…than being molested or raped.
I can only describe the self-loathing and shame one feels afterwards as suffocating. It strangles you into keeping your mouth shut. Just thinking about it is unbearably painful, and the idea of having to mention it out loud is horrifying. Then when it starts to feel like you’re going to die if you have to keep this to yourself one second longer, you are able to loosen that noose of shame long enough to actually tell someone what happened. You’d choose this person carefully, of course. They’d have to be someone you trust completely and who would never judge you or further shame you for what happened.
So you tell them.
And they don’t believe you.
But why would she make up something like that? This is what the person in whom I confided casually asked my mother. His question arose from the assumption that she already knew the whole story, and he inadvertently gave her one of the worst shocks of her life. The two of them were in the car talking about a relative of ours who claimed she had been molested by her dad’s roommate. They wondered about the veracity of her story. “It’s just like Kitten saying she was molested by Mr. Creepy. I mean, why would she even say that?”
Time stopped at the moment for my mother, who knew in an instant that it was true, that a thousand little signs that she chose to ignore or dismiss over the years confirmed her absolute worst nightmare. An lump of ice cold shock formed inside her chest and she had to pull the car over in order to collect herself. My confidant also knew that my mother would not have reacted in that way unless the story were true, and he felt utterly devastated that he doubted me.
Somehow my mother managed to drive the rest of the way home, and then she confronted Mr. Creepy and demanded that he do everything he could to make it right. She insisted that he travel to see me (I had long since moved out of the house) and apologize and to offer to pay for therapy if I needed it. He did all these things. I remember getting a call at home from him, saying that he was coming up to see me and had something very important to tell me. I asked if he could just tell me over the phone and he said he couldn’t; it had to be in person.
I wasn’t the least bit uncomfortable about the idea of Mr. Creepy traveling a thousand miles to tell me something so personal it couldn’t be mentioned over the phone. Nope. This wouldn’t be weird at all.
I had managed to get away from him about a year and a half earlier, and I was perfectly content with never having to think about, talk to, nor see him ever again for the rest of my life. But nevertheless he came. He drove his rental car from the airport to my workplace. As soon as he stepped out of the car, he said that he was sorry that he had molested me and hoped that I’d could forgive him someday. He didn’t even say hello, it’s good to see you, or offer any kind of perfunctory greeting. He must have been preparing himself for this moment, and when it finally came, he just had to get it over with. So, he stayed for a couple of days. He took me out to breakfast, and we went and saw Braveheart (or was it Rob Roy?) at the cinema. Then he left and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. The experience of having him there was incredibly awkward, but it was last sentence in a chapter in my life that began many years before.
Set the way back machine to 1986. I was eleven years old…