Life Journey Poem: I'm Sorry
I remember swimming back to the surface of consciousness
As I lay bruised and beaten upon my teenager's bed
Seeing myself as if from a distance never to be the same again
Violation and violence come in all shapes and can have many faces
That strip away your self esteem and send you crashing
Onto the rocks of despair crying out in pain the single word why
That particular fall day I lost something I have since never found
That burgeoning young person poised on the cusp of new life
Waiting to discover all the joys and possibilities the world had to offer
Something broke inside me even though this was not my first time
But it was the first time I'd ever been assaulted by a man
Though that term in retrospect does not seem to apply
For a man would not behave with such disregard for a girl's well being
The consequence did not fit the crime nor was the lesson learned
People you were supposed to trust having proven themselves wanting
Instead of understanding, compassion and guiding a child
Pounding and pummeling someone into submission will always fail
To believe this could somehow positively impact a child is insane
If the tables were turned how could anyone expect to survive
Carrying the baggage of violence on their back for eternity
Stripped of self respect and locking away love and trust
My life took a different path from that day forward as I saw
First hand the abusive impact twisted people can have on lives
Without so much as a glimmer of remorse or a hint of guilt
While they go on and never seem to look back at their actions
The abused goes forward with a soul torn into two pieces
Seeking to forgive but most importantly somehow to forget
Lifetimes can be changed in the blink of an eye
Parents and mentors have that much power over their wards
Shame on those that mistake their privilege as a source of power
It is true that children are resilient and can survive unspeakable traumas
But something that cuts is sharp and will undoubtedly leave a scar
Bruises may heal but the ache and their hue the body remembers
Wishing things hadn't happened the way they did is time wasted
Life is unsurpassed moments of beauty and those of undiluted pain
Sadly the bad sometimes carry more weight than the good
Moving on is a positive step that one can eventually learn
Even knowing that a person who did the unthinkable walks on
Without a seed of guilt and without thought for the pain inflicted
God help us but we want the smallest two words that anyone could utter
"I'm sorry" would be a balm of healing on the unclosed wounds
For all who have suffered abuse at the hands of another
Rare it is that a person so grievously wronged will ever hear those words
Look to your salvation in who you become and what you do instead
In desperation I adopted my mantra for them in "I feel sorry for you"
Abuse takes on many forms and is rarely as invisible as we pretend
People know what they see but instead turn away or close their mind
Leaving the aggrieved to fend for themselves against the devil they face
My experiences made me indeed who I am and gave me strength
Yet if I had to live through it all again, I doubt that I would have the stamina
To come out on the other side of the hopelessness and helplessness
For those who suffered or suffer even now I will say I am with you
In mind and even in body remembering the pain of something endured
In spite of those who cannot say it I say to you "I'm sorry; I'm sorry for your loss"
Meaning of the Poem I'm Sorry
This poem is dedicated to the victims of the current child abuse scandal which has come to light at Penn State.
When I read words like "they never saw it coming" or words to the effect of how shocked everyone is that this was going on, I can think nothing other than that they are lying.
Very few instances of child abuse or child molestation go unawares. I just do not believe it. Perhaps my belief is tainted by the fact that I was abused throughout my childhood years. While it was more "acceptable" than it is now to beat children with belts or otherwise abuse kids no matter what age, it still left scars which I have tried these 58 years to heal.
Violation on any level of another person does not go unnoticed. I believe that there are people who do know what is going on except perhaps in the rarest of cases. Usually, as in the case of Penn State, you find someone or multiple people who have an inkling of what is happening but refuse to stand up and stop the abuser.
In my case, it was my mother. Even though some of her behaviors towards me were likewise abusive on an emotional level, they were not physically abusive. However, she knew that my grandmother was beating me all the time but did nothing to stop it. Enter my stepfather and the same scenario recurred. Even family members knew what was happening but no one stepped in to defend a child.
To think of more than 40 counts of child sexual abuse going on under the noses of Penn State staff members makes me cry. To think of those lives irreparably changed while people in power stood by and did nothing is criminal. Dismissing these people is one thing but the aftershocks will linger forever in these victims' lives.
I've found personally that healing is a precarious thing. You can forgive, you can forget to a degree and you can move on. However, there will always be moments where you will pay the price for losing your trust and your child-like acceptance of life moments. As in my case, you may even have lost your childhood and not understand what it means to be a free spirit.
Counseling is by far the greatest asset to someone who has been abused on any level but also understanding what happened to you and why is key. The line from the movie Good Will Hunting where Robin Williams tells Matt Damon "It's not your fault" is something the abused on any level can take to heart, something vital to remember.
My plea is to reach out to the world in general and don't allow abuse to stand. Not to animals, not to the planet, not to women, not to men, not to children, not to the elderly, not to anyone. I do believe that in the end, we reap what we sow and forgiveness is a skill you have to learn. The important thing is to stop it before it ever happens to someone you love.
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