Posts Tagged ‘shame’

Ivylene

June 11, 2008

“Lie still and Daddy won’t hurt you,” says 84-year-old Ivylene, over and over again.  Memories of childhood abuse are part of her, like the cascade of wrinkles around her eyes and mouth.

 

Ivylene hid her pain for the greater part of a century, but when her defenses broke down at the Shadyville Nursing Home, “Lie still and Daddy won’t hurt you,” was the first thing she had to say.  What does it matter who knows now?  Ivylene had out-lived her father-abuser; he died at 49 of cirrhosis of the liver.  Her mother is also dead; she can no longer shame Ivylene, for telling strangers about the family secret.  She never even told her children, who could not understood why Mother was so nervous, why the least noise disturbed her sleep.

 

Maybe now, after all these wasted years of agony and silence and shame, Ivylene can confess her secret, and find a way to forgive herself for having been a helpless child.  If only someone would listen to the old lady and take her seriously.

 

Perhaps the stain is too deep, like the yellow on her fingers from decades of smoking.  She mutters to herself, and tries to be quiet, but when someone comes close to her bed, she yelps like a kicked beagle.

 

By Kerry Vincent © 1993

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