A year later, and I am still choking on the vomit of memories that replay all too vividly in my mind. I was chased out of a place that was supposed to provide solace like a filthy, demon possessed pig. The most hurtful words to a fragile spirit were hurled at me with disgust for my very being: “You are a messed up individual!” I cried all the way home. An hour drive from Ocala back to Gainesville (luckily Matt was at the wheel). I cried for the next week. And the week after that. I told no one about this incident except for my best friend, and my now counselor. As I read these words, they sound unreal. The experience was a real life, hellish nightmare. Its crazy, for lack of better words, to be where I am now, knowing that this risk that I took, to drive an hour away for counseling, was the start to my active healing process.
As I oiled my hair this evening, I felt a surge of giddiness, widening my mouth into a child-like, goofy smile as I thought about my daddy visiting tomorrow. My daddy. My daddy is a 6’7 giant. His smile makes the moon shudder in jealousy. He makes Wolverine look like an underweight, pre-adolescent boy. He always has a kind gesture up his sleeve and I am, always have been, and always will be his baby girl. Ok, not all of those things are technically true. My daddy is actually just short of about 5’8, and well…gravity, retirement, and Neopolitan ice cream have kinda gotten the best of him, but the rest is completely true. I thought about my daddy and how he has always worked to protect me, even when years passed without me knowing it. I thought about how he made me wear long pants all of the time (in Miami!) so that I wouldn’t skin my knees in my reckless tree climbing, clothesline swinging, and bike racing. I thought about him walking me to my classroom and giving me a hug and kiss every single day of elementary school while all of the other kids were lucky if they got a parent to even drive them to school. I thought about him having the awkward talk with me in 7th grade about dressing modestly (and how I rolled my eyes and turned on my internal jukebox.). I remembered him taking one look at me, my senior year of high school, and just knowing that ‘that boy’ had broken my heart. I remember seeing the fury in his eyes and I remember feeling the comfort in his hug.
And as I oiled my hair, I stuffed my tears back into my eyes. Why didn’t I tell my daddy about this incident? He would have protected me. He would have served that crooked counselor the most intense form of justice the world had ever heard of. And with the types of people my daddy rolls with, that is no exaggeration. She would’ve been sorry for not being a better steward of her profession, ‘Christian Counselor’. She would’ve been the one, staring in the mirror with tears rolling down her face, and I would have been simply, oiling my hair tonight.
A year ago, I felt helpless. I felt like the 6 year old me, whose head was much too large for her body, but wore a semi toothless grin everywhere she went. And that is the age that I learned to hide things from my daddy. I could not let my daddy protect me anymore. I could not hold his hand and feel safe from the monster that came out at night, because, I had to protect the image of my innocence, my strength and smarts ( I was always Daddy’s smart, sassy girl). And so I stopped letting my Daddy protect me. And I have always had an outer strength, but an inner fragility.
But a year ago, I was, and today, I am an adult, and I suppose it is my responsibility to take good care of myself. I am not a helpless little girl, bound by the sin of others. I am a woman. I have wisdom, and unconquerable strength. I have a voice.
And my tears tonight, were because I did not know that a year ago. I wish I had some way to bring justice to this situation. I wish I had told my daddy, just to see once again, the fury in his eyes and to feel the comfort in his hug. I wish that I had told him so that I could see him go through extreme measures to ensure that this would never happen again. There is so much comfort that comes with justice. I wish I had known what to do, other than to retract to weeks of hidden tears and anguish. It is good to look back and see how the Lord took care of me (that horrific experience led me to my now counselor who has become a mother to me), but it is still unsettling to have felt and still feel so vulnerable, unprotected, forgotten, worthless, helpless.
I haven’t found closure. I haven’t even necessarily found peace. I am still in pain. I still have things to work out with Jesus, understanding the full range of his provision and protection. But as I think about my daddy, coming up from Miami this weekend, just to bring me a bucket of mangoes and to see his baby girl, I know that Father cares. And for tonight, that will be enough.