Sunday, April 05, 2009

It never quite goes away. It's always there.

Years ago, decades ago, when I was in high school, one of my relatives -- a pillar of his church, a respected family patriarch -- molested me. He has never apologized for what he did because he's not sorry. In fact, he revels in it. As recently as the last time we were together for any length of time (a little over a decade ago), he behaved inappropriately, whispering questions about my rate of intercourse and whether I masturbate. The occasion that brought us together was my mom's 60th birthday, and he enjoyed watching me squirm as I tried to maintain the "one big happy family" facade even as felt his breath on my skin. I was so upset that afterward I announced to my mother and sisters that I was never, ever going to be in the same room with him again. I can't bear it. And, as an adult, I have the power to make that decision, and to protect myself from humiliation and hurt.

It isn't that my mother and kid sister don't believe what happened to me back in the 1970s. It's more that they wish I could just "get past it" for the sake of peace in the family. He has since remarried and his new wife must wonder why I am so distant. (I wonder which of her daughters he played "funny uncle" with, because sex offenses are serial behavior, but you can imagine how well that went over.) The cousins in Michigan and Florida adore him and would be shattered if they knew what he did. I have stood my ground, though. I refused to attend my niece's baptism because he was invited (I couldn't bear dealing with that at a church function). I left a family visitation through the side door when he came in the front.

I know that it isn't very Christian of me, but I can't stand that this 80+ year old pervert is still alive, throwing wrenches in the works. My life would be so much easier if he were dead. (There, I said it.) What happens if my mom needs help when she gets out of the hospital? If I'm staying at her house, I may have to play hostess to the creep when he comes to call. He'll do it because it's expected of him, my mom being so sick so close to Easter and all, and it will burnish his reputation with the relatives that don't know any better. I'll do it because it will be what my mother will want me to do, and her needs supersede mine at this point. Protecting his skinny old ass and his pious reputation are paramount.

Oh well, she's not even out of the hospital yet. It could be that her condition will be so improved by tomorrow or Tuesday that she won't need me to live in. I could be worrying about a situation that will never come to pass.

I long to quit protecting him. HE, after all, is at fault. If his reputation were tarnished, it would be no less than he deserves. After all, some people get arrested for what he did in that upstairs bedroom way back when. But I realize that in order to keep the family facade as smooth as glass, I'll have to keep preserving his "good name" for as long as he lives.

It means a lot to my mother. I wish it didn't, but it does, so I'll have to suck it up, even if it means hurt and humiliation.

6 comments:

  1. I respect your opinion and your decision, but I have to say that you're not helping your family by keeping things "smooth."

    It may be that you are not the first child he assaulted, and that the silence of others is what made it possible for him to abuse you.

    You're absolutely right that humiliation and loss of status in the community is no more than he deserves. In fact, it's less than he deserves. He deserves at least one (and probably more, since csa is a serial behavior) prison sentence.

    You're in a miserable position, and I wish you the best in strength, courage and endurance.

    I hope your mother is soon well.

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  2. Boliyou, I agree with you. I told my mother that if she didn't warn my younger sister, I would. Then, when he remarried, I asked my mother about his new wife's daughters and which of them he was probably transferring "affection" to, and I was asked not to "dwell." I was a minor when all this happened, so I have forgiven myself for not forcing any more discussion. Considering his age, and the age of my cousins as well as their geography, I am reasonably certain he's out of commission in that regard.

    But you are 100% right. As I said in the original post, sex offenses tend to be serial, and I regret that more wasn't done over the years to shine a light in this dark corner of our lives.

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  3. Wow, this totally stinks. I'm so sorry that you've had to deal with it for so long, and that you continue to have to deal with it. I hope circumstances turn out such that you don't have to see him.

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  4. I was blown away by this post.
    I want you to go here and read this
    Unexpected Meeting
    and then, if you feel comfortable, write me at mimiwrites2005 at yahoo.
    I have a story to tell you.
    I will keep your email confidential.

    If you don't feel comfortable, then I understand and I echo what boliyou has said...and those who insists you don't "dwell" are insensitive and out of touch.
    There are ways to conquer this for YOURSELF which have nothing to do with the monster in your family. I hope to hear from you.

    I'm sorry you are going through this on top of your mother's illness.
    Sending a cyber hug to you, my dear.

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  5. What a difficult position to be in. Sending you strength.

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