I was touched. And made to touch. And I didn’t want to. I remember hiding. I remember flashes. I remember the words, “you make me do this.” I do. My younger sister and I wet the bed or wet our pants far beyond what is normal. I had to have surgery in 1st or 2nd grade to fix a kinked ureter. I don’t know if this was a result of abuse. I don’t know.
My mother saw and experienced things that would alarm me as an adult woman today. My grandfather called her to his bedroom, allegedly for aid, and grabbed her hand and tried to force her to masturbate him. She was silent. Silent until I told, and only then, she found the courage to chime in. She caught me acting out sexually with my younger brother and sister, and simply told us to “stop”. My brother later asked me if these things had happened. I tearfully told him they had, and begged forgiveness. He was kind, but it kills me that he has the same foggy memories as I, but I am the cause. I asked a therapist once, why I could remember so clearly the acts with my younger siblings, but had spotty recollections with my grandfather and babysitter. She said it was about power and control. I could remember situations I controlled, but went foggy on acts forced upon me.
I told my father once, when I was in my thirties. I asked him why he didn’t see. He asked me why I didn’t tell. Once again, it was my fault. I made my grandfather do these things, and I deserved years of eating disorders, shoplifting, self-loathing, addiction, dysfunctional relationships, and pain, because I didn’t tell. Every time I think I’m “over it” I read a book, or see a movie, or speak to a student about similar issues. And, my throat closes, I sob, and I go buy wine.
I trust no one. Absolutely no one. I sing to the heavens with praise for Maya Angelou when she strongly states, “I got my own back.” But is this strength? Or fear. For, trusting is the real strength. The real courage. When those tasked with back-having repeatedly shove you down and tread upon your spine, snapping and sapping any vitality and power and hope and trust you might have once had, giving someone else the opportunity to repeat such heinous betrayal, well, that is brave. Or stupid. Or both.
I was touched. And now, I am the girl who told.