Monday, November 2, 2009

Speak No Evil

I blamed Gig for the molestation. Even then, I knew that what she had taught me was harmful and left me in a weakened state when a predator came by. She didn't have to kill people immediately, or with her own hands to be guilty of their deaths. She had told me - over and over and over - "Children should respect adults" and "Don't contradict your elders." Unstated but eminently understood was the subtext, "Adults are always right. If you disagree, you're wrong. Don't contradict your elders."

And so when a very old man told me that I should keep things between us, that it was "our little secret", who was I to contradict him? It took me a year to break through that nasty little bit of brainwashing and to tell my mother. I think I already must have been doing some kind of self-thought censoring to handle all the cognitive dissonance inherent in my childhood. I would manage to repress or block out all thoughts of it when it wasn't actually happening, for the better part of each day, right until bed time. Then, I'd be alone in the room my sister and I used to share, until my brother got kicked out and she moved into his room. The room was big and blue and I would be very lonely by myself in a queen's size bed.

After mom had shouted, "Lights out!" down the hall and I had put my book on the end table and turned off the lamp, the thoughts and feelings would all come rushing in. Guilt and shame and a horrible sick pleasure and confusion and betrayal. I knew the act made me feel horrible, but I also knew that adults were never wrong so I felt this was my crime, my sin, my fault it kept happening. My Giggy designed me to be a willing victim, because that was what worked for her. And she didn't care if that made me more vulnerable to everyone else. I see now that what I was doing those last two weeks I stayed up late, debating whether or not to tell my mother, until finally one night I did, was undoing brainwashing. I'm frankly amazed I as able to, in that environment.

To recognize a flaw in Gig was incredible, given the precepts of my reality. She wasn't just my grandmother, parent, or caretaker. She was my god. She was my Jesus. She seemed to have the power to make the sun rise and set, if she wanted to. And she told us - over and over and over - that she was not just accceptable but exceptional. Dr. Lifton (cult expert guy) has 8 criteria of a totalist control group. When I told the truth about Bob Kirby, pedophile old man, I also did serious damage to my grandmother's control over my words and my language. I could disagree with an adult and be right. Since Bob was just my friend's dad down the street, and not a family member like it is for a majority of molestation victims, I never felt betrayed by him. Obviouly he violated me, but he didn't owe me antyhing. No, I felt betrayed by my grandmother who I thought had the power and the direct-line with God to keep us safe but instead had made me more vulnerable.

And here I was thinking the time she killed a boy when I was 14 was the first time I questioned her.

One night, back in that big empty bedroom I broke free enough. I went out to the living room in my nightgown and socks and approached my mother. "Can you come to talk to me?" I told her. She was so upset. "Why didn't you tell me sooner?" She wished that she known so that she could have stopped it, and once I told her it was over. But because I was made to endure mental and physical abuse at the hands of the woman who supposedly loved me more than anyone else in the world, my Giggy, I had no idea it was my right to complain. Adults were always right and I was a piece of shit, right?

From that point on, I talked about it. I talked about it at school with my teachers and the other kids. When we watched the bad touch video in class, I told everyone that it could happen to them and how they should never be alone with an adult if their parents don't know about it, even if they knew the adult. I talked and I talked, and I felt better. It's amazingly simple the healing process for victims of sexual abuse - talk about it. Say and believe that it was not your fault or your doing, and you will get better. That's it! And I became somewhat allergic to secrets. Obviously. I would rather be naked and ugly and broken and real than be clothed in beautiful jewels and lush fabrics and living a lie.

I have OCD and saying it isn't going to make me crazier. It's going to allow me to treat it. My son has a speech delay. Saying that isn't a "negative confession" that's going to keep him mute for life. It was the first necessary step in getting him the past three years of comprehensive, free, speech therapy he's had. My husband was an alcoholic. Recognizing that and admitting it to myself helped me get the hell away from him. Living life on reality's terms works so much better. It is okay to say, "Houston, we have a problem." How else can anything ever get fixed or healed or better?
Today's Lois McMaster Bujold quote (go read her books already!) is from "Mirror Dance".

He felt very strange. His fury at the violation of his privacy was fading, to be replaced by a light-heartedness that astonished him. He was greatly relieved, to be unburdned of his secrets. His dread was shrunken, as if giving it away had literally diminished it. I swear if I tell four more people, I'll be altogether free.

*That kid does look a little children of the corn, don't ya think?