Last night’s dream could be analyzed by an amateur.
I was pregnant with my third child. I was back in high school taking a class or two, embarrassed that others were finding out what happened because it was all coming out, spilling out on a public stage.
I wasn’t a teenager. I wasn’t even the young mother I had been with my third pregnancy. I was my age. Me. Right now.
And it was all coming out.
There was a swimming pool at our high school, which there never really was and still isn’t.
I had to get in the water, with that six-month-baby growing inside of me.
I loved that child. Fiercely.
But what was everyone thinking? They were staring at me. And now they knew.
The child was the product of a rape-in-marriage.
I woke up then. I do have three children from my first marriage. The third one was a girl. I love her fiercely.
She is six months pregnant with my eighth grandchild.
We talked yesterday, and that may have seeded my dream. Not that we talked, because we do that every day, but the content of this particular conversation was new. Healing. A treasure that will stay with me always.
We talked about her conception. It was one of many conversations we have had about that night. She asked me questions with love and so much gentleness that I cannot write it now without a few tears.
“Mom, she said, “what else could it have been if not rape? I have always known that was what it was even if you didn’t use the word.”
I have always thought of it as molestation. Middle of the night. Sound asleep. Just a month after a marital separation.
Back then, I wasn’t Catholic. I had been on the pill. But during the separation, I had stopped taking it while I was living with my parents.
Then, he changed his mind about not loving me anymore, deciding that he did want to be married, that he wanted me back.
I went back. It’s what you did when you married at 18 and your dad was a pastor and you didn’t know there had been infidelity, especially when you had children together.
It’s what you did.
But the middle-of-the-night-thing needed to stop. It had become a trend with him. I hated it. If I wasn’t good enough to love in the middle of the day or at night before we fell asleep, why was the middle of the night the time? Wake me up out of a dead sleep? And, wow, could I go into a deep sleep after a day of running after two toddlers!
I made myself clear:
With moving back home after a separation, no longer on any contraception, I underscored the stipulation and doubled down on it. Don’t touch me. And especially not during this week.
Lord, I could not get pregnant now. Our marriage couldn’t take it. I didn’t realize that there wasn’t a marriage. Not really. Even though the truth was pretty darn clear.
I’m saying no to that intimacy. No to the middle of the night whatever-that-is. And no especially on the precise night that I am most likely to be fertile.
I blocked off a week and highlighted the three most worrisome days.
I woke up to the moment of our daughter’s conception. I knew immediately that I would conceive. It shook me to my core.
For years, I thought of it as a kind of marital molestation. But yesterday, my conversation with my now-grown daughter was incredibly healing.
“Mom,” she said, “what else could it have been if not rape? I have always known that was what it was even if you didn’t use the word.”
I suddenly felt free. I felt a bond with Kari. Love beyond description. She let me talk about it. Encouraged me to talk about it. Called it what it was. Gave me the freedom to do the same. And she is the only one who could free me from the memory. Redeem it, in a way.
This is it. The gift of yes to a little life that grew within me in the darkest hour. A gift I didn’t fully accept for five or six months into the pregnancy. But a gift that has become one of life’s best surprises and greatest treasures.
She looked at me and smiled. She gave me the freedom to see the truth, to call it for the first time what it was. And there is no pain in naming it because she said it from her own lips.
Man, I love that girl.
The last six months haven’t been easy. I have been thinking about this, in a kind of desolation spiritually, contemplating whether or not to write it, to include it in a new book.
It is so much easier to keep it tucked away in a room with a door only a few people could open, a door marked “molestation” and not “rape.”
I have come full circle, and it is a peaceful, grace-filled, miraculous embrace by the Divine One who makes all things new.
The water in last night’s dream? I think it was a beginning, a cleansing. Sure, I am still nervous about the crowds knowing. But it happened.
And there is joy and beauty on the other side of dark nights. There is peace in the middle of a terrible truth. There is laughter that gets multiplied when the grandbabies come along.
I won. The pearl of great price. It is mine to behold.
The non-Sacramental marriage fell away, but my yes to God and to a little girl made all the difference.
Kari, I love you.