Does time heal?

They say time heals and sometimes I wonder if it’s true. Do we heal or do we just mend and learn to live with the scars?

I’ve seen friends cope with extraordinary grief but I cannot ever imagine they will heal.

I myself have been broken and today I wonder am I healed?

Why today?

Because last weekend was a watershed for me. For the first time ever I consented to my name, my real name, Tric Kearney, appearing next to an article about the man who abused me for many years, George Gibney. It appeared in the Irish Times on Saturday.

The reporter, Johnny Watterson, was doing a follow up on George Gibney’s victims, those he’d first encountered twenty five years ago. Unlike everyone else at that time he couldn’t let it go that Gibney had been let off 27 charges of child abuse, on a technicality, and he managed to convince the powers that be to allow him write our story and name Gibney, even though he’d not been convicted.

Twenty five years later that is still the only justice we have known. 

At that time I co-operated hiding behind a false name. A young mother to two small children I was struggling big time to come to terms with the abuse, which was still so fresh in my mind.

In early January of this year that reporter and I spoke again for the first time in two decades. Once again I was assured I could use a false name, but this time a very different person spoke with Johnny Watterson. One who was less broken, stronger and who wanted her story heard. Her story, not a nameless victims story. So I said I was happy to be named.

No more secrets. No more shame.

I read the article a number of times over the weekend. I’d been very apprehensive beforehand as I wanted more than anything else for it to scream out loud, I am no longer one of his victims. Thankfully he didn’t let me down.

But does this mean I am healed?

Having thought quite a lot about it these past two days, I don’t believe I am. If I were healed I would not have days when, unbidden, I remember awful things. It can happen in the middle of the night or during the day. It may be when I am alone, or out with friends, at a shop or driving around. There is no typical moment when without warning, unwelcome memories flood back, sometimes threatening to overwhelm me.

Usually I can distract myself and push them away but sometimes I must just let the memory roll and when it is over parcel it up, put it away and carry on.

There are days I do this calmly and quietly. On other days I do it fueled by anger as I think of my own daughters, or sadness as I remember the young girl I was then.

You may read this and imagine how hard it must be to live with these memories and cope with these moments. But I have learned to do so. They are part of who I am. They made me, me and I know as long as I live I will never not have them.

However, they are only a small part of me. I have many more wonderful memories from happier days and anticipate many more in the years that lie ahead.

It would be awful if the life I live now was ruined because I wasn’t able to parcel up those haunting moments and put them away.

I see those difficult memories as my scars.  I’ve learned to disguise them, hide them from view. But they are still there.

I have little doubt that most people I meet look at me and never see them, never even suspect that I’ve been wounded and I take pleasure in that. I have never wanted to be defined by what happened to me.

I am not a victim.

Yes, I am scarred and will possibly never heal, but I’m okay with that, because when I look at those scars I stand tall, proud of each and every one of them.

I shared the article in the Irish Times on my Facebook page but if you’d like to read it here it is.  Irish Times, no justice, no peace for the victims of George Gibney.

photo credit: marcoverch Scrabble-Würfel im Becher und eine Sanduhr via photopin (license)


17 thoughts on “Does time heal?

  1. I used to say I am a survivor of childhood abuse, but I don’t any longer. I am a VICTOR, I have won by living a happy, normal adulthood. You are not a victim, you are a VICTOR also. You are strong, resilient, and awesome! I am so glad your strength outweighed the frightened young girl that wanted to hide. Stand tall beautiful lady, let your light shine!!!

    1. Yes I too don’t like saying I’m a survivor. I love victor. And you also show I am not the only one. Not only did we ‘survive’ but we have lived,loved and enjoyed life. Scars and all.

    1. Thank you. I couldn’t have written this post a couple of years ago. I’m amazed that even after all these years I’m still ‘healing’
      I hope your scars do also.

  2. I’ve often asked myself this question. I believe it’s possible for emotional wounds to heal over time, but as you said, we’re often left with scars. These scars will always be a part of us and serve to remind us we have gone through something very difficult, but survived, leaving us stronger, wiser and more resilient. Maybe the key is learning how not to reopen the wound once it has healed?
    When a loved one is lost it leaves a hole in our lives. This hole doesn’t go away but over time we learn how to live with it.
    Thank you for your honesty and openness.
    And yes…stand tall and continue living, loving and enjoying life!

    1. Yes, I really agree Tanya, sometimes it is important to not open the wounds or at least to know when it is safe or not safe to do so.
      Thank you Tanya.

  3. this is so powerful, tric. i agree, i don’t think anyone totally heals from this, but learn coping skills instead. and finally, gain strength by keeping others from the same experience by speaking out, which you have done. amazing.

    1. Thanks Beth. I’m only beginning to be able to speak out but the timing is good with the awareness which has been generated by the #metoo campaign.

  4. They say time heals all wounds I am not sure I believe that but I do believe if one goes out and lives their lives to the fullest that they can live it then they can stay ahead of the wounds that others tried to inflict upon the person who is trying to run from the past. By you standing up and living your life on your terms you have done the very thing that he didn’t want you to do which is have a life at all. He wanted you to be his victim and instead, you became a happy, well-adjusted adult who is beautiful inside and out. Thank you for sharing your story and being who you are.

  5. Powerful post, Tric. Maybe healing isn’t possible, rather coping with what you’ve experienced. But you are a strong woman and individual, and if you had chosen to let this memory define you, to possibly ruin your life, then you would’ve also let him win. So, by doing what you’ve done, by living your life as you’ve lived it, by being a loving mother and a wonderful wife, you’ve become the winner and always will be. You’re also an inspiration to anyone who has walked in your shoes. xo

  6. Thank you for sharing. I think healing is possible when boundaries are set. I found and find myself coping when others force me to be silent or continue to allow the abuse. When the abuser continues to perpetrate the abuse and you forgive you are still forced to deal with the present situation. People would remind me to forgive and I would say it is not about what happened, it is about what is happening. There is hope but I have to exercise that hope by creating safe space.

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