The following narrative contains mentions of death, child abuse, and sexual molestation. Please do not read any further if reading about real life abuse is triggering.
From my point of view as an individual who has endured countless hours of abuse at the hands of my father, and as one who has tasted success in the academic world, I know that life has its difficulties.
My purpose for writing my memoir is to achieve some sort of reprieve from the inner conflicts deep within myself. The older I get the question that is truly at the forefront of my mind is for what reason do we all suffer? Why do we need to suffer, and fight and toil? I know from reading the Bible that all the strife in the world stemmed from the sin of Adam and Eve. I still wonder if the punishment really fit the crime. Is all the world is going through really necessary to punish the sin of two people? I think that humanity as a whole has served its time and we need to be able to have the opportunity of parole.
I ask myself, God, the universe—whomever will listen, what more do you want from me? When I reach the breaking point and yet you still push and push, what is it I am supposed to do? If I fight back, I am wrong. If I lie down and give up, I deny myself the dignity I wish so desperately I did not have to desert. I lost my childhood, and now my adulthood is at stake. In the Good Book, the child must honor the parent. What happens when reality catches up with what has been written so long ago? I am left at a crossroads. One path leads me to destruction. The other leads me to corruption. How do I choose? Where do I go from here? There are never any clear answers to the questions that bombard my mind. What I want—no, need—is to have the evil be punished. I wait and I wait but still so unsatisfied. I pray for the strength to forgive, but I am still so unsatisfied.
I vacillate between caring so much my heart aches, and not caring about anyone or anything at all. I think to myself about those who lost loved ones due to death by other means. When one dies, the suffering on Earth ends. For those of us who live, we are left to struggle and to fight for our survival on this hostile planet.
This brings me to the subject of trust. How can I ever trust again? Trust is just a mechanism the dominant use to harm the helpless. Children are taught to trust their parents. What happens when the parents betray that trust? Are we to continue to be as blind sheep, led to slaughter? No, we should rise up. Trust no one. Protect ourselves. No one should be subjected to the misery, pain, and suffering that befalls the children of monsters. Monsters no longer reside under the bed, in closets, or in nightmares. Monsters wear the name father.
What have I done that was so awful, so heinous, that warranted this horrible punishment? I do not deserve this treatment. I do not deserve to be harmed in this way.
I struggle with these thoughts every day. However, I can say that I have successfully overcome one of the major obstacles I wrestled with over the years: Anger. I cannot pinpoint the exact ah-ha moment when I was able to let go of the anger. I can only imagine the relief was due to a combination of God, therapy, and antidepressants. On the other hand, I can elaborate on why I found it so difficult to let go of the anger. Although it sounds completely counterintuitive, anger was a comfort to me. Feelings of sadness, grief, disappointment or here leave me feeling raw and vulnerable, whereas anger provided an outlet for these emotions while simultaneously allowing me to feel in control and protected. Simply put, I held onto anger because it made me feel safe. Because I had been dealing with anger for so long, it also felt familiar. Leaving a familiar, safe place for something new has always been a very daunting experience, even as it applies to something as intangible as emotions.
Despite the fact that I have been able to overcome my struggle with anger, I have yet to master the art of acceptance. As of late, the best I can do is to take baby steps toward this goal. For the first time in decades, I am able to say aloud—or in this case write—the details of the molestation. The sexual abuse I was subjected to consisted of two things: Fondling of the breasts with his mouth and hands, and insertion of fingers into the vagina. Because the abuse I faced did not involve rape, I have spent many years of my adult life feeling as though I am an inadequate fraud. I often wonder if I were abused enough to warrant my diagnosis of PTSD, depression, and anxiety. I wonder if I have a right to feel hurt and betrayed even though I did not experience more severe abuse. I constantly compare my past to the past of other abuse and rape survivors. I feel that because others may have had it worse than I did, I am undeserving of understanding or empathy. Am I worthy of compassion? Are my feelings important? I do not have an answer to these questions, and I probably never will.
The only aspect of the abuse and my subsequent recovery I have been able to accept is how I view my father. I have learned that the abuse does not reflect poorly on me, nor is it a black mark on my character. To the average person, this would be an obvious fact, but as a childhood sexual abuse survivor, I used to believe that everything was my fault. It took years to realize that in actually, my father is the only person at fault.
The experiences that I lived through, and have seen others face are all evidence that the world is in need of a second chance—I am in need of a second chance. I draw the conclusion at this point that I still have a lot of road left to travel during the journey of life.
I can only hope to find the answers I seek while on this journey.
If you’re searching for help with mental illness, please reach out to someone.
Below is an abbreviated list of hotlines for the USA. Click here for the full list.
National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
Stop it Now! 1-888-PREVENT
United States Elder Abuse Hotline 1-866-363-4276
National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (422-4453)
Child Abuse Hotline / Dept of Social Services 1-800-342-3720
Child Abuse National Hotline 1-800-25ABUSE
Children in immediate danger 1-800-THE-LOST
Exploitation of Children 1-800-843-5678
Missing Children Help Center 1-800-872-5437
Gay and Lesbian National Hotline 1-888-843-4564
Trevor Hotline (Suicide) 1-866-4-U-TREVOR