I’m drawn (though I don’t really know why) to write again about a mildly uncomfortable topic today. It’s one that I’m not sure my parents even know about to this day, even though the first time I wrote of the experience was highschool.
Yet, it is an experience that has partly shaped my life and created a vastly different view of abuse and abusers for me, much like my views on death. It is a part of me and one that I’ve accepted not as a victim, but more as an experience I’ve had to learn from.
I’m referencing a situation that I’ll call attempted molestation.
I was about 8 years old, and at the time my family was living in a large mobile home complex in Indiana. There were many kids of a wide age range in the neighborhood that my brother and I played with. One boy typically asked to play with my brother, but occasionally would invite both of us, especially if his younger sister was tagging along.
I remember thinking that something was just slightly off with him, the day that he took the 4 of us out to the field behind an excavated pile of dirt, in an attempt to show us how cool smoking was. He literally pulled out a pile of cigarette butts explaining how he thought they helped him and saying we should try it. After one puff I knew it was not good for me, and to this day I still hate cigarettes and cigarette smoke. I never could understand how someone who was older than me, but still quite young (12 or 13) would want to do that.
Later that summer on several occasions he would stop by our house asking if my brother was able to come out & play. The first occasion that my brother wasn’t able, he took the opportunity to persuade me to follow him. I still wish I hadn’t been so naive. He took me into my family’s storage shed and tried to convince me to do what I now as an adult, know to be called a “blow job”. I distinctly remember thinking ‘eew that’s gross’ and leaving. The boy proceeded to play the ‘same game’ twice more, and in the 3rd attempt right as I was about to give in, despite protests, my brother found us and ran him off.
I found out later that my brother punched him several times, hard enough that he got the message to leave me alone. For that protective influence I’m still very grateful.
That fall as school was starting I overheard moms talking at the bus stop. They were discussing that he’d been caught molesting a girl and was in juvie and wouldn’t be in school. I thought surely it wasn’t me, I didn’t tell, and I hadn’t thought my brother had. That means he did the same thing to another girl. Then one of the mom’s said something to the effect that ‘you know his father had been in prison, and maybe apples didn’t fall far from the tree’. Later I asked his sister about it in a private secluded location. She demanded that I not tell anyone, and admitted that the dad had been doing similar things to them. I tried to convince her that it was bad & she should tell, but she refused saying it would cause more trouble than it was worth, they were better off just dealing with it.
This was before reporting laws were in place, and before interventions were widely accepted or available. All I could think at the time is how horrible it was that they were being abused and couldn’t do anything about it without servere reprecussions. I was determined not to let the experience affect me as severely as it did them.
With that being said I don’t think it has, affected me- severely that is. I’m not really a victim, I was naive, and know that in that situation my lack of knowledge was what made things uncomfortable, and was what caused being duped and having difficulty extracting myself from the situation. However, when I look back I can see that nothing really was accomplished and though I was uncomfortable, I ended up safe & sound. Be it divine intervention, or just my big brother being in the right place at the right time, I was unscathed with only slight mental trauma from the confusing situation.
As I got a little older, I wanted to know why this boy thought it was a good idea. I knew the answer lie in knowing about sex, but that was all I knew. So I went looking for answers. I started with dictionaries and encyclopedias because that was how I was taught to glean data or useful information. I learned what sex was, it’s technical names, that it usually occurred between people of opposite genders, that even gender was referred to as someone’s sex. However, none of that really answered my question as to why a boy wanted me to do very specific things to his penis. Essentially, even as a young child I was acknowledging that knowledge is power and that was why I felt powerless in that situation.
However, my need for an answer meant I kept digging. By the time I was in middle school I was sneaking pornos from my dad’s “secret” collection (he thought he’d hid them well). Let’s just say it not only finally answered my question about the boy, but it also answered questions I’d had about my own father.
My father was a fairly intense man, often derrogatory toward women, but would blatantly watch women in public. He was verbally abusive, to us kids and my mom, even in public. Seeing his porn collection at a young age made lots of his actions make sense. Again, I acknowledged that my father was only perpetuating what he was taught. It took me years to get to a place of forgiveness with my father.
As a result I made decisions about sex, relationships, and interactions with people without really realizing it. I just thought I’d informed myself. Hind sight being 20-20 I can see that most of my decisions through informing myself have been beneficial/good, but perhaps not all.
By highschool I told friends in a conversation about sex that “I’d never had sex, but thought I would like it”. Those friends still teased me about that years later. I never did though, I just didn’t want to rush it, looking to have both control and meaningful interactions in that department.
I finally had sex half way through college, and even then it was with a couple that I’d chosen because it was safe. I had grown impatient and even though I suspected my relationship with Nathan was growing- heading that direction, I was just ready. I acknowledged that the couple probably thought they’d found a young chica to gently pry open with wine & a good time, but I went into the evening with the awareness that they wanted sex, & I wanted the experience to learn how to handle myself well and interact in that manner. I knew it wasn’t anything more, I didn’t expect a 2nd night or any kind of relationship.
Later Nathan expressed disappointment, but after discussing it in depth he understood where I was coming from. He had wanted for my first time to be with him & very special. I let him know that I wanted to know what special was by experiencing not special first. I told Nathan that I might not have known he was different/better/special if I had nothing but the attempted molestation to go by. Anything is better than that. Giving myself a more normal generic sexual interaction gave me a better idea of what was just normal physical interaction and what was the spiritual connection which Nathan and I shared. It helped me feel the difference in the most respectful way I could find. I knew it was appropriate and a positive choice. I think Nathan agreed in the end.
Years later, the boy of my childhood still occasionally comes up, and every time it seems I realize something new.
At this point I not only forgive the boy for his trespass against me, I understand that the boy was far more a victim than I was. My heart now goes out to him and I do my best to send him healing energy and love when the experience crosses my mind. I can’t imagine how his life played out only knowing how to manipulate and force women to interact with him. Never knowing what real love is like, and probably spending years in and out of detention centers. His life was essentially ruined before it even got started because of his father, and it’s probably a generations old cycle in that family. One traumatized person acting out and creating another traumatized person, over and over again. It’s really very sad.
Yet a cycle I managed to escape. Now the experience leads me to choose respectful partners. I usually prefer to be at least somewhat in control, or at least on equal ground. I look for proper language, I look for questions and request for permission. I look for gentle people. And I do my best to reciprocate in all respects. I don’t expect every interaction to be permanent and extra special, but that’s always the goal: to find my special polyamorous life partners.
Nathan is all of that and more, without him I’d be crushed & wouldn’t know what to do. I had glimpses of that kind of special with people which ended up being short term relationships, those people are the ones that still have space in my heart. My other interactions though not negative, and fully respectful, were just not quality enough to maintain as relationships, and that’s ok. I was informed, I made those decisions willingly, and I respect the results. They all served some purpose in my life, if only to teach me something about myself and my desires and goals. There have been many many people I’ve turned down or flat out ignored because they didn’t show respect and I simply have no tolerance for that.
You may think that this implies some long list of lovers over the years, but not really. Nathan included I’ve been intimate with 16 people and platonic with 4 (Nathan’s other others).
I cherish each and every one as a valuable learning experience.
I am grateful for the experience with the boy because it taught me to be as preemptively informed as possible. It also taught me to step back and evaluate seemingly negative situations to see what I could learn for the future. Additionally, I do personally feel it was a lesson from the divine because of the fact that it could have ended much worse.
I’m grateful to both the boy and my father because they taught me what not to do (in a do your best kind of way) . They taught me what to look for to avoid more situations like they provided. They taught me how to tell if someone is respectful by their individual distespectful deameanors. I have a strength and confidence now that I might not have had otherwise. I know that I can deal with a lot, and what I can’t deal with I can usually escape. I ensure I have enough control in my life to accomplish that at least.
So yes, those experiences – though negative in nature, did better prepare me for the world. They did make me a better person, and they did make me want to make informed decisions as much as possible. So, I not only forgive the trespasses, I give thanks for those experiences and send healing and love to both the boy and my father. I think my father has started to see his errors and I hope that boy has too.
My only wish is that we all see things in this manner and forgive others, but especially forgive ourselves. Give yourself some love for your learning and growing and in embracing those negatives, share the love to encourage healing in this big wide world of ours.