The most brutal raping came a whole year before we were married. I had already endured (and subjected my children to) several years of abuse and had tried to escape many times, to no avail. The kid’s father had invested ten years in a stalking campaign, and I’d grown weary of trying to play long-game with abusive sociopaths. He had almost cost us all our lives and I knew I wasn’t willing to go that far again. So, as crazy as it sounds: I married the monster to save our lives. I believed him when he said he’d never ever ever let me go.
I’d just been returned to the Recovery Room after a complicated surgery to deal with a pre-cancerous cervix and I was having trouble shaking off the general anesthesia. The care providers asked my “Friend” (I was not allowed to use the term “Boyfriend” or “Fiancee” and sometimes I had to say he was my brother) to come into the room, with the hope that he would provide comfort as I re-entered the atmosphere.
I have a phenomenally horrid habit of screaming “FUCKME!” when I’m in blinding pain and cloaked in medical fogs, and this day was no exception. I remember being way way cold and in more pain than I could ever recall having been in, and true to form – I was screaming “FUCKME!” over and over and over as I writhed on a gurney and tried to remember how to use my hands.
One minute he was near my face, whispering kind words and stroking the hair away from eyes, and the next he was wrestling my legs apart and violently yanking me towards the end of the stretcher. I could feel the stitches popping from my lungs to my thighs and the terror was too real as I realized I couldn’t even lift my head. I remember the sulfur smell of my own blood as it painted the sheets red and how it was so hot I thought I’d lost bladder control. I remember wishing I hadn’t used all my energy screaming “FUCKME!” because now I didn’t even have the voice to scream for help.
I don’t remember much else, but I’m sure the whole transaction didn’t take more than five minutes, and blessedly I passed out before he was finished. I didn’t come to until I was surrounded by nurses saying, “Oh baby! What have you done to yourself?!?” He was long gone. “Ohhhhh, what have you done?!?” They hustled and whispered and sent me back into surgery and booked me a spacious suite in ICU for a few days. Nobody, ever once, asked me what happened.
Fast forward twenty years and my daughter has become a psychologist, a powerful force and formidable author. Her journey hasn’t been easy and until very recently, there was a deep dark secret that she hadn’t shared with me or her brother, that contributed to this abyss we called our relationship. Something had gone wrong when she was a young teen. I didn’t know if it was just young teen business, if I was an awful mother or if I had subjected her to dangers I was too stupid to consider. In retrospect, I cannot EVEN believe that it never once occurred to me that she, too, might have been a victim to the man I invited into our lives and married simply because I was too tired to fight anymore.
About the time the #metoo movement took flight, my daughter published a blog that finally answered at least some of the lingering questions about what happened when the train left the tracks in our little family. She’d had no shortage of burdens to bear by virtue of choices I made, and it was readily apparent that the weight of this secret had almost cost her everything.
She called out her abuser and I wanted to walk the two blocks over to his home and burn the.mother.fucker.down. (worth noting: I did not, will not and could not. I’m literally just not That Girl. And, I’ve seen Karma do some absolutely brilliant work while I’ve grown lazy…) Just like the women who called out Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor and however many dozens of politicians, in the last two weeks, she called him out. My guess is that our time overlapped, while I was incapacitated, he was wrecking her life and mine. And, she.called.him.out.
This “calling out” of the abusers is some seriously risky business, of late. Never mind that the pretend-leader of our country is a pussy-grabbing serial abuser and pathological freak, he apparently gets to keep ruining millions of lives while suffering no consequences for abhorrent behavior he has admitted to. It would seem that so long as we allow that – that will become the norm. It both did my heart good and break it in two when Lauer and Garrison got called out and fired. I was furious that they had impersonated Good Men for so long and gotten away with it. And, it made me doubly mad to know that they probably both made considerably more bank than their female compatriots, while they were tricking the entire American public. Assholes.
Since my own personal story is playing out on this landscape, with the soundtrack of physical disability in the background (turns out, a person can live through that kind of violence, but the body will rebel some number of years later, making way for some super-duper unpleasant choices about employment, pride, mobility and pain management) I’ve had a couple weeks to decide whether I want to risk becoming a social pariah in a small town (for calling out a local musician hero dude) OR I get to provide a public service in that “OMG, do NOT let this beast near anybody you love” kinda way.
Since we are here now, and all, it’s pretty clear which road I’ve chosen. I have reconciled my need to be liked with my hope that nobody else ever has to experience the white hot rage that comes from knowing a monster hurt your child…. and knowing that monster’s name and address. And, settling that all down into a feather mattress of twenty years gone by and a million missed moments.
I haven’t slept particularly well since I read her blog. I haven’t been stabby or sad, but I have been dealing some long-term consequences of being torn in half and I’m working overtime to not look back while I’m building this bright glittery future that involves me not standing up much. I am surrounded by enlightened and positive loves who remind me, on the regular, to not “go there” and I’m going to be done with there, as soon as the last word hits this post.
There is probably some reasonable chance that the man who tried to destroy us will retaliate against us or me, but that’s a small risk that I’m willing to take when measured by the damage I know he is capable of doing. While I doubt the heinous nature of his actions will even show up on the incestuously small radar we keep here in Kansas, I still like to imagine that we’re entering an age of enlightenment where people who act like this will be held accountable and punished. Or, better yet – they simply will cease to be. Maybe now is when we get to start raising better men. For real.
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