Some readers may find the following post disturbing or triggering, please guard your mental health and stop reading if this affects you in that way.
This post is a long time coming in many ways...
I have been unable to write anything because of the current situation, my head has been spinning and it has been causing writers block, so it felt necessary to write this so that I am able to clear some space mentally and emotionally....
I have previously mentioned that I was abused as a teen. Sadly my story is not a cut and dry scenario, and it lives like many situations in life in the shades of grey rather than black and white.
It began with grooming, although to be fair to the cousin in question, I am not entirely certain he understood what he was doing, or how it would develop. I choose to give him the benefit of the doubt, because although he was 5 years older than me, he was only 15 and I was nine when he began to groom me. My mother had just left my father, and we remained with my Dad. I have addressed this in a previous blog, but to my pretty traditional Spanish family it was unforgivable that a mother would do such a thing. As a result, my cousin began to tell me he would never leave me and he would always be someone I could count on. That doesn’t sound insidious does it? He was after all a cousin, who I would see once a year, sometimes twice, on our trips to Spain.
Things changed when, just before my 12th birthday, he started asking for sexual favours.
He never touched me, which in hindsight feels calculated, but I became an expert in petting and oral. The clue that there was a problem is that I didn’t have my first kiss with him till I was 15 that’s 3 years after sexual contact started. **At the time I had no idea this was a clue which is an indication of quite how naive I was**
When it began the family began to question why I would be sneaking up to see him in the middle of the night? Well he never said it’s because he was asking me to. And my silly still childish brain thought I was in love with him, and that he must be in love with me, why else would he ask me and teach me how to touch him in such an intimate way.
So of course when questioned I lied to my Dad who had been sent to question me, because I had to protect the boy I loved.
So I became the one whispered about and blamed, I was the little English whore who was trying to corrupt the innocent OLDER cousin. It didn’t occur to my family that the girl who still carried a stuffed toy around, and that same girl they would protect in not telling she had just eaten fluffy bunny rabbit for fear of upsetting her, was possibly not capable of being the corruptive mastermind they were accusing her of being.
For many years I shouldered and carried that blame, long after regular trips to see them were done, long after regular contact with him was over, and long after many counselling sessions, in which I was forced to confront, at the very least, the fact that I was taken advantage of, or at worst I was abused.
I know how I viewed it when I saw it through the lens of a parent.
But still I didn’t tell the world although I did tell my Dad (and others close to me), sadly although I am sure he believed me, he would much rather pretend it never happened. There have been many instances over the years when he has mentioned that cousin’s name, and his achievements as a proud Uncle or comments about how unlucky I have been in life or love from other family members **the last as recently as this May**. Never understanding the pain it caused and causes me.
Don’t get me wrong, my Dad has been in many senses a great Dad, but he is like most of us flawed and can be completely devoid of emotional awareness or intelligence.
For the most part I have accepted and lived with this until recently when we had the biggest blow out we have ever had. I had got to breaking point, and my opinionated and unthinking Dad made a comment that set me off. Sadly when I lose my temper, I really lose my temper so many years of pent up hurt and anger came out and it all went in his direction.
I don’t blame him for not knowing, in some ways I am sure it was easier for all concerned to look the other way. I am hurt that he can’t look back and see that there were clues, and ways that the whole family could and should have protected the much younger, not sexually-active and more emotionally vulnerable child in the equation.
He doesn’t seem to understand my issue is not really about the abuse anymore, yes, it’s still there and it is sadly a scar that most victims, turned survivors, live with, and I am a survivor!
But the pain of the way most of my family has treated me or simply pretended nothing ever happened has been awful to live with. When people you are programmed to love, who you look forward to seeing, who you have wonderful memories with, hold you at a distance or you just sense some unease, you carry it, internalise it, and for me it became a part of who I was.
So, as a result, my Dad and I have not spoken for nearly 3 months.
He is angry and hurt that I called him names, and that I don’t seem to appreciate all he has done for me. Let me make clear I do appreciate everything that my Dad has done for me, but He has made mistakes along the way too, like all parents, myself included.
I am angry and hurt that he can’t seem to get past that fact I lied to protect my abuser. Or they way his family have treated me, and pretended nothing happened has been not fun to live with.
To him it is a matter of logic, I tell you not to go up there – you don’t go, I asked you a question - you lied, so you are a liar. It’s sad that I may never get him to understand the emotional and psychological reasons for how and why it happened, and why I am still hurt. The nuance is lost on him.
Right now it feels like I lost my hero,
the image that I had in my head of my Dad has changed. The man who used to act as though I was someone he truly loved, seems to be happily pretending that I don’t exist. I have tried speaking to him, not about this, but just to re-establish contact, and unless he absolutely has to reply, he completely ignores me. I didn’t get a call, text or card on my birthday. The family dinner for that day didn’t happen.
So this situation (alongside the now distant and fractured relationship I seem to have with my daughter that I hope soon changes and as such it’s not something I am in a place to talk about right now, or want to fan the flames of) is quite honestly tearing me apart.
I say this as it felt dishonest not to mention that the relationship with my father is not the only one that is not great.
I have gone over and over it in my head and with friends, because it must be me, I am after all the common denominator in both of these relationships, and I get the same response, “No I just have a tendency to blame myself and then carry it "**I wonder where that came from?**”.
I decided to write this entry because for a long time I felt if I didn’t say anything, then it would all just fade away. Sadly It is actually the silence and denial that breaks you. Carrying the weight of other people’s perception of you and living in a place of self-blame just takes away your power.
I am done giving up my power.
I hope that someday I get to have some form of relationship with my Dad again, but I refuse to live in a world of make believe so other people, him included, can feel more comfortable with it.
I choose to surround myself with wonderful supportive people, (some of whom are from that side of the family who know and believe me).
I have family and friends that don’t try to minimise my experience, and those people are worth their weight in uncut diamonds **because let’s face it they are worth more than gold!**