“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free
Every Spring growing up I would spend my days walking around a field full of Texas wild flowers, new bunnies and beautiful Texas sunsets. I would sit on a painter’s scaffold with piles of books and notebooks around me as I listened to the soundtrack to Dirty Dancing. I would dream of the day that a handsome man would come and take me away from this place. No matter how beautiful the scene around me was or how great the wild flowers smelled in the air, I wanted out of there. I never really understood why, I just knew that I needed to be saved.
Yesterday I went to visit my sick Tia in the hospital and it occurred to me just why I love her as much as I do. My Tia is an amazing woman who always has sought to help whoever she could. And when my uncle found me on the side of the highway when I was 14- and had run away for the fifth time since I turned 13- he took me to his house without even asking her. I wasn’t her niece, I wasn’t her problem, he could have taken me to my house and told me he had to discuss it with her and she could have said no. None of those things happened; he took me home with him, she fed me and made a bed for me. Just like that. Yesterday I told her that I loved her for that and was so thankful for her taking me in and for teaching me how to pray when I was little. She didn’t sit me down and tell me the words to any prayers, but what she did do was sit in front of a picture of Our Lady and pray. She set the example, not by lecturing but by doing.
The reason they took me in was because I had finally had enough of secrets and I told my uncle exactly what had happened to me as a child. As I passed the KFC where my abuser, my mom and I would go every other Saturday while I was growing up, so many memories flooded my brain. I wondered if a lot of people know what it’s like to have some of their greatest childhood memories be laced with the face of the person who raped them for years when they were little kids or if that was something that I only understood. As much as I wanted to hate him, I couldn’t because so many of my memories of him are of us having fun or him buying me things, like two ponies. Because that is what abusers do, it’s called grooming and the guilt from it lingers way after the abuse is over.
On the drive down to see my Tia I read a story of three Catholic Churches in Australia being set on fire and some actress saying that she was “elated” that those places of torment were destroyed. While I love my faith and I know Who lives inside Catholic Churches and what they are, I knew exactly how she felt. I would be elated if I saw the garage where my abuser both fixed cars and raped 5 year olds burn to the ground. I get it, even though it grieves me to know that 3 beautiful Catholic Churches are now gone when it wasn’t the Churches but the evil that takes over men that was the cause of so much pain.
For years I have dreamt of the moment that I would walk up to my abuser and tell him just how much my life was ruined by what he did to me. I imagined what his face would look like when I told him how much of a perverted fuck he was and how I wished him to burn in hell. As my husband and I turned down the road towards the house that I grew up in I knew that it was time to take a walk in that field full of wild flowers. I knew somehow that Jesus was asking me if I wanted to be healed and I was saying yes and the answer to me healing was me walking up to that door. A part of me was sure that he was dead. He wasn’t in the greatest of health when I left, so I kept telling myself it was no big deal. Surely he was dead, someone else lived there and they would let me look around when I told them I had grown up there.
I knocked twice and there was no answer. All the signs around me made it clear that he was still alive and he was in there. My heart was racing and the sirens in my head were all screaming at me to leave. Then my husband knocked and I heard his voice “Who is it?”…. silence. “Do I just say who I am?”, I asked my husband who looked like he was trying his best to not freak out too. He shrugged and I said “My name is Leticia, I grew up here and I would like to walk around with my husband”. Then the door slowly opened. This was the door to the room where my abuse began. I knew exactly what that room looked like when I was little and would go running in and out that door as a happy child who just wanted to chase butterflies and feed my rabbits. Who was that little girl? I had not been innocent in so long and I just wanted to catch one of those memories so I could see what she looked like. Then he spoke and my brain could not even grasp what was happening. Finally I asked “Are you Manuel?” and he said he was and opened the door even more where I could see him standing there in a white tank top and no pants on. Suddenly the picture of him over me flashed before my eyes and I started to cry. I told him that I knew what he had done to me and that I forgave him. I have no idea why none of the things that I wanted to say to him had come out and why they were replaced by the words “I forgive you”, but they were. I knew that I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing the damage he had done to me. I wanted to be brave, but instead I was just a little girl asking if I could go for a walk in my field. For 12 years it had been my field. Where I played and read books. Now, in order to share it with my husband, I had to ask this man for permission.
He didn’t deny what I had accused him of nor did he say he was sorry. He just chuckled and said that I was free to walk around as much as I wanted. So that’s what I did. I walked among my favorite flowers, in my favorite place, hand in hand with my favorite person. When we were done my husband opened the door of his silver Dodge truck, put me in it and drove me away from that nightmare once and for all. That was a moment that I had dreamt of from the first time that Stacey kissed me when I was 13 and it had finally come true.
I put that man in the hands of God Himself to deal with. I can’t even bring myself to pray for him anymore. He will not take anything else from me.No more tears, no more sleep, no more room in my head, no more. Enough is enough. I have lost relationships because of how hard I am to handle from the wounds he left me with, I have drank myself blind and missed out on so many parts of my kids’ lives, I have given man after man pieces of my dignity out of the false sense of what love is and I have lost so much sleep from nightmares about what he did to me. It was time to put an end to it. To hand it to Christ and nail it to His cross and leave it there. Christ walked with me up to that door and every person and every stuggle I have had in the last two years gave me the guts to go with Him.
My husband was the hero that God Himself chose to take me away from there and I am so lucky to have him.
The one who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”Then he said, “Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true.”