One of my intentions for 2015 is to read more. These seven books top my list:
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Power of Less by Leo Babauta
Who Will Cry When You Die? by Robin Sharma
Daily Love by Mastin Kipp
The Future of God by Deepak Chopra
The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama
Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Each resonated with my heart. Each, I feel, has something to stir my soul. All of them come bearing gifts.
I’ve been drawn to the life and times of Maya Angelou for decades. It is my first read for 2015.
From the first line of the book, “I hadn’t so much forgot as I couldn’t bring myself to remember. Other things were more important.”, I felt a call to unearth something in my life that felt buried beneath years of shame.
On page 72 Maya writes, “Finally he was quiet, and then came the nice part. He held me so softly that I wished he wouldn’t ever let me go. I felt at home.” Something took my breath away. Shame occupied my body. I listened as I whispered a faint, “No.”
I felt like I was seven years old, perhaps even younger. The event I began to recall had me running back and forth between two men who were sitting on either side of the living room I grew up in, both of them were shirtless.
Maya’s words triggered a memory that felt more cellular in my body. This was something I hadn’t remembered in a very long time. Also, as a student of Brene Brown and the work of Debbie Ford, I knew the power of shame.
This was a secret I held, but at the time I had thought my whole world knew what was happening. No one ever said a word.
Maya’s book title, ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’ has greater meaning to me now. I can relate to being caged in. A part of me doesn’t want to sing a note of this story.
I have this memory of being watched by someone as I was growing up. I’d wake up and sense a presence. Even on the rare occasion when I didn’t have to share bath water with four other siblings, I felt someone watching me. Feelings of terror, sadness, numbness and an inability to speak all flooded my awareness.
It wasn’t easy to breathe. The immense pressure of shame pervaded my chest.
As a little gay boy the sexual abuse was terrifying. Yet, I was also able to notice times when I liked it. This caused me immense shame. Yet, what I read of Maya’s childhood experience and her feeling “at home” helped me understand that I wasn’t alone.
As I explore healing from these experiences I’ve come to understand the double edge sword of sexual abuse for gay boys.
In my case the perpetrator knew my sexuality. He also knew I held it as a secret and he used that against me. So although a part of me knew what was happening was horrendously wrong, the little gay boy really liked the attention. Maya has helped me begin to heal.
I’m proud to defy my perpetrator and tell everyone. Like Maya this is no longer my first big secret.