Letter to Grandpa

Dear Grandpa,

It has been 3 years since the first memory emerged of you violating me in my tender years, revealing that my persistent nightmares of rape were rooted in truth. These memories have been fragile shadows always present in my life, waiting to be unearthed with care and respect.

In the earliest memories I did not know you, the perpetrator. The face on this male energy was a black cloud of pain, rage, and self-loathing that pulled compassion from me. As unbelievable as it seems, my compassion for you was spontaneously more palpable than for my Self; your pain was wildly vivid and accessible to me. My core Being felt the enormity of your angst, your struggle.

I think of this witnessing as a gift.

The impact of your self-loathing during my remembering brought me to my knees inside because I,too, have loathed myself so completely that I was left gasping for breath and fighting with life. I finally understood the errant seed that had taken root so long ago.

After a few weeks, your face, your smell, your voice emerged from that black cloud. I had two grandpa’s then, one that was in the photos of my recorded milestones and the other that was this monster and master of violence.

Soon, I found anger for you and your choices. I yelled until I lacked voice once again and punched the boxing bag wishing it was you, except then you wouldn’t be dead. You did make things easier by exiting before you harmed another generation. I think it was the only way you knew how to stop. My son, your first great grandchild, was due any day so you exercised a rare bit of courage, and you died.

It seems a strange package, but anger for you delivered me to compassion for my Self. Finally my unexpressed childhood was exposed. Grief and sorrow were first in line for all the years of black depression, migraines, anxieties, and unfounded fears that left me feeling gutted of the ability to experience basic pleasure in the micro or the macro of living.

It seems ridiculously backwards: compassion for you before my Self. However, I have accepted that healing unfolds in mysterious and miraculous ways. Grandpa, I know you hated who you were. I don’t believe in hell as an afterlife. I believe in healing. And healing in hell would be next to impossible.

I keep searching for healing, Grandpa, seeking more freedom. What if you had chosen to feel the world through my heart? What if you had stepped into my skin, felt the vast cavern of fear and silence that held no markings for the path to healing and voice? Perhaps you would have found the strength to put a stop to this cycle of violence. Maybe you would have found compassion for your wounded Self in that space of Me.

Because compassion was my deliverer, I see a Circle of Compassion that holds every living being. I believe if we intentionally move through the circle, we will be richer and deeper as individuals, naturally stronger and more connected as a community. It means we find our place on this circle and diligently move forward until we experience the weak, the sick, the young, the old, the strong, the healthy, the rich, the poor, the neglected, the abusers, the victims, the rapists, the advocates, the care givers, the judges and the animals, the Earth —leaving no living being untouched.

What if by visiting the depths of all that we have in common with each other we heal our deeply held wounds?

Living with compassion does not mean a life free of pain, but rather a life where communication, reconciliation, restoration, and healing are honorable, sought after experiences.

What if we begin to imagine a world that does not understand the words violence, abuse, rape, neglect, and discrimination?

Somehow I know you are listening, Grandpa.

—Angie, The Feisty One