My book speaks to all who would like to take a deeper compassionate look into emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.
I went from a millionaire to welfare in the 1990s. That was a wake-up call. I realized then I led my life as a ‘victim’ and in fear of authority since my childhood abuse. The self-abuse with sex, drugs and alcohol was another result of this trauma. They became a shadow used to cover my shame and lack of self-confidence throughout my life. Now I was ready and willing to revisit my childhood; go there touch, taste, smell, and relive it. This was a beginning of my healing. This was the turning point to go from war to peace within.
Shhhh! is a sad, shocking and sexy story about what happened to a child born into an upper-class, Southern farm family when she didn’t ‘act like a lady.’ In 1940 my father married his maid – twenty-seven years his junior. He was a proud ‘ole peacock. She was his young hen. At home, in the heart of the battlefields of the Civil War, my father’s responsibility was my mentally retarded stepbrother Tim. Mother’s primary job was Daddy, then the children. I was the second child, an accident. Mother lived to be the ‘proper wife,’ the ‘proper mother.’ We were to be ‘ladies.’ Mother was. My sister was. I wasn’t. I had to be broken. The beatings with a switch from the willow tree, a belt or extension cord were used for the blistering, biting lashes given me from age three until I turned sixteen.
I escaped Mother’s wrath and the feeling of loneliness by going to Grandma’s whenever I could. But not to Grandma’s bosom or Grandma’s big apron. I went to May’s bed. May was Grandma’s adopted niece, six years my senior. From the time I was four until I turned twelve, May filled my loneliness, fear and anger with sex. The conflict of ‘it– feels–good–and–it–feels–bad’ was the biggest feeling of all. By age ten there was no doubt in my mind ‘I was bad.’ I equated sex with love and comfort. So I sought out that com-fort in ‘my best friend,’ Mickey, my Pekinese. This repugnant behavior colored my soul sad and set me apart from the rest of society. It was fuel for my inferior feelings that rode with me like a sidecar far into my future.
I entered junior high school laden with secrets, sex, shame and guilt in my veins. I couldn’t live up to my given name, Annalyn. I changed my name to Kelly. Annalyn and Kelly did battle for years. Annalyn the lady, Kelly the rebel… Annalyn the good girl, Kelly the bad….
At fifteen, as a sophomore in high school, I fell in love with Jim, a sophomore in college. We had two years of storybook sex. But good girls just didn’t. Not at sixteen. Not in 1960. With each sexual experience, more secrets, shame and guilt were piled on top of the mortification and scars of Mummy, May and Mickey. I stuffed it inside. I built a wall to keep it in. At the end of my junior year I left Jim behind and took off for a waitress job in Ocean City, Maryland. There I became the definition of a ‘wanton woman’ — deficient in love, undisciplined, frolicsome and sensual. I ended the summer suicidal and physically ill.
Starting my senior year, I was summoned by the guidance counselor. Labeled ‘unfit.’ Impeached from my office of President of the Future Teachers of America. Summer’s humiliation and reputation followed me.
The tidal wave kept growing. Just weeks before graduation, yet another blow to my psyche. One more betrayal from one more authority figure. Wounded, I panicked. Depleted, I ran. Never looking back, I fled from school.
So. No Pomp and Circumstance for me that spring.
What did I do with all that anger, sadness, rage and shame? I fucked eleven guys over the next eleven months. During my freshman year of college one more unexpected awareness plunked yet another chunk of secrets to be buried in this laden body. I became aware of the enormity of childhood abuse after I finished writing this book. Now my desire is to bring more of our abused out from under the covers and help them alleviate some of their pain and shame.
From Darkness to Light, “Child sexual abuse is the most prevalent health problem children face with the most serious array of consequences.” At the end of the 20th Century, they reported in the U.S. one in four boys and one is six girls were sexually abused. An estimated thirty-nine million survivors of childhood sexual abuse live in America today. This gave me pause to ask why our society is so overburdened with obesity, alcohol, drug and sex addiction — these are symptoms and direct results of childhood abuse. This put a light on all the self-abuse I had endured. Now I had understanding and compassion for me.
My book is aimed at the countless and their families left casualties by their predators over some seventy years, from the 1930s through 1990s. This is an invitation for those who suffer to begin healing. I trust I can help lift the tarp, let the sun peak into the dark, and shine on those beautiful souls.
I believe no one wants to live in the dimness of addiction, or the aloneness of mental anguish!