Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Can You Count the Cost?

It’s been out for a while. Mother Had a Secret by Tiffany Fletcher.  It’s a true story.  It’s been on my "to read" list for a while, but I didn’t make it a priority, until someone loaned me the book.  I was fascinated by the subject matter.

Tiffany’s mother had multiple personalities and was pretty dysfunctional.  The cause was sexual abuse at the hand of her father.  Tiffany and her siblings took care of their mother most of their lives.  It must have been a nightmare. 

Tiffany’s dad worked many hours, and so he was only so much help.  The house was a wreck and so were the relationships.  The kids struggled to make things work and resented their mom much of the time. 

When the kids grew up and left home, their lives became more normal, yet the shadows of the past were always with them.  Mom with her many personalities never got enough of the right kind of help to heal, and they always worried about her.  Always did what they could to protect her.

The story is disturbing on many levels, but most of the family eventually find healing.  For Tiffany’s mom the healing does not come in this life. 

The story of sexual abuse is always tragic, and unfortunately it is a common tale.  One in three girls is sexually abused before her 18th birthday.  For boys, it is one in 5.  Most are abused by a family member.  Not everyone who is sexually abused develops multiple personalities, but some do.  The personalities develop to protect the injured child.  Healing is difficult.

Many families have some dysfunction from time to time, yet this story is painful, because there was no reprieve.  Things never changed. 

I suppose the most disturbing thing to me as that no one reached out to them.  The children were made fun of because of their clothes, their mom, their home.  They longed for normalcy.  They longed for acceptance.  Acceptance was difficult to find.  They clung together, because they had nowhere else to go.

Children can be cruel.  So can adults.  Why do we find it easy to judge one another, or to turn on backs on those in need? Why do we withhold acceptance?  What are we thinking? What are we afraid of?

We need each other. 

Tiffany’s mother is not the only one in pain.  Everyone has secrets.  Everyone has pain.  Everyone is fighting their own battle.   What does it cost us to reach out to another person? 

Perhaps the more important question is this.  What does it cost us to withhold the comfort and acceptance we might offer, if we weren’t too busy, too judgmental, or too afraid?

Can You Count the Cost?

Linda Garner

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