Thank You.

by Michelle B. Araneta

*originally written March 25, 2012

Over the last four years, I’ve stayed clear from every one that has, in one time or another, been in my life. It was the time I gave to myself to heal and process everything I had and was going through. Only the very closest and dearest to me knew my story, knew the details of the hurt and pain I went through and stood by me as I built my self up again. It was a choice I made, and as I look back at that decision, I am thankful I had enough strength and support to make it.

~*~*~*~

Not too long ago, I spent the evening with a cousin I had disconnected from since I got married. Initially, I had called her for help on a few logos, but I knew, due to our time apart and the “situation” that had been rumored about through the grapevines, I would be eventually sharing with her my story. I was ready. The years I spent picking up the pieces of who I was prepared me for moments like this.

As my cousin and I sat at the restaurant, we chatted about our lives today, the good times we shared when we were younger, and about the logos I needed. I knew the conversation was building to the one big question. Curiosity was glowing in her eyes and her strength to hold back was diminishing. Finally she asked.

“What really happened, Michelle?”

I began to share with her my experiences, explain to her all that I had gone through, and paint her a picture of the future I had planned. With every word that I spoke, I could see a flood of contradicting emotions whelm her eyes.

Sadness. Pain. Guilt. Anger. Sorrow. Happiness. Pride. Joy. Excitement.

This wasn’t the first time I had been in a situation like this, but with each one, I have become more and more prepared. The truth is, it is very difficult for others to hear our story, most especially for those closest to us. The more open their heart is, the more vulnerable they are to the wave of different emotions that hit them all at once. Usually, there are only a very few questions they can ask you again and again as you go through the details of your life …

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Didn’t anyone know?”

Their heart and mind struggle to comprehend the gravity of what they are being told. In some cases, they need to re-learn and re-understand what they have been taught and/or misled to believe and as we tell our story, we are witness to the whole process they go through right before our eyes. Because of this, there are very few words they can share with us, but this is what is almost always said:

“I am so sorry I didn’t know.”

My cousin is just one of the very few people I have shared my story with in detail. I have a few friends that I have spoken with over the years about what I went through, but not as many as I have hoped. What I have learned is that, not everyone is ready to hear our story, their hearts are just not ready for the truth. Some may be due to ignorance or denial, others because it hits too close to home, and a few, simply don’t care. I’ve experienced them all.

It is a heart wrenching truth that I believe we each are faced with at some point in time, but within it, we gain wisdom. We learn the power of the fog, and we are able to understand the reach of it’s silence and learning from that, we are better equipped to create awareness and shine the light on it’s darkness.

But, I am drifting off topic.

Last night, I was with one of my friends that I have shared my story with. I had originally told him everything over a year ago, but as he has been reading this site, he was filled again with the same initial questions and emotions he had when he first heard my story.

Again I was asked …

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Didn’t anyone know?”

Over the years, I’ve come up with a simple statement in answer to these questions. My usual response is, “I was trained well.”

The truth of the matter is, I was, just as many of us were and still are. But the point I am trying to get at is simply this. Just recently I have realized and understood where these openhearted questions come from, but more importantly, the statement that is almost always said.

“I am so sorry I didn’t know.”

Much of it comes from guilt.

Guilt from not being there and helping us see the light when we needed it most, or worse, guilt for being right there and not feeling our pain.

Today, I want to tell those that have listened to my story with their whole heart and stood by me since the day I shared it with them … you don’t need to be sorry. All that matters is today. You are standing by me today and you are shining the light on me today. That is what matters.

Sometimes, as we share our story, we lose ourselves in the horrors we relive with each word spoken, unaware that our truth is a hard pill to swallow for the person listening. And that is okay. It’s not meant to be easy. But when the day comes that our hearts have healed and we will look back at those that stood by us and felt our pain, we should tell them … thank you.

Thank You.

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