…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…
4 thoughts on “There’s only one thing worse…”
:closes eyes, swallows and wills away the tears:
One thinks they may have seen the worst of humanity, one thinks they may have experienced all that could make one a cynical and distrustful malcontent, one thinks it just cannot possibly get worse – and then it does. It always does.
The bravery and strength you possess to allow yourself to be in the same physical space with this person is inspiring yet not remotely surprising as you have always been the epitome of grace and dignity.
That really means a lot, Kang. Though I haven’t always been so dignified or graceful. I was seriously fucked up for a long, long time. It’s taken me years, through abusive relationships, loveless relationships, soul-searching, and therapy to get me to my present state of happiness
To be anything other than seriously fucked up would be an unrealistic expectation and unnatural. Yet, the strong somehow manage to remain optimistic and hopeful that constructive and positive things await them….even if it means stepping on a rake and having it smack you in the face a few times before getting it right.
It goes without saying that I’m glad you found your happiness.
What I hate, reading these beautifully painful stories, is how many I identify with. What does that say about our society. It’s like Ken’s poem references, every women he knows or has known, has a hidden story of a Mr. Creepy. There are some of us who survive without losing parts of ourselves along the way. I wish I had a bottle of wine and a couple of hours of heavy duty revelation but I was born with one of those cast iron shields that kept my heart from bursting in reaction to the bile thrown at it. I can’t say I escaped unscathed, but I did manage to escape without imploding. May we all find our happiness and may it be as blemish free as possible.