A few years ago, I was struggling once again with being able to sleep. I went to my couch and sat there in the darkness. A memory I had not thought of since the incident came flooding back. When I was 16 and in foster care, I went to a party with friends. At some point, a male fellow classmate led me to a back room, and several of his friends guarded the door. My friends had left, but when they returned to get me, the guys made them leave.
One by one, the guys took turns with me, one even repeating his foul act. They finally stopped because my foster dad was a teacher and their football coach, and I pleaded with them to get me home by curfew.
As tears rolled down my cheeks, I started my not-so-amazing self-talk: “Suck it up, Colene. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. This was your fault to begin with. You shouldn’t have lied to your foster parents. You shouldn’t have been drinking, etc.” All of a sudden, as if God Himself interrupted my thoughts, I flashed back to myself as a little girl standing in front of a huge tree in the dark. I remembered as a little girl, we would go over to one of my aunt and uncles for dinner. Afterwards, my siblings, cousins, and I would play a tag game, no bears out tonight. They had the coolest places to hide: open acreage, an underground cellar, park, etc. But instead of playing, I could always be found in the front of the yard, standing before this enormous tree.
This was the only time I was not afraid of the dark, since my adoptive father used to do things to me at night. During the night, when I was thirsty, I would get up, tiptoe quietly to the bathroom and drink water from the toilet because I was afraid if I turned on the faucet, he would hear me. He was the monster that was in my bed, not under, the boogeyman who terrorized my dreams. Yes, my dear friends, monsters are real, and they walk freely among us under the clear covering of day.
So darkness represented sheer terror, except for these nights when I would stand patiently waiting before this tree because at some point, fireflies would appear. Lightning bugs, as I used to call them, made their appearance one by one. I caught them with a jar one time, but their light didn’t shine as when they were free. I released them; I knew these should never be caged because eventually not only would their light go out but also their life. Though the light of the fireflies did not omit the darkness, they did light the way.
As I sat there in the dark, on my couch that evening, tears streaming down my face from the flood of memories both good and bad, this statement resounded in my head and heart: There is hope in the darkness. The definition of hope is a confident expectation of something good. No matter how bleak and dark your circumstances are, there is always hope; you just have to find your firefly.
Overcome your Adversity
Published in New York Weekly
Find article here: https://nyweekly.com/business/hope-in-the-darkness-by-colene-kennedy/