Burt is the kind of friend everyone should have. He holds little babies as if they were the gods’ own precious lights; plays with the toddlers; treats little girls and boys to merry-go-rounds, lots of colorfully illustrated books, pencils, and art supplies; Tonka trucks, small-hand size tools and paints, encyclopedias, roller skates and skis; and young men and women as if they were worlds better than royalty.
Burt was given to me when I was little. Everyone else thought he was Pooh, but I didn’t like that it sounded like poop, or that he was being pooh-poohed, so I secretly called him Burt. We snuck ginger snaps from the cupboard together.
When I had the run-in with the dentist, Burt became my very, very, very best friend. He held me tight as I laid there splayed on my bed, unmoving, staring at a blurred ceiling, numb, like human ice, unbelieving, wishing for someone who could tell me who I really was and that I might be lovable and that I’d never be betrayed by any person or my own body ever again.
Alas, Burt didn’t come to boarding school with me. Yes, I went to boarding school. There’s a lot of hooha about how awful it is to send your kid away, and overall I’d agree, especially if the kid is younger than thirteen.
But I loved being away, even without Burt. I got to start anew. I got to be someone other than The Horrible Dentist’s Victim that I saw reflected in my mother’s eyes. Remember, she and I decided never to tell anyone. It was a gruesome bond between us, but it stuck, and I’m glad, because she was a distant mom, and it was a deep bond I could feel even if I was all the way across the planet from her. But it was still great to be away.
I got to be someone other than the Awful Disobeying Daughter to my dad and the Utterly Tease-able Little Sister to my brothers.
I got to laugh and tell awful teenager jokes and be silly-funny even when I was desperately hurting inside.
I got to be The Artist in a group of non-artists. Well, until I roomed with Holly, who was worlds beyond me. Still, it was so wonderful to be Known for Something other than my fragile emotional or physical state.
Isn’t it funny that, looking back on the whole ordeal that dentist put me through, Beary Bear’s dad Burt is the first ‘person’ who comes to mind.
He was so chock full of love, genuine caring, and steadfast patience when I was still too young to have words to describe the terror of contemplating a future populated with lying, violating men it it.
Pooh-Burt held me even when I laid there wondering how could I tell if anyone was telling the truth. I still can’t tell, sometimes.
It was so precious to be held (sort of), loved, consoled, encouraged by such a sweet, non-judgmental being. Yes, I made it up that he held me, and isn’t it amazing that, having been so violated, I even could make it up?!?
Some people are like Burt, but why can’t more be like that?
Why couldn’t my family be like that?
Why don’t we train our kids and each other to be more like that?
Why do we so casually put up with such abuse?
Why did my dad and brothers have to do their smug, mocking hush-hush, ‘oh baby’s upset, let’s tease her to try and find out what it’s about’ campaign, relentlessly needling me, even when I said I’d never tell a soul.
And I didn’t, until just now.
As if it was anyone’s business but mine.
I’m telling now because it is Time to tell one of my own stories, personal evidence of crimes committed upon women, revealing another small person’s experience of the daily horror women all across the globe face, bringing it to the light, to the forefront of consciousness.
Yes, I can keep secrets until eternity if I have to. And will. There are more to expose, but not right now.
This is my Story. One small person’s story. I pray that the awareness engendered from telling it, speaking it out loud, added to another’s and another’s stories, soon we will have a tsunami of NO MORE that will forever change the tides of human behavior.
It’s Time to rip apart the calm, accepted, complacency we have towards the casual, deranged, accepted actions of men who perpetrate violation of space and being, to put an end to their arrogant disrespect and disregard.
It’s bloody well Time to stop people from treating anyone, male or female, as if they are lower than dogs or rats.
How I bless my dear, dear Burt — without him, I’d have absolutely lost it to the giddy, spiraling-down despair of unrelenting destructive emotional turmoil.
If only all the others who experience such pain had Burt to hold them, too.
Thanks so much for reading this. I hope it lit you up. Or maybe it inspired you, or gave you a new perspective with which to view and appreciate your own life. That’s my wish.
HOW BURT BECAME MY VERY BEST FRIEND
Image: BEARY-BEAR’S DAD: Mellow
text and image © Angela Treat Lyon 2021–2
This story is from my book, INSIDE SECRETS, Stories I’ve Never Told Anyone. Volume I. Full color illustrations: all artwork by Angela Treat Lyon.
I drew this series of drawings in blue on a black background, and then drew over them white, which produced a unique glowing effect. If you’d like a print of this image, please contact me.
You can get all the books in this series in print on amazon, or get the Ebooks for $5 (or pay what you want) at atlyon.gumroad.com.
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The Inside Secrets book series: Stories I’ve Never Told Anyone, Volumes I-VI, plus my audio books and a whole slew of free ebooks: https://atlyon.gumroad.com
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