TRIGGER WARNING: PHYSICAL ABUSE WITH UNDERTONES OF SEXUAL ABUSE
I’ve been unhappy for various reasons, and today I had some sort of paranoia attack. I don’t think it was entirely my fault, but ugh. It’s just that the feedback from Sonya’s writers group about my memoir seemed rather attacking. Here’s the part in question:
In other youth group goings-on, Sam’s little sister Leslie was a sweetheart with whom I enjoyed hanging out. Like Bennett, Nick, and Andy, she was four years younger than me. After the church service one morning, she entered the lobby, saw her dad seated near the floor-to-ceiling windows, and crawled onto his lap. He wrapped his arms around her.
I was taken aback. I never allowed my dad to touch me, and I certainly wouldn’t sit on his lap, not even if I were still Leslie’s age of twelve. That had all ended after… way back when I was younger. The mere thought of my dad’s disgusting, polluted touch grossed me out. Envy wormed its way into my heart and darkness overtook me. What must it be like to have a loving dad who would hug you whenever you wanted, whose lap you could still sit on, whose energy wasn’t corrupted by random yet regrettable acts of abusive sexual depravity? Maybe my own failed relationship with my dad was the reason I kept developing father fixations on other people’s fathers.
Sonya and her group had some sort of freak-out regarding how I can’t publish this without destroying my dad’s reputation, ruining his career, and so forth. But worse, they didn’t seem to understand what I was referring to. They were like, was this the incident you told us about, or did your dad also do other worse things? Uh, no, he just did the one thing, and it ruined my life, thank you.
I don’t want to get into it exactly, because sometimes I feel bad for burdening people with what he did to me. It’s horrific and graphic and unthinkable, really. It’s not the sort of thing that should ever happen to anyone, much less someone as sweet and innocent as I was. However, it would appear that Sonya and her group think I’m being too hard on my dad. Huh. Sunya put it thusly:
Like I wrote about that one paragraph about your father (so did something happen other than that one spanking? Your dad actually sexually molested you?), the rest of the group also said it seems like you’re accusing your father of sexual abuse–are you aware of the impact this could have on your relationship with your father? Or are you planning on having the memoir be anonymous? Considering his profession, too (doesn’t he defend those falsely accused of sexual harassment?), this could have major professional repercussions if you seem to say he’s a child molester. Does he know how you feel about this? From his perspective, did he just give you a spanking? If, that is, that’s the incident that made you feel this way? No one’s telling you NOT to publish this, just to be aware that once you do, you can’t undo it, so are you 100% prepared for the possible damage to your relationship with your father and to his career? Because if it gets out that he abused you, he might not have a career left. I also thought you once told me you weren’t 100% sure this happened. Are you now certain that it did?
Suffice it to say, I flew off the handle. Words were exchanged. Sonya asked if I want to hurt my parents by publishing this, and I said, yes, I did, and my parents should’ve thought of that before they abused me. Sonya kept trying to get me to realize that all parents make mistakes, and I explained to her that I know that. It’s why I’ve always been terrified of having my own kids. If I were to do what either of my parents did to me, I’d have to spend the rest of my life embroiled in self-hatred. I don’t want that for myself. It terrifies me. Let other people have kids.
I shouldn’t have to manage my parents’ guilt as well as my constant flashbacks of humiliation, violation, and horror. I think I’ve got enough on my plate. In fact, as a kid, I was terrified that I’d grow up and have kids regardless of my decisions, because it seemed to me that too many adults just let life happen to them. (I’m not making this up: I was a very philosophical and deep-thinking kid.) But when I became an adult, I realized that I do largely have control over whether or not I procreate, and so help me God, I haven’t even come close to getting pregnant.
Anyway, I don’t feel that I should be burdened by my parents’ guilt, which they obviously feel to the extreme point that they deny ever having abused me. They’d both tell you that they occasionally spanked me and never did anything more. They’d both be lying to you.
But at any rate, while I was busy trying to destroy my relationship with Sonya, my best friend, I realized something. There’s a direct correlation between how minimized I feel (“It was just a spanking. Get over it already!” Or, “I was spanked, and it put me on the straight and narrow. What’s your problem?” Or, “Now, sexual abuse, that’s valid. Being spanked, really? Get over yourself!”) and how much I want to hurt my parents by publishing a tell-all memoir that doesn’t hold anything back.
In other words, I get more and more irate toward my parents whenever someone minimizes what was done to me. It’s painful to me that physical abuse isn’t always taken seriously (“Your parents were just disciplining you. At least they cared!”), unlike sexual abuse and neglect, which everyone takes seriously. (Emotional abuse, which I also suffered, seems to also get raised eyebrows a lot of the time. Go figure. But at least it’s considered a form of abuse. Physical abuse is actually considered punishment, discipline, or parenting. But it’s none of those things. It’s abuse. Hence the term physical “abuse”.)
Sonya tried to convince me that she and her group weren’t trying to minimize my experiences, but I wasn’t wholly believing it. I was sort of like, uh-huh… But I went along with letting her cheer me, because something felt wrong inside my head. I’ve been unhappy for a few days, and it seems that a gray veil has fallen over my vision, and I don’t trust anyone at all. Hello, paranoia! I fear I’m just feeling unwell, for some reason. So I left the conversation and lay down and tried to figure out where my head was. I suspect I have PMS, among other issues.
So, someone explain to me why I can’t self-publish a book about… oh, wait, Sonya must think I can actually get it published-published, not just self-published. While I admire her confidence in my memoir, I have none of my own, although I do intend to try to sell it to small publishers. (I already sent it out to agents, and the only ones who got back to me said that you have to be famous for your memoir to sell.) (Note to self: become famous.)
So despite Sonya’s attempts at… I have no clue what she was trying to do… I’m still enraged at my parents and angry at having been abused and humiliated and all that. It’s all horrible. And I don’t expect myself to quit being angry, and I definitely don’t expect myself to forgive them, when they don’t deserve my forgiveness. They’ve screwed me up like this, and I love them, because they’re my parents, but what they did was pretty much unforgivable. It’s the sort of thing, like I said, that if I were guilty of, I’d passionately hate myself for every single minute of every single day.
It is what it is.