I’m an introvert and I love my space and alone time. It refreshes me and gives me time for reflection and to process the things happening around me, coming at me and my life in general. I love to come home – change into my comfy clothes (which consists of my favorite black athletic shorts and an oversized t-shirt), and curl up in my bed. The soft thick comforter that lies on top of my cool sheet that I’m laying under is absolute heaven. There are six pillows on my bed that I have to choose from to rest my head. Once I’m settled I slowly begin to enter my relaxed, vegetative state. The stressors in my heart and mind are forced to take a back seat for a brief moment in time and I’m grateful.
Confession alert: I enjoy indulging in mindless entertainment aka reality television. The drama-filled story lines, over-the-top personalities, feuds and sometimes exotic locations where they film just brings me to a place of tranquility and comfort that I just can’t explain – so I won’t. My husband believes many of these reality shows are scripted, and if it’s true I don’t care – it’s the entertainment factor that hooks me in each week.
Sometimes I wonder if I was born an introvert or adapted into it. My childhood forced me to not trust anyone. I couldn’t afford it. Predators lurked all around me and as dramatic as this sounds is the absolute truth. I remember walking down the hallway of my step-grandfather’s home. There were many relatives visiting this particular Saturday evening. I never liked going there because it just didn’t feel comfortable or right. It never did. As a young child I didn’t understand why – until that day. I had to use the bathroom but was trying to hold my bladder until we went home. I just have a thing about using strange bathrooms. Now my definition of strange is hard to describe, but let’s just say I don’t use many toilets (outside of my home) if I can avoid it.
This evening consisted of lots of talking and laughter going on in the home of my step-grandfather, and people in many rooms of the house. I sat quietly in the living room watching television and just wishing we would go home. It was mind over bladder but in the end my bladder won the fight. I sat on the couch struggling to accept the fact that I had to use the bathroom in this home. So I stood up and quickly walked down the hall to where it was located. Power peeing is the best way to describe it (sorry to be graphic) but I was determined to make my mentally troublesome situation end as soon as possible. In less than 30 seconds I had completed my mission, washed my hands and unlocked the door. I remember stepping back into the hallway so happy that it was over that I never saw it coming. I was so focused on my bathroom-phobia that I let my guard down.
I was out of the bathroom and headed back to the living room. In truth there was only about a handful of steps in total but when I looked up there was my step-grandfather walking towards me. My nerves immediately kicked into full force and I took two steps that would take me out of the hallway but brought me closer to him. I was going to have to walk by him – there was no other option. Now you must understand I didn’t know my step-grandfather well. I had been to his home many times but we never spoke. He was almost a stranger to me. There was just something about him that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I do remember that he wore dentures and somehow he always made a clicking sound with them.
I walked past him and tried not to look him in the eye – I just wanted my place back on that couch and in the presence of others. As we passed each other he mumbled something and I turned to look at him. When I did he tried to kiss me and grabbed my breast. I was in complete shock and inside I froze, but something kept my feet moving forward. I knew I had to get out of that hallway. He tried to grab me again as I continued to walk away but I kept walking and I made it back to the living room. I found my spot on the couch and tried to will myself to disappear.
I looked around to see if anyone had seen what had just happened but it didn’t appear so. I was afraid to get off that couch as if it protected me somehow, and I was terrified to see my step-grandfather again. I don’t know where he went but eventually he did walk back down the hall and I avoided looking at him. I decided to go outside where many of my cousins were playing and assumed it was safer in numbers. I felt violated, shaken and was in shock. Who could I tell? Who would help me? Who would believe me? I felt very alone and remained silent.
He was one of four people who touched and groped my body. How do you come to terms with that? How do you remove scars that are left behind? I’ve previously written about the endless times I’ve been told to let it go (see Just Get Over It). Believe me no one wants that more than I. Three of my child molesters are dead and the first one was my step-grandfather. I was a teenager when he left this earth and saw him shortly before he died. I hated him and never wanted to see him again, but that choice was taken from me. One summer my father received word that my step-grandfather didn’t have long to live. My father was in Texas and I was in Arizona with my sister for the summer.
I truly didn’t care that he was dying nor did I ever want to step foot back in his home. My father called me everyday and insisted that I go see his step-father. You see it was important to him that I go and share my faith in Christ – and hopefully lead him through the prayer of salvation. I wanted no part of it. How could I possibly go back into the home of someone who I very much wanted to burn in hell? Day after day I received a phone call from my dad – who was becoming angry with me each day as I gave him excuses why I hadn’t gone yet. I felt like such a hypocrite because in the end we were talking about someone’s eternal journey, but it didn’t change how I felt.
My father continued to demand and bully me into doing what he wanted. It didn’t matter how I was still uneasy and angry over being violated by this man. That he would require me to walk back into the lion’s den not knowing what the outcome would be for me. His desire was greater than mine – just like my step-grandfather’s had been many years ago.
I finally succumbed and went to see my step-grandfather. My heart beat so loudly and quickly and I trembled inside as I walked inside the house. It looked exactly the same but this time seemed so much smaller than I remembered. As I entered the living room I saw the hospital bed where he was 100% of the time now. It was the most awkward conversation ever as we truly never really had one before. He was almost completely deaf which made it almost comical to communicate with each other:
After the pleasantries were exchanged I decided just like my power peeing – I was going to get through my dad’s reason for my visit as quickly as possible and get out of that house.
“Tata I came by to see if you would like to accept Jesus as your Savior and be saved?”
“What?” As I hear the familiar teeth rattling…
“Would you like to be saved?” I said louder
“I need a shave? Oh my god, this isn’t going well and yes you do need a shave I thought.
“No, would you like to ask Jesus to be your Savior?”
“Yes.” More teeth rattling…
I was hesitant but stepped towards this pathetic, feeble, dying man and took his hand in mine and led him though the sinners prayer. Just feeling his hand again brought back tormented memories, but I pushed those feelings deeper inside me. My father had already made it clear that my pain and feelings didn’t count. I said a few more things and then immediately left and never ever returned.
I left that day so torn and confused about everything that took place. My father was happy to learn what transpired that day, but where did that leave me? Did he care about the turmoil he created inside me to this very day? Why did he care more about my molester’s spiritual health over my pain and trauma – and most important my safety? If my father could call me everyday then why couldn’t he call him directly? Just thinking about this makes my heart hurt.
The hallway incident between my grandfather and I took place many decades ago, and yet I can still feel his mouth and hand on my body to this very day. His physical body has disintegrated a long time ago, but the scars he left behind are still living and breathing today. Last week my husband Robbie and I were getting dressed to leave for an event. I walked by him in our bathroom area and innocently and playfully he reached out to grab my breast. I immediately stiffened and swerved out of his reach. In a second feelings of fear and anger swelled up inside me and I said in an exasperated voice why did you do that – don’t do that! I instantly realized my overreaction and used my counseling tools to calm myself down and defuse the situation.
My husband loves me and I love him and he didn’t deserve this response. It just automatically flows out of me from years of abuse, but it is my desire to change it. He looked at me and said I’m sorry I didn’t mean to upset you it’s just my natural response. I said I know it’s just mine too.
But not forever…