Monday, June 9, 2014

women and children.

i've always wanted to live in the homesteader days and work with other women while the children run free. i imagine a group of smiling, laughing ladies wading in a stream as they beat laundry on rocks and yell at their boys for throwing dirt.
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having friendships like these is complicated these days. the household work is difficult but private, like sorting junk drawers and putting stuff in its proper place. it's not always practical to help each other when we have our own work and we're each the best for the job at home.
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so we gather around any stream we can find. our watering hole is a box of nail polish. or a craft for the kids. but sometimes we really step in to help one another, physically or emotionally, and those days are the best.
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last week i allowed a seven-year-old girl to stay with us for the week while her mother was away. i was hesitant because i do not know the family well, but i finally agreed, seeing the mother's immediate need. i was heartbroken to discover that this little girl had pulled my young son into a closet and touched him inappropriately. i was so upset. i am thankful for prayer and for the spirit which gave me the strength to be calm and loving. i wanted my children to know that i wouldn't ever react with anger when they told me about an experience like this. we had some very difficult but very important conversations and this little girl ended up opening up to me about some things in her life that need to be addressed. we talked about Jesus and about His love for them. we talked about their innocence and their totally pure and wonderful bodies. i was so blessed to listen to this girl as i brushed her hair that night. i couldn't be more thankful for the spirit that whispered to me, "don't be mad, she's a child, and she's wounded."

talking to her mother was liberating. i felt a peaceful calm knowing that this girl would find help.
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in my feelings of sorrow for my own son and i reached out to a friend and found great comfort and strength as she shared words of hope. we talked bout the Savior and about the healing power of the Atonement that reaches those who are innocent, like my son and this little girl, giving them peace. through this friend i found gratitude for the experience. this wasn't a repeated offense, not with an adult involved, there was no period of time that my son struggled in agony wishing he could talk about it. he told us right away. and he learned that we will listen and believe him and react with love. we are still working through it but i know it will be okay.
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my interactions with women and children are hard sometimes as i learn how to serve hens while protecting my own chicks. we may not be beating our laundry on rocks, but we work on real tasks together, sure as i live. and our love runs just as deeply as those women-in-the-streams'.


Anonymous said...

It is often healing to tell our own stories...but we must remember to also be respectful and not share stories that aren't our own. I worry about the humiliation your son would feel if he ever saw this published. Even though you didn't name him, he would still know his own story and that it was told without his discretion.

Megan Marie said...

I appreciate your concern. I feel as if the expectation that a child should feel humiliated when they are victimized is exactly the problem.

The more afraid we are to talk about the reality of sexual abuse, the more afraid our children will be to talk to us about it.

Anonymous said...

I have been a silent visitor of your blog for some time. I love your blog, it's realness, and openness. I love being reminded of my home state!! But today, I had to comment.

I weep for you, your son, and that little girl. As someone who has known the cycle of abuse for many years, who has had it passed down from generation to generation, I stood firmly in the mirror and exclaimed "IT STOPS WITH ME" when I held my first born baby. It stops with me. How? By teaching my children exactly what you are teaching yours - that this is NOT something to be humiliated about. It is NOT something to hide. It is, and NEVER will be their fault. It is NOT a secret. It is something that needs to be addressed.

I have talks frequently with my girls about their bodies, their precious souls, and my love for them. I talk to them very openly about not letting anyone touch them inappropriately. I tell them correct names for body parts. I remind them that they are in control of their bodies and no one else. I have told them (at ages 6 and 4) that there are people out there who would try to hurt them and touch them inappropriately. I do not do this to scare them - but to teach them. And I tell them to yell "STOP" and to tell an adult right away if something does happen. I tell them they can come to me, and I won't be mad, or upset, but that I will protect them.

You did such an amazing job keeping in the anger, the disappointments, and the fear you had while talking to these innocent children. The Lord had a hand in your dealings with this situation, and He will not leave you now. He is there for guidance, direction, and comfort when you start to feel anxious, nervous, fearful, etc. It will happen, but you can find that comfort in Him.

I commend you for your honesty. We are not victims - we are survivors! Not everyone feels the way I do, and that's ok. Some do hide their stories, and their pain. And that's ok. But some of us are needed to make things easier for children to speak out! Continue to guide and direct your son, as there will be questions and confusion for a while. I pray for you and your family as you go through this difficult time. I pray that sweet girl gets the help she needs. And remember, there is still so much good in the world. Hugs!

Megan Marie said...

at yoga yesterday morning the instructor said the words, "breath in courage, breath out fear." and i felt an incredible rush of gratitude for the courage i feel to be open about these things. i know that my way is not the only way to deal with things, but it is my way of breathing in courage.

there are several people in my life who i love very deeply who experienced abuse as children. they waited until they were adults to be open about it and found liberation in finally being told that they do not need to be ashamed and that it wasn't their fault.

if my son had been punched by a bully at school i would have felt comfortable blogging about the situation, so why not this, you know? i think we teach them that shame over sexual abuse.

thank you so much for taking the time to write. i love your words and advice and i am taking it to heart.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with both posters. I think the original posters intent was not to say that the child should feel shamed and keep things to himself but rather that his openness with you and then your posting to a public forum may have been a betrayal of his confidence. You took away his choice to privacy.

I agree also with the second poster that we aren't victims, but survivors and the dialog between mother and son is not only healthy but vital to grow from the experience! Maybe just not on a public forum that he may see and feel betrayed by.

Megan Marie said...

well said. i think you hit it right on the nose. there is a fine line between openness which encourages healthy communication and frivolity about personal things. it would be very sad if my son ever thought of my reference to this experience as a betrayal.

when it comes to telling our stories, the line between belonging is fuzzy. everyone involved plays a part and experiences a process. i do feel like i am telling the story of a mother. in a way a simple, vague statement of what happened belongs to everyone involved. how we individually feel and react is our own story.

if he does read someday and feel betrayed, we will find healing again, much the same way we find it now. when i pictured him reading (i always do picture that) i did not imagine betrayal. i imagined him reading the words "i was heartbroken," "i am thankful for prayer and for the spirit," "we had some very difficult but very important conversations," and "we talked about Jesus and about His love for them. we talked about their innocence and their totally pure and wonderful bodies." i imagine him feeling greatly loved and comforted in reading that we didn't ignore his pain.

maybe he will see it as betrayal, but i hope he sees it as a record of love. and i hope he understands that i share because there are people (especially mothers in my position) out there in the world that need to hear those same words and know that they are not alone.