As you know, Summer Lacy pushed me to do this along with my daughter, Andrea. When I auditioned, I did it for fun never thinking I’d be picked.
It is rare that I talk about the abuse from my childhood. Not very many people know about it. There is shame and guilt when you are a sexual abuse victim even though you are the victim. The way people react varies from disgust to sympathy, and it is directed at you. I have had people walk out of my life after learning about it because it was too much for them. Reading my story at the first rehearsal sent my emotions back in time and took me to a place I haven’t visited in a very long time. Also, it was out there among strangers now and I couldn’t take it back.
It surprised me was when one person told me my story was hard to hear. I wasn’t sure how to respond to that. Was this the same rejection I’d experienced before? Would these people now look at me funny and avoid conversation with me? My fear was laid to rest at the second rehearsal when each one acted no differently towards me than they had prior to hearing my story. I breathed a “thank you” to the Lord! These weren’t fellow recovering alcoholics, these were “normal” people who not only accepted me but loved me!
Still, the next two rehearsals didn’t make the story any easier to read, but I was becoming more comfortable telling it because each one of us had stories every bit as important to tell. Mine wasn’t the only story hard to tell.
My brother came to the show. I offered to let him read the story first and he declined, saying he wanted to hear it from me. I knew that he too was going to be emotionally sent back there and I was concerned about it. My story is his story, minus the sexual abuse. His emotions after the show reflected relief – his emotional dam had burst.
Throughout the process leading up to the show and at the show itself, Jennifer Williams was my rock. I will never forget her hands on my shoulders, her eyes locked with mine and her encouraging words that gave me the confidence to tell my story when I had none.
LTYM has shown me my story is important despite the shame. My story is very common and usually hidden. If one person heard their own story when I told mine and it sets them on the path of emotional healing, LTYM has accomplished what it set out to do: let us know our story is important, we are not alone, we have a support team, and we are loved!
Thank you so much to Sheila for sharing her story during our show and for sharing what the experience of being in LTYM meant to her.