The dam broke. Something roared to the surface, something whispered in corners, I felt as if all the air was being sucked out of the room and I wanted to pick something up and just beat someone with it. Instead, I decided to write another entry to Broken Chains.
In my industry, we have a saying, “close hold”. It means things that are not revealed, instead they are held closely to the chest. I have always treated some of my history as ‘close hold’; it is mine and mine alone. I will hint at it, throw pebbles into passive lake waters to watch the ripple affect but my entire adult life I have treated some parts as dark secrets, as was demanded of me. This ‘close hold’ in large part has been a tribute to those who never deserved the gift of my silence. The other part has been the lesson learned so many years ago, I have simply been unable to let it go the lesson of shame and fear.
It was told nearly 45 years ago, one who should have loved me should have protected me, should have taught me to speak truth, that one chose instead to do no such thing. Their choice was too fling me into a vortex; an emotional black hole demanding my silence because the alternative was somehow their shame. Worse even than this would be the loss of love from the person I loved most in the world, I was convinced if I spoke up I would be spurned, found forever wanting. They convinced me, I was not believable. That even if I was to scream my pain and hurt, I would be rebuffed. No one would believe me, no matter what I said because I was nothing more than a …….
These were the words thrown at an eleven-year-old child. Words of power. Words of rage. Words burned into a soul still unformed and willing to believe. Words that fell like the Blacksmiths Pein on the soft Anvil that was my young and untrained heart. Words that would set my feet on a path for years to come. Convinced of my lack I would unwind what little of my ego remained and offer my heart and my body to anyone who would validate my conviction of valueless. Unable to fight back, I would accept the brutality even at times welcome it as it corroborated what I knew about myself, what I had been told; that I was less than and undeserving of love or care.
All this, all the brutality. All the loss because my mother wanted to preserve her standing. She failed an eleven-year-old-child who had been gang raped. She failed to report. She failed even to tell that child’s father. She demanded that child’s silence and even blamed that child for the brutality of that rape. That child was me, she failed me and miserably so.
I knew who raped me, I knew all their names. I knew who stood by and watched, laughing as it happened. I knew who held my legs, I knew who held my arms. I knew who tripped me. I knew who tore my clothing off. I knew which of them touched me and which of them had intercourse with me. I knew which one of them took my virginity, laughing when he realized he had done so. I would have to attend school with my rapists for two years. Because no action was taken against them, there was no repercussion for their actions I was emotionally and physically brutalized by my classmates. Teachers heard the story of my rape but believed I was a voluntary participant in my own pitiless and inhumane violation, my introduction into the world of sex. Slut was something whispered in the halls as I walked by, not for something I did but for what was done to me and what my mother failed to do.
My heart was damaged, my core was broken and I retreated to an internal life, one that I don’t believe I have ever quite stopped living in. My pragmatism is my strength and my defense. My views on forgiveness were formed in 1968, though I couldn’t have defined them as clearly as I can today they haven’t changed very much since that time.
Life journeys are odd things. What set my feet on the path I have trod was a random act of cruelty forty-five years ago. So many of my choices since that time, so much of how I saw the world for so many years tie directly back to that single terrible and fateful day. I didn’t think I would ever tell this story, but Steubenville, has brought the memory raging to the forefront. My heart breaks for this young girl, for the terrible and heartbreaking future she faces as she begins to rebuild her life.
My brother has said to me my mother did what she thought was best at the time, I will never accept this answer no person with a heart does what she did to a child thinking it was best for that child. We were both adopted but our experiences were very different. I have always wondered why, I don’t think we will ever know now.
The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness, and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.
Aristotle (384 – 322 BC)
Our life is always deeper than we know, is always more divine than it seems, and hence we are able to survive degradation’s and despairs which otherwise must engulf us.
William James (1842 – 1910), pioneering American psychologist and philosopher
Deeds survive the doers.
Horace Mann (1796 – 1859)
Oppression can only survive through silence.
Carmen de Monteflores