Sunday, December 17, 2017

Historical Perspective

It’s not that I’m not okay with everything currently going on related to talks of sexual harassment and abuse. This is important, this needs to be done and people, especially those that used there personal and political power to lord over those that were vulnerable or beholden certainly need to be held accountable.

I’m not against it. Have fun with it.

But stop looking in my corner and asking me, or any other person who lived through sexual abuse, degradation, humiliation and torture to get on board and tell stories because “now is the time.” Just because everyone is suddenly talking about it doesn’t mean now is the time.

There was never a time.

There will never be a time.

It’s impossible to chronicle all these things that you would define as horrors that are instances in a chain of instances that started sometime back in the early 80s. For the average person who has been fortunate enough to experience the average of sexual harassment and abuse the horrors are almost too horrific.

It’s not just a timing thing.

Three years ago I went to see the last of a set of family groups I was working hard to try to maintain a relationship with. I drank wine and sat outside with one of the members and we talked. They asked.

I told.

They asked me to stop talking, but you see, once you start talking it’s a torrent, a wave, a flood, a tsunami and you can’t just tamp it down and bottle it. It all comes out and spills over and even when you see the actual terror on the face of the listener you can’t stop talking because sometimes you just can’t bottle it up and tamp it all down.

It cost me the connection with the family.

With all the exposure, there has been no reach out to consider a reconciliation and try again. There is no interest, because the horrors were to difficult to understand and the feeling of culpability because “we always knew something was going on, but who were we to interfere” becomes too great.

That’s the thing, at least for me, as I watch this movement happen. The sense is that people really only care about the titillating horrors that can be processed, felt, a shared experience of “I understand, I went through that, too!” The thing is, for me, for those others like me, we don’t get to share at the same level because our histories go beyond titillation and cross over into the levels of story book trauma so tragic and awful and evil it can’t possible be true. While the world screams for everyone to share their story, the reality is only the okay stories and the comfortable stories and the ones others can relate to. If you do have real tragedy is has to be mega tragedy (abducted and abused for 15 years, tells all) because a mega-tragedy indicates that it is a rare occurrence. It’s okay to recognize that very, very bad things happen, but only if those very bad things happen rarely.

It’s not okay to know that, right now, somewhere, a young girl is sitting in her uncles lap and he’s telling her this is okay and Mommy won’t mind, that somewhere right now, a girl locks her door at night so she can sleep and knows that won’t be enough to keep her father or her brother or her mother out. Somewhere, right now, there is a teen who wets the bed because he knows from experience that it is going to happen again and it might never stop and the only way out might be death. Somewhere, someone, is going through the pain of trying to process both the guilt, the shame, the fear and worst of all the reconciliation of the body that processes experiences as pleasurable when the mind tells you they shouldn’t be. It’s hard to know these things. Harder to write them. Impossible to read them comfortably. Those of us with these stories, we walk around knowing, and even when we don’t know, it’s never as far away from our lives as we would like it to be.

At this point I’ve had 22 years to process my tragedies and yet I am still broken.

Those horrors have happened before. They are happening right now. For some they will keep happening. When their voices are finally discovered they will feel like I do, I think, sitting here and watching a movement I can have no role in because our experiences are so far beyond the pale that there cannot be any hope they will ever be fully understood.

When I seek out therapists I have to find those that specialize in the real horrors, because I feel guilty talking to someone who has never heard these things before. I don’t want to hurt them, you see, with the things I am going to have to share in order to get whatever help it is that I need. When I share the things I’ve been through, I want to be sure the person I talk to can still sleep at night. Most nights, I can’t and I don’t want to do that to someone else.

This is not a casual admonishment to those who are driving the movement, no, I respect and cherish that in some aspects of life things are changing enough that we may actually see a great deal of improvement in how people are treated by others. Keep sharing, keep burning down the walls that are used to protect all levels of maliciousness. Just a reminder, that there are a lot of us out there with entirely different perspectives who are working to try to understand and praise others while not rocking the boat to much by dumping in tragedies and nightmares that will topple and sink the ship. For us, each new story is a constant reminder of all the things we haven’t share, and won’t casually share, with the rest of the world. Appreciate the favor of that silence and what it costs so many of us personally to maintain it. For us, there simply isn’t a level of sympathy, empathy, or understanding that is sufficient.

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