A Secret Love

My husband’s look of love scares me,

turns off all emotion,
rendering intimacy hysteria for me
and forces a series of dogged pursuits by my Husband

whom I adore more than life itself.

Can’t turn off the flashbacks
loved Grandpa so
but not enough to do some hanky panky

that even as a child I knew to be wrong.

Bad enough the little sex games we did
when I was REALLY little and knew nothing of right or wrong,
just a fun game we played
till caught by Auntie who pronounced us both “disgusting”!
Why I never knew.
My fear that Grandma was jealous just made her laugh,
“Silly girl” to think such things.
What was there to be jealous of
between a little girl and her older husband?
What indeed!
What a deed!
She told me years later
he never was unfaithful

in all fifty years of marriage
“Ha!” I thought but never said,
“what he did with me
was that not infidelity?”

“You do the hanky panky

and you turn yourself around

and that’s what it’s all about.”

I remember that lewd smile even today.
Will it take me to my dying day to forget?
Oh how I loved him…
Taking me for after dinner walks
to catch fireflies,

silently sitting at the window together
at night after dinner,
watching the neighbors below,

Grandma in the kitchen,
Just him and me
a quiet bond between us,
or telling me bedtime stories of his youth.

My fault–
I was the seductress,
dancing in a hula skirt for him,
with tennis balls tucked into my aunt’s bra for breasts,
Hula dancing
to his songs he played on the mandolin.
Oh how I loved him!
No one knew.
I forgot about the “thing” between us till decades later,
when a friend talked about her incestuous abuse.

Oh how he loved me!
Arm around me always on the living room sofa
watching American Bandstand on the TV

giving me his whiskey-soaked cherry,
teaching me about art
making me the artist I am today.
Preaching the middle way to me

of relevance later, way later,
as it takes me a lifetime to learn the meaning of “I am Bipolar.”
Oh how I idolized him!
He carved the Lincoln Gettysburgh address, you know, in D.C, at the Lincoln Memorial
and many other illustrious statues.
He was a revered lawyer, working with veterans,
a self made man,
knowing no English
when he first came here
all alone at 16
and went to night school to learn English

while working as a sculptor
and then to law school.
He was a hero
helping poor veterans,
himself wounded in the war.
He was a hero
but no one knew

he was my hero.
“Of course he was having strokes,” my doc says.

“Maybe that explains the incest,” he says to me.
Men stick together
To defend the unspeakable
Which I just now speak out blasting loud and clear

in the blogosphere

for all to hear.

Naughty girl/old woman!
Just now allow myself the anger
while preserving the idolatry and Grandpa’s love

for such a love, and not irony this,

such a love is so VERY special!


24 responses

  1. Boy I don’t quite know what to make of it. It leaves me feeling sad, confused, and in contact with my own sexual abuse from my step dad. I didn’t love him though. I knew even at preschool age, that something was not right about the games. My heart knew that. And it always will. He is all alone now, since my mom died in Dec. He sits in his house, old, alone and has pushed everyone away even though no one wanted to stay around. I have forgiven. But I will not forget. No one can. And to try to repress or suppress is not healthy. I did that for most of my life. It comes out in a very destructive and painful way. And you are left sitting in a pile of goo. You look up and wonder when you will ever get up again. But you do. And at some point you reintroduce yourself to the Yisraela that was being killed slowly and deliberately. I am better now than I was. But the evil master of memories still lurks in the PTSD. I could be worse I know. And that is my glass half full.
    My heart reaches out in love and sadness to you or anyone who has had to endure such selfish and cruel suffering.
    Love always


    July 16, 2013 at 3:03 AM

    • Thanks for writing, Yisraela. I am sorry you had to endure such suffering. And the PTSD. Sounds very painful. My experience was very different since I adored my Grandfather and it was mild abuse and it stopped. It did damage, yes, but the good things about my relationship with my Grandfather outweighed the bad. I had repressed the whole thing till years later when someone was telling me of their abuse and I said, “Oh,yeah, I know a little about that.” I can’t imagine heavy abuse and the damage that does. Hugs and love, Ellen


      July 16, 2013 at 9:31 AM

  2. I am stunned and oh so very sorry – my heart breaks for you – the girl was never naughty – and grandpa was a monster – no matter how many good qualities, they could never redeem him in my eyes – but you need to keep doing whatever’s necessary to keep your spirits whole –


    July 16, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    • Thank you so very much, Paul, for your heartfelt note! I am deeply touched. You have such a good heart! But, Paul, I know so many others who were really seriously abused and for years. Mine was light by comparison and for me, my Grandfather was a saving grace in other ways. Anyhow, many, many thank you’s!


      July 16, 2013 at 1:41 PM

  3. Ellen, i’m sorry to hear of your abuse, but so blessed to hear that you’ve found true love in your husband. 🙂
    You’re such an inspiration to me and others and your blog touches and encourages so many hearts. God bless you, your loving brother, Steve


    July 16, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    • Dear Brother Steve, I am humbled by your comment and thank you from the bottom of my heart. YOU are a real inspiration with your wonderful quotes that seem to reach each of your many followers personally as they do me. I AM truly blessed with a wonderful and understanding husband as you are with your wife. God has been so good to us. Thank you! Ellen


      July 16, 2013 at 3:01 PM

      • Amen, its so good to be able to connect with someone who has also recieved such blessings in our marriages.
        Thanks for always being here and sharing your journey! 🙂


        July 17, 2013 at 1:27 PM

  4. Ellen, I think you are very courageous to tell this story to so many people. I was a bit depressed reading this because I remember how my grandfather-in-law started to be interested in me when I was pubescent. I can only thank God that nothing happened but it was very hard to find a man whom I could trust afterwards. Maybe it helps you to tell it, at least I hope so. Regards Mitza


    July 17, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    • I am sorry my story made you feel depressed. I think it does help to tell it and there are so many people who have had some sort of similar experience. Yes, trust was an issue with me. I am much better now after being married for 23 years but still sometimes distrust rises up. Sorry for your experience, Mitza, must not have been fun. Childhood can be so hard– full of mine fields.


      July 17, 2013 at 1:02 PM

      • Yes, you are right, childhood really can be so hard and it should be so easy, loving and fun. I think we have some things in common and it’s really good to communicate with others who do understand. I’m happy for you that you found a nice husband, me too. Regards Mitza


        July 17, 2013 at 2:22 PM

  5. Very bravely and beautifully written–trips plenty of emotion in me. Guess I’ll leave it at that….


    July 17, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    • Ellen, I’m curious if you’ve read any studies that suggest a connection between sexual abuse and bi-polar disorder? There are so many dysfunctional ripple effects, that it seems very possible to me. I don’t have bi-polar, but a mess of other things. Also, I’m currently working on a novel with the incest theme…


      July 17, 2013 at 10:10 PM

      • I don’t know of any studies about Bipolar and incest. I have a mess of other things, too. The incest I would say contributes very definitely to Dissociative Personality Disorder. I was very dissociated until put on medication. I was so dissociated I could not function and broke down. That is what my book is about. If you are interested it is available in Kindle and iPod, iPhone, etc. for 2.95. (see for info). It was about learning to love but that meant learning to love without being dissociated. Good luck with your novel. I would love to read it when you finish.


        July 18, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    • Thank you so much for your kind words. Sounds intriguing to me, as in you know plenty on the subject. Thank you for writing!


      July 18, 2013 at 9:54 AM

  6. Genie

    Raw and honest poem. Brave too.


    July 19, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    • Thanks so much, Genie!! Loved your post about being blind– the old woman with the cat but no page for comments.

      Sent from my iPod


      July 20, 2013 at 12:55 AM

      • Genie

        I decided to make the post a draft, don’t quite feel finished with it yet, will let you know when I post it in its entirety.


        July 20, 2013 at 1:03 AM

  7. I am so glad that you found me so that I could find you. Incest is so horrible. I pray that God will heal you and bless you..


    July 21, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    • Thank you. Thought I wrote back to you but see I did not. I am following your blog now. Blessings, Ellen


      August 22, 2013 at 1:35 PM

      • Thanks Ellen!! I really appreciate your support as we reach out to help others… Many blessings…


        August 22, 2013 at 1:40 PM

  8. I was recently told we are all wounded by birth but this hurts. What is notable is each time you write about your scars, I bleed and don’t you worry, they heal quickly with the spirit of your lucid writing. Such craft..Exceptional.


    September 17, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    • We all have scars. Writing helps to take away the pain and may help some other similarly afflicted soul. Thanks for your generous compliments on my writing. Again, like with the photography, means SO much from you!


      September 17, 2013 at 2:30 PM

      • :))
        It feels really good to read your posts. Thank you Ellen.


        September 17, 2013 at 2:37 PM

      • Thank YOU, Arjun. It feels really good to see you pop up. A special treat!


        September 17, 2013 at 2:44 PM

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