What if ... the day comes when I do finally tell the rest of my family - the family I grew up with - about what my father did to me and they are either indifferent to the news or simply tell me that I was probably mistaken and that it was all my imagination?
And if I do tell them, what kind of response would I be expecting? Our life isn't a soap opera although there are moments when one is taken aback or even wonders what on earth is going on. Would they be surprised? Shocked, perhaps? Dumbfounded? Or would they just tell me to put it in the past where it belongs and move on?
I suppose it doesn't sound like I give my family much credit but I am afraid. Sometimes I feel that there is this need to tell, to bring it out into the open, to not allow such secrets to hide anymore. But knowing me, I would probably regret it soon after, and wonder why I ever did such a foolish thing.
I'm reading too much into it and I suppose I should stop wondering about it. How would the rest of the family take the news?
We knew the man had his faults. We knew about his quick temper. We knew of his generosity and high work ethic. We knew him as our father. And our mother knew him as her husband and father of her children. She, of all people, knew him the best. What would the reaction be? The truth is ... I don't know. And maybe I'm not supposed to know. Ever?
What if ... I really am a fraud after all? Maybe the ones who told me that I wasn't a fraud were merely being kind. What else could they have said, anyway? What if I really am shallow and superficial, all the while thinking I was this seeker of truth, a thinker who knew right from wrong, a struggler who longed to know her God.
And what if I'm not supposed to have any children? I am at that age where some women are mothers of teenagers. I didn't get married at a very young age. I think it was a reasonable age. But did I really think things through? Did I really prepare myself for the sacrament of marriage? Was he really the one?
If he is not the one that you want to have children with (if everything else worked just fine including the physical relationship), then what is all this for? Or would it be the same with any other man because I'm not meant to have children? Does this then mean that I wasn't supposed to get married? Would that be such a terrible thing? No, it wouldn't. Perhaps I shouldn't be saying such a thing but at this stage of my life, no, it wouldn't be terrible at all. There is love, yes, but I feel smothered at times. Then there are the times when you're put on a pedestal and you feel raised up. But then the actions or words of the other party makes you doubt yourself. And there are also times when your insides feel all wrong and you just want to get away. It's give and take, I realise that, and about forgiving and learning and communicating. But something is obviously missing. I realised that a long time ago. So I have no one to blame but myself.
And if I fail in this relationship, what makes me think I won't fail in another? Such thoughts go through my head, I admit, and if it then becomes too late to ever conceive a child - assuming everything else goes according to plan - what would be the point of looking for another relationship? For companionship? Is that what it finally boils down to? I have to be strong enough to stand on my own. I am also scared, for obvious reasons. For being looked upon as a failure and having to start all over again. Such thoughts don't do me any good. But they are there, nonetheless. But I'm still here, Father.
What if ... this anger that I feel inside stays with me for some time? I am not who I used to be. It can be both good and bad. Am I angry with another or mostly angry with myself?
And so what if I still long for a child of my own to raise and love even though I'm now a middle-aged woman? That sounds rather old but I don't feel old. If anything, I feel that life really hasn't begun. It is still a life, that's true, just a different sort of life. Maybe having a child doesn't matter anymore. It's just a longing. And all sorts of people long for all sorts of things. And I wonder when the longing will finally go away.
What if ... the encopresis that I experienced as a little girl had something to do with the molestation? I forget how old I was exactly but it was definitely before I reached puberty. I even remember the enemas and how helpless I felt. A horrible, horrible, experience but it was supposed to help me, to assist me.
As distasteful as the experience sounds, it did happen and only recently did I wonder why it happened at all. And I thought that I was the only one, that it was an embarrassing and uncomfortable experience unique to me because those around me teased me about it and my brothers even gave me a nickname associated with it. At the time, it seemed as if they were the normal ones but I wasn't. I certainly didn't feel normal. It felt like a burden that could easily have been avoided and yet I couldn't avoid it. I never knew that such a condition existed until recently while researching it online. I didn't even know it had a name. But now I can put a name to my embarrassing childhood experience. So many children went through it. I wasn't the lone ranger. And yet I felt so alone at the time. I'm not even sure that my experience - or behaviour - was exactly like encopresis but it is what comes closest, from what I can remember.
What caused it to happen in the first place? Did there need to be a reason? Did my father molest me at an earlier age and I just couldn't remember it? Did something else happen? Or maybe nothing else happened. I wish I could remember for the memory is a little disturbing. I really wish that the picture could be clearer. All these fragments do help a little but I try to string them together without much success. So they stand alone as they are and I will just have to accept that.
Maybe there was no great mystery to some of my childhood experiences. They just happened because ... they just happened. And the older I get, the more those memories fade and I am left with shadowy images and half truths.
What if ... I am not an honest person, after all? Well, I knew that since I was young after having let down other people, whether it concerned personal relationships or the workplace. I tried to emulate my father's example at the workplace and I think I succeeded for the most part, but I was also a coward. I disappointed people.
And even now, I am not totally honest with the people I should be most honest with. I am a liar and a fraud. I see right through me and know that I am capable of being a bigger and better person.
What if ... the spiritual journey that I started to embark on during my early twenties wasn't that spiritual, after all? It had its hills and valleys, to be sure, and I was confused some of the time. I spoke to Him a lot, even in my journals, and I spoke about Him. What happened to my faith? Did I really have it once or did I think that I had it? I know that I struggled with it, struggled with the countless questions and emotions. But I also remember Him working in my life - both then and now - so He is still very real to me. And if He seems distant now, it's only because I've stayed away too long.
I wish He were more real. As much as I've let Him down, I still wish He would make Himself known to me. I think He did once. But I was a younger woman then and my surroundings and experiences were so different. And, Father, I'm still struggling now.
What if ... all I really do is pay lip service to Him and haven't really opened my heart to Him? I opened it once, didn't I? I thought I did. I believed that I did. But "once" doesn't count anymore. I must sound like an old, broken record.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. What if I'm supposed to attend Holy Mass later today, or maybe throughout the Lenten season, and go to Him with all that I have, even if it's nothing?
It all begins and ends with You, doesn't it. Maybe that's why I wrote all of this down in the first place. That does seem to be the pattern, doesn't it.