My parents' lack of courage, & part of my story, & a letter to my mother
During a particularly logical day I had a few weeks ago, I was analyzing how my parents reacted to the CSA. I was three when they found out about it but I didn't remember any of it until I was 17. Still, I just had a hunch, a bad feeling, a sense of knowing so I asked my mom and she told me what happened.
My adopted brother, 15, was playing hide-and-seek with me, 3. She hadn't seen us in a while. She found us in a bedroom (or closet? can't remember what she said). I don't want to talk about specifics. He wasn't actively doing anything.
She said she wanted to get a knife and kill him when she saw what was happening, but she called her mom instead and her mom (a counsellor) told her that as long as I wasn't afraid of him, I was fine. My mom said she had a family friend who was a nurse give me a check up at our house so they could make sure I was "okay" and so I wasn't scared by the doctor.
Just now, that strikes me as a weak statement. Scared of the doctor? Really? I assume the "check up" involved seeing if I had been r***d. They would have taken me to a doctor if I'd had a weird rash on my genitals or something; they would have helped me not be afraid of the doctor. It dawns on me now that maybe they were hiding it.
I feel like that might sound obvious. But I don't know. My parents - and this is not an excuse for not telling me what happened earlier in my life - are not fucked up people. They don't have addictions, aren't out of control, don't have untreated mental health conditions, etc. I don't remember ever being really afraid growing up. My household was very stable and pretty healthy.
Except for the abuse. And that sounds so stupid to say - "healthy except for the abuse". I mean, WTF? How can that be an afterthought? But what I mean is that I didn't feel scared growing up, my sister is unscarred, my parents are healthy people...
So what happened? On that logical day a few weeks ago I realized: they lacked courage. They weren't brave. They took the weak route. They were tired, my mom especially. And my mom was the main parenting parent. And she was sick (literally ill) and she was tired. She was freakin' exhausted. They'd just spent seven years in Venezuela working with desperately poor kids.
For instance, there was abuse at times in the children's home they ran and they did what they could but making sure the kids weren't starving was top priority. The CSA happened within two years (probably more like a year) of them coming back to the States. My mom had gotten really sick there, too. She was sick when she was pregnant with me. So you can see how they would be tired and just...just...used up, I guess.
I can see them taking the less courageous route.
Not that this excuses them. Not that I'm ready for forgiveness. My mom has asked me what I would have wanted to happen. Let me tell you: when I started "acting out" and expressing torrents of emotion when I was 12 (just after I started having my period), you should have gotten me help. Not just therapy as a form of exasperation two years into the fight. But right away. You should have been watching me like a fucking hawk - like a good parent - for symptoms of the CSA affecting me.
Because, yeah, we don't know all that happened and it is totally possible that what happened was small enough that it is possible I might not grow up to be affected by it. But the possibility was there. You knew what had happened. You knew. You fucking knew.
I started feeling depression when I was 11 or 12. It was five years - of psychiatrists, therapy, medications, feeling like shit and also feeling weak/bad/screwed up for feeling like shit - before I started to suspect something. Five years! Most of my teenage life! You fucked it up! Not that I would have been just fine if I'd had therapy earlier but I am pretty certain I would have been healthier. I would hate myself less. I would have known what I was dealing with. Maybe I wouldn't have had to be on meds for ten years.
*That* is what I would have wanted you to do. Be courageous. For *me*. Be courageous for *me*. For my sake, dammit.