Innocence…when did you lose yours?…did you even have it at all?
And I’m not talking about the first time you had sex, not the consensual kind anyway.
For those of you who’ve been abused sexually, emotionally and physically this blog post won’t initially appear to be for you but it is YOU who have inspired me to write it; or should I say The One of you.
The One can only be known as The One to protect their identity but in order for you, the reader, to understand more fully the importance of what I write, I will say that The One is a child for whom the concept of innocence is as far away as the outer reaches of our solar system…and possibly even further.
I was lucky. Although born into a poor family, images of my mother searching down the back of our sofa for pennies are etched into my memory, I didn’t know we were poor. We lived in a box in the sky but I loved the view and would stand and look out across the West London skyline; as an only child I was mainly a silent observer.
I was lucky because, although we were poor, my parents loved me. If I were to criticise them at all it would be for dedicating themselves a little too much to my well-being which resulted in me not walking until I was three; each time I tried to stand as a toddler my mother sat me down. If she had been aware of the damage she was causing it could have been viewed as a form of abuse but she wasn’t aware, she just didn’t want me to fall over and hurt myself.
So, as I say, I was lucky. I had parents who loved me and I trusted them implicitly. They made everything okay. And year upon year of them being there for me created a deep-seated belief that life would always be good, that bad stuff wouldn’t happen to me and that, just like in the movies, I would end up at a point where I would live happily ever after. Goodnight Mary-Ellen, Goodnight John-Boy!
Then in 2007 Mum was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died. I became my Dad’s carer almost overnight until he died in 2015. That’s life, I hear you say…people die…shit happens. And I knew that but I couldn’t fathom why I felt so empty and fearful. It wasn’t because I’d lost my parents. In many ways I felt relieved that they were gone. Mum’s death enabled me to leave my first husband and Dad’s death released me from the shackles of being his carer. So what was it? Why was I struggling to look forward to stuff? Why did life seem grey and cold?
And then The One came into my life. For many weeks I found working with The One virtually intolerable…the outbursts…the threat of outbursts…the pushing…the hitting…stuff squirted in my face…a black eye – never had one of those before!…being told to stand in the middle of the road and get run over…you’re ugly…you’re old…go away…I don’t like you…I don’t want you…I wish you were dead!
‘You little shit!’ I screamed in the privacy of my home. But in my heart, the bit of it still able to feel, I knew The One was not a little shit at all.
The One had never been loved…The One didn’t know what living happily ever after meant…The One had never experienced innocence. Even as I write I find it difficult not to hear the Hollywood spin on it, so deeply ingrained is the conditioning of happily ever after in me…
The One was unloved…
abused and broken…
then one day this woman…
this kind and dedicated woman…
came into The One’s life and…
But it wasn’t like that at all. I was there because I had to work and The One was there because The One had to be.
The other day The One said to me…’It’s funny, for a long time I didn’t like you…now I do’.
I went to say something in return but The One said ‘Shhh, don’t speak!’
Innocence, I have come to understand, is a precious gift that is greatly missed when it leaves you but for me it has left an indelible mark that allows me to FEEL and EMPATHISE.
The One will, I hope, learn to understand and appreciate love one day. The One is loved now by 2 fantastic parents who are dedicated to giving The One the life The One so deserves.
But innocence is a different matter. I am not qualified to say what damage the absence of innocence in The One’s life has done and its possible ramifications for the future. I just know that for those of us who were lucky enough to have experienced it, our lives will be all the richer for it, even though it is now long gone.
So rather than trying to reclaim it I will move on in this new phase of my life. I will continue to help those who never had innocence to live happy fulfilling lives. I will help others who still have innocence to maintain it for as long as possible and I will help those who have lost it to celebrate the fact that it was once theirs.
How about you? When did you lose your innocence? Did you even have it at all?