. The next morning, I looked out the window, but my snow angel had vanished. All I could do was lower my head on the windowsill and cry. I yearned for the comfort of my snow angel, but she disappeared. “I am a bad girl,” I remembered saying to myself. “I did something wrong because my snow angel left me.”
The only reason I could think of why my father abused me was that I told lies. I explained to people that the bruise on my arm was from falling off my bike – but it was not. I justified the cut on my hand was from wrongly picking up the scissor – but it was not. How could I tell what was happening to me when my father often threatened to kill my mom if I shared “our secret”? As I aged, it was normal for me to lie. I loved my mom so dearly that the thought of my father killing my mom deeply and horribly haunted me.
Lies were protection for my mom and me. I never imagined I was harming myself by keeping this painful secret. Abuse is a cruel cycle, and for me it continued for decades. I was too ashamed at what was happening, and I felt guilty when my mom cried intensely. At some point I realized that my family members never believed my lies but, more accurately, they did not want to believe the truth. I had to learn to forgive myself for the lies, which was a challenge. I now know that telling the truth is healthier than telling lies.
My message to the world is this: “Children sexually and physically abused by a parent or an adult think they deserve the abuse and believe it is punishment for being bad.” Their minds are too young and underdeveloped to call it what it is – sexual abuse. The memories of what my father did to mean will always be etched into my soul, but the suffering and pain are gone. Now that I am healthy, I accept the fact that I lied to survive.
Today, I believe that my angels did not prevent the abuse, but instead they kept me alive because they brought comfort and grace. Being alive and surviving the abuse was a gift from the angels. The comfort and grace from the angels continues as I work with adults who were so damaged as children. “The good things” I now do as a healthy woman counter all the lies I told as a child.
Did you lie as a child and young adult to cover-up your abuse? You’re not alone. I wrote this article to honestly admit why I lied — I felt I had to so that I wouldn’t get beaten. If you have a similar story, please feel free to share it with my readers. Your story is important! And remember — you are not to blame. It was never your fault!
Never Give Up!!!