Thursday, September 14, 2017

When Anniversaries Roll Around

Anniversary dates of events in our lives - good or bad - always trigger memories and emotions, and today is one of those dates.

Twenty-five years ago, my now-ex-husband and I launched a small weekly newspaper in a dying town.

The residents rallied around us, supported us, and cheered us on until we became the town’s cheerleader. We worked around the clock to provide the town with the latest news, all the events and happenings, and recording the day to day history of the town.

Being owners, publishers, editors, advertising salesmen, writers, graphic designers (before there was much in the way of graphic design), and janitors was hard work. It was proud work. The people were so beautiful. So kind. So loving and accepting. But it was also sacrificial work.

We sacrificed our time, our marriage, our finances to grow the business.

Regrettably, I also stupidly sacrificed my children.

I allowed someone else to help raise my children, and three years into this dream of building our future, I learned that the children were being abused. Physically, mentally, and verbally abused.

At first, I only suspected it. I had no proof. I talked to counselors. I talked to friends. I tried to make changes to prevent the abuse, but resistance was greater than I.

When all options failed to protect my children, we ran away.

I took the boys, filled our car with what possessions would fit, and we fled. Over the coming days, weeks, and months, I learned the severity of the abuse. She whipped them with electrical cords. She put pennies in their mouths and duct taped their mouths shut. She told them they weren’t “real” children – that I would one day take them away to kill them, so I could return to have “real” children.

Years of counseling helped all of us a little. But those three years changed our lives forever. Those three years changed who we were, who we are today. And only one family in that whole town knows what really happened. Everyone else got his version, because he was the one left to face the public. And all these years, I've been okay with that, because I got my kids out of there and that's all that honestly mattered.

Twenty-five years later the paper still stands. My ex-husband has a beautiful family of his own, and the town continues to thrive. The abuser passed away, and not by my own hand, although the thoughts were there.

I have a new life, with an adorable, loving husband, a thriving business, a stable home, and grown sons who make me so proud.

Those three years took their toll. And I’m tired of being silent. I don’t dwell on the past – the present and future are so much better than I ever imagined they could be. But when an anniversary rolls around, I can’t help reflect on that time.

Remembering our past helps us learn from our mistakes, and it helps us see how far we’ve (hopefully) come in our life’s journey. Our past is only a glance in the rearview mirror. We just have to remember to keep our eyes on the road and keep moving forward one day, one step, at a time, treasuring our present as we move toward the future.

Celebrate the successes. Forgive those who hurt us. Keep exploring, growing, and learning every single day.

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