Like the main character from the movie “The Silence of the Lambs”, I feel like I can hear screams. At first I will be sure there is someone hurting, scared or in desperate need. I feel myself panic – and I start desperately looking for the victim. Then I realize there is no one screaming. It’s just my own brain playing tricks on me. I could swear though someone was screaming. This is true even when with my children.
I often found myself telling people that when I met Anj – who would be my foster mom from age 12 onwards – that she was one of the adults in my life as a child that didn’t keep a tab, or expect say sexual favors for their kindness. What I was saying was that Anj was a totally safe person to be around. She never asked me to have sex with her – or talked inappropriately with me like many other adult figures/parental guardians did during my young years. I really didn’t expect any different , like I never imagined it would change. Sure, some would be fair. Not every foster parent is bad – I’m not trying to paint a brush that wide. But my body would usually “know” if I was in a bad situation within minutes of meeting one such person. It’s a visceral reaction. My stomach feels sick I often find myself saying out loud, unfiltered – “that’s a bad fucking dude..” or “he fucks his kids for sure”. Even when I end up being right about that, everyone always reacts with shock and denial. They would say “NO way! He’s so normal.. Oh, but he has daughters – he wouldn’t do that”.
I always get boiling mad from the inside out when someone says that shit. Normal? He has kids? So there for he is not capable of hurting someone?? What stupid ass logic is that? Sometimes, while having to tell my story of a sexual assault incident you could actually see the look of “god smacked” on the faces of those listening. “no way… that couldn’t happen. That’s crazy.” Then, I – the victim finds myself in a de-moralling spiral trying to convince those that I am not a liar. That, yes – even though it is horrible, what I am telling you is horrible, sick , and sad. And, yes – I find myself sometimes questioning how it is that I survived. How did I survive? IF – if it was that bad – as bad as you say – well how is it possible that I am here today. Often people say – wow, but you’re so normal. Or,but your adjusting quite well. Just let that stuff be behind you, don’t dwell on the past. It’s almost like because I was, no – I am so resilient – it seems to take away from what I went through. People have actually said – it couldn’t have been that bad… look at you! We can only have clear compassion or empathy for those with wounds that are noticeable by sight.
Well what is “that bad”? I have always got it that I DON’T have it the worst. That there are many, many others that suffer worse fate than I did. I would tell that to myself sometimes when I needed to find strength. I would often say – hey look at those kids on tv, you know the ones with the flies on their faces, and swollen but empty bellies –holding sickness, sadness… that was bad. I would tell myself that all the time – and anyone else who would start making a pity party for me. It wasn’t going to help me out of that world to ever think feeling sorry for myself was going to be my saviour. Nope, not even close. Yes, it sucked.. Yes it hurt, a lot. But, it COULD always be worse. I was blessed. Too this day I have that conversation with myself. Even on my darkest of days or nights – I would find myself telling me to stop feeling sorry for myself. Help myself. Get help. Keep talking, someone, somewhere would eventually listen. I just had to find the right time.