This I Believe

Patricia - Brighton, Massachusetts
Entered on November 2, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, love
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I sometimes worry that if the people in my life knew my truth they would look at me differently. As a child, I was abused. There are so many studies and statistics out there that outline in excruciating detail the type of adult that forms from an abused child. These studies are supposed to give us insight about people, people with no names, no faces, no smiles to read or glances to meet or eyebrows to see furrow in a way that would tell us something about them. These studies tell us that people who are hurt as children more often than not grow up to hurt.

I have been a nanny for close to seven years now because I have learned my life is better with children in it. They remind me that all those troubling things – the bank account I’m worried about emptying too soon, the potential I’m afraid I’m not living up to, the boyfriend I wonder if I’m meant to be with – that those things are secondary to the smile of a child who is well fed and well loved, the laughter of a child who is comfortable enough in their surroundings, safe enough in their world to take tiny steps in the discovery of self. I have committed completely to the idea that it takes a village to raise a family.

My mother laughs when I say I do not want my own; I do not want my own children because I have found a way to love completely those that belong to others. What if these families knew my secret? Would they believe the statistics? Would they worry about their babies? And what would that worry do to me? I am who I am because a five-year-old girl comes running to see me when I pick her up from day care, because a one-year-old once preferred to take his naps curled up on my stomach, because my friend’s baby who struggles with sleep nods off in my arms. Who would I be without them? I have this insatiable need to protect, comfort, and provide for those too small to do so for themselves. If I no longer had these children to love, who would I be?

I believe those who carry around a hurt within them are in tune to those around them with needs. I believe those of us who have felt our vulnerability abused have a deep sense of compassion for and a desire to protect those with raw needs of their own. I believe because I was hurt, I am better at protecting. I believe because I have felt pain, I am better at soothing. I believe because I have my own secrets, I have found a way to understand those of others. I believe those who are hurt do not necessarily grow to hurt others but perhaps see humanity in a different, more fundamental, way. This I believe.