Writing this blog has opened the door for memories to flood back to the forefront of my mind. Lately I’ve thought about the early days of my molestation and abuse. (Who wants to think of this stuff, right?). I don’t want to but I need to. This is my season of coming to terms with the truth and in the process it reopens the tomb.
My wounds run deep. Sometimes I wonder what my life could have been if this had never happened. I try to not go down that road because I can never turn back the clock. I look at pictures of myself when I was young and immediately notice my eyes. Can I see the pain? Does it look like I’m hiding a secret? What was I thinking at that moment? My heart hurts when I look at her.
There was a time when my uncle and aunt would come to torment me. It was never at the same time but the same time frame. I hated it and both of them. As I look back now my relationship with them was so drastically different. My uncle would befriend me and make me feel special. My aunt was the polar opposite. She liked to make fun of me, twist my words around and then use them against me. She figured out quickly that she could turn my mom against me, and would laugh when I’d get into trouble. It was confusing and frustrating – I could never win when she was around. Even if I was lucky and they weren’t at my house – I would still have to walk on egg shells with my mom. I was constantly tense and on-guard. I always had to try to think 2 steps ahead of everyone and constantly test the emotional atmosphere. It’s no way for a child to live.
There were moments when I was able to enjoy my childhood. As silly as it sounds I loved to wear my favorite, red skirt, white shirt and put on my roller skates. (I think I tried to pretend I was on the TV show Happy Days). I would skate up and down both sides of my street, forget everything happening in my life and sing out loud on the top of my lungs. It was my escape and I never wanted it to end.
One day I wanted to skate but couldn’t find my skirt. I asked my mom “have you seen my red skirt”? She said “yes, I gave it away”. I asked her why and she said “I wanted to give it to another little girl”. I couldn’t believe it – why would she do that? I know it was only a piece of clothing but I was devastated. It was quite a while before I wanted to put my skates back on.
During this time I taught myself to control my outward emotions. When I was being violated I was screaming on the inside but quiet on the outside. I suppressed excitement and happiness for things and situations out of fear it would be taken from me. I don’t think I did it intentionally – it just happened out of survival. This followed me into adulthood. It’s difficult for me to express my emotions outwardly (with the exception of anger and frustration). Many times Robbie has given me a birthday or Christmas present and has been disappointed in my response. At first I didn’t understand it. I WAS HAPPY! It took me a while to realize I showed very little emotion. I have to make a conscious effort to display signs of elation or enthusiasm. It isn’t that I’m faking those feelings – I’ve just trained myself to rarely show them – to the point that I almost don’t know how.
Many years ago I worked as a director at a Child Development Center. There was a boy named Paul (I changed his name) who enrolled with us mid year. He started Kindergarten (at another school) but struggled socially and it was suggested he be placed back in pre-kindergarten. Paul had “meltdowns” all throughout the day and was a challenge for the teachers and children. It seemed just about anything would trigger emotional crashes in him. I was immediately drawn to him. I instructed his teacher to call me by radio anytime she needed my assistance. All throughout the day I would be called and would go spend time with Paul. It would be our one-on-one time. I would sit and wait until he could recover from his meltdown and calmly let him know I was there for him. I didn’t push him to “get over it” – I just waited. When he was able I would take him to rejoin the group.
Later I decided I would go visit him in class when he wasn’t having a meltdown. I would check in and ask how his day was going. He loved to show me his art work or toys he was playing with (usually by himself). One day he saw me walking down the hallway and asked if he could come with me. So I would bring him with me as I delivered food and other items to nearby classrooms. We had the best conversations. Paul continued to have meltdowns but I was able to talk him through it faster.
One day I returned to my office from a meeting and I could hear Paul screaming in the classroom. I went to see why and saw his teacher was holding him because he was throwing blocks at the other children and wouldn’t stop. He called out to me when I walked into the classroom. The teacher let him go and he came running to me and had a major meltdown. I calmly reassured him I was very concerned for him and wanted to know what happened. He was almost to the point of hyperventilating – so I let him know it would be okay and I would wait until he could talk. I was surprised that he was able to quickly recover on his own.
He began to share how he had built a house with blocks and other kids had knocked it down and took his blocks. He was so upset because he couldn’t get HIS blocks back – so he threw other blocks at them. We discussed how he should use his words not his hands. Then he told me something else. He used his words to tell me he didn’t like it when his teacher held him. I asked why. He then told me a story of how his mom’s boyfriend would hold him down and put a sock in his mouth and closed it tight. He immediately had another meltdown. I had enough training to know not to ask leading questions – I let him tell me his story. When he was finished describing everything I asked him if it was okay to lift his shirt. When I did I saw the marks on his body that matched his story.
My heart broke.
I called Child Protective Services, who then called the police. Unfortunately this person was not well-trained in this area and completely mishandled the situation. The case worker later told me because of this – the case would never go to trial.
I never saw Paul again.
Most people who met Paul only saw the tantrums, the crying and the loud screaming. It was truly difficult to be around him most of the time. I could see past it. Paul and I were the same – except he was able to show his emotions. If I had been able to show my feelings as a child – I would have looked just like Paul. I pray he finally got help and is on his road to healing.
I honestly don’t know how I ever survived my childhood. How did I not become an evil monster too? I don’t like to think about the past because what purpose would that serve? I can’t change it. I realize now that I’ve stuffed all those memories and feelings way down deep inside me, and it needs to come out. I AM SO PISSED AND ANGRY THIS HAPPENED TO ME (and to Paul and countless others)! WE DID NOT ASK FOR IT – DESERVE IT – OR LIKE IT!! I’m tired of holding it in, pretending it didn’t happen, and that I’m over it – BECAUSE I’M NOT!
IT IS NOT MY JOB TO MAKE OTHERS FEEL BETTER ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO ME – in fact it should be the opposite. Why couldn’t my abusers feel remorse and try to make amends? I’ve waited 41 years for this to happen but it hasn’t – and I refuse to wait another day.
I chose forgiveness but I also deeply desire justice.
I’m slowing finding my voice and now determined to reconnect my inward feelings with my outward expressions. I don’t know how the hell to do this but I’m not going to stop until it becomes natural. Please pray for me.