I AM NOT ASHAMED
And, I have no qualms writing or talking about this:
I was sexually molested as a child.
Why do I write about it? Why am I not embarrassed or hiding it? Because I do not have shame for what someone else did to me. None. And I should not have to whisper about this. I should not have to pretend it did not happen. I will not. I will not hang my head. And if I tell you? You do not need to hang your head in embarrassment for me. Do you know what you should do? You should rear back in anger! No, lets go with rage. You should fill with rage. Or, ask me questions. How did I cope? Did I always cope? What did I do? Didn’t I tell anyone?
I write regarding being molested as a child, because that is my experience. So I don’t mean to suggest being sexually molested at any age is acceptable. Of course it’s not. But my point of reference is as a child. And there is no child born to this earth that should ever have to go through that. Period. There’s no other statement I can think of to state it clearer:
No child should have to endure being molested.
Let me give you a glimpse of a child’s view of the world after you, sorry, after I’ve been molested. And I feel a need to preface this with it was not family, because that’s one of the first questions people ask me if they find out and are comfortable asking questions. I say this because it was not family, and oddly, I didn’t speak up as a child because I felt a need as a child to protect my family from this. A little ironic, huh?
How I saw the world.
As a child now…..I can trust no one. At a time when my life should have been nothing but a safe and trustful place, it wasn’t. I was ripped from the very normal of my child’s world and placed in a foreign and dirty place. Nothing was clean enough, or clear enough. I have to keep a secret or too many people will be upset with me. So I don’t say anything. I stay quiet. I don’t know what I can say. Or what I shouldn’t say. I look at other kids, happy kids. Kids who weren’t picked for this. Kids who don’t have to keep secrets. Kids who don’t have someone touching them, and making them squeeze their eyes shut because they, I, don’t want to see the ugliness of what is happening.
I slept in a ball. Because asleep I don’t have to think about it. But sleep is never really easy, and never really an escape. Because dreams are not always escapes. Sometimes. But not always. Waking up and going to school I walked through my days knowing it wasn’t happening to anyone else. How do I know? Because no one looks like how I feel. And what do I look like? When I look in the mirror, I am the one that is expendable. Throw-away-able. As the child I was scared of what every one in the world wanted from me. Because the most powerful moments of my very young life? They weren’t positive powers. They weren’t confidence boosting moments. The most powerful moments of my young life were filled with terror, solitude and disgust at myself. Because it happening to me, meant I wasn’t as good as everyone else. As a child I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t remember. I still struggle with this today. I remember going to one fifth grade class and walking in and being told there was a test on the Shakespeare. It’s funny I remember that day being told we were going to have the test, but I have absolutely no recollection of ever discussing Shakespeare in that class. I failed that test. And I still remember the teacher mocking one of my answers. The question had something to do about what a character said about “tomorrow”. I still don’t know enough about Shakespeare to tell you what it was about but I remember my answer and I thought it poetic which is why I wrote it: “there is no tomorrow”.
Kinda sad. Now that I think about it. On the surface the answer seems to be the sad part. To me, it’s missing out on all of that learning. All of the interacting I should have had with my classmates. All of the fun I should have felt I was having. Don’t get me wrong. I had fun. I had my moments. But a lot of that time is muddled in my head. Because I was always thinking. I never stopped thinking. Wondering. Worrying and fretting. And trying to protect my family from finding out. Kids, they are so amazing. Okay, so I didn’t have the greatest of ideas. But it’s what I felt I could do for them, protect them. I spent so much time thinking that I really missed out on the experiences I was walking numbly through, in life. I wasn’t purposefully avoiding life. I was trying to survive something that I wasn’t well equipped to deal with and process. As a result, I missed a lot of what was going on around me. I think this is what bothers me more than anything. Memories of my family, my parents, siblings, grandparents. They are foggy at best in most situations. Not engaging with my life then, is something I can never regain.
But you know what? I am proud of how I handled myself. It was not the most brilliant way to handle someone hurting me. I should have told. But I didn’t. And I feel good about it because I thought I was protecting others. Silly as that seems, it is part of what got me through every thing. Instead of letting it destroy me, I eventually learned to embrace who I am because of it. Of course I would have rather it not happened. But I don’t have that option. What I do have is today. And what I do have is what I can do with today. And I do have the ability to choose what I will or will not do today. And I choose good. I choose control. I choose to try and improve who I am on a daily basis.
I hope every single one of you who read this have absolutely no way of relating to what I am writing. Sadly, I know this will not be true. But for those of you who cannot relate I want you to know that when a child is molested it is a physical, emotional and mental scar. Unfortunately people don’t see it as such. Some don’t, anyway. But I am telling you, it is there. And being part of our formative years, it does have an on-going impact. Recognized, or not. Positive or negative long lasting effects, it has impact.
Why do I tell you these things? Not for sympathy. So why even bother? For me. For others who might understand. I need to say it. I need to say it over and over again. Because even though I believe it, I do have moments when I need to re-believe it. I need to remind myself and convince myself all over again. I am good. I am not bad. Something bad happened to me. Someone else is bad. I? I am who I choose to be. I am not what someone else chose to do to me. I am not perfect. But I am what I am because of the life I have lived. The decisions I have made. The good and the bad of who I am are on me. And I will not let anyone else determine that for me. I certainly will not live my life giving one more moment of control of my life to what happened to me. If I could give any child who has been molested something, it would be control, and self respect. I would take each child by the hand and have them look in the mirror to see the reflection of an innocent, valuable and free human being. Free of guilt. Free of shame. Free of burden. I would free them from the ugliness that clouds their vision. I would free them from the filth that they envision swirling around their world. I would grab that weight they carry in that backpack of guilt, shame and horror, and I would relieve them of it. Because it’s not theirs to carry.
I would remind them that they are the good. The pure. The innocent. No one can take that from them.
World, listen up. I ask, and I kind of want to demand that you do not dare look at me with that look. That look of sorrow. Though I appreciate the emotions of shock, or sadness, or even horror, I beg you, look differently. Look at me. Don’t drop your eyes and look or act towards me like I am damaged. How am I damaged? What did I do to be labeled as different, or pitiful? I did nothing. And yes, I still say that to convince myself more than to convince you.
I am writing this for the child who as you read this is being molested. I am writing this for the parents who don’t know. I am writing this to make sure everyone understands that there is no shame no shame no shame! I am writing this for the child who was molested who never sought help, who never told, and who has never reclaimed the control of their own lives. I am writing this because it’s the right thing to do.
I will not hang my head.
I am not ashamed.