Penelope Trunk is my hero

Not just because she’s a sucessful executive with various start-ups. Not just because she’s a talented writer with a blog I read (and disagree with) religiously. Because of the post she wrote last week that moved me (and many of her readers according to the 300+ comments) to tears.

Last Tuesday, she wrote a post with her usual candor and clarity. It was about how much a person should reveal about themselves in a blog (which I’ve been thinking about as of late). And then, forgoing her usual rants on life, she went in a totally unexpected direction. Child abuse. Sexual abuse. Physical abuse. More specifically, the abuse she suffered at the hands of her parents. I’d always pictured a successful woman like her with a set of WASP-ish parents who encouraged her to succeed at all costs. Not at all.

“I remember the next time my dad beat me up though. I called the police and they came. Like always. And my dad said nothing was wrong. Like always. And then the police started to leave. Like always.”

It gets worse.

I know the street in Los Angeles we were parked on when I finally asked, “Dad, did you do sexually inappropriate things with me when I was younger?”

He said, “Yes.”

I had no memory of what, exactly, he did. I still have no memory of it. And I was scared to ask him more. I asked my mom the same question. She gave me the same answer.

Both parents have said they were sorry. But that is not my point. My point is that my childhood was ruined by secrets.

In hindsight, so many people kept the secret: my family, the police, teachers before my freshman year. Decades later, when I asked my high school friends what they thought of me in high school, two of them told me that everyone thought I was nuts coming to school beaten up so often.”

That a woman like Penelope Trunk can bring up the demons of child abuse which had haunted her so, that according to the post, she’s repressed most memories of them, is incredible.

But it doesn’t stop there.  The comments on the post are overwhelmingly positive. Which is unheard of for a blogger like Trunk (who with her openness attracts a certain kind of troll). When I checked this afternoon, out of the 300 or so comments, about 3-5 were meanspirited (alas, that did change in the past few years, but oh well). Hundreds of people sent her messages of support and love.

I’m so thankful that Trunk shared her story with her readers. It may not give us deeper understanding of her psyche (after all, what is a blog but one’s own marketing machine), but it does give hope to other victims of abuse. Vive la Penelope! Vive la verite!

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