The Pain of Betrayal

PenguinsYou cannot betray someone unless you have first been loyal to them. That’s the thing about betrayal—it is the act of taking something away that was once beautiful, valuable and rare. Betrayal destroys trust, it destroys friendships and families, and it destroys love.

I was seven years old when Miss Peabody, our Sunday School teacher, explained the meaning of betrayal. She told us all about the Last Supper and the Twelve Apostles and how one of them betrayed Jesus. And how his name was Judas Iscariot and he betrayed Jesus to the Romans for thirty pieces of silver, which she said was a lot of money back in those days.

“Betrayal is the worst thing. Would any of you betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver?” Miss Peabody asked us.

“No!” we all shouted back. Some of us even jumped to our feet as we shouted.

But one boy did not say, “No!” like the rest of us. In fact, he didn’t say anything. But I knew he would have betrayed Jesus because he told me he wanted a new bike.

He didn’t look so sure about betrayal when he heard what happened to Judas.

“Judas bought a field with his thirty pieces of silver and then he tripped and fell into a ditch and his guts burst and spilled out and he died. And that’s what you get for betraying Jesus,” Miss Peabody said.

She also told us that as small children we cannot betray someone because a child cannot understand the true meaning of loyalty. And without loyalty, there can be no betrayal.

Loyalty is a form of trust and it is a unique bond between two human beings who understand what it means. Betrayal can take many forms—cheating, defamation, revealing a secret. Betrayal mostly takes place behind our backs, leaving us with the pain of discovery.

Twice in my life, I have been betrayed. Some people get pleasure from destroying the bond that was formed in trust. They revel in killing the hopes and dreams of others to satisfy their own egos.

And ironically, it is because people betray us that we value loyalty so highly. So much higher than thirty pieces of silver or a shiny new bike.

The Truth About Lies

AloneWe think we see the world as it is but we see it as we are. And it is through our own eyes, that truth can become corrupted by experience. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so too is truth.

That’s why it is so hard to expose lies. But to be free, we must hold truth close. In the end, we are our own evidence.

Victims of abuse so often find themselves in a conspiracy of denial. Those involved rearrange the facts and revise their memories to fit a rose-tinted pastiche of nostalgic fiction. And it is through the cliché of “the past is the past, so let it be” that innocence is granted to the perpetrators.

Those who are witness to abuse can never know the meaning of what happened to the abused with the same intensity of experience. It will always seem a lesser event to the observer.

As a victim of childhood abuse, I am passionate about the exposure of the guilty—whether they are still alive or not. Abuse never ends. It stays with the victims for the rest of their lives. We search for what is not there, in the desperate hope that the situation of absence is only temporary. Sometimes all that we are left with is the emptiness of sadness—that indifferent emotional state that is no longer committed to actual tears.

Of course, we should advocate forgiveness, not retribution. But that does not mean we should accept the denial of the guilty nor a corrupt rearrangement of the facts.

I wrote about my experiences from the perspective of a young child, through the eyes of that child. I wrote my book as a catharsis, but much more importantly to help others. Because it is only by revealing the truth that we can erase the obscenity of deception.

Throughout history, it has only been through the collective assessment of the facts that we have been able to define the truth. And by defining the truth, we are able to expose the lies and perhaps even to end the abuse.

The Boy Who Lived With Ghosts

FrontCover 2Chapter 1

I live in a haunted family, in a haunted house, on a haunted street. One day I will live in a place where there are no ghosts but right now they’re everywhere. Some people don’t believe in ghosts but that’s alright. Those people have orange nightlights glowing in their bedrooms after dark, reflecting little moons and stars on the ceiling, and cups of hot chocolate to make them sleepy before their blankets are tucked in cozily around them by their mums. I don’t think my mum believes in ghosts. If she did, she would not turn out all the lights when she puts me to bed at night.

I am almost five years old and I was born in our front bedroom with my twin sister Emily. It was on the Twelfth Night. That’s the night when the Three Wise Men visited the baby Jesus with their gifts. It was also my sister Margueretta’s fourth birthday. So we are three gifts for the baby Jesus. If I am a gift, I would like to be a lamb. Animals don’t go to Heaven but I am sure there is a lamb up there. I think there is also a donkey.

Margueretta hates me because I was born on her birthday and now she has to share it with me and Emily, so she locks me in the cellar in the dark. And there’s something scary down there in the corner that goes drip, drip, drip. If I die down there I will go to sit at God’s feet because Dad says God suffers all the little children to come unto him. And Jesus loves dead children the most because they will never grow up to become sinners.

God wears brown sandals and no socks but Jesus doesn’t wear anything on his feet and he washes God’s feet for him because there is a lot of sand in Heaven and it gets between God’s toes. Dad says Heaven is a warm place and you are never hungry in Heaven because you can have as much bread and jam as you want to eat. So you shouldn’t cry if a little boy dies, having been killed by his big sister who locks him in the cellar in the dark.

Nana says we will all go back to God one day so long as we are not sinners. Because if we are sinners, we will go to live with the Devil and we will scream and burn as we catch fire in a lake for all Eternity, which is a very long time. And Nana knows what a long time means because she is very old, which is also why she has hair that comes down to her knees. She ties it in braids on top of her head but I mustn’t see my Nana’s hair when it is down or that will mean I have been in her bedroom and a little boy should never go into his Nana’s bedroom or she will hit him on the back of his head with her hairbrush.

A True Story of Childhood Haunting – Available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle

I’m Living with a Fool

Droopy DogThere is a fool inside my head, but I have repeatedly denied knowing him. He knows everything about me—my hopes and dreams and my deepest fears and anxieties. But he never listens to me.

We grew up together, me and the fool inside my head. We were there in the blackness of the cellar, where my sister locked me as a small boy. We were both there when my dad said he was just going out for a drink and never came back. And we were together when we were cold and hungry in the dark of the night.

The fool inside my head judges people and holds onto regrets. He harbors thoughts of revenge and retribution. He lives in the past.

He is a fool and I’m not.

I am looking for the positive things I have learned from all the bad things that have happened to me. I am forgiving everyone and I’m moving on. I am building a terrific future that is based on what I have learned and how I can be a better person.

From abandonment, I found the loyalty of friends and the commitment to my family. From the hunger of poverty I found a burning ambition to succeed. From insanity, I found the comfort and joy of living in the perfect moment.

That’s why I deny knowing the fool inside my head.

Maybe there’s a fool inside your head, sapping your energy with negative thoughts, destroying your hopes and dreams with the belief that they will only end in failure.

There is no weakness in forgiving. There is no gain in retribution. There is no future when you live in the past.

Not all of the people from my past will be with me in the future. The one I am sure I am going to leave behind is the fool inside my head.

We may learn from the past but the greatest future is made in the positive beliefs of the present.

I’m Living in a Box

Window BoxesIt’s no fun living in a box, but we all do.

We imprison ourselves in the box that people think we should be in, eventually believing that it is where we belong. And the box has labels on it: mother, sister, executive, homemaker. Other labels are far more destructive: loser, failure, stupid, boring. And when we try to be something that is not labeled on the box, people remind us of where we belong.

When it says on the box that you don’t make decisions, someone else runs your life. When it says on the box that you are not creative, no one listens to your ideas. When it says on the box that you are a failure, no one expects you to succeed at something new.

Others doubt what it is that we are trying to become because it’s not on the label. So, we begin to doubt ourselves—perhaps before we even start to do something new. People enjoy reminding us what the label says, “Why are you doing that? It’s not who you are.”

As we go through life, we shut the lid down tighter, we make the box smaller, we often reduce things to a single label­—and that’s where we stay until the end. Every aspect of who we are sits within the box. But outside, there is a world of ambition, hope and joy.

When I tell people that I have written a book, some people smirk. I can see from the look in their eyes that they are thinking, “You are not a writer. That’s not who you are. No one will read it.”

And for the longest time, I listened to my inner critic and that internal voice was fueled by those smirks. But if I didn’t write that book, I knew that the label on the box would read, “Wasted Life.”

So I started writing and I silenced my inner critic. I posted my writing here and on Facebook and I waited. When people first started to “Like” my Facebook page and my blog and comment on my writing, I was frankly amazed. They didn’t know what the label said on the box I was in. I was encouraged to continue and more and more people found my page and told me to keep writing.

Today, I received my 100,000th Like on my Facebook page—more Likes than many best-selling authors. And on July 1st, my book will be published.

I’m changing the label on the box. Forever.

Don’t let someone tell you what or who you are. Don’t accept that you live in a box. And don’t let others keep you in there. Make a start. Do something today that’s not on the label.

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