Oh yes, the past can hurt.

Friday night found me in tears. I was with my fiancé and we were discussing some things that had come up in our marriage prep. We got round to talking about past hurts and that was when the tears came.

There are two big, blinding wounds when it comes to my past hurts and neither of them was inflicted by another person. There are days when I would still say that God inflicted them, and days when I don’t care much who did it just that they were inflicted and still hurt now. I set out to tell you the stories, of how a bright, happy girl can become a withdrawn, quiet teenager without being abused. I then deleted what I wrote because I’m not sure if you, or I, are ready for that yet. I will however give a little detail of each of these wounds, what happened to cause the shadows to fall.

I was eight when the first thing happened. David Martin was fifteen days old, he was my baby brother and he ‘went to live with the angels’ as I told my sister who was three. A much longed for, much loved baby David was one of the unlucky ones. They never found the hole in his heart until it had stopped beating. When it stopped beating my world started crashing down. The shadow of his death crept across me and by the time the next school year started three months later even an excellent teacher couldn’t get through to me. In retrospect I can see that I probably had a form of depression triggered by the loss of my baby brother. I was hidden in it for the whole school year, only starting to come out of it when set a holiday project that my Grandma helped my with.

Almost five years after David died and never quite able to get back to who and where I was before the loss of my brother, my world was shaken to it’s foundations again. Grandma was always like a third parent to me. She was the most important person in my life. Five months after I turned thirteen her six month walk home ended. A month before I turned thirteen she told us she had cancer and would not accept treatment, only palliative care. I struggled to understand, even knowing that she had seen her older sister after early radiotherapy, how she could just sit back and let it take her. I thought she should have seen what she had to live for and fought the cancer. For six months I prayed, begging and pleading for more time. Time that was not written in her book. When her book closed after the final chapter was written I entered a period where if someone had put a list of what you might feel when depressed in front of me I would have ticked every box, including thoughts of suicide but not attempting suicide. I raged at God every night, sometimes loudly shouting and sobbing and feeling relieved I hadn’t woken my sister, sometimes internally with silent tears running rivers down my face. I demanded to know why he had taken her, what there was to be gained by such an act. I told God I hated him and, at the time, I meant it. I knew God was there but I had no interest in a relationship with him. I planned how I would commit suicide a few times, packed my bag to try and run away from my life more than once. I was angry, hurting, so broken I didn’t know where the pieces were and I was let down by the people who could have helped. My parents would not have known how to help, if they could have seen past the massive wall Grandma’s death put in front of them. My teachers could have helped, had they noticed, but I was one in 30 or one in 400 or one in 1200 to them and because I was only one and I was quiet and I usually worked well in class the bells didn’t ring, the flags didn’t go up. It was at least fifteen months before the educational social worker arranged a referral to a child psychologist. By that time I was so well practised at hiding what was really wrong that all the child psychologist did was try to teach me how to make friends.

Over the years other things have caused me pain too, though not as great as these two deaths. There have been other times when I believe I have been depressed but not to the extent that I believe I was following these deaths. In my life there have been many good things and maybe it is because they are starting to shine their light and dispel the shadows that I can cry again, tears I thought were gone forever.

Oh yes, the past can hurt, but it doesn’t have to hurt forever. I’m starting to learn that now and to realise that yesteryear’s pain does not need to be part of tomorrow. In time I know God and my Christian friends will help the hurt to heal. Maybe the last hints of depression will lift and people will see the happy girl I once was again.

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