I originally wrote this entry several weeks ago, however it spawned a series of flashbacks and I withheld it because something didn’t seem quite right, until today…
When my sister asked me who sexually abused me eight years ago, I told her I had strong feelings that it was the son of my mother’s best friend. For a long time, I was used to considering the matter as that simple–one abuser in one incident, and when I first recovered feelings, and then memories that it was my brother, I thought he must be the only one and therefore anything I came up with previously was null and void. I’ve felt like my sister could pop up at any moment and declare that I’m lying, I’m wrong; because I told her it was someone else, and I had come to doubt myself. But in fact, I was sexually abused by many people over a period of years. So far, the list includes my older brother, my mother, my grandmother, my father, my brother’s best friend, and then there are the two cases I attempted to tell my sister about–the father of a neighborhood boy, and the son of my mother’s best friend.
Today as I edited this entry saying I wasn’t sure about the son of my mother’s best friend I suddenly could smell sort of musty, cleaning odors…then I saw a boy with a brunette bowl-cut standing in front of my brother’s closet, naked; I saw his penis in excruciatingly minute detail from far above…the hangers clanged together when he moved, as he masturbated me. I was stimulated, despite wanting to cry, even as he went further, kissing me and fondling my butt before initiating mutual oral sex. Then I was bent over my brother’s star wars-printed toy-chest; he tried to fuck me, but wasn’t very successful. He was a few years older than even my brother, we only saw him twice, and I always vividly remembered anticipating the arrival of his visit as he would be staying the weekend, but blacked out any other detail. Now I know for sure why, and I won’t doubt myself again.
During a dissociative flashback when I was twenty-one, I had this vision of myself, naked and climbing up a brightly colored indoor play-set that I recognize from the house of a neighbor whose family moved away when I was five years old. Upon reaching a certain height, I was grabbed from behind and anally penetrated by I presume the father of the boy who I had played with at this house. That’s why I referred to this incident as rape in an email to my sister when I was 22 years old. She wrote back sympathetically, saying she didn’t know I was raped and asking when/how. When I responded that I was four or five years old at the time, I was met with a silent rejection; she didn’t reply to the email, she didn’t believe me. And I guess for a long time I sort of discounted this incident as well as a result of her rejection. I didn’t know how to process recovered memories at the time, and I was too overwhelmed with daily survival to do anything with them.
A later episode gives me some insight into what she was likely thinking but wouldn’t say at the time. I had noted to her how I felt the problems I had sleeping were linked to the fact that I had memories of our mother coming into the room at night, waking me up to scream and beat me with a hairbrush. She responded in an incredibly mocking tone, “nuh-uh Caden, I would have known if that had happened.” A moment later she contradicted herself by admitting that she was aware of incidents like this, but she explained it away by blaming it on my brother and I making noise when we were “supposed to” be asleep. On the fact that my mother was extremely abusive about controlling us through bedtime, and would pull our hair, slap, spank us, scream if our bodies didn’t robotically fall asleep the minute she sent us to bed. I don’t believe this scenario corresponds exactly with the memories that I’ve described, but the condescending insistence that “I would have known” stands out as a wider truth of hers.
She was a pre-teen or teenager during my formative years; she was caught up in her own problems, her own issues, after-school activities, part-time jobs, boyfriends… She was not spending all of her time deeply studying and keeping an eye on the events of my life. She apparently didn’t know (or forgot, blocked out) that our parents and my brother sexually abused me during the time when she was living in the house, so why should she pose as an authority on what happened to me? How likely is it that a four year old child who had already been sexually abused by his own family would feel free to come home from a neighbors house and tell them that he had been molested there? I already learned that it was normal, that I had to keep quiet about it and deal with it on my own. There are corroborating details for this play-set memory, among them being the fact that it directly corresponds with a period where I was constipated and in extreme pain in my anus for over two weeks. It did happen.
I had severe insomnia for several of my later teen years, sometimes only getting one or two hours of deeply disturbed sleep per night. This was a result of my early childhood trauma. Yet my sister just loved to repeat all sorts of condescending general tips that are given out to people, things like “don’t watch tv in bed,” (which I didn’t) or “do more exercise.” Advice that says it’s all your fault, you’re just so incompetent that you don’t know how to live correctly. When I stated accurately that these traumatic experiences caused my severe insomnia, she thus laughed at me. She refused to take my condition and my life seriously, but just saw me as a joke. That hurt, and despite the fact that I told her it hurt, she refused to stop doing it. This invalidating on her part caused me so much damage.
When I told my sister that I was sexually abused by that other boy, she asked me how long we were alone. I said I didn’t know, but perhaps twenty minutes, which set her off. She responded by casting doubt on the entire memory because it was ” a long time to be left alone with a four year old!” But that is exactly what my mother would have done; sent “the kids” off to play while she drank, smoked, and forgot we existed. In fact, I spent massive amounts of time alone without any adults at that age; I remember waking up all alone so many mornings when I was three years old and making myself peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast while my mother slept till mid-day. Clearly my sister was holding onto a rather deluded version of the past in which our parents weren’t “that bad” and she wanted to do anything she could to invalidate my memories (perhaps because she invalidated hers.) She wanted to find some detail to trip me up on, but I’m not going to take her example anymore; all of my flashbacks, feelings, and dreams are valid and important in my recovery process.
In contemplating my impending confrontation and the letter I’ve started to write to my aunt, I’ve thought a lot about this. In the letter itself, I’m going to go into detail about the incest, but also mention that in addition to it my parents looked the other way while I was sexually abused by neighbors/family friends. My aunt, after all, lived hours away from us and never met those other people. Of course it’s easy to see why I would uncover memories of and be able to admit to being abused by non-family members first. If my sister or anyone else wishes to use that understandable fact as an “aha! he’s lying!” moment in order to prop up their own denial and delusion, there’s really nothing I can do about that. I’m not depending on her believing me at this point in my life, they can all refuse to believe a word I say, but I’m going to put my truth out there anyway.