Working through this subject feels like clawing my way out of a sewage pipe - Now that the first shock is over - I am left somewhat stunned trying to understand how I got myself into this mess.
I am reminded on a daily basis of the friendships that are lost in the wave of anger and resentment washing over me after I "did that bad thing" - which was to first speak and then even publicly write about my experience and my feelings instead of just keeping quiet.
As I am learning to stand exposed in my truth, working hard on my attitude of non judgement and open mindedness, the most difficult part is to not constantly defend myself and my actions, to stop doubting my own perceptions and to continuously make my way back to my place of truth.
I realise that being in defense mode - mostly in the early hours of the morning, when I wake myself up reasoning with the people who tell me I am wrong - means I am quickly losing my truth by getting caught up in mind games and semantics.
It is a painful and frustrating process for me to let go of my wish to be understood by everyone and get rehabilitated into a circle of people who have turned away from me, a process that is not linear but random and repetitive until I am able once again to focus on what deep down and beyond all my ego noises, I know is my truth.
Writing has always been my way of making sense of a world that often seems alien and deeply confusing; to write privately for only myself has been in the past like talking to a wise friend, who is never judging and always kind, helping me find clarity within myself. Writing in public has been my attempt to bring this friend out into the world, to stop hiding behind an image and expose myself in my truth. I am fully aware that my truth can not be everyones truth and ultimately might be somebody else's worst trigger. Coming to this place of conflict is really just a logical step on a journey that I have embarked on since I wrote my first post.
I am not writing to expose other people's mistakes. I am not striving to find the universal "one truth" or to "be right". I write in order to learn more about my truth and the issues that touch, confuse and matter to me.
So many of us are struggling with the same questions, feelings and confusions - yet there is no sensible, sane and constructive platform for us as parents to engage. If something supposedly "bad" happens involving our children, people turn inwards and away. At most they talk in small groups about the "others" who might be causing the issue on the surface, but generally things are kept quiet and secret and people are retiring to their own backyards, growing suspicions, opinions and judgements like weed.Until eventually somewhere a bomb goes off, leaving in its wake broken down relationships and a lot of hurt - all too often involving the most vulnerable people - the children we all want to protect.
So now I question. When a fellow parent recently said to me, that her 8 year old daughter is not allowed to sleep over at our house, I invited her over and asked her to explain her reasons. Was there maybe something about us that made her feel uncomfortable? Something I needed to be made aware of? It turned out that a classmate of her daughter had been at a sleep over where it was subsequently rumoured the children had been exposed to porn. At first I did feel uncomfortable being cast into the wider circle of parents who might expose her child to porn. Until I realised that this was not what this conversation should be about: Whether or not I might feel hurt by implications she might or might not have made, was totally irrelevant. What I should respect as a fellow mother and a friend is that she feels she can not take a risk with her child. I can only honor her feelings and her need to protect her daughter and we can look at the bigger picture together. I am glad and grateful she told me.
At the same time there are more and more people, fathers mostly, increasingly uncomfortable around other people's children as the subject of child abuse washes over us in tidal waves until it subsides again for a while only to come back with renewed force. They don't know anymore if talking to somebody else's child on a playground will make them look suspicious; or if it is OK to help a child who fell in front of them, when the mother might react hostile to a stranger approaching her daughter.
Where do we start to unravel this tangled mess of suspicions, vulnerabilities, shame, guilt, misunderstanding and miscommunication? How do we even begin to find a language that does not offend but helps us bridge the void? We clearly need to start somewhere. Why not in our own circle of friends and family. So instead of sitting with this feeling of unease when your child does not want to hug or kiss a family friend - start by talking about it. Tell your friend about this uncle who harassed you for kisses when you were a child and who makes you feel uncomfortable to this day. Tell them how you feel a similar discomfort when you see your child struggle with demands for affection - ask them about their experiences or what it means to them to get a hug/kiss from your child. Open up the lines of communication. With any luck, your friends will engage and be open and grateful for your trust in them. If not, maybe you owe it to your child to re-evaluate these friendships and set firm boundaries....
Just a thought.
There is more....