Personal Narrative: An Assignment

Lilly came home from school last week with an assignment to write a personal narrative about a traumatic or life-changing experience in her life. She went through the timeline of her life, not really able to identify any trauma or major changes in her life (oh the bliss of being a kid!). She settled on writing about her dad leaving IN to move to MN (it was that or the first time our dog had a seizure…real problems over here!)

As Lilly has written this six page narrative, she’s asked me questions along the way. “What year did Dad move?” “How long was Dad in treatment?” …all the while, making me rehash some old memories that I’d suppressed over the past decade. The way I am able to identify the months of times he was home or in Minnesota, tying them to traumatic events that occurred during that time period. Thinking to myself, “well he missed your third birthday party because he was on a four day that was in May…” “well, we came home from church and his car was packed to move BACK to MN and it was right after Christmas because he had that gift Nana bought him packed in the car, so that had to have been at least December…” The memories during this time are blurry- they seem like someone else’s life, not mine. But these memories, this story…they ARE mine. And now it’s her’s too.

I never wanted to be the girl engaged to a drug addict. I never wanted to have kids with someone who was emotionally, verbally, and, at times, physically abusive. But the reality is- this is all part of my story, and it’s part of Lilly’s. While the details may differ between her dad’s recollection and mine, the reality is, we’re all better people because of all the details of the story- whoever’s version we go with. And while people who come into our life now and in the future may never fully understand, I pray that they love us through the residue of what’s left from the hardships we endured. Because I assure you, my Lilly is going to shine- despite the story of her dad moving to MN, despite our moving six times since then, despite anyone who is embarrassed that this is our story. My Lilly will shine because she has seen me shine. And I am damn proud of myself for that.

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