There were cement drains above us, flushing water into the river to our right as I stood on the smooth rocks of the shore, my bathing suit pulled down by my father who went on to rape me. I stared up at the drains and dissociated, telling myself “I’ll never forget this…” yet I did, within a minute. When he was finished, he just said, “ok, let’s head back now…’ as if all we really did was just take an early morning walk, all alone while camping. When we arrived back, mother was there and smiling as she prepared breakfast…everyone cared about the facades, but no one cared about me. I remember on one of these camping trips, I had said I craved French toast, and my sister declared that I was pathetic…when food was all I knew how to use to escape the memories, the pain of being sexually abused by my whole family all the time…
It startles me that I was actually aware enough in that state, while I was being sexually abused, to try and affix a memory in my mind. Obviously it didn’t work, but it’s the first time I’ve encountered that in a flashback… I know I consciously tried to resist it, when the dissociation was of a much lesser degree following periods of my brother’s physical abuse. I didn’t actually repress the memory of that, I just drifted far enough away from the feelings of the experience to put on a different face once my parents arrived home from work, and he couldn’t get at me anymore. Promising that I would tell them that day and then forgetting about it was the only way I could comfort myself in the face of the abuse while simultaneously shielding my psyche from the fact that actually telling would be a meaningless and self-destructive act.
But my father actually fucked me in a public place, outdoors, in the forest. I recall another time when we out to go swimming at a waterfall, and he complained that my brother and I chose to go behind trees to change into our bathing suits. He didn’t say, “we see you naked in our bed all the time…” no, he said, “c’mon guys, we changed your diapers you know…” Unlike my mother, who did say some really creepy and suggestive things, he took solace in stupid clichés to justify his apparent desire for some lurid scenery. I suppose he felt more comfortable dissociating from the fact that he and his wife molested their children. But this facade that they drew up around them was another hideous form of abuse, teaching me to dissociate, to live in two different realities has caused me so many problems.
Last week I had another flashback, where I was perhaps eight to eleven years old, and standing in the hallway, frozen in place by the sounds of my mother having sex with my older brother. They were both groaning so loudly, with sounds I recognized from what they both did to me in turn, and I was…numb. But when he came out, I hid from his sight, and the went in myself. All those years later, they still had us taking “turns” to receive their sexual abuse. I knew my brother had set up a regular routine of sexually abusing me after school, but I wasn’t aware my mother did it at some point too…I was lucky if I got out before my father arrived home from work, because then he would fuck me too…
I had an auditory flashback to her voice, calling me into their bedroom, where I was forced to undress and then bend over their bed to give my mother oral sex while he fucked me. Suddenly the blinds shook, and I looked to my left to see my sister standing in the doorway, with a vacant look on her face; she closed the door again just as quickly. I wasn’t worried, alarmed, or even interested by seeing her there, as I lied on the bed with our father still inside me. I just went on with the mechanical task, waiting for them to finish so I could go and, without question, it would be forgotten by all. I would have an ice cream bar, and read some comic books afterwards.
In the flashback, I recognized that my sister was in the goth phase of her senior year of high school…black velvet dress, black lipstick, and shoulder length black hair. So she definitely did know very well, in her own way, about my being sexually abused by our parents. And there was no reaction to that knowledge. One late nigh when she was sixteen my sister called me into her room and told me that she had picked her backpack earlier to run away. She was two miles away when she thought of me and how I would have no one without her, and so she came back. She was crying, and hugged me as she said this. But she didn’t really protect me, and soon enough she would leave anyway, go on to continue our parents legacy of repression and denial.
With the sexual abuse, I was completely and utterly alone. The plague of denial and dissociation in our family was incredibly isolating. Everyone knew, but I learned very early on that I couldn’t share that knowledge with anyone. I noticed in my teen years the way my mother would try to not merely act as if rather everyday things (which she nonetheless found inconvenient to her) had not happened, but speak of them to me in a very intentional way in order to convince me they hadn’t happened. Did she really believe that she could put me into some hypnotic state when she just wanted to cover up any random thing she had said or done? She was always pretending not to remember things whenever it suited her.
Even after I moved away, and the abuse had ended, I was still alone, because I continued to just dissociate and ignore anything that went wrong. I had extreme difficulty talking to others about anything that was happening. This is what they intended. Just like in the story I spoke of in my last entry, where I was told that the extended family went away because I spoke up too much about my brother’s abuse, I’m sure that it was drilled into me from a very young age that I had to be quiet and pretend along with them that nothing had happened, that nothing was happening. That if I didn’t, I would be utterly rejected, ignored, which would have been unbearable as an infant, toddler, or young child when the abuse was happening. No, I had to conform to their unreality at the time, I had to dissociate.
I know that when my brother would hit me and I would scream, I was the one punished, for bothering our parents–they didn’t care what he did to me. When any of my “family” had just screamed hateful, insulting things at me, they would never try to resolve whatever the ‘problem’ was, never apologize, but just act a minute later like nothing had happened, they had done nothing wrong and how dare I take offense and not immediately move on, forget about it? There was no room for a sensitive person in this incest family, no place for someone who insisted on speaking the truth and throwing a rock through their windows. But I wasn’t the problem, I’m not the one who abused them, so why shouldn’t I talk about it, and loudly?
Years ago I had a dream where I was five or six years old, and my mother had taken me to city hall. We stood outside the courthouse, and she told me that if unless I changed, unless I was “good” she would leave me there, give me away…what choice would I have at that age but to believe that the court building was some scary place where parents could drop off children who don’t shut up and do what they’re told? Yet even as soon as months ago I still had this immense fear of my mother, the deluded, powerless, elderly criminal suing me. It’s I who can leave her behind at the courthouse, once my bankruptcy case is finished. It’s I who have stopped listening to them, and I have a voice, regardless if my ex-family or other people like them just ignore me for telling the honest truth about my life.