EDIT: PTSD has screwed up my timelines. I was fifteen, not fourteen, when this all happened- still, I was a child.
I have held off writing about this because I have not wanted to. It’s too much. It validates some of the weird almost-phobias I have about certain things and the anxiety that comes with them.
MASSIVE TRIGGER WARNING. I’m going to talk about some really upsetting stuff. I was FOURTEEN when it happened and I’m still struggling to really process it without dissociating and feeling weird.
Ok, on with this.
I’ve been neglecting my WordPress account as of late. I have been overwhelmingly happy. That sounds good, but I’m actually realising that I’m hypomanic. It’s the first time I’ve caught the feeling so early, the first time I’ve realised that I’m starting on the rollercoaster of mania again. I am praying that I don’t get too far ahead with it and that it doesn’t make me ill again. The crashes are almost more than I can bear. J spotted my mania for what it was, and actually, Dr K picked up on it, asking me if I felt speeded-up when I was in therapy on Thursday. She was right- I felt like my head was buzzing and the thoughts were just zooming round, three thoughts a nanosecond. She encouraged me to take some deep breaths, massage my temples, try and breathe through the rattling, zinging thoughts bouncing in my skull.
I kept thinking that there was something I wanted to tell her. I was trying to pin a thought down to tell her about, but the overlying detritus in my skull kept distracting me. I’m horribly distractible at the minute- it’s awful, I feel fragmented. Happy, loud, joyful, but all over the place.
We kept talking. I felt irritated with myself, annoyed that Dr K must think I was wasting time. We started talking about the Church again, that I might be feeling manic because it’s just been Easter and I used to get so manic at Easter because of Spring Harvest, the Christian event I used to go to. I was talking about how the Church often made me feel dirty, guilty, wrong, for enjoying sex or thinking about it even, but then something stormed into my mind and I was swamped by it.
Here was that elusive thought I had been chasing. Here was that thing that had been evading my grasp in the darkest corners of my psyche- a shameful memory that I’d pushed away every time I’d thought of it. I suddenly remembered- and I told Dr K about something that happened when I was newly in that six-year relationship with my ex.
I’m having problems writing this now. I am actually shying away from it again, shying away from the awkwardness, the upset, the hurt and the pain of a fourteen-year-old girl. I’m trying to quell my anxiety and tell it that I was not to blame, that I was fourteen and I was innocent. Dr K and I talked about that, my innocence. She called me a lamb to the slaughter. She was right.
I was adventurous with my ex, at fourteen. I was in love and full of hormones and trying to control them, because the Church told me I was a sinner if I didn’t stay totally pure… problem was, my ex was good at flattering his way through my defences. I succumbed gladly, letting him in, and I would deal with the guilt later. I didn’t want the Church or my parents to find out that I was enjoying getting close to my new boyfriend. I wanted to enjoy our teenage make-out sessions, I didn’t want to let the guilt swallow me or be banned from seeing him.
That time, we were round at his grandparents’ house. He had been sent to live there at the age of eleven, ostensibly to attend the nearby secondary school, but I remember him telling me that he had hit his sister when he was younger. I suspect more than hitting happened to that poor girl, but I will never know. At any rate, he treated his grandparents as second parents, and they idolised him, particularly his grandfather. D was a tall, stout man, loud and cheerful, often ready with a glass of wine for me and my ex and a home-made dinner on the table. His wife was sweet and kind, quite quiet, and an excellent cook with a nice smile. I took to them pretty quickly.
I’d been to my ex’s grandparents’ house before, but this time when the two of us went off upstairs, my ex left the door open a bit. I was confused. When I went to shut the door, he explained that he needed to leave it like that so he could hear if his grandfather came upstairs. I was nervous and uncomfortable, but my ex soon stopped those feelings with well-placed seduction, and soon, I wasn’t wearing a stitch of clothing. He had most of his still on.
I didn’t hear anything to start with, I was too distracted, but there was a squeak of floorboards and I noticed that my ex’s grandad, D, was walking away from the door down the hall towards the room next door. I jerked upright and asked my ex if he had seen us. He told me that he was sure he hadn’t seen anything, and tried to get me to resume what we’d just been doing. I still felt uncomfortable and weird and asked him if I should put some clothes on. He still said it was fine and that I should get back to what we were doing. I slipped into the bedcovers, pulling them up above my breasts, and asked him if D could hear us. My ex said no, he couldn’t, he was on the computer in the other room and would be there for a long time. Eventually he persuaded me to get back to what we were doing before, but I now jumped at every squeaky floorboard and didn’t feel comfortable in the slightest.
Dr K asked whether I wondered whether the two had talked together about this, and I explained that yes, they had. My ex had casually told me over the phone the very next night that his grandad had seen us together and next time I went there to visit, we were to keep the door shut and he would knock if he wanted us.
I had never felt quite as ashamed of myself as that moment. His grandfather had seen me naked, in the throes of passion. He’d seen me giving myself to someone I thought I could trust. In that moment, I was completely humiliated.
That’s not the worst of it by far.
After that incident, the door was kept shut sometimes, but other times it ‘somehow’ crept open again. I often bumped into D when returning from the bathroom. The hugs D would give me got longer, and he had added a kiss on the cheek to his greeting to me. I was often the subject of discussion at the dinner table- or maybe, should I say, my anatomy was the subject of discussion- my ‘nice legs’, the top that showed too much cleavage and resulted in D fanning himself with a large hand. I felt permanently uncomfortable at that house, always watched, always observed and commented on. My ex and D would banter back and forth over the table, D sometimes slipping me into conversation in a really inappropriate way, usually under the guise of congratulating my ex that he was going out with me. D’s wife and I would sit and laugh, or at least, we’d pretend to. That woman was as much under the thumb as I was, and I feel awful that she’s still there.
Dr K then voiced the awful link that I’d been trying to deny.
She wondered aloud whether my ex and his grandfather had set me up between them.
All of a sudden, the feelings I was flooded with in Dr K’s office were the feelings of a hurt, scared fourteen-year-old. I sniffed, child-like all of a sudden, and I said, “But that’s not fair…”
I cried like a child then. My bottom lip wobbled as it hasn’t done since I was about that age. Dr K gently explained that if this was true, I was being groomed, at that age, to take whatever my ex wanted to dish out on me next. I was certain of it, I explained back to her- why the hell would you leave a door open if you wanted to mess about?! Why was D in the room next door for so long when there was no computer up there?! Why was I always the butt of the jokes, the object for admiration, the target of the most awful shame I’d ever had then? My hurt, fourteen-year-old self convinced it was her who was the dirty one, that it was her who should have been better, purer, that she should have said no to sex. She stopped wearing skirts and dresses because of the boy she was dating sliding his hands under them at every opportunity, in the wrong places, in front of his fucking grandfather at the dinner table…
Dr K let me sob for at least fifteen minutes, talking to me as I grieved for a piece of my past that should not have been that way. I was fourteen. Fourteen-year-olds should not be displayed like a piece of meat as a favour to some perverted old man. I feel disgusted even now, thinking about D, and I still look out for him in the supermarket, in the street, driving in his car…
Dr K was amazing whilst I sat and let it sink in that truly, it was NOT my fault that I ended up so badly abused whilst with my ex- he was only copying what he’d seen his father and grandfather do. Dr K thinks the whole family is riddled with abuse and pain, and he was passing on what was normal- although, he saw the whole episode mentioned above as a joke, so Dr K agrees with me that he KNEW it was bad and awful, what he did, but my ex did it anyway because that’s who he is.
I thought about the messed up, mixed up kid I was then and let her know (that part of me that is her, who’s hidden this memory’s awful consequences deep inside her) that I didn’t blame her or think she was bad. I thought the Church was bad, that D and my ex were awful, that Dr K thought I was ‘an innocent flower’. Someone described like that could never be wicked or bad, or deserve what they got. I managed to calm down slowly, realise where I was again, let Dr K ground me and help me to remember where I was and what was happening today and now.
I am shocked that this happened to me. I know that this memory is completely true, because I kept shoving it down into the darkness in my head whenever it came bouncing out again. I need only see a certain front door or see a certain car and I’m back there again, on that sunny day where he and his pervert of a grandfather robbed me of my dignity.
I was aware that therapy would not be easy, but I never knew that it would be this tough.
I hope that I can, one day, tell this to my parents, but I doubt it. I will have to put some other spin on it to make it more palatable for them, because they’re still Christians and I broke every fucking purity law in the book when that happened to me. I know that part of them would be horrified for me, but I wonder whether part of them will be horrified with me for doing what I did. I hope not.
I’ve hinted to J that I remembered a bad thing, but we haven’t had time to chat tonight- he’s had a bad day and needs to rest. That’s ok. When he can be strong enough again, when he feels ok, I’ll tell him. That will probably be tomorrow. If I can’t tell him directly, I will send him this post to let him know that although this happened to me, it can’t affect us. I refuse to let two scumbags even impact in any way the amazing thing I have with J.
I cling to the fact that he has seen me at my worst, that he was one of the first people I confessed the first rape to, the person I rang at three in the morning in fear for my life and the person who quelled a panic attack in fifteen minutes flat, fought my voices and won, and loves me for the person I am under all my issues.