This I Believe

Claire - Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania
Entered on February 13, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I Believe In Heroes

While downing a bag of gooey caramels, one after another at night, lying awake in bed listening to my parent’s violent arguments through their bedroom wall, I first became addicted to sugar. Penny candy became my hero, the more sugary the better. Sugar devoured in quantities enough to decay my young teeth, when I was just a child of ten. My candy hero washed away my tears, my agony, from not being able to scream out against my father’s brutal abuse.

During my adolescence I became anorexic, strangely anorexic, refusing to eat solid foods, but would crunch on bags of pastel dinner mints, two bags during the night, every night, hiding my empty plastic bags in the bottom of the garbage. My hero soothed me, making me feel happy, safe and secure. Candy helped me smile when I was out in the world, unable to reveal my horrible family secret. Smiling and laughing, I covered my mouth, not wanting anyone to closely inspect the chipped enamel and deep cavities. Each hole I probed with my tongue, reminded me of my savior, my hero, my lifeline.

I don’t know where I’d be now as an adult without my hero. When I was a child no-one spoke out about the subject of abuse, and incest was a totally unmentionable subject. My father was well respected, a church going man, and no one would ever believe how vile he treated his wife and children behind closed doors. As I laid there terrified at night in my bed, waiting for the bedroom door to open, I’d reach under my pillow to grab a handful of mints and stuff them in my mouth, savoring the sweetness as it melted down my throat. My heart would still leap up in my throat when I heard my father start his nightly rampage, and I’d devour mints faster, slipping into my own wonderful world of bliss.

Alone, silently I endured endless nights of insomnia, and having to take the role of a happy child during the day concealing my physical bruises and emotional terror. I studied every adult who entered my life, looking for a hero to notice my pain and heal it. No one noticed what was behind my painted, covered up smile, so my solace was my sweet, glorious candy.

Now as an adult survivor I still believe in heroes, because I know I am one. I share my story, hoping to assist children to reveal their painful secrets, and also for other adult survivors to open up and share their tales. Now I’m satisfied our children are being taught to speak out, seeking safe heroes to rescue them. I unfortunately didn’t have the same luxury, and now my understanding dentist remains one of my heroes.

The End