Right now, my child is only 11 years old, so he doesn’t know much about my child abuse history. However, as he grows into an adult, I am not sure how much to share with him. It is natural to want to shield your child from knowing that this level of evil exists in the world, but withholding such a big part of what shaped me into the person I am could keep my child from ever really knowing me.
One of the characters from Mockingjay wrestles with the question:
How can I tell [my children] about that world without frightening them to death?
Her husband responds:
It will be okay. We can make them understand in a way that will make them braver.
My question is how you do that.
The character decides:
I’ll tell them how I survive it. I’ll tell them that on bad mornings, it feels impossible to take pleasure in anything because I’m afraid it could be taken away. That’s when I make a list in my head of every act of goodness I’ve seen someone do.
The same character also says:
What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.
Some of the best parts of me exist because I have survived severe trauma. I appreciate kindness and goodness much more than most people because of the dark backdrop of my childhood. Because I know what it is like to live in a world without compassion, I know firsthand that no act of kindness or goodness is wasted. Every single act of kindness matters, no matter how small.
How do I share the best parts of myself with my child while I withhold knowledge of the trauma that created them? How can he ever appreciate my strength without knowing how deeply it has been tested? I don’t know the answers to these questions.
I still have time because my child is young. However, in the blink of an eye, he will be an adult, and I will have to decide how much of my history to share with him. Withholding where I have been feels like withholding myself.
Image credit: Amazon.com