There are few things in this world that make me feel like I’m OK, like it’s OK that I’m here despite…well, despite a lot of things. There’s nothing really OK about being raped from childhood through adolescence by someone who was supposed to take care of you. There’s nothing really OK with being told you contracted HIV because of that abuse. There’s nothing really OK with becoming an alcoholic and a junkie because you can’t deal with the fallout of your life. There’s nothing really OK with trying to take your own life because you’re too scared of your own shadow to even try to live in this world. And yet, having read and absorbed the words of Alison Arngrim recently in her memoir, entitled Confessions of a Prairie Bitch, I feel pretty OK about myself right now.
I didn’t buy the book because I wanted to read someone else’s tale of abuse and woe. Honestly, I never even knew Ms. Arngrim was a survivor of sexual abuse until I read her book. I bought it because Little House was a particular favorite of mine. It was a fantasy world into which I would escape when my own reality became too much. It was a safe haven. She was on the show. I liked the show. I liked her. Sure, she was a bitch on the show, but she was tough and she was strong, and I needed strength back then. She seemed like someone who could protect herself. I so wanted to be able to protect myself. So in a weird, two-dimensional kind of way, I live vicariously through Nellie Oleson…resident bitch extraordinaire.
So, I thought her book would be interesting. It was interesting. But it was so much more. It was, for me, cathartic. It was cathartic to read the words of this amazing woman who despite having gone through what she did, faced life with unapologetic vigor and snarkiness. She did not let the horror of her past preclude her from having a future. She, in fact, embraced it, and strode forth with confidence into a world that could have easily swallowed her whole. How I admire her strength. Her courage gives me hope. Her fortitude gives me courage.
I don’t know Alison Arngrim. She will likely never know I even exist. Which is a shame, really, because I’d love for her to know that she saved me. I’d love for her to know that her words gave me the courage I needed to face down my demons, to throw off the veil of darkness that has long haunted me, and to live, simply because I deserve to.
She happens to be in Boston this week. A mere 45 minute or so from where I live. Sadly, I’ll not get the opportunity to meet this amazing woman. But if I did, I’d thank her for providing a voice to those who are unable to raise their own. She may be a Prairie Bitch, but for me? She’s a guardian angel.