Saturday

Family Secrets



Memories are the ghosts of our past,
like fugitives they hide from the day, 
only to haunt us at night
when the mind betrays our reality,
altering the history as we have come to know it.

It is we who choose what to remember and what to forget
separating pain from the pleasurable,
gathering the hurt like the fields harvest
and carefully add them to the box, then close the lid.

Yet the pain does not lessen with time,
not until one has learned to forgive
and even then it does not disappear completely,
for the scars have been carved too deep.

Memories are fragile
and are easily lost when not tended to,
though a photograph can capture a moment,
aiding in recalling the past,
it can also uncover, exposing the darkness to light
that others might see, even years later.





Missing pieces of broken emptiness


Neglected, it's beauty fades and character takes hold of the presence.





No place to hide


All I ask is that you look and contemplate the many meanings.





The remains of irreconcilable differences


Listen to the silence . . .
     for they do have voices.





“Mom, please not the closet,” a child cried


Memories are hard to erase, for they are what we have become and we cannot be denied our identity.





An empty heart


For me the kitchen is where one finds the heart of a home. Neglected and without love, it is nothing more than a room within a house. A house to be considered a home, it most provide a place of safety and nurtured tenderness.





With memories striped bare, stolen innocence still cannot forget


You can empty a room and remove all traces of a former life and identity, yet the memories still remain.





Paint cannot hide the wounds


Pealing away the many layers that have hidden the cruelty not only exposes the ugly secret. it also begins the healing process for the victim.





Leave through many doors to find yourself


By walking through a door and entering a room, we are confined and confronted by the  walls, by the space within and the impressions of others. 

To regain out identity, to discover our full potential and shed the abuse we have suffered, we must leave by many doors.





Lost and found


The series ‘Family Secrets’ comes to a close with ‘Lost and Found,’ but for many people from an abusive childhood, the pain never ends.

In the last few weeks I have relived many memories, gut wrenching and painful at times. The abuse suffered ends with me! It is a promise I made to my dear and lovely children, Armont and Ariana. They will never have to experience the pain and memories of the kind of verbal and mental abuse, or the physical beatings and sexual abuse I endured at the hands of my perpetrator; my mother.
The healing process for any abused person takes a lifetime.





Self portrait with shattered mirror


The only way we can eradicate this evil is to first say to ourselves: “We are not at fault.” All too often we think we are to blame for these conditions, but it is not so. Remember, no love is worth suffering pain and abuse. There is help and you must seek it.

I had returned to the empty club house, deciding to photograph the hallway, using the mirror in the ladies room. As I was setting up the shot, I looked into the mirror and decided to photograph myself instead.




Postscript

Between April 25 and May 30, 2005, I posted ten photographs at an art community website, Renderosity. It was during this time that I went public for the first time, sharing my childhood memories of abuse and openly confronting my inner demons.


The process of healing has taken twenty-six years, when at the age of thirty-five, I realized that I had not been the problem.


Even though I am doing better today, the wounds and scares still remain, at least I proved stronger and so was able to break the cycle, for my children are now grown adults and were never experienced abuse. However I am sorry that my wife was exposed to my pain these  many years.


What helped my recovery process was that not only coming to terms with what had happened to me, but that seven to eight years ago, I was finally able to forgive my mother and so release the anger that I had harbored against her, which by then had eaten away my spirit like a slow moving illness.




This post has had me look back upon my childhood and reviewing the other
150 or so images that that were taken as part of this series in 2005.
An idea took hold of expanding this story and share what has 
happened since I went public and how I have dealt
with the recovery. So now I have begun
to work on a small book.





Thank you for your visit
and comment . . .

Egmont




31 comments:

weaverpat said...

Dear Egmont,
Words fail me. What can be said of such beautiful photographs and poetry and the painful emotions that brought them into being.
I'm sitting here crying. It takes a person of great strength and bravery to bare their soul and share the worst fearful moments of life.
Thank goodness you have sought the understanding and insight not to inflict the pain onto your own children.
Bless you, Egmont.
PW

Carolyn Abrams said...

Egmont, words cannot adequately describe the range of emotions i felt as i read your post. As you have healed so will others as they read your book and know they are not alone. Peace, my friend. c

linda said...

dear egmont, I am sure you recognize the me given the history you have survived...reading...seeing this expose' broke my heart, made me fear the coming words, want to run and never return but I too have worked for over 2 decades ....still...I don't have your courage when it comes to telling my story tho I know it gives back ... bless you on this wicked journey, there are always bends on the path...xo

The Artist Within Us said...

Dear Pat, Carolyn and Linda,

Thank you for your heartfelt and honest comments to a must difficult subject to respond to.

Having survived physical, mental and sexual abuse, one must never give up and though it is challenging to find the inner strength, it is in believing in ourself that we can overcome, we begin to make a difference in our life.

The first and biggest step is to confide in a close friend and in doing so we relieve ourselves of the secret burden that has made us feel guilty all those years. Afterwards a moment will come unexpectedly when certainly elements fall into place and one can express ones thoughts, ones pain and the shame one felt in a form that allows the victim to go public and thereby regain ones self.

No two journeys are alike and there is no road map for a victim to follow, one must find ones own path to recover. Though taking the first step is the most difficult, it is the most important one, for once taken, there is no turning back.

In closing I wish to say thank you to all those who have read this post.

Egmont

Teri said...

Very powerful post. Powerful images, powerful words. I am so happy that you have been able to rise above this and not perpetuate the pain. I thank you for sharing your pain and your healing with us. That, too, is a powerful thing to do. You have (and had) the power to create a new life for yourself. Bravo, Egmont!

Christiane said...

Dein Post geht sehr tief und offenbart Deine verwundete Seele. Solche Worte schmerzen. Die Fotos passen zu der wortlosen Betroffenheit, die sich durch Deine
Worte breitmacht. Stiche durchfahren einen und tief im Innern fühlt man seine eigenen Dämonen, die man einbetoniert hat, damit sie ruhig bleiben. Erfahrungen wie Du sie schilderst zu verarbeiten und zu verzeihen, ist eine Lebensaufgabe. Gott gebe Dir weiter die Kraft dazu.
ganz liebe Grüße Christiane

The Artist Within Us said...

Dear Teri,

Thank you for your visit and encouragement to my post.

At first when I went public it was only to free myself of the burden I had been carrying but now with the small book project it is more about letting others know they are not alone.

When I first published these pictures in 2005 the response showed me that many other individuals had suffered some form of abuse in their childhood, yet we should also remember that there are many different forms of abuse and they are not all against children.

I feel that bringing it out into the open can only help those who still suffer in silence. It would be good if schools tackle this subject as they do sex education, for then there is hope that we are able to reduce the number of victims substantially.

Wishing you all the best,
Egmont

The Artist Within Us said...

Dear Chrisitiane,

I am delighted by your visit and I know it has been far to long since we last wrote each other.

Your words touch me deeply and in reading them I see how well you have studied the images and seen the depths that all this is a 'Lebensaufgabe' indeed. Yet I wrote, with me it ends and that is the greatest victory of all.

In many ways I am living Goethe's Trauerspiel 'Egmont' who paid with his life believing in a cause.

The strength to continue comes from all those who have commented now, in the past or in the future, especially when I learn who much others have suffered from abuse.

Wishing you all the best,
Egmont

L.W.Roth, said...

Your photographs are sinister, yet beautiful. Your post is so sad to read, yet was cathartic to write. A mix of beauty and evil. Maybe I should have remained speechless?

The Artist Within Us said...

Dear L.W. Roth,

Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

Your words capture the symbiosis of the experience I felt. Years earlier these images were B/W but now I felt color was more powerful, emphasizing the beauty and countering with an underlining evil.

I am glad you wrote your thought then remaining silence.

Wishing you all the best,
Egmont

ACey said...

Hello - we do not know each other and yet we do. There are so very many of us linked by experiences we'd never wish on another soul. I am heartened by what you have shared and do agree that the true liberation comes from the place of forgiveness and truly moving on. A very powerful process. Keeping a link in my bookmarks now so I can read through the archives.

Chandra Garsson said...

Good to see your willingness to be open on such a painful subject, Egmont. Your photos are deep in their expressive sensitivity to the subject so close to you, and a help to many others. Your words, your photos shed light. Thank you.

The Artist Within Us said...

Thank you Chandra.

Our society has become a little more open on this subject but there is still much that needs to said including by others who have suffered.

I had earlier mentioned that schools need to make this part of their teaching just as much s they have sex education, only it needs be at an elementary level, but no later than middle school if it is to have an impact of any kind in the future.

We talk of bullying and that it is wrong but never about adults bullying children or the abuse they hand out. More needs to be done in order to end this senseless crime.

Wishing you all the best,
Egmont

Celeste Bergin said...

Dear Egmont,
I was alone constantly when I was very young. Every day now, I am grateful to realize that I could have so easily have been abused...molested, even murdered, I was such a sitting duck. Instead, I had a relatively normal childhood (aside from those long hours on my own)..and I always wonder why some people are harmed, while others aren't. I have no idea why you would have had to endure such hardship at such a tender age. But, survive it you did, and now you use your talent to help others. That is a wonderful thing.

La Dolce Vita said...

My Dear Egmont,

Your post brings tears to my eyes and an ache in my heart. What a beautiful and cathartic post. We have more in common than I realized. Thank you for your bravery and integrity. I can feel your forgiveness ... and this will have a healing effect upon the others who not only read this, but come into contact with you.. dear one. I must also commend your wife for being with you through the years and standing by you.

Sending you a very large hug...

Caterina

The Artist Within Us said...

Dear Celeste,

I recall an exchange of emails between us almost two years ago in which we skirted on sharing each others youth, but life took another course with our obligations.

In regards to being alone for many hours on end, I too ended up alone most of my youth until entering college. There were many contributing reasons in my case, but I found the solitude safe, keeping busy creating art or building model airplanes, while having conversations with imaginary friends.

I am sure that in your solitude you kept busy and though you may have wished things to be different, the isolation allowed you to see things differently in your adult years. For I see in your art an element that was born in childhood.

Wishing you all the best,
Egmont

The Artist Within Us said...

My dear friend Caterina,

The similarities between us are shared by many countless others who still suffer in silence and fail to find the strength to escape their abuser.

The last few years I have wonder how I ever survived, especially since I have not told about the bulling I endured in school until I entered college or the two times I was raped by men. I know I was very suicidal during my early twenties. Yet it seems I found strength in withdrawing back into isolation, even though the lonliness was painful.

I guess this is why I like places that are empty of most people, yet I hunger for closeness.

Having revisited these ten images has given me another perspective upon my recover and to understand why I am the way I am and do what it is I do. I just hope that in the autumn of my years in which winter is fast approaching, I have enough time to accomplish what it is I wish to do.

One day we shall meet and give each other that long deep hug two friends give,

Egmont

Dianne Poinski said...

Your honesty and grace inspire me Egmont. Thank you for sharing with us. The images are haunting but beautiful and very powerful. The recovery journey is so painful but reaching out and sharing stories help to heal the world. Thank you again for your courage to help others.

The Artist Within Us said...

Dear Diane,

Thank you for taking part in my journey by having stopped by.

It no longer hurts as much as it did once as time allows to me to place the events into perspective. I only wish I had made peace with myself and forgiven her years ago, so that I would have had more burden less years.

Wishing you all the best,
Egmont

Morna said...

Hello, Egmont. I have many thoughts about your suffering and its effect on your art but I find that proper words to express these thoughts escape me. The subject is so large. It is wonderful that you are breaking through prison.

The photo of the blue and white doors is my favorite of these many very beautiful images. It seems to be whispering something to me ... I'm trying to listen more closely.

The Artist Within Us said...

Greetings Morna,

It by no mean is an easy topic to discuss and as you said, "the subject is so large."

Since posting this I have sat down each evening and writing down random thoughts as to what I remember, what my feelings are and most important of all, trying to obtain another point of view.

There were certainly emotional moments of difficulty, especially since I also have been watching film on child abuse, as they assist me in the third person perspective.

It appears I am nearing the end of my investigation, that shortly I shall take all my notes and compose a story with images. All of this will then be designed in a book form by me and using Blurb.com (print on demand) printed as need.

So you see it combines reflecting on the past with doing something creative and positive.

Though these is still much work ahead, I can honestly say, I feel better already.

Thank you for our visit and I wish yo all the best,
Egmont

Hannah said...

Egmont,

It takes so much courage to bring the words to share these words and images that you have brought forth. I can only imagine that they must help to quench the fires of the demons--those ones that always tell us that it's our fault--that somehow, we are responsible for the suffering we received. I agree, it takes a lifetime and each step can seem like the planting a flag in terra incognita, but yet, it's worth it isn't it?--Thank you.

Patrina's Pencil said...

Thank you, Egmont for sharing your pain in photographs and words. Together, they speak volumes. I am so glad to hear of your decision to create this in a small book. I was going to suggest it - when I read that you were already working on it!

I must say that God brought me here tonight. I haven't been blogging. But I was going to try and write a post. Instead, I viewed a few blogs and then I thought to check in on you :) I am so glad that I saw this post. I feel I know you so much better now. I was surprised to hear your story - but you have so gently opened it up to us here. I would expect nothing less from you. You seem like such a gentle man.

We share similar stories - although it always seems as if the another person's story is so much worse than our own. I think it is easier to see someone else's pain - than to identify our own. This is why your story with photographs speaks volumes. Photos tell a story all by them selves. It's kind of like music being a universal language. Art - and photographs - awaken the senses. They take us places that we may not be able to go on our own.

So, I am excited about your new book. I hope it will be made available for us to purchase. It will speak for itself! It will carry not only your voice - but the voice of all those who can't speak.

I think that is the beauty of healing - and forgiveness. It can't help but open doors for others still in hiding.

My favorite picture was the fractured 'self portrait". In my own contemplative brokenness - I have attempted to reflect upon this fractured existence. But your "self -portrait" says it so well. Like humpty dumpty - we can never be put back together again - as we were created to be - before someone else re-created us to meet their own needs. We are changed forever!

But with healing, we can begin to right a wrong, as we share our healing stories with those who have no voice.

Sending wonderful peace to you tonight & prayers for your continued healing. God bless you, Egmont. I know He already has!

Patrina <")>><

Weeping may last through the night but JOY comes with the light. (Psalm 30:5)

"Weeping is a place of redemption that strength can never take you."
Joseph Garlington

The Artist Within Us said...

Dear Hanna,

I thank you for your reflection to this post and the encouragement you offer.

The notebook's pages are filling up not just with memories but also reflections of thought, allowing me to see things from a different perspective and so understand more.

Just yesterday I wrote There are many more occurrences, especially details I could elaborate upon, but what purpose would it serve, having covered the scope of the abuse.

I know that once I finish, it will be truly lid to rest. I am just sorry it took another twenty-seven years after realizing at thirty-five I was not my fault.

Wishing you all the best,
Egmont

The Artist Within Us said...

Dear Patrina,

Your words touch me deeply. The eloquence with which you write pierces to the truth in poetic rhythms.

From when I went public with my first post five years ago at Renderosity to this one, with comments left publicly or emailed privately, have revealed to me that there are many other individuals with far more pain and injury than I experienced.

Even though in my solitude I find strength, it is in others who share their feelings of their past in which I find courage to continue. As I begin to understand the past, I am able to move forward and once this book has been completed, I can then rest the past.

As adults we sadly lose the ability to imagine, for imagination is a powerful mechanism in the hands of a child, as everything is possible.

In my notebook I had written that
Reliving the childhood I was meant to have
through the lives of my own children
and still I wish I had done much more.


I love my children very, very much and would give my life willingly to either, and as a father I wish I had done more with them.

You had asked if this small publication were to be made public and available, the answer is yes. When I have finished I will announce it on this site with a direct link to www.Blurb.com, since the item will be 'Print-on-demand.' However I believe it will not be until the spring of 2012 before I have my first preview copy to proof. At the moment I am trying how best to combine all the notebook's entrees into a meaningful structure.

I also have realized that I need to know what it is I am trying to achieve with the publication other than to share my experience. Therefore I am making sure that I also focus on recovery and that it is possible to overcome and break the cycle of abuse, even though one remains damaged but healing.

Thank you for your continued support and encouragement Patrina, it means much to me.

Wishing you all the best, I am also sending you hugs,
Egmont

Sharmon Davidson said...

It takes amazing courage to share what you have shared here. The photographs so beautifully and eloquently illuminate the meaning of your heartbreaking words. I think the book will be a wonderful testament to the depth of the human spirit, as well as to your ongoing recovery. I wish you much success in these endeavors.

Sharmon Davidson said...

Egmont, congratulations- you won my give away. Please email your address to sharmon.davidson@gmail.com, so I can send your stuff!

p.s. I LOVE your header!

Anonymous said...

I don't know how I came to your blog but I'm glad I did.
I am a brazilian 48 years woman, living in an beautiful island, mother of three and still strugling with my past.
Parenthood is definately not for everybody and childhood is a very delicate time in our lives.
I'm touched for your words and photos.

The Artist Within Us said...

Greetings Anonymous reader,

As I do not have a return email address for you, I hope this message in someway reaches you.

I really appreciate your visit and comment and what you have shared and that you are still struggling with it, is no different from what I still deal with. But having started down to write my thoughts and place myself into my mother's shoes, has allowed to gain a different perspective. What has helped more than anything else is having forgiven her and especially that I am writing things down.

To answer your question as how you arrived at this site, it was first reading Andrew Tornton's blog. There was a post about me having won a 'give-away' which brought you to my other blog, For Seasons in a Life and there you must have clicked on a link here.

No matter how you arrived, I am glad you came and I hope that this post has helped you in some small way.

Warmest regards,
Egmont

Luciana Trípoli said...

Thank you, Egmont, for answering my comment.
My name is Luciana Tripoli and I have a blog: lucytrip.blogspot.com
You are right when you say that we should place ourselves in our mother's shoes.
I use to do this and I really love mother.
But I agree with Winnicott and his holding environment concept.
I apologize for my poor english.
Thank you for your attention.

Luciana

Seth said...

Finally some time to visit blogs Egmont and in visiting yours I am saddened and outraged by what you were put through. At the same time, the fact that you are sharing all of this is a symbol of how far you have come and strong you are. Thanks for your voice of courage!