14. Jul, 2017

“Isn’t it about time you got over it!”

Only this week, this judgment was spewed at me.

She said, “How long ago did this happen to you?” (Yes, in THAT tone) 

I answered, “When I was 14.” 

She responded, “Isn’t it about time you got over it.”

It may have happened to me over fifty years ago, and yet it has influenced my life for over fifty years; however, the memory only came back last year. For me, the last twelve months has been a journey of walking through a dark tunnel, as I remembered a missing two years of my life.

I had buried this phase (early teens) for fifty years, never looking at it again, until recently, whilst I was researching my genealogy.  I discovered my Grandmother was put into a workhouse, in Dublin, Ireland, after her father had died, and before she immigrated to New Zealand, as a fifteen-year-old. As I researched the life she may have lived, I felt intense sorrow, more pain than was appropriate for my discoveries.

In my research I stumbled across the movie, “Magdalene Sisters” and I cried, as I realised the horrors my Grandmother may have lived through.  That was, until, the girls were being beaten and verbally abused in the office by the head nun. A light went on (trigger), as I realised, that was me; indeed, that was my story. I was transported back, in a moment of time, to the office of Sister Carmel, at the Home of the Good Shepherd, in Waikowhai, Auckland, New Zealand, and that was me being yelled at, berated and beaten.

I have never told anyone what went on in there.  Actually, I tried to but we were always monitored, our letters were always censored.  I discovered a letter, in my files that I wrote to my Social Worker, on 02/04/1967. She received it on the 05/05/1967, a month after I wrote it. Basically, I said I needed to see her to discuss things I couldn’t write in a letter. Her letter of response expressed how sorry she was that my letter took so long to reach her. Then she dismissed it with, “ I’m sorry to hear you are unhappy and I hope you have resolved your problem now.” Then she wrote, it was difficult for her to come and see me.  I never had a voice then, there was no one to tell, there was no one to rescue me.

When I left that hell-hole, where I was forced to do laundry, day in and day out. I never spoke about it again, as I fought to fit back into society; and in fact, worked hard to feel “normal,” whilst burying something abnormal that robbed me of self-worth and value.

My court notes told me that the reason I was in the convent was that I was not under proper parental control. How was that my fault? Why was I punished for something that was out of my control?

I agree that I was rebellious; I did run away from home. I did need intervention but I didn’t need that soul-destroying punishment.

I can write about this now because I have walked through my dark tunnel, I have made it to the other side, and indeed there is freedom, a sense of worth and value at the end of it.  I know and accept that this happened to me and I am who I am because of what I have walked through and was able to put all the missing pieces back together.

I have forgiven those I needed to forgive (for my sake), my reactions in life now make sense and I tell my story to help others know that no matter how dark the tunnel, there is ALWAYS a light at the end of it, but it does take courage and commitment to walk through it.

The “trigger” and the memories were too overwhelming for me to deal with last year because I was frustrated knowing that something terrible happened to me and yet I couldn’t remember the details. I needed facts and I needed help. I saw a Clinical Psychologist, to help me make sense of this because I couldn’t piece the memories together. However, when I got all my case notes from the courts and child welfare Department in New Zealand, I was thrown into a very dark place as I was confronted by my life as a young girl. I have walked through it, with the help of others, gained understanding and become strong and healthy as truth was revealed.

A tunnel is built underground and there is “no getting over it;” in fact, there is no digging myself out of it, going around it, surrendering it, burying it, or even pretending it doesn’t exist.  The only way to get out of a dark tunnel is to walk through it until you reach the end of it, knowing that no matter how dark, or long it is, that there is a light at the end of it, and then you can put it behind you.  

And then, you are “over it!” So what if it took fifty years, it will happen when it is meant to happen.

It's your journey!