What If I Told You, I KNOW?
There are some things you come to know in this life that are so big, so universe-altering, that you find yourself wishing somedays that you could go back to a time before you knew.
That is how I feel when I think too hard about what I know. It’s always with me, affecting nearly every minute of most every day, but somedays it really hits me, as if newly discovered, and my heart stops all over again. Exposed, vulnerable, no longer the self-reliant me of the before I knew days, I find myself longing to reverse time, back to before I carried what I know.
Life was easier then. Kinder, gentler, softer and full of better people. There were children with brighter, more innocent smiles. Well maybe not, but somehow it seemed so. It was more manageable when the normal hiccups would come and disrupt our perfectly normal days. But now, everything about what used to seem normal now occurs as if in a slow ripple effect in our once calm water, in some way connected to the stone that was tossed of what we now know. Friend’s faces look different. Their unknowing small talk is hard for me to bear at times. On days when I wake up nearly reliving it all in a fast-forward flash before I get out of bed, what I know has become like my daily alarm, waking me to my new after reality of living with knowing what I now know.
Plans are harder to set, money is harder to want, dreams seem harder to reach; because what I know has changed them all. It’s changed me. Small problems seem so much smaller now. I want to sit and give my undivided attention to a story about a dog, or a plane, or your bff’s sister’s new all-raw greens diet, but its hard not to wander back; not to dwell on what I know as if it’s the only thing that’s ever come and knocked the world sideways, even though I’m aware it was only my world. Especially when I see what I know still eroding once perfect innocence, one that never asked ever to know, and is still dealing with what comes with living for so long with keeping the know until it bursts like a broken dam. And then after, watching the entire universe be soaked in the aftermath. I want to pause my mind, with all the thoughts that swirl around the knowing, and just close my eyes and be in the lovely, unknowing innocent past, That I also know, won’t ever be again. When life was untouched and my heart was still trusting.
I understand there can be a new normal. That good can arise from the darkest places. I hope for it. I find strength in the truth of this, when knowing something so big feels like it’s too much to bear and we wait for the new normal to make it all fit in a make sense way. Until then, there is comfort in the practice of perseverance. It’s not always a natural mode of travel, but I believe with enough practice, it might begin to one day feel that way.
I agree that a life lived in the past will go nowhere, and so I try not to live there. But an escape to it, to the bygone days when there was only unknowing, would be a much needed respite for when these current days of knowing and knowing, with no way to hide from it, forget it, erase it, make the flood of knowing thoughts stop, becomes overwhelming.
Please don’t expect me to tell you what I know, it won’t do you any good, just as it hasn’t done me. I may find yours a safe shoulder when my head is too heavy with what I know to manage the weight on its own; but even if I don’t, please go easy on me. Easy is about all I have left these new days when what I know comes rushing back and steals my day. Besides having to live with knowing, the having to relive what I know is somedays almost worse. Sometimes I think carrying a sign that simply reads “Caution. Big know crashed here. Be kind or move along.” Would serve me well in these new days. Just know that what I know is a game changer, and it always will be. But eventually it won’t be so big that all I can think of are ways to forget it. Eventually, as time does with all things, it will grow distant and faded, and only when we pull it up close will we be able to see all the scars it left.
I have heard that you find your inner strength when you must, and I think that’s probably true. I am not sure if mine just needs a good cardio workout or maybe is just tired from holding me up for so long, but to know certain things, sure makes your inner strength feel weaker than it was before.
Is there a way to turn what I know into something wonderful? This is a question I hope to hear the answer to all the time. In more time I think- no I believe, that answer will come. The small shifts of the universe that have moved us since learning what we know has already led to some small blessings, so I am hopeful there will be more. That I won’t always be on the lookout for evil to sneak past my gut senses. Maybe one day there might even be a bigger answer to Why. Why did I have to know what I know? Why did there have to be something this big to know and to creep into my life and steal my before and change my after? Why did it come and find me? All questions I already know the answer to, but you know what? Somedays I’m tired of knowing the answers. Somedays I just want to pretend and to go back to the peace that was before I knew.
There are some things you know that are so big, you wish you could trade all the future unknowns, if you could give back just this one. To erase it from your memory, from your children’s memory, from your heart’s memory. And in return, go on living in that former, beautiful, blissfully unaware life before you knew what you know now.
I also know one more thing. I know that all of this is just wishful thinking because, Once you know something, you can’t unknow it. My words.
Darn it if I haven’t been unknowingly foreshadowing what I know now for years with that simple, innocent, well-used made up line. It held no real impact for me all the times before when I uttered it; when trying to make sense or make light of some tough understanding. Now that line cries out to me from the depths of my soul. Once you know something, alas, no matter how much you’d trade anything in this world not to, you might as well admit the futility of trying, because you simply cannot unknow it.
Now that I know this life changing know, I’d like to think that line was perhaps my former self’s way of preparing me for what was to come; what I didn’t yet know, but what one day the former me knew I would. Perhaps I had already made a trade for the unknown once before, and this was my mind’s way of warning me that trades like that don’t actually exist. Either way, for a thousand unknowns good or bad, that I may risk losing in the future as a trade with my memory, I’d let the future keep them all if I could just this once, unknow this.
But you can’t really ever unknow anything can you? So instead I will use what I know. To make my new life, that must be lived now with knowing this, tightly woven in between, and live the kind of life that means something. Find a way to make what I know count for something. Maybe even change something. So that someday in the after of all this, less people; less mothers, less fathers, less perfectly innocent lives blissfully unaware, might ever come to know what I know.
When abuse strikes it takes no prisoners. In fact, it seems to sweep up as many as there happens to be standing in it’s crashing wake. I am learning to live a new life of acceptance, that abuse while crushing, cannot break me. Watching someone you love fall victim to abuse is often even worse than experiencing it yourself. It’s ok to feel the grief, sorrow, and pain that comes from these experiences. I write above about changing my life; about trying to make it count for something in the wake of experiencing what sometimes feels like unspeakable abuse, and witnessing it come into my family like a soul-eating monster.
My goal is that through my words, others will find comfort in the knowledge that they are not alone; because so many of us have been there too. And to spread hope that there is an after for all of us. Those who have overcome abuse must choose to focus our lives on all of the positives that arise from tragedy. To look for and commit to the many ways we can use this often shameful experience, to become a tool for others who do not yet have their strength of “after” perspective. I think when we accept that while there is a lot of evil in this world, there is also a lot of good; and by choosing to turn something evil into something worthwhile, even beautiful, is the best antidote to evil. Using our pain to ease someone else’s, puts the control back into our own hands.
I write about my pain for this reason. My greatest hope is that it shows us all, in a life that so often tries to break us down and leave us feeling out of control, that we have a powerful far greater than darkness. A hope that there can be beauty from ugliness, but only with the right lighting.