Stephanie's Story 

“We're just out here living our lives, trying to parent, trying to get up every day, trying to go to work, doing the best we can while we're holding this part of us inside”.

I don't know if I have made sense of it. I have the super power where I can just tuck it all the way down. 

I think of second bottle champagne, you can't put that cork back in. And once that cork is out, it's out there and you have to learn how to manage it and deal with it.  I just turned inward. I lived in a dark place inside.

For me it was a family member. But when you're going through something like this and you're telling this ugly icky truth I mean that it’s just icky. It's all icky.  No one wants to confront that or think about that happening. 

It may have happened at my house. First my sister when she was two, so that would've made me seven.  And I had this full-on whoa moment where I saw a photo of myself blowing out a candle, my seventh birthday. And it was at my grandparents' home from when I was little and they had this three story home. 

Then we spent a lot of time at my grandparents' house.  We had this great childhood of all of us cousins together, big sleepovers. We did every Christmas Eve there and all of us there. And now I recognize things. 

I have a memory that isn't fully developed of being in the foldout bed in where we slept as kids, my sister and I, and someone coming into that bed. 

That house and the bathroom, yeah, in the shower.

It was my grandparents' house. I know things happened in the bathroom.  Everyone around me knows not to use Listerine. I've told every dentist I've ever had, please don't get me Listerine. I smell history now. 

I burned my thumb and my grandmother said go upstairs to Poppa - he'll take care of it. Well, my grandfather took care of it and very different way.  There was always pornography. He always had magazines out and things like that.  So it was always this environment.

Then the next minute I’m sitting on the couch, him asking me to brush his hair, comb his hair or brushing my hair. There's a photo of me sitting on his lap and we brushed his hair and I remember my grandma said, Oh, Papa used to love it when you “brushing hair”. I'm just like, now I hear it. Like, oh my gosh, how horrible. So it was so very secret. My grandmother busied herself doing things all the time downstairs. I'll never know if she knew anything.

And I can see my myself before I disclosed and how I looked.  I see a difference in my face, my body, I feel like I wear my trauma on the outside now, whereas before it was contained. And it really does show in my face, and I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but there are times when I've mourned that moment of how much easier it was even though it was painful on the inside to just be that outside person.

This experience has given me certain powers of empathy. If there's anything that I tried to get across to people about to experience this that it's going to be really rough, but you're going to have some moments where you're just going to have these powerful moments of just being able to just let things out that have just been inside and living.

But I was hurting so bad and I needed family and I didn't have any as far as the family you grew up with, not the family that I have created.

There's so many of us out here and we're just out here living our lives, trying to parent, trying to get up every day, trying to go to work, doing the best we can while we're holding this part of us inside and whether or not someone wants to talk about or come through it. Just knowing, letting someone else know that, hey, I get it. I get it.

This network, men, women, whatever, that were there and knowing who those people are for you and having those people in your, in your pocket, in my case here, wherever they're going to be, is the most important thing because there's always going to be somebody.

And hey, if you're watching this and you need someone to talk to, talk to me in your head. I'll be there. I just mean it physically be there, but I'll be there.

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