The Stories We Try to Kill

Sometimes the “stories that must not die” are the ones we wish would disappear.

As I get older and older, I realize that the stories that I try to hide aren’t the ones where I am the victim of abuse or injustice. Instead, the stories that I kill off from my memory are the ones where I am the abuser or the perpetrator.

Case in point, my sexual relations. I often tell others of how I was discriminated against due to race and penis size, but I rarely reveal how I used others for my sexual satisfaction.

I’ve slept with a number of women who I had no intentions of courting or, even, loving. The first time I had sex in high school was with a classmate who I didn’t even like. I just wanted to lose the suffix “virgin” of my social identity as a nerdy Asian.

Thanks to this joyless, rushed encounter, I was a premature ejaculator for years. The silver lining of this “dis-ease” was that I was unable to have sex with many other women who I didn’t have deep feelings for due to climaxing before we even took off our clothes.

I even propositioned a woman to have sex with me to help me overcome my problem with premature ejaculation. She agreed, and once my problem was under control, I stopped calling her.

I once heard that we are destined in future lives to marry anyone who we have had sex with. If that is the case, I have a lot of lifetimes to practice unconditional love because I am going to have to marry a lot of people who I don’t feel love for.

I’m not proud of any of these “conquests.” The best I can say is that I am learning to love these women years later because I see the suffering I caused them when I manipulated, betrayed, or ignored them. I think about them and wish them well. I hope that they find someone much better than me who will love them as they deserve to be loved.

I like to tell myself that all these affairs weren’t that bad because they were all consensual sex. But the fact that they were consensual reveals a possibility that some of these women were saying yes because they had deep feelings for me or they felt like they could trust me. I took advantage of those feelings and betrayed that trust.

I’m not sure what or when I’m going to teach my sons about sex, but I do know the one thing I’m going to emphasize is that making love requires two open hearts. If you or your partner don’t have your hearts wide open, then don’t do it.

 

 

rara

A Story for the Ages

Rarasaur - Founder

Rarasaur – Founder

When I first met Rara from Rarasaur.wordpress.com, I was so jealous.

Here was a blogger who just started blogging before I did, and she was already Freshly Pressed with a truck load of active followers. Then whenever I toured the blogosphere, her icon appeared everywhere–in the comment sections, in guest-posts, in awards of every shape and color, and in “favorite blogger” posts. Who was this person?

Then I met Rara. First, I participated in her International Label Day. She emailed me and we started a conversation. This lead to an interview with her. Then she designed the logo for Bloggers for Peace for FREE. Then she made peace cat images for FREE. Then she helped edit an ebook that I was working on for FREE.

peace cat

Peace Cat Rara did for FREE

You get the picture. Rara is one generous, loving, compassionate person. I love her, her family, her cats, her mother, and Grayson, even though I have never met any of them in person before.

During our emails and Skype conversations, we traded stories about being falsely accused of crimes. Little did I know that her accusers were not done yet. Last week, Rara signed a deal to serve 3 years in prison for a crime I know in my heart of hearts that she did not commit.

I miss my friend. I miss her presence on the internet–her inspiring comments, her colorful blog posts, her videos (I watched every one), her creativity, her selfless service, and her heart of gold.

The story that must be told is Rara’s story. It is a story that is as important as Mandela, King, Joan of Arc, Dalai Lama, and, dare I say, Christ. It is a story of injustice that leads to ascension. It is a story that lifts all humanity because of the courage, compassion, and integrity of the protagonist.

I’m going to do all I can to make sure that this story does not die. I’m going to support Rara in any way I can. I’m going to continue to send her inspiration and hope in the form of prayers, letters, visits, and love.

I ask you to remember this story and do what you can to make sure it does not die.

 

The Problems with Ritual Suicide

Usually vomiting makes one feel better, yet sitting in a pool of warm alcohol that I had just violently expelled out of what felt like every orifice on my face only made my head spin faster. Surely, this would get me out of this torture my brother’s drinking friends called Caps.

“Did you just throw up your last round?” asked one of my blurry competitors.

“Yeah, I think I’m done,” I answered the identical twin images in front of me.

“You softie. Now you have to drink two shots in the next round,” yelled another competitor.

Then the whole table chanted a derogatory word at me as they placed their hands on their heads in the shape of female genitalia.

The sad part of the story is that these are men that I considered my friends. For many men, this is a common experience—we anticipate compassion, yet we are met with anger, rejection, and, sometimes, hostility.

For men displaying weakness is rarely met with compassion and often dangerous. From an early age, boys are taught to not only hide or overcome weakness, but also exploit it in others.

Many boys are teased or bullied when they display vulnerability. My 6 year old son just got bullied by a bunch of boys when they took his ball and he started to cry: “Baby girl, baby girl, baby girl,” they chanted. This was just a few weeks ago. I thought sexist taunting of young boys had changes since I was a kid in the 70s. Again, some of these boys who bullied my son were kids he considered friends.

In sports, boys are coached to take advantage of the opponent’s weaknesses. In basketball, we call these weaknesses “mismatches.” In martial arts, we call an opponent’s weakness an “opening.” As much as we would like to think differently, we still encourage boys to “sweep the leg.”

I think of the character Andrew in John Hughes‘ film The Breakfast Club. Andrew tapes together the butt cheeks of a nerd just to get approval from his father.

So, I’m…I’m sitting in the locker room, and I’m taping up my knee. And Larry’s undressing a couple lockers down from me. Yeah…he’s kinda…he’s kinda skinny, weak. And I started thinking about my father, and his attitude about weakness. And the next thing I knew, I uh, I jumped on top of him and started wailing on him…And my friends, they just laughed and cheered me on.

I can relate to Andrew. My socially conditioned shame of weakness drove me to the brink of destruction. At the age of 13, after a severe beating from my step-father, I laid in bed with a switch blade aimed at the veins in my wrist. I wanted to end the suffering. I didn’t want to live with abuse anymore, but I just couldn’t make myself jab the rusty blade into my quivering flesh.

I felt so inadequate. Not only did I “scream like a little girl” when I took the beatings, but I wasn’t even man enough to end my suffering. I had been raised on a steady diet of samurai films, where seppuku or hara kiri, ritual suicide, represented the ultimate form of poise, courage, and dignity.

Clutching my legs in the fetal position, I began sobbing at my wretchedness. I felt like a complete failure as a human being, but I also felt relieved to finally release the sorrow in my heart. Suddenly, my step-father pounded on the wall of my room and screamed,

Shut up before I come in there and give you something to really cry about!”

Startled by the interruption, I froze in fight or flight mode. Adrenaline pumped through my body. Immediately, my feelings of helplessness turned to rage. I clenched my fist and fantasized about how I would take revenge on anyone who hurt me again.

Experiences like this taught me that my feelings were not legitimate—that I had no right to feel and express pain and suffering. As a man, I was taught that weakness was feminine which not only disconnected me with my own suffering, but also reinforced a sexist view of women. Weakness and suffering became badges of shame that needed to be hidden or destroyed. Since seeing weakness in others reminded me of my own inadequacies, I often lashed out at others’ weaknesses. Thus, began my journey towards heartlessness.

So when someone I loved told me that they couldn’t get out of bed due to depression, my first reaction was “toughen up.” Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get back on the horse that bucked you off. (The number of cliches for covering up weakness reveals the shame around vulnerability prevalent in our society.)

I even got angry at my lover for letting depression control her. I kept thinking about Top Gun.

“Dammit, Maverick” was how the Navy and the entire viewing audience reacted to Pete “Maverick” Mitchell’s bout of grief, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression.

In the film, the Navy male commanders treat Maverick’s depression in a predictable manner—they put him back in the cockpit of an F14A Tomcat. Back in the saddle again.

By sheer force of will, Maverick overcomes his depression, re-engages, and saves the Western World. Yay! Everybody wins—except for the tormented soldiers returning from Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan who are living on the streets and committing suicide because they feel like asking for help is not manly.

English: Cases of PTSD and Severe Depression A...

A new investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs reports that a military veteran commits suicide almost once an hour. Semper Fidelis!

My point is that men live under the ideology that any weakness can be overcome if you aren’t too much of a “pussy.” In her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, Brene Brown states, “Basically , men live under the pressure of one unrelenting message: Do not be perceived as weak.” I really focus in on the words “pressure” and “unrelenting.”

Men are glorified for single-highhandedly conquering any weakness that is thrown at them. We all cheered when Tiger Woods limped to victory at the 2008 US Open on a left knee with torn ligaments. Michael Jordan, suffering from food poisoning and a 102 fever, leading the Chicago Bulls to victory in the playoffs against the Utah Jazz remains one of the greatest sports performances ever.

It took me years to realize that some things cannot be solved with bootstraps. Too much “toughening up” leaves a man isolated, lonely, and heartless. Sometimes compassion, empathy, and lovingkindness are the appropriate responses to weakness. And sometimes we are powerless to help. No matter how big our tool set, we can’t fix everything.

Lately, when my 6 year old son cries about something that I see as trivial, I put my arm around him and try to feel his pain. I’m less worried about him growing up to be a “cry baby,” than I am him being a lonely, sexist, heartless man who lacks compassion for loved ones who have a tough time getting out of bed.

Little Superhero

My Little Superhero

From day one, my son has been a miracle. During five long years of trying – I thought having children may be impossible for me. Then, one day out of nowhere I was pregnant. After nine months it had been a healthy pregnancy. One night, that all changed. It was about two weeks before my due date and I was experiencing pain and contractions at the same time. Instantly, I knew something was wrong. A slight terror blanketed me. I had lost a child before. I checked myself into the hospital.

Hours of tests followed. The doctors and nurses didn’t even bother to do an ultrasound. It didn’t matter that I was insisting upon it. One female doctor even had the nerve to tell me it was probably gas. Since when does gas give you a shooting pain in your lower left side? Idiot.

They sent me home. About five hours later I was in the worst pain of my life. I was doubled over, screaming, and I couldn’t get out of that position. My family (who was now thankfully at my side) called an ambulance. I was rushed back in. The morning staff was much kinder and actually knew how to do their jobs. After an ultrasound, the doctor I had waited months to see stood over me.

He explained how I had something very rare going on. My body was producing excess amniotic fluid and was posing a risk to my unborn son and myself. The fluid had somehow started to enter his lungs. I asked what this meant. What could be done? He replied “We have to get the baby out. We need to see if we can remove the fluid in his lungs.” When I asked if it was urgent and this absolutely had to be done he nodded and gave me a firm “Yes”.

The operation was a success. It saved both of our lives. The battle may have been won but, the war was far from over.

Our baby spent three of the longest weeks of our lives in the NICU. (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) Although he was not considered premature because he was about a week and a half shy of his due date, he was still treated as such. He fought for his life in there. He had tubes coming out and going in just about everywhere. We weren’t allowed to even hold him. Still, from day one I felt an instant bond. We spent many a night without sleep in that unit, only leaving to shower or eat. Sometimes we even went without that.

Life may have thrown him a curveball but, our son made it. Three weeks later we took home a healthy baby boy.

Little did we know, this was not the end of our fight. By age two, we had started to notice some developmental delays, mainly just with speech. We sought treatment and kept hitting dead ends.

Nearly three years ago my son was diagnosed with autism. I did not panic. I did not cry. I was however experiencing some fear. I was concerned about the judgment from others that would no doubt be relentless throughout our lives.

There was a viable reason there was no panic felt in the earliest days. I am in fact no stranger to autism. My paternal uncle is severely autistic and I love him with all of my heart. The way he has been treated by the public in the distant past is why I continue to have this fear. People are cruel towards what they don’t understand.

When my son’s story with autism first began he was having extreme speech difficulties. After countless battles with doctors we finally found out about Early Intervention. For those that don’t know, Early Intervention is a wide variety of therapies that help children on the autism spectrum try to overcome some of their developmental difficulties. Even though our son got what is considered a “late start” he did wonderfully in the program and continued on to preschool.

I’m happy to report today that you cannot notice a disability unless you have a trained eye. He talks up a storm. His sensory difficulties are still there but have lessened dramatically. Autism doesn’t go away. He will live with some quirks and minor obstacles for the rest of his life. However, I would like to stress to those that don’t know much about this disorder that it is not a disease to be feared and pointed at and judged. It is a rewiring of the brain that could happen to anyone in the womb. There is still so much being found out about it every day.

These individuals are nothing short of amazing. They are not “slow” or “dumb” or “retarded” like so many old-fashioned beliefs and movies may tell you. They are unbelievably intelligent and talented. They simply learn in a different way.

I ask humbly that the next time you see a child throwing a tantrum in a busy store or see someone severely frightened by loud sound, try not to judge. Try not to stare. That person just may have autism.

They just may be my little superhero.

(This video was taken last summer. It was one of the first times I lifted the veil. The original post containing it can be viewed here.)

An Apology and Admission of Guilt

This post is anonymous…
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I owe you an apology.

We met on your first day of work. You were assigned to one of my cases. I was more than a little annoyed because seasoned veterans couldn’t figure out my cases, and here you were, first day on the job, willing to take on my case. Unwilling to reinvent the wheel, I firmly told you what did not work so you could eliminate those elements. I also kept in mind that you were new, so I exercised patience.

To my surprise, you found a solution within a month. You were permanently assigned to my cases, and I told your boss that you deserved a raise. For the next year and a half, we worked closely together to make sure your system kept working.

During that time, we developed a working friendship. We had the same ghoulish sense of humor and we made each other laugh every day. We discovered that we lived near each other and began commuting together. We shared stories. Most were hilarious. Some weren’t.

One day, you told me about how you almost died. A drunk driver hit you square on the driver’s side. Your car was a mangled mess and you were in a coma. You went through reconstruction and rehabilitation. By the grace of God you survived, although you admitted it felt more like Hell. I listened, horrified, and asked, “Who drove drunk anymore?”

Two weeks later, I found out.

I went out with a group of people. When I came home, I turned on the television and had some drinks, maybe three. This was in addition to the two I had at the restaurant. I dozed off and awakened an hour later. For a reason that I can’t comprehend, I decided to take a drive.

As I drove, I didn’t feel any impact. I saw lights in my rearview and slowly pulled over to the right. To my surprise, the lights stopped behind me and I knew I was in trouble.

I failed the sobriety test. My BAC was twice the legal limit. The officer arrested me, took me to the station, processed me and sent me home. I wanted to die. I was grateful that I didn’t hurt or kill anyone. Then I thought of you and I was sick to my stomach.

I had time to hire a lawyer and prepare my case. In my mind, there was nothing to prepare. I was guilty. I had my day in court and I promised the judge that I would never act so selfishly and carelessly again.

My license was suspended. I went for counseling, reported to a probation officer, and spent five figures in court costs and penalties. The Interlock killed my battery and I used alternate transportation. I told you that I was working a different schedule to explain my changing habits. That wasn’t a lie. I had nightmares about killing people. I still do. When I wake up, you are on my mind.

After my suspension was over I continued to live as if it was still active. I fixed my car but was terrified to drive it. Three more months passed before I resumed driving without reservations.

Not long after, I took another job. We no longer commuted together but remained in contact, somewhat. Only recently, have we started communicating more frequently. You’ve mentioned your accident a couple of times and I freeze with guilt.

I struggle about confessing this to you. I’ve received advice both ways. One person said that I should tell you to alleviate my guilt. Another said alleviating my guilt by telling you is selfish. I’m torn so I’m writing it out.

Again, I apologize with all my being for mirroring the actions of someone who almost killed you. That night, that someone could have been me.

Questioning Faith

When I was 3 years old, I loved going to church. Mass was held at Assumption Grotto, in Detroit. The church was majestic with its Gothic architecture. It boasted beautiful statues and stained glass images that captivated me. I studied the Stations of the Cross and felt sad as my mom and dad explained how Jesus died. I was a bit traumatized the first time my dad went to communion as I thought he was leaving us. Even though I couldn’t grasp the entire message, church was one of the highlights of my week. I loved Jesus. I loved God.

That love grew as I entered kindergarten. Sister Mary, a nun, taught us. She lived at the convent and explained that she was married to Christ. I decided that I was going to marry Christ, as well, although I couldn’t understand how He could have so many brides. Nonetheless, I practiced by putting a towel over my hair, like a habit.

That summer, we moved to California. I was not happy to be leaving Detroit, my house or church. My mom and dad assured me that California had churches too. That made me feel a little better, until we attended mass. It was nothing like Assumption Grotto. To make matters worse, my parents enrolled me in public school. I wouldn’t be going to church every day.

My parents went to mass on Sunday. I went to school so that I could make my First Communion. Many of the kids in my class also went to parochial school and I was treated like an outsider. I begged my mom and dad to let me return to church after I made my First Communion. They let me.

Meanwhile, I made friends in public school. My best friend went to another church. I also met kids who didn’t go. One Saturday night, I slept over at a friend’s house and was surprised that she didn’t go to church. I asked her how she talked to God. She said that she didn’t believe in God. I asked her if she was afraid of going to the Devil. She replied that she didn’t believe in that either. When my dad came to pick me up, I asked him if I could still be friends with her because even though she didn’t believe, she was nice. He assured me that I could. I was relieved.

Over the next three years, i realized that even though i still loved God, I no longer wanted to marry Him. Part of that had to do with the fact that many people in my life who didn’t believe were nicer than those who did. The hypocrisy confused me. My dad stated that going to church didn’t make a person good anymore than not going made a person bad. I asked him about God and he responded that it took all kinds of people. I realize now, he was practicing respect.

I also learned how true his words were.

The night before we moved from California back to Michigan, my best friend Rick told me that his cat wanted to say goodbye. Instead of his cat, I found Rick’s hand gripping the back of my neck and his voice hissing that he could kill me. He quickly backtracked and said that he didnt want me to move. I slept with my eyes open and repeatedly asked God how He could let this happen. My faith was shattered.

We moved to the same town as my dad’s family and went to the same church. I was apathetic. My grandpa, aunts and uncles were heavily involved. Many times the priests would come to my grandpa’s parties and leave drunk. Parishioners would make fun of other parishioners, right in church. I prayed to God to make it stop. It didn’t. That along with what happened with Rick caused me to question why God would allow things to happen and voice my displeasure. My aunt told me I was earning a ticket to Hell. My retort was, “some like it hot.”

Over the past three and a half decades, I’ve coped with various methods of self-abuse. With each method, I’ve challenged God to stop me, to grant me peace. Peace never came. My most recent battle has been with alcohol. In the past 10 years, I have been drinking or drunk nearly every day, with the exception of two 29 day periods of sobriety, this being the second one, and one 11 day period. Many times I broke down and prayed and even went to annointings, with no results.

I gave up hope of ever having my faith restored, three months ago, after a friend died. He was only two years younger than I am. He had a stroke due to high blood pressure. He left behind a wife and two young kids. At the funeral, his little girl asked why God took her daddy away. Her mom said that God needed him in heaven. It was so sad. I bit my tongue and held my tears of anger back.

Last month I had my own brush with high blood pressure. My feet were swollen and my reading was 210/163. I could have had a stroke at any second. I spent four days in the hospital having my blood pressure regulated, and detoxing from alcohol. My nurse said God wanted me alive for some reason. I expressed my anger in light of the fact that my friend died and I was still alive with no real ill health, and I really didn’t deserve to be. She outlined the events: going to work when I felt awful, showing my friend my feet on a whim, admitting my alcohol usage for accurate diagnosis and treatment, and having no desire to use again. I was too tired to argue.

When I came home from the hospital, my kitchen sink was plugged up and water had somehow leaked into my bedroom. I shook my head and wished I was 3 years old again, when my faith was solid. I still don’t know what to believe.

A Lesson in Regret

The following post is anonymous.
———————————————————————————————

Only a few people know this story and I don’t want my siblings to see it, so I’m posting anonymously. I’ve needed to post it, oh, about 20 years. I can’t believe that much time has passed since my father died.

For many years, my dad was my best friend. He told me he loved me, hugged me, and made me feel special. He was also narcissistic, inappropriate, and manipulative. I suspect he was a womanizer but I don’t have any hard proof. When I was young, maybe 6 years old, he abandoned us. But then he came back and my mom abandoned us – for good. He was the single parent of five children by the time he was 38. He gave up a lot to care for us, but he also put his own interests first – pursuing a career that resulted in near-bankruptcy several times, leaving us with neighbors or alone, searching for a prospective wife with money. I was devastated when he found one eight years after the divorce – a woman 16 years younger than him, who had no business being the stepmother of five teenagers, and who clearly wanted to start a family that didn’t include us.

There are other stories to tell alongside this, but I just want to get this out of my system.

Flash forward to 1989. I was nearing 30 and my mom had recently died. I was seeing a therapist who encouraged me to consider all the ways I was abused as a child. I didn’t have clear memories. I still don’t. I had a flash of an image that had haunted me since childhood – of being near my mother’s apartment with some man in the woods. I believe the man was my uncle. My siblings had told me that he lived with my mom for a couple of years, although I have no memory of this.

So I’m talking about this in therapy and I mention my father’s embarrassing habit of walking around the house nude. This was before he remarried and after he divorced, during those eight crazy years of sheer survival in our house that also seemed, uncannily, to reflect the craziness of society – from 1967-1975. It’s a big mash-up in my brain.

Anyway, my father would lie on the bed and play cards with us while not wearing a stitch of clothing. I hated seeing his penis but there it was, all the time. He asked me for back scratches and foot rubs, which always made me feel a little queasy. Bear in mind that during this time, I was between 7 and 15 years old. I was afraid that a friend would come over when he wasn’t wearing clothes. I never wanted visitors.

I had other memories pulled out of me during therapy, but I never knew if they were true. My sister had suggested that we had been the victims of incest from our father but wouldn’t talk about it. She left it out on the table like a very sharp knife, to use against myself or my father, I don’t know. The deeper I dug into this world, the angrier I was at my dad. At the same time, he was demanding money from my mother’s estate to go toward the two kids he had with my stepmother (great kids they are, but that wasn’t the point – especially given that we all had student loans to pay off without his help). Money was a major thorn in our family. It always has been.

My therapist thought it would be therapeutic to write a letter to my dad, since I was avoiding his phone calls. I wrote to him. I told him that I thought he had been sexually inappropriate, manipulative and thieving. It broke my heart to say these things to the man who, just two years earlier, I couldn’t imagine living without. He wrote back, hurt, angry, demoralized, and defensive. He didn’t mean to make me feel uncomfortable with his nudity. The money, well, that was just part of life. I still have the letter somewhere but haven’t been able to read it since that first time. I don’t even want to know where it is.

I stopped talking to him altogether. Two years passed.

On my 32nd birthday, he left a message on my answering machine. He was in Atlanta on business and called to tell me that he loved me and missed me. I replayed it over and over again. I missed his voice. I missed him telling me he loved me. I didn’t call him back.

Two weeks later, he had a massive heart attack. My stepmother waited several hours before calling me. I went to the woods to pray and walk. Finally, five hours after the attack, I arrived at the hospital, minutes after he died.

I could barely speak for the next six months. My grief at losing him without telling him how much I loved him, my guilt for feeling that I caused him such stress, both combined to tie my tongue, render me incapable of expressing concepts or feelings.

I spent a lot more years in therapy, seeing different counselors who were less interested in what “might” have happened to me and more interested in the facts: mom’s suicide attempts, dad’s disappearance, divorce, mom’s drinking, dad’s financial woes, stepmother’s disdain. I talked about my shame and guilt, blaming myself for dad’s death. All that wretched regret I waded in everyday.

I’m not 100% over it, even two decades later. I have only spoken of it to my therapist, my husband, and one or two friends. I feel duped by pop psychology and society’s tendency to embrace theories without facts. I count myself among them, and the damage extends to those who are truly abused when society backlashes and sees a shinier theory off in the distance.

But I am still here.

The Night I Became Terrified of the Dark

Please welcome Jackie from To Breathe Is To Write with a harrowing and brave story of child sexual abuse. The more we talk about it, the less power it has.


I was born the second youngest of five kids. There were two girls (me and my sister) and three boys (two older and one younger). I usually only claim having three siblings. My older sister, one older brother and one younger brother. The other brother (I’ll call him OB) I don’t claim and haven’t claimed since childhood. He was the evil one. The bad seed. The monster. He is dead to me. He was also my childhood sexual abuser.

Technically he is a half brother. Same mother, different father. He is a lot older than me. When the sexual abuse began I was four. He was a teenager already when it started. He knew what he was doing and enjoyed every single inflicted pain and humiliation.

I have had other difficulties in my life. The sexual abuse is just the beginning. It is also the one that still lives with me through all my years. It never seems to fade. Sometimes I can forget about it. Sometimes I can’t. It has affected my life in many ways.

I remember the first time the rape happened. Yes, it was rape. A rape of a four-year old child. I remember it was late at night, I was asleep in my bed. I felt someone pulling my pajama bottoms off of me. At first I didn’t know who it was. I think I said something, because the next thing I remember is a hand over my nose and mouth. I couldn’t breathe, and it terrified me.

Then I heard OB’s voice in my ear. He told me to keep quiet, or he would smother me. I know that was the first time I felt terror in my young life. It wasn’t the last time.

He opened my pajama top and pinched my four-year old nipples. He pinched them hard too, I remember the pain I felt. I know I started crying. My young mind couldn’t comprehend what he was doing. But I knew instinctively he was doing something bad. Something really bad.

He was always a bully to us younger kids. OB would always find a way to pinch or punch us when my parents weren’t looking. If we told on him we just got it worse later, so we learned really fast not to tell my parents anything. But what he was doing to me that night was beyond bullying. It was beyond anything mean he had done previously. It was evil.

“Don’t say anything, you hear me?” OB whispered in my ear.

I nodded my head yes. Tears were running down my face and going into my ears. But I didn’t move or make a sound. I couldn’t understand what he was doing. Why was he taking my pajamas off? Why was he pinching me there? What did I do to him to make him hurt me this way?

The dark was so complete I could barely see OB. I was so scared. I felt him put a finger inside of me. I tried to crawl away, but he punched me and pulled me closer to him.

“Don’t move you little bitch, or I’ll kill you!” he whispered fiercely next to my ear.

I tried not to cry out loud. He was hurting me. I tried to pull his hands away, but he was so much bigger than me. I tried crossing my legs so he couldn’t put his fingers in me anymore. I just couldn’t understand why he would want to anyway. It hurt so much. I just wanted him to leave. But he wouldn’t.

OB pinched my nipple really hard again and whispered in my ear.

“Open your legs or I’ll really hurt you!”

I didn’t want to, so I tried to roll on my stomach. He pulled my hair forcing me to stop, pinched my leg till I opened them then rammed his fingers inside of me. Oh, God it hurt so much! I wanted to scream, but OB had a hand over my mouth again. With his other hand, he was forcing his fingers in and out of my little body.

“Scream or cry out loud and I’ll kill you!” I heard OB whisper in my ear again. Even at such a young age I could tell he was excited. My tears kept flowing, and I just wanted it to be a bad nightmare and not for real. I was so scared, and my heart was thumping so loud I thought it would burst right out of my chest.

I felt his teeth. He bit my vagina! He bit me so hard that night that I bled. I don’t remember feeling so much pain in my young life as I did that night. Pain and humiliation, even though I was too young to know what humiliation was. I felt it that night.

When he was finally done I felt him crawl off of me. I quickly put my pajamas back on and huddled under my covers shivering in fear and pain. My young mind couldn’t understand fully what happened to me that night. I was afraid to fall back to sleep, afraid he would come back.

At some point that night I did fall asleep. That’s the first time I remember having a nightmare. Hell, I had just lived a nightmare and then I had one in my dreams. My life from that night on would only get worse. I lived in fear, always.

It was also the first time I remember truly feeling hate. I hated OB. He hurt me and I couldn’t understand why. I couldn’t even fully understand what exactly he did to me. At four years old you have no concept of rape. I just knew he hurt me badly and I didn’t know how to stop him. Because I remember word for word what his parting whisper was to me that night.

“Tell mom or dad and I’ll kill you. I will kill you then dad will kill me and spend the rest of his life in jail.”

Life went on, but it was different. I grew up much too fast. OB continued to come to me in the middle of the night, two or three times a week. I became terrified of the dark and of people touching me. I didn’t want to be touched or hugged, especially by men. I became painfully shy. I started wetting the bed.

As I grew older the abuse became worse, more sick. It continued on till I turned 9 years old. That’s when it stopped. The reason it stopped was twofold.

One, I got my period and officially became a ‘woman’. Now that’s funny, a woman at nine years old. All it did was scare the shit out of me. A ‘woman’ and having a period only meant one thing to me. I could have a baby. A baby! At nine years old. If OB continued raping me several times a week I could have HIS baby. The thought not only scared me to death it made me violently ill.

One day I was home alone, I remember I was making myself a sandwich after school. I don’t remember where everyone else was. I’m sure my parents were working, as for my brother and sister, maybe they weren’t home from school yet. But I do remember I was home alone when OB found me in the kitchen.

I had a very sharp butcher knife that I had just cut my sandwich in half with when OB came through the kitchen door. I remember feeling my heart speed up in fear. I tried to ignore him but he made that impossible.

He said some nasty things to me. And then said he was going to have some ‘fun’ with me.

“No! Go away! You are NOT going to touch me again!” I shouted at him. OB just laughed. I remember thinking to myself ‘what can I do to make him leave?’ I was so scared and all I could think of is if he touches me I could have his baby! There was no way I could let him touch me!

“What are you going to do to stop me? Tell your Daddy? Go ahead! I want you to tell him what a little bitch you are.” OB laughed some more.

“I want you to tell that bastard what I did to you! I want him to kill me and rot in jail!” OB told me as he moved closer to me.

All I could think of is, ‘it has got to stop now!’ But how? He moved closer to me and I grabbed the butcher knife. I stepped back against the kitchen counter and held the knife in front of me.

“Don’t touch me or I’ll kill you!” I shouted at him. I meant it too. Thoughts raced through my mind. If I kill him, they won’t put a little girl in jail! Daddy would be safe and so would I.

OB stepped closer and I struck out with that big knife. He jumped back and laughed. He laughed! I thought to myself he looks like a devil. His eyes were full of glee and his hands looked like claws reaching out for me. He thought I was joking. But I wasn’t.

A calm came over me then. I felt nothing. No fear, no anger, nothing. Just this eerie calm. I was going to kill OB. I could kill OB and not feel anything. I knew I could. My family would be so much better off without him around. I could live without this constant fear. I could and would do it. I stood there with that big knife in my hand and waited. Calmly.

OB suddenly stopped his taunting of me. Maybe he felt something different. I will never know. He looked at me and stepped toward me. I lifted the knife and very softly told him, “I’m going to do the world and my family a favor and kill you. You won’t have to worry about Daddy doing it, because I will.” Then I lunged toward him.

He ran! OB ran out the kitchen door with me right on his heels. I was determined to kill him! I had to! We both stopped in the back yard facing each other. I still had that calm surrounding me.

OB was scared I finally realized! He was scared of me! I walked slowly toward him with the knife held at waist level. For once I was stalking OB! He backed up as I walked forward. I gazed in his eyes and said, “You will never touch me again.” Then I lunged.

He ran! He ran through the backyard and out the gate to the alley and kept on running. I felt powerful! I felt powerful and in control for once in my life. I stopped at the gate and watched him run down the alley. That’s when I finally realized what a low, cowardly, evil person OB was. That was also when his terrifying hold over me ended.

I calmly walked back into the kitchen, put the knife in the sink, and ate my sandwich. After I finished the sandwich and went into my bedroom, I sat on the bed and started shaking. I was shivering uncontrollably and tears were running down my cheeks. To this day I don’t know if it was shock setting in. The shock of knowing I almost killed someone. Or the shock of knowing the rapes were finally stopped.

It would be several years before I saw OB again. He was arrested for multiple rapes. I enjoyed the time he was away. I got to breathe a little easier for a change. It was nice to be able to live without that fear. The fear of OB.

He never touched me again. I never received counselling, because I never told anyone.

There are residual fears, mental damage and emotional scars that never heal. And I have never been able to get over being afraid of the dark. But I survived. I have even grown tremendously as a person. It was hard, but I did it.

I didn’t let him win then, nor now. I couldn’t let him win. So I became a strong woman. I became me. And I’m proud of this woman I have become.

If there is anyone that needs help or just someone to talk to about their past, I’m always available. I understand and I’m listening. You can contact me at jlroeder (at) mail (dot) com.

In the United States and Canada, call the National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).

My Unintentional Sin

Editor’s note: this story was submitted anonymously.


The internet is a universe unto itself. 20 years ago, if you had told me I could fall for a woman without ever having met her, I’d have pronounced you insane and ceased further interaction with you. I’d have mocked you mercilessly. Now, however, I’d tell you that it’s happened to me more than once. I’d also tell you I hope it never happens to me again and that I’m actively taking steps to avoid this perilous situation.

Last year I met a lovely woman online. She is smart, beautiful, caring, and independent. That sounds like wonderful news and under different circumstances it would have been, but there was one small problem. She lives hundreds of miles away.

Despite the distance we managed to meet. I fell more deeply in love with her after spending some time with her. She returned my feelings, and that was a huge problem for both of us. Neither one of us were in a position to move, and she rejected the idea of a long distance relationship because she suspected she couldn’t remain faithful in such a circumstance.

She was right, of course. The logistics were impossible, but the heart cares not for logic. She told me she wanted to us to remain friends, and I shared that desire. I told her I’d rather have her in my life as a friend than not at all, and I meant it.

They say the road to hell is paved with the best of intentions. Whoever the hell they are, they seem to know what they’re talking about.

Following through on my promise was infinitely harder than I had anticipated. Interacting with her on a daily basis through various means and acting as though I was okay was impossible. I tried. I truly tried, but I couldn’t. I needed time away from her to work through my feelings for her, and I told her as much.

Two weeks later, and no contact between us other than a birthday wish she sent me, I was even worse off than I had been before. She consumed my thoughts. I couldn’t convince myself that there was no way we could make it work. I couldn’t escape her. I became desperate to elude my emotional prison. I had become trapped within a vortex of impossible desires.

To my utter shame, I contacted her and confessed I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I knew in my emotional state there was no way I could ever be her friend. So I told her that I needed to cut ties with her.

To this day I deeply regret this course of action.

She was, of course, upset. She reminded me of my promise to remain her friend. She reminded me that I was not the only one hurting. She became irate, and I honestly don’t blame her. Then I said something I fully regret and should never have said; I told her that unless she changed her mind we would need to go our separate ways.

What I meant and what she heard are two completely different things. I was saying that, for my mental well-being, I would need to separate myself completely from her so I could get over her. What she heard was an ultimatum. I wouldn’t find out for another 7 months, however, that what she heard was not what I intended her to hear.

A month or two later my emotional tempest had subsided and I reached out to her. I had time to think about things and realized that cutting her out of my life was a huge mistake and that I was wrong. I apologized. I asked her if we could attempt to rebuild our friendship. I told her I missed her.

She told me I was no longer welcome in her life.

Her response shocked to me. I was hoping for forgiveness. I was hoping for redemption. I was hoping I’d at least have a chance to show I was emotionally distraught and not of sound mind when I made that foolish decision. It sounds like a lame excuse, but it’s the truth. I was falling apart. I was struggling with my feelings for her and it plunged me into a bottom-less pit of depression. The bottom line was. . . I couldn’t handle it. I wasn’t strong enough for either of us.

Despite her request otherwise, I tried reaching out to her one more time. She didn’t respond so I quit trying.

Seven months later I was pretty much over the entire situation, then someone forwarded me an email. The email was from my ex-friend to the person who forwarded me the email. In the forwarded email she described me as an abuser – someone who lures women in with lies, uses them for my own desires, and then casts them out when I’m finished with them. I was a predator. I was a monster.

After initially reading the email I was pissed. I would never deny the fact that I fucked things up. I have, and will again, admit to my mistakes and that I mishandled the situation. I reacted rashly to my emotions. I’m an imperfect man. I have many faults. One of my many faults is NOT, however, being abusive. I have NEVER purposely hurt another human being. At least, not since I was in school. My actions were never aimed at hurting her. They were selfish. They were about MY hurt and eradicating it.

After I had time to calm down and process everything I became less angry and more hurt. I was actually pretty devastated. I’m not one who generally lets the opinions of others get to me. I don’t normally care what people think of me unless that person matters to me. Despite the time that had passed, I still cared for this woman and I cared what she thought about me. It absolutely destroyed me to know she thought so horribly of me. I mean, not only does she think I’m a horrible person, but she thinks I’m abusive, too. I drank myself into a stupor that night because I didn’t know how else to cope with the onslaught of pain.

I reached out to her, but she was rightly angry that her confidence had been violated by the person who forwarded me the email. I have tried a couple more times to contact her in an attempt to talk things out, but my pleas have gone unanswered.

I’ve had plenty of time to ponder things in the months since. I totally understand why she feels the way she feels. I made her promises and broke them almost immediately. Though it was not my intention, I made her feel like if she didn’t give me what I wanted I would withhold my friendship from her. It never even occurred to me that what I had said to her might be interpreted as an ultimatum until I read the email I was never intended to see.

So, I get it. I get her hurt. I understand her anger. What I don’t get is her steadfast refusal to listen to anything I have to say.

I know I hurt her. It’s unfathomable to me that I have the power to hurt someone so badly. Yet in the months we knew each other we knew each other. She knows about damn near every skeleton in my closet and I hers. We clicked from the very beginning. We were there for each other when the other needed consoling. We could say anything to each other; she was incredibly easy to talk to. We joked. We philosophized. We shared similar life struggles and could readily identify with each other’s plights. We had something special I think is worth salvaging and I guess it still kind of eats at me that she doesn’t.

I still hold out hope that one day she will see fit to give me a chance to be her friend again, or at the very least have a frank discussion about the fallout between us. I hold out hope that she’ll realize that I’m not an abusive man, but merely a flawed man who made the wrong decision in a moment of panic. I realize these are a fool’s hopes, but those hopes are ever anchored in the cockles of my soul. Though our fallout was a spectacular disaster, she still has a place in my heart. I still have pictures of us I can’t bring myself to delete. I have never deleted a single email she sent me, even the ones saturated with anger. I just can’t make myself do it.

I wish I wasn’t an idiot who doesn’t know how to handle his own emotions and hope one day that’s a skill I can master. I’m tired of leaving a trail burnt bridges in my wake.

Seven

This post is about child sexual abuse.

I have many experiences in my past that make me cringe, but this morning, I was thinking about my sexual experience. I have a lot of it. I was a prostitute. Even when I wasn’t a prostitute, I was promiscuous as hell.

I have not a clue how many people I’ve had sex with. It’s probably somewhere in the multiple hundreds. Even as a non-prostitute, those kind of numbers make people call women out as whores or sluts or any number of impolite epithets.

Men who’ve slept with several hundred women, on the other hand, aren’t called whores. They’re called players and given high fives. They’re even looked up to as “pick-up artists” and asked for advice.

There is a sexual double standard. I’ve experienced it first-hand. Most men suddenly become delicate snow-white flowers and recoil from you in horror when you tell them you’ve slept with a lot of men, especially if you tell them that you once got paid for it. Men often expect women to have sexual experience, but they don’t want to know how we got it. They want us to know how through immaculate knowledge.

Let’s get one thing straight here. I am in no way boasting or proud of the number of people I’ve slept with. That number is a sign of being very, very broken for a lot of years. It makes me cringe because of how blind I was. I was molested as a child and that number is my result. Other people have different results, but making that number grow was one of mine. Promiscuity is just one of the possible outcomes of child sexual abuse.

I ignored the abuse and so did my parents. They never got me any help and we never talked about it. After I told my parents what was happening in my room late at night and they didn’t believe me, I never talked about it again. My family’s denial made it seem like it was perfectly normal. Sexual assault is just what grownups do. So, when I became a grownup, that’s what I did. Had I been born a man, there’s a very good chance that I might be a rapist. I just didn’t know how to take no for an answer.

The abuse that no one wanted to talk about festered inside of me. We all pretended it never happened, but you cannot just pretend that sexual abuse didn’t happen. Even if you never think about it, it changes you. Deep in my consciousness, the sexual abuse took root and shifted my world forever like a big tree breaks a sidewalk from underneath.

For most of my life, I didn’t acknowledge that I lost my virginity at seven years old. To this day, even though I have accepted it now, when people ask me how old I was when I lost my virginity, I instinctively say fifteen as if that’s the truth. It isn’t, but people don’t want to hear seven; they want to hear seventeen. There has to be a “teen” in there somewhere so they can compare and contrast. Seven would stop them in their tracks and they’d form all sorts of assumptions based on five little letters. I don’t say seven. I’ve never said seven; I say fifteen even though it’s a lie.

At seven years old, I was given a primer on how to properly please a man when I still thought boys were gross. While most of my contemporaries were playing with Barbies, I was on my way to becoming a whore. It never got any better. It only got worse until, at eighteen, I found myself exchanging my body for drugs and money to buy drugs. Unchecked sexual abuse will kill you if you let it.

I confused sex with love. Men show that they love you by tying you up, gagging you and sticking things in you, right? That’s what he taught me. He told me he loved me, and without any support, help or basis for comparison, I believed it.

I thought that by choosing who, how and when to have sex, I was in control, when in fact, I was very much out of it. I gave myself a high five with every new conquest. I didn’t realize that I had not escaped the monster. I had not overpowered the monster; I had just turned into one myself. I turned into someone who had to have sex with everyone all the time because that is love. Love is abuse. Abuse is love.

Once I realized that I was a monster, I shut down entirely. I walled myself up. I cried alone inside my walls for that little girl who never got to play with Barbies and for the promiscuous teen turned whore she became. And I got very, very angry. I stewed in my anger. I shook with rage at a world and a family that would allow such evil to happen and not do a damn thing about it. He was never prosecuted. He was never even charged. No one went to the police. It just never happened.

He is still alive. He is still free. He still lives near my family. He has kids of his own now, and that thought sickens me and fills me with fury. It makes me want to hop on a plane and hit him again and again, very slowly, so he can feel every hit until he finally expires with the full knowledge of what he did and why he is dying alone with no one to help him, but I don’t. And I won’t. I won’t take the last step towards becoming a monster. I won’t let him turn me into that, but dammit, the fact that he’s still out there and has children of his own makes me furious.

My family could have stopped it. They could have stopped it from happening to me had they believed my big confession, but they let it continue. They could have stopped him from hurting anyone else. They could have given me justice and the help I so desperately needed, but they did nothing. They set the monster free and they watched me turn into a monster myself. That, I cannot ever forgive.

He stole my virginity and turned me into a liar. He killed the person I would have been without his torture. He left me with survivor’s guilt, feeling for all of those children who came after me, including his own. He stole my childhood. He ripped my family away from me forever. I never trusted anyone completely ever again. He replaced my innocence with total isolation, so much hate and a confused sense of sexuality that I’m still trying to sort out. I have some twisted kinks he gave me that fill me with shame. He led me inexorably down a path to a past that makes me cringe and my family helped him take me there. It all makes me cringe, but I don’t ignore it anymore.

Child sexual abuse never goes away. Ignoring it only makes it worse. I spent the bulk of my life denying it, pretending it never happened, and it warped me in ways that, as a full-grown adult, I’m only now realizing. I am still recognizing patterns in my behavior as a result of abuse. Every time I see a new one, it fills me with disgust, but every new discovery is a victory, because it brings me one step closer to freeing myself from the monsters once and for all.

In the United States and Canada, call the National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).