It Was My Secret To Tell

 

Guest blog post: J. Moore of SpecialNotesToSelf.com

When I started writing again, the first thing I noticed was that I have way too much stuff in my head that I could write about…Such a quandary not knowing what would be of any relevance to any one other than my near and dear ones…Then a follower on Twitter asked me a question which I did try to answer but 140 characters is sometimes torture for a long winded broad like me. A few days later , a similar question was put to me…both based on a tweet that I try to re-tweet at least once a day when I can…

Maybe it’s because of what’s been in the news lately…maybe it’s just because it is the whole world’s dirty little secret that a lot of the children on this planet live in fear…but I did open the door when I put it out there that I was not only a victim but also one who survived… The question was posed again and I promised to try and answer it.

I have started and stopped….deleted and re-assessed this piece over 30 times so far. The mere fact that I have had such difficulty putting into print something that I have lived with my entire conscious life fills me with such a sense of uncomfortable confusion as it is a subject I have spoken on….counseled on…for the most part had thought it had become no more than a teaching tool for me now….and yet…over 30 times ?

Granted it was a secret that started when I was only 5 years old … it stayed buried deep within me until I reached my 26th year of life… it was also something that I had thought I faced and dealt with a long time ago but apparently scars that may appear to be healed… are still a bit sensitive to the touch…

I was born into a somewhat lower middle-class family. We never went without the necessities but my father worked two jobs….sometimes three to provide for us. Our house was small and always filled to over-capacity as my father took in stray or stranded children the way some people take in cats. There was even a while there when I couldn’t tell who was or wasn’t one of my siblings. The school year was like an exercise in military efficiency (my father had been a drill sergeant in the Army)…we all had our schedules and amazingly it left my mother with, in her words, just enough “alone” time to keep the house and everything else in order. I know now though how hard it was on her…at one time she had three of us under five (funny how it sometimes takes becoming a parent to appreciate one).

It’s my understanding that it was in the summer time…when school was out and there weren’t enough activities to keep us all busy that a choice was made that there would be summer camp when we could afford it or they would pass us out for visiting trips to relatives… for what was really only a few weeks during those hot months…and that would help my mother keep her sanity and even allow for some much needed romantic moments for her and my Dad. I know all this now but back then …well, not so much…

My Grandparents lived on a farm, and for city kids it was fun for the first few days, but after that it would kind of lose it’s charm…and while the older kids could do chores and stuff …my grandmother didn’t seem to have time or patience with 5-year-old “too fidgety” me…I remember sitting in a big rocking chair on the porch doing nothing. Being asked to be quiet was something I remember hearing a lot as a kid.

An Aunt and Uncle came for a visit and offered to take me off her hands for awhile. It was confusing in my young eyes to keep getting passed off, especially when my Uncle sat me on his lap and whispered in my ear as he wrapped his arms around me, ”Nobody wants you but me”… I remember it clearly because it was his mantra…he repeated it over and over to me whenever he could…always softly…always whispering so no one else could hear. He would add things like, “I don’t understand why your mommy says you’re a bad little girl. I think you’re a good girl”…”They said we could keep you but if you’re good I’ll let you go home.”

For the next few weeks I stayed with them. Even though they had other children, I ended up being alone with my Uncle a lot….his hands….his fingers….the fowl odor of his breath…burned forever in my mind…not just from that brief two weeks but for the countless weeks and years that occurred after it. I will not describe anymore of the details as they are something that I do not desire to see in print…for four years he had his way with me…each summer visit made longer than the last…telling me how my mother really didn’t like me…how my father was too busy to be bothered with me but that uncle loved me and that as long as I did what he said and was good…he would make sure that my family didn’t give me away. He had good fuel for this as I did have a foster brother and had been told that his other family hadn’t loved him enough and that’s why he was going to live with us. How cunning these kind of perpetrators are…and how once violated… how openly vulnerable an innocent child is…

My time with my family became so unreal to me….I was the “perfect” child….did all my chores…never fussed…teachers actually sent home notes telling my parents I was too quiet but my grades were exceptional. I was most often found in a corner reading a book (stories that could take me places and let me pretend that all was right with the world). I sometimes felt like I was only watching my family and not really a part any longer. I would cry about only one thing….not wanting to go away when the summer month of July came around, but I was soon to realize that I wasn’t safe at home anymore either…

It was as if there was an invisible label on my back saying “Easy Target“…because two years into the summer “visits” with my Uncle…a so-called family friend began spending evenings at our house and offering to tuck us in at bedtime…spending more time with me than any others…he always acted as if I needed to be comforted or loved….as if I wasn’t. I’ll never know if he had somehow talked to my uncle or if people like this have some kind of radar, but it sadly became a part of what I expected and my silence was necessary so that I wouldn’t be sent away for being bad.

I'm still not quite sure how two different perverts in two different cities managed to molest the same little girl but they did…The stopping point came when I was nine years old (I did go through a period where I thought a higher power had intervened in a most strange way)…a cold turned into strep throat and went untreated which led to Rheumatic Fever…I was in a coma for weeks and than stuck in a bed for almost six months. All the attention that I got quickly buried the brainwashing notion that my father and mother didn’t love me or want me around.

The family friend stopped coming around…and my uncle…well…I had to put up with him awhile longer…but his tactics changed as I guess he knew his mantra wouldn’t work on me anymore. He told me that if my father were to find out what had happened between us that my father would kill my uncle and than go to prison for the rest of his life. He told me that my father would never be able to look at me again because I had done such bad things. Oh, how evil is the mind of an adult with such power over a child…I was only 10 at this time and still very much in this man’s control. He no longer even tried to touch me but he had a stare that at holidays and family events usually sent me looking for a place to hide…I became the quiet non-social one…I became an outsider looking in with my family…but I kept the secret…

There was a part of me that resented my mother for not knowing what had happened to me…Our relationship spent years strained and distant. My father could do no wrong in my eyes…I somehow felt I was protecting him by keeping the secret…I was closer to him than any of the other children…He confided in me…trusted me…there came a time when I knew I had to tell him…but kept putting it off..there would be time later. He died suddenly of a massive heart attack at the young age of 53… a piece of my heart breaks every time I realize that I betrayed him by not believing that he would love me no matter what.

A year later, I got up the courage to tell my mother…the look of pain in her eyes was almost more than I could bear. I had stayed away from family functions for over ten years by then and kept out of the family dramas. My uncle had been caught sexually abusing his own granddaughters, and I know she didn’t mean to do it but my mother put a guilt trip on me of epic proportions making me feel that if I had told on him when I was a child… none of the others would have had to suffer…which also brought back memories of the family friend and put the thoughts in my head of what other young lives had been hurt at his hand.

This is where a lot of victims who, like me, face a cross road. We can’t go back and change one damn thing about what had happened to us and speaking up years after the fact brings a lot of mean, hateful things hurling towards us from those who don’t want to believe that anything we say is true. I did speak up. My aunt and her half of the family have pretty much let me know how much they hate me…The ex-family friend was going through an ugly divorce…all I did was show up in court one day. I sat quietly in the back…He took one look at me and started to cry…in open court he told a judge that he was a bad man and that he no longer would fight for the custody of his kids ( one of which it turned out he was abusing).

I call myself a survivor because I went on to volunteer at phone banks set up for abused children . I’ve worked with counselors to help victims know that they were not alone … that it was ok to report it….talk about it…hell, scream it from the roof tops if it helps. Silently suffering only helps the abusers. I might have had a problem writing about this but once I found it, my voice refused to stay silent. It is what it is and I have tried to use it for the better…

As soon as I knew that they could really understand me, I taught my sons about ”Good-Touch /Bad-Touch”. I might have been a bit over-protective of them when they were younger because of my past, but I keep reminding them everyday that there isn’t anything they can’t tell me. I refuse to feel sorry for myself…I refuse to let the past dictate whether I can live, love or laugh. I love life…I love people…I would not be me if I couldn’t keep an open heart and mind. I have an unquenchable thirst for helping people. To do or be any other way than who you want to be… is to let the bastards continue molesting your mind and even your very soul…

This was hard to write but I will have to admit that I am glad I did it…I hope that sharing it with you will turn out to be a good thing as well…

Now do me a favor…Give someone you love a hug and let them know you’re there if they need you.

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