I went to a musical right after work tonight. Of course, that means I had a wonderful evening because music is my first love.
Funny I should think this right now, but I am remembering how music has always been healing to me, even though it sometimes cuts me open.
The first time anyone really saw something was wrong in my life, was my senior year of high school. That was the year I had fought off my step-father. After years of molestation, I snapped. He wanted me to kiss him, "like a real woman." He grabbed and pulled me to him. I was sure he was going to r--e me. Somehow I slipped loose and ran to the kitchen, where I grabbed a 10-inch butcher knife. I wielded the knife in front of him, knowing full well he would be able to take it from me. But, I didn't care at that point what happened to me. I thought, I'll get him with this knife at least once before he gets it from me. Maybe more than once!
I warned him that he had someone else who was there for . . . "that" . . . my mother, who was right upstairs. I would scream and she would wake up. There was a tense, interminable glaring from him as he clearly considered how serious I was. After all, for five years he had been molesting me. I hadn't spoken up or resisted at all in those five years. He was a terrifying man who loomed over me and my siblings like Godzilla. He was violent and his anger was completely unpredictable.
I was thoroughly programmed by the time he started at me to accept the invasive touch of others. After the babysitter, the girl my age, the older neighbor girl, and the bum in the park. After experiencing neglect from infancy, I was a designer victim.
I believe his fear of the consequences, and perhaps recognition of the grim resoluteness on my face (I imagine that is what my face looked like --grim and resolute -- perhaps there was just terror on my face, but I prefer to think of my expression in heroic terms), he turned and went to bed. Other than one more time when he nearly struck me, that night was the last time he touched me.
OK, I know I started talking about music and I'm about to explain the connection.
Not long after this incident with the butcher knife, I was singing at an event with my high school choir. The choir sat in the audience watching the previous performers when a police officer stepped onto the stage. He had a puppet. In the foggy recess of memory I believe it was a floppy eared dog that looked a bit like the piano-playing dog on the Muppet Show. The police officer and the dog had a conversation about, "Good Touch, Bad Touch."
This was the first time in my life I heard of the idea of there being types of touch that were acceptable and types of touch that were not. The information was stupefying to me. I become so upset I felt an uncontrollable need to escape. Without any thought whatsoever for propriety, for responsibility, for others' opinion of me, my legs propelled me out of the venue. I ran across the parking lot. I ran across a field to a chain-link fence. I don't remember exactly what happened next. At some point, however, one of my choir-mates found me at the fence. I think it was after the choir had performed. I assume I just stood at the fence the whole time, which was probably all of 30 minutes.
At that moment I didn't tell my friend, who coaxed me back to the bus, what had caused me to run. But, eventually I gave her some information. I wasn't specific about SA, only that I identified with what the presentation was about and I couldn't handle it. I ended up spending a fair amount of time at that friend's house the remainder of the school year. I became very close with that family and saw a completely different example of how family members treat one another. I saw affection, caring, nurturing, tenderness, and compassion. It completely changed reality for me.
So, my point about music is that music is tied for me to truth. Furthermore, music has always reached through my suit of armor. Music is emotion for me. Music is the depth and breadth of all the richness of life. Through music I made my first real friend. Around this time I heard the song, "Hell is for Children," by Pat Benatar. That song was an anthem for me for those years between 17 and 20. It hammered into me the message that bad touch was wrong, bad touch was undeserved. I could feel my anger and indignation through that song. My friend and I listened to Pat Benatar's music together. It was a way for me to tell her what happened without saying the words.
Later that school year this same friend caught me with alcohol at school. (It was something I did only a few times.) Drinking alcohol at school made me feel like I had control; I could do something very bad and not get caught. I was an ace student. No one could ever see anything was wrong. I felt weirdly powerful drinking alcohol at school while also being this stellar student. (Maybe, what I was really doing was trying to cause someone to see what was happening to me.)
My friend told our choir director who called me into his office. He talked to me about it and I played it off like a curiosity. I was such a good student and so seemingly normal (from such a good family) that he bought it. He agreed not to turn me into the Vice Principal if I never did it again. I agreed and that was that.
I continued in music and was free of further attempts by my step father to touch me. I focused on school work and prepared to go to college. I graduated with a great GPA and had a full scholarship to college. I moved away and proceeded to crumble. I wasn't able to attend classes and behave like a student needs to behave. I started to develop an uncontrollable need for catharsis. I ended up moving back to my home town and living with friends. It was those same friends I was living with when I was r--ed by the gynecologist.
But, that's another story.