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And they all lived...

...well, anyone who's read a fairy tale knows how that sentence ends.  And anyone who's been on the planet long enough knows that the end of the fairy tale is when the real story gets started.

Note to my ten-year-old self:  you know that day, the one you're waiting for, that day when truth and justice shall win out and your past hurts will be vindicated and the promised happily-ever-after will begin?  Well, it is coming, do not give up hope, but... seriously, just kick him in the shins while you still can, it will be MUCH more satisfying.  :-)

Because that day has come.  I won.  After an over three-decade wait, the day has finally come when truth and justice has prevailed.  I was right, they were bad.  Yet, ironically enough, the quest for truth and justice has come with a price of sworn confidentiality.  Oh, c'mon, how sick a joke is that?  (Ah well, I'm sure it'll all make it into a song, somehow, someday...)

There will be no singing from the rooftops, there will be no kicking in the shins.

There is a tremendous relief, of course, that a three-decade battle is finally over.  There is a certain confidence that comes from the official declaration that I was right and they were bad.  I was not crazy.  I was right and they were bad.

But there's also a certain hollowness.  Because no matter how right I was, or how many people declare me to be right... they were still bad.  The scars don't suddenly disappear.  The lies that were told and the choices I made based on those lies don't suddenly get reversed.  The secrets I kept to defend myself from those lies don't retrospectively get revealed in time for anyone to save ten-year-old (or twenty-, or thirty- or...) me from the damage they caused.  The people who were protected by my silence do not have to deal with the consequences -- they're long gone, forever consequence-free (unless there is, in fact, a place called hell, in which case, I've got some marshmallows that need toasting!).

And yes, those of you who have been paying attention through the years and have a certain skill of reading between the lines have probably figured out by now that this all ties in to the abuse I endured as a child -- not directly, of course, but intertwined enough to be tugging at far too many strings than my heart and mind really know what to do with right now.

Those who have been on this path with me in recent years have been expecting pom-poms and champagne.  I suppose a part of me was hoping for the little happy dance, too.  But the most telling comment, when I was talking to both my sister and honorary sister after hearing the good news was "I can't believe how much I've been crying today!"

Some of those, of course, are happy tears.  Some are tears of relief.  Some come from the sadness that the man who started carrying a sword with us almost two decades ago died suddenly on Monday, two days before he could have celebrated this victory with us.  (Thank you, Jim, for standing by us all these years.  I hope there's champagne wherever you are, or at least a really awesome single malt!)  Some come from the fact that it took us this long to get here.  Some come from all that we lost, and missed, in the meantime.

Mostly they come from knowing I was right, they were bad.  And that it doesn't change anything.

The happily ever after is never the end, it doesn't really exist.  There is much still to be done.  There is much that can never be undone.  I still need to get back on the treadmill (literally!) and back into shape (a shape that doesn't involve waves and ripples...).  There are still cobwebs in the corners.  My husband still has to go for cancer surgery on Tuesday.  I still have to practise my cello and plan a tour and pat the cats and brush my teeth and pay the bills.

Nothing has changed.

Of course, the here-and-now me in her fifth decade (!) didn't really expect it to.  She knows better.  But the ten-year-old me was still, I guess, hoping for the magical fairy tale ending -- and I was still hoping she'd get it.  Not to mention the twenty-year-old me, and the thirty-year-old me...

So, where do you go when you hit the end of the story?

If it were Hollywood, I guess I could go for Return of the Revenge of Lyssy, Part II.  But I've always been more into books than movies -- more room to think your own thoughts, dream your own dreams.  Pick up a new book and try another world.

Better still, write a new story.

I could easily waste a lot of time going through the what-ifs, what-might-have-beens and what-will-never-bes.

Instead, I choose "now what?"

I have come to the end of one story.  And I am eager to devour the next.  Which one?  Which one?  True to form, there are a few dozen on the side table, wanting me to pick them first.  Or, even truer to form, read three or four of them first.

But I'm kind of tired of reading other people's stories.  Living other people's stories.  Dealing with other people's stories.  Reacting to other people's stories.

It's time for my story.  My life.

And so, here I am, walking into the sunset.  The beautiful sunset.  Where the Hollywood story usually ends.

The way it works in the real world, however, is:

After the sun sets, the heroine puts on her snuggliest flannel, hops into bed to cuddle with her hubby and cats, and falls into a deep, delicious sleep.  And then the sun rises again.  And then she sits, and waits, and gathers her thoughts and her pens and her paints and her tunes.  And then she embarks on her next adventure.

Once upon a time... there was a little girl who had faith.  Faith that she would survive.  Faith that things would get better.  She was right.  The Beginning.

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