Victims Make the Best Birdhouses

1945 Photo of my Dad and I milking a cow.


I should have known on that summer day In 1950 when my seven-year-old naked body was laid out over a bale of hay that this was not normal. I should have known. But I was the youngest and smallest of four boys in a place where the unspeakable was normal. Even at this very young age, my brain was forced to compartmentalize daily interactions, whether they be good, bad, or indifferent. The horrific ones were hidden for decades as secrets never meant to be revealed.

In 1992, a chance conversation with my mother opened the door to repressed memories. The worst ones left me hugging my bathroom stool while vomiting throughout the night. As my mind began to crumble, a piece here, a piece there, I learned that the trips to the barn were far from normal. But who would believe such a tale? Separating fact from fiction was like finding a gnat in the forest.

Early into therapy, I shared a repressed memory with a friend and told her that I was working with a therapist. I thought I would get a supportive reaction, but instead, I got something I wasn’t expecting.

“I think you should get a different therapist,” my friend said. “Some therapists plant false memories into your head.”

I was stunned by her cold, matter-of-fact response. Unfortunately, her reaction was typical of the time. Public doubt about repressed memories in the 1990s was strong. This doubt and my reluctance to believe the unbelievable added to my anxieties and likely added years to my struggles.

My journey was a long one and not without risk. I was a vagabond wandering in an emotional wilderness. What sort of creatures might I find? Would they suck my soul dry? Would I find my way out?

Not long ago, I had cataract surgery. The next day, I removed my sunglasses and stared at a pear tree full of white blossoms that stood in front of our red- brick house. The shapes and colors appeared as three- dimensional figures, and the intense hues and minute details were unlike anything I had seen before. My emotional healing was no less dramatic. Years of therapy allowed me to feel in the same way that cataract surgery allowed me to see.

It has taken me twenty-five years to tell my story.

Published by llfranklin12

Larry L Franklin holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University. He performed in the U.S. Navy Band located in Washington, D.C. from 1967 to 1971. From 1972 to 1975, he taught music at Southern Illinois University. In 1976, he completed requirements for a certified financial planner designation and maintained a successful investment business until 2007 when he retired to devote his energies to writing. In 2003, he received an MFA in Creative Non-Fiction from Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. Franklin is the author of “Mnemosyne: A Love Affair with Memory,” published by Xlibris; “The Rita Nitz Story: A Life without Parole,” published by Southern Illinois University Press; “Cherry Blossoms & Barron Plains: A woman’s journey from mental illness to a prison cell,” published by Chipmunka Publishing Company; and “Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals,” published by History Publishing Company. He currently resides in southern Illinois with his wife, Paula.

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