Tuesday, September 21, 2004

All the secrets and no one to tell

It is strange. She and I are best friends. We are alike in so many ways. And we usually tell each other everything.
This took me 15 years to address, and I was terrified of doing it. We had been joking around on the phone, as we usually do, but this constantly played in the back of my head.
Jackson had said that maybe it was time to speak to her about it. I had known... guessed it, but I was terrified of asking her.
"Can I ask you something?", I said, squeamishly. I’m never shy to speak about touchy subjects, but this time I felt adrenaline, a jolt of fear in my stomach, of not wanting to set something off that I may not be able to stop, and that may run over me. "I feel really freaked out by asking you..."

"What is it?" she asked, sounding alarmed.

Take a breath

"You remember H.?"

"Yeah", she said slowly.



“… did he ever try to do... anything with you?"

I heard her breath stop, and I knew it was true. "Yeah", she said, finally. I had been unsure what to make of this for the last 1 1/2 decades. And suddenly, with that one word, it had become real.
When she and I talked about it, it finally clarified everything. I could see his strategy. He didn't threaten us. He just made it appear like it is the most normal thing in the world. He legitimised it by doing it in front of our folks, sneaky, subtly, and they wouldn’t see it.

I told Jackson how much I questioned the event, how much I questioned that it was abuse, how much I thought I was hysterical or overreacting... and it turns out I thought that because I expected everyone else to think like that. To me, it felt wrong. But what he did was just too blurry, and I couldn't cope because I knew he could get away with it, no one would believe me. Fuck, if it had been rape (which it wasn't, thank God), it would have been straightforward. It wasn't the sexual aspect that made it so traumatic to me... it was the power. And it was the way it made me feel, so absolutely helpless, right-less, invisible, small, worthless, unimportant. I don’t matter. Sex is the frame of reference for this power game now. It was him having power over me because he managed to do this stuff in front of my folks, disguising it as a joke, have them laugh, and then trying it when they were not around, because he knew if I went and told them, they would say he was just kiddn, and there was nothing I could do to defend myself, cause I didn’t matter.
I didn't know how to cope other than just freeze. Surprisingly, there is a name for that. Dissociate is what they call it. It’s almost comforting to know that this is a common reaction… that going mad is normal …

It felt like I had split without noticing; I couldn’t feel anything. It was like one of my selves kept growing, became the bigger sister self that could get angry at about what happened, in an impotent-protective way, but just angry in a way one gets when one is not the person affected. I dunno what happened to the other one. If I see her at all, I can only see her from the outside.

When you pull the splinter, you wish you weren’t in the body that experiences the pain. I wanted to see her only as a kid that is innocent, not filthy, perhaps even more na├»ve so that it can be excused that she didn’t protect herself, not like the awkward, stupid, cowardly wench that I was. Why didn’t I? Jackson said there isn’t anything I could have done, but I still can’t quite believe it. But then again, I didn’t know whether what he was doing was wrong. Everyone talked about sex all the time, even the kids in my class. I was the prude, the immature, late-blooming freak, something was wrong with me for not being interested in sex or anything related, for being such a touch-me-not little Zicke. If I wanted to be loved, I had to comply. Did I? Even if I didn’t like the way he touched me, looked at me, talked to me?

Only that day, just with the help of the simple “Yes” coming from her, I recognised it as what it was - a strategy. I guess that is what made it hit home with me when she and I talked about it. He used the same method on us, just mildly adjusted to our age and personality. For her, he made it look like horsing around. For me, a confused 12-year-old with virtually no self-esteem and a massive boundary confusion, like pure "affection", which I was sure as hell not gonna get from anywhere else, just with a spice of jolly old sex in it. He was trained. He knew exactly what he was doing. God knows how many little girls he had been messing with before.

It is that realisation that unleashes the anger in me. Fuck anger, FURY. That makes me lose any sense of needing to protect him. Or for feeling guilty for having a secret mind party when I found out that he died a slow death. Forgive him, girl, it's the Christian thing to do. Don't be merciless. The fuck I will!! Should I pity him? Should I feel guilty for hating him? Forgiveness comes from a peaceful heart, but I haven't made peace with it. I have just locked it away, and it has turned me into a nutcase, to the extent that my way out is to cherish it because I can't see a way of ever being anything else but what I am now. I have a right to my feelings. It is not me that is immoral for feeling that way. I am not gonna feel like a sentimental, self-pitying fuck again for crying over this, just to not spoil the day of any potential fair-weather friend.

I don't blame my family for not protecting me. He fooled them as much as he fooled me.

And there is something that nags in me… are she and I alike for the same reason? Is the reason we are so similar in regards to the way we see and experience men, relationships, ourselves, the stages we have gone through, the resolution, resignation, anger, fears, because we share the same past? She and I are so close, and we understand each other completely… but I can’t help thinking I wish it wasn’t because of that.

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