I have been pretty sick this month because stress has caused the ulcers that I have had since I was 14 to act up. It’s hard to eat – my stomach refuses food. When you grew up in a household like mine you could never relax, cry, or just shut down. You always had to be on a heightened alert status. I feel that way this month because of the following events.
I started writing this blog on Father’s Day, which I find rather odd since my father would have raped me if he were alive today. You see, any time he wanted to celebrate, it was a rape day. For those of you who had a great father, I am sometimes jealous of you but I’m also happy for you. I wouldn’t wish my life on anyone, but even still it has a purpose.
June has been a month of self-doubt for me. My nephew, who will always have my heart, is hurting me. I am sorry beyond words that his grandmother is dead, but I am not the one who killed her – that was my brother, his Uncle Rickie. I wish that he could let go of his anger and we could just have a calm conversation.
Instead, as soon as I can’t financially help him, his hatred and anger take over. He goes back and forth between believing my “not guilty” verdict and believing that I am my mother’s murderer. When he’s in that mindset, he feels that I owe him, that he deserves something from me because of the pain he is in. I can feel for him, but sometimes everyone has to reach inside themselves and find their own peace. I have been trying to do that through therapy.
Because of that therapy, I have started to find a peace with the past. But then someone shakes my foundation and it is start over time. Or at least it feels that way. I wonder what my therapist would say about that. I am trying to move past weekly therapy into twice a month, but it is times like this that make me scared that I won’t make it.
I frequently hear my father’s voice in my head telling me that I am useless, weak, and better off dead. Trying to stay afloat with a family that believes you’re capable of murder, and a voice in your head, is a tough daily job. I am determined to make it, though.
My nephew was homeless for a week recently and, through trying to help him, I was reconnected with my mom’s sister, who only lives twelve miles from me. She is a fun person, but because of my trial and her intention to have testified against me, I am struggling with reaching out to her. I would love to have a true blood family connection close by, but I fear the same verbal treatment I get from others.
On a positive note (thank goodness there is one this month), my book manuscript has been turned in to the publisher (Berkley Books) and will be out next year. Amazon has already posted it for pre-orders. I am glad that project is done. It was a great healing tool, yet reliving the memories to tell the story was difficult. I hope to reach out with this book to anyone who needs help so they know that they can survive: yes, the road is long and very hard, but if I can make it, they can as well.
Furthermore, the Amnesty From Abuse program is starting to be developed. It is very much in its fledgling stages, but the creative ideas and the knowledge of how to get this off the ground is blossoming. I have recently been asked by Lisa Bonnice, my co-author and AFA co-founder, how involved I wanted to be. A very fair question I might add. You see I have a habit of retreating into a quiet shell when I am overwhelmed, so I hadn’t really been active. I am onboard, but when those times overwhelm me, I second guess if I am the right person to do this.
I want to see this through because no one should live through what my family did and still does. I am excited about the future, but I want people to realize that no matter how much a person heals from their past, it is still a part of them. To retrain one’s body and emotions takes so much longer than a year or two. I will be healing a part of myself every day for most of the rest of my life.
Someone I knew in sixth grade once told me I had happy times then, but I can’t remember them even today. My true full healing will be when I can remember one good childhood memory. Then I will know that my past doesn’t define me. In the meantime, I just keep swimming.
Stacey M. Kananen
Advocate, Author, Abuse survivor
Co-founder of Amnesty From Abuse
Stacey Kananen’s father violently and sexually abused his entire family. He vanished in 1988 and 15 years later his wife went missing. Stacey’s brother had killed both parents. Stacey cooperated as a witness until he told police that she helped him with the crimes. She was arrested and her trial, which aired on CNN’s In Session, ended with a not guilty verdict after her attorney proved that she had been railroaded.
Now that her personal life is no longer private, Stacey is using her story to make waves. She and co-author Lisa Bonnice have signed a publishing deal with Berkley Books. They created the Amnesty From Abuse program to address the dynamic that stops families from asking for help: fear, shame and hopelessness. She states, “If a program like this existed during my childhood, both parents would be alive, my brother would not be in jail and my family would have been spared years of anguish and terror.”
Sink or Swim–the Stacey M. Kananen story (Berkley Books, 2013)
BBC Documentary: America’s Child Death Shame