“Turning Point” is an overused phrase, but I think it applies to my life as of this moment.
That is…just this month I spilled my guts to my husband Jamie about my life. That is, he knows about it all…parents who didn’t give a shit, perverts who zeroed in on the vulnerable kid, turning to an escort service out of desperation, history of medical neglect…he knows about me as much as I know about me, and when I find out more I’ll tell him that too!
Okay, I’m in a silly mood. But I think that’s allowed at this point. 🙂
The crux of it is, Jamie knew I’d been some temporary fuck toy of various men all my life….and he didn’t care. He knew I had a traumatic brain injury, and he didn’t walk out on me. I came clean…and Jamie didn’t run for the hills.
In other words, the worst that could ever happen to me has already happened.
What else could possibly happen? Someone decides to slut-shame me about getting raped half to death at age 14? Someone decides that sex work is wrong under any circumstances? Fuck them, I’ve heard worse. I’ve been called a liar since before I was five feet tall, so it’s not like hearing it again will make any difference.
For people with untreated PTSD, at least in my limited experience…well, it takes us an absurdly long time to realize that whoever hurt us isn’t in the room anymore. I think there was a “House” episode that touched briefly on this concept, though my memory isn’t the best. It was called “One Day, One Room.”
In any case, I feel less afraid than I ever have in my life.
I do not judge any abuse victim for refusing to come forward. Some of us would rather die…literally. And we do! I’ve seen it on the news. Rape victims who commit suicide in the middle of the trial because dying is easier than facing your rapist in court. People call it the coward’s way out…but they don’t understand how bad psychological pain can be.
But I know that now, at age thirty, I’m not some scrawny 14-year-old who no one will believe.
Justice for my own rape is probably impossible at this point for dozens of reasons. But that doesn’t mean I can’t come forward. Even if the rapists themselves are dead by now…there’s something bigger at work here, and I don’t think it would be pretentious to call it Humanism.
Because we’re all humans–some of us get bogged down in whether it’s worse to be black or female, neglected or beaten, a religious minority or an ethnic minority, an old person on the fringes of society who is about to die or a young person who learns to survive by selling her body to eat. I’ve met people from all categories, and they’ve all had it rough. But the fact that they’re still alive means that someone, at some point, behaved towards them with empathy. They reached out a hand.
There are a billion reasons, as Carl Sagan might say, why someone would NOT reach out a hand at some given point in time. Too young, too busy, too sick, too hungry…we’ve all been there. I’ve certainly failed people in my life, when they needed me a lot. Disappointed them, frightened them, caused them way more stress than they needed in their lives. People also don’t reach out hands out of racism, religious differences, class-ism, gender bias, ignorance, rage, some sort of desire for vengeance against someone…the list could go on for months and is totally irrelevant. I care more about actions than motives at this point. They’re a whole hell of a lot easier to demonstrate!
But if you ever HAVE exercised empathy towards a person, and given them that hand…you’re a Humanist, in my book.
A book which I’m still writing, in case you can’t tell! 😉 It’s all part of coming clean.
I’m contacting people I never thought I would before…people who have basically made a career out of protecting children. From clergy, yes, that’s part of it. But overall, protecting children from all the people out there who decide to use them like disposable dolls. And then make them feel like that’s all they’re good for.
Well, if anyone ever told you that, it’s not true. You’re just a normal person who hasn’t found that “hand” out of the darkness yet. But keep looking, it’ll be there eventually. You’ve got nothing to lose by coming forward…except the burden of your shame. And you can go at your own pace.
But, my own pace is quickening. I’m hunting down old school records. I’m doing research for my memoir, under my therapist’s recommendation. I’m….well, I’m alive. More so than ever. And it might not seem like that now, but it’s a feeling that I believe anyone can achieve. Even if it takes a lifetime. As long as you’re alive, there’s still a chance of finding a person who shows you empathy. Who gives you that “Humanist hand.”
And you deserve that hand as much as anybody. If anyone ever told you different…they were just being idiots. Keep strong my friends. 🙂