Do you remember when you were little. You might have been out playing or running home from school; you tripped and tore a hole in your jeans or shirt. A big red gash or scrape appeared and began to hurt and bleed. You walked all the way home, and didn't say a word; not a tear, not a sob until you walked in the door. Maybe your mom asked you what was wrong, maybe daddy or big brother or your twin sister...somebody. You weren't saving it up for sympathy...you just didn't have it in you to cry until you were with someone safe. Do you remember?
Unlike many entries on this site or similar sites that start off with "telling the family," this blog is different. Today I'll be having lunch with my brothers to talk about my recent health problems. And as many of you know, recent events have prompted old repressed memories and flashbacks regarding my sister and I being sexually abused by my mother's brother. He was single and lived with my grandmother, where my sister and I spent a few weeks each summer when we were little. I'll be talking with my brothers more about this as well. My story, Three Sisters portrays in part what happened, although in real life she succumbed to Uterine Cancer in 2005.
Some of you may have experienced something similar to this: I'm mourning not only her passing as an adult, but dealing with the grief and loss of her childhood. She lived a very difficult life, fraught with medical problems and other abuse issues; having been also molested by an adult neighbor. She attempted suicide, and was plagued with lifelong health issues culminating in the cancer that ultimately took her life.
Tomorrow will be especially rough on my brothers as we all deal with the loss and grief, but also understandable but misplaced guilt, especially for my older brother Vic, who already has expressed feelings of helplessness as he was the oldest child, but never knew. Joann's counselor, without violating any ethical boundaries, was able to confirm everything I portrayed as fiction for the sake of the story, but which actually happened in an even more horrific manner for both of us, according to what he was able to share in a non-specific manner. He confirmed what my counselor suspected as well; that my uncle threatened each of us with the other's harm if we said anything. She was only able to talk about the abuse through poems she wrote just before her death, but only shared their meaning with her counselor.
As you already obviously know, my persona is not who I am solely, although Andrea is an integral part of who I am. Much of what I have shared with my own counselor has validated the saying I quote in my comments and blogs. "She was born for all the wrong reasons but grew up for all the right ones." Unable to protect Joann as her younger brother, it is more than likely I was able to deflect attention from her (mostly in vain, since my uncle was evil and did what he wished with us anyway), this half of me trying to desperately prevent his attention falling on her, I "competed" as much as I can remember so that he would pick "me" instead of her; my efforts were mostly ineffective and in vain since he hurt her anyway. But Andrea became more that a protector; Andrea "grew up" as the sensitive caring encouraging part of Doug, I believe. Joann's counselor said something yesterday that alleviated so much guilt and shame, even though I had been dealing with it with some success as my story tells.
"Doug," he said, "I can't say much, but I won't be violating any confidence by sharing this. You have to know that she knew you tried as hard as you could to protect her, and she wanted you to know she loved you very much." As you can imagine, I was weeping at that point of the conversation, as only two halves of one person can.
All this to say, I will be talking with Vic and Jimmy tomorrow, giving them almost all the information they need to know to deal with this loss we share. But part of the story, perhaps the most important part for me, must remain unsaid, at least for now, since neither brother nor my wife and son would understand Andrea's role, not only in the role she played in trying to protect Joann, but also the recovery and growth of the person they only know as brother, husband and father. My friends here; many of you closer than anyone I've ever known, remain the only people besides my counselor who know that Andrea exists. I'd like to think that in that special place God prepared for her, Joann may now know about the kid sister no one else knew. My greatest loss in all this in not my innocence,since that is being restored along with a healthy understanding about myself. What hurts the most; in losing my precious sister, is that she is likely, no, most assuredly the only one who would have welcomed and accepted Andrea if she had lived to see this day. As I said last week, and please forgive me if I repeat myself. If you have had this horror inflicted upon you, however you managed to cope with it, thank God, but get the support and help you deserve.
Thank you for bearing with me once again as I share my heart with all of you precious ones. For whatever reason, and hopefully for a good outcome, which many of you report you have already obtained, please...even if for only some, perhaps you may even be in a place that you feel this way. You may feel you were born for all the wrong reasons, but I am confident that you will become who you are ultimately meant to be for all the right ones. May we all be seen by our loved ones as we see ourselves and ultimately by our God. Thanks again, I love you all! Andrea Lena DiMaggio