Power

WARNING:  This post could be a trigger.

I’d spent the summer becoming the new me.  Happier, healthier, 30 pounds lighter – thin for the first time in my life.  I was eating better, moving constantly, smiling more.  The exercise had probably become a little compulsive, but for someone who’d never been comfortable before and knew firsthand how quickly my body could, and would if given a chance, turn on me, I allowed myself the splurge.  Besides, fall was right around the corner, bringing the start of my senior year.  It would be 9 months of chaos, stress, and a total lack of schedule, which would allow those wicked things like soda and pizza back into my days and would eat up the free time that I cherished for self-indulgent sweating. 

School started, and the new me wore new clothes, walked a new way, and felt proud of myself.  I’ve since learned that I was actually a little too thin for me (I’m tall and have a big head, what can I say), but somehow people left it alone.  I’d love to think most held their tongues because I was so happy that why rock the boat unless it got worse (as my mother thought), but I think the majority stayed quiet because they were just waiting for me to re-balloon.  I didn’t care.  I wore postage stamps of clothing and relished my body both for the things I could do with it and how it felt, more than even how I looked.  I was hardly the next Cindy Crawford, but I was deliriously happy.

I was also 17 and starting my senior year of high school.  My college entrance exam scores were outstanding, and though I’d checked out only a couple of schools, I was pretty sure that I could get a fantastic scholarship to at least a handful of good choices.  I was busy with assorted school activities, and as a top senior singer, I was all but guaranteed a choice role in the school’s musical (a big deal to choir geeks, ya know).  The sky was bright, my future looked very good, and my present wasn’t too bad either.  The only real sticking point at that time was the 6-month-old demise of my first real relationship.  I think part of why I was motivated to embark on my ‘new me’ journey over the summer was as part of my effort to heal my heart and assuage the deep pangs of loss I was still feeling.  Little had I realized at the start of summer that I’d be back to sleeping with him before that summer was out – though he was still dating the woman for whom he left me.  Love? fear? lack of self-worth? foolishness?  Yes.  But it would take me many years of continuing to feed that monster before I’d figure it out, which is an entirely different story.  Of note, said former’s comment upon coming home from college and seeing the new me?  “WOW!  You look truly fantastic!  [pause]  Why didn’t you do this when we were going out?!”  Thank you, asshole, very helpful.

It was October.  The aforementioned former boyfriend was back at college, and I was back in school.  I was maintaining my weight (plus a couple of pounds from those wicked sodas and pizza), and things were going well.  The air outside was that beautiful crisp Midwestern fall air that smelled slightly of leaves, concession stand hot dogs, and teenage football players.  Deer hunting season was approaching, and as was the custom, family and friends that had moved out of state were returning to the area to apply for their licenses.  One of those friends was a man 10 years my senior, whom my family had met when I was only 8.  We lived in a small town, and in the everyone-knows-everyone style, his father and mine drank at the same bars in town, which is to say – both bars.  Funnily enough, thinking about it now, the year he really started spending time with my family would have been his senior year in high school.  Irony is a stealthy thing.  I had always wanted a brother and loved having him around.  Of course, my father had always wanted a son, and with the young man’s father being a pretty cantankerous drunkard (on his good days), I think my dad tried to bond with him as a father and son would, as best that he could manage anyway.  He would be thought of and treated as a part of our family for many, many years.  He would make horrible mistakes, cost my parents tons of money, and cause them terrible heartache.  As a middle-aged man, he is now not so much treated as a son but considered just a friend or someone they know.  How much of that relationship being kept up is ‘small town’ at work, I honestly can’t be sure.

Returning to that October, as always, on his returns to town, he would stay at our house.  Now, I neglected to mention earlier that he was, to use a modern term, Hawt.  Holy wow.  Having entered the teenage years of pheromones and whispers, my friends positively drooled and wept over him, and I had been envied for a good many years for having this hunk under the same roof a few times a year.  Of course, in adulthood, I can say now that he was also a freakin’ tramp – of the sort that you hope he remembers to wash his hands several times a day.  He was very aware of his looks and his charm, and since he was also very aware of his lack of intelligence (the only way in which he was truly humbled), he would use the cards he was dealt to their absolute fullest capacity.  The man could charm a drowning woman into a pile of bricks and have her asking for more.  Unfortunately for him, he also suffered from the same type of vicious alcoholism that his father shared, a trait he also shared with my father.  And so it was that on his returns to his hometown, he and my dad would go to those same two bars and get soused until someone said it was time to go anywhere but here.

On this trip, I wanted desperately to impress him with the new me.  I’d always been looked at as the ‘kid’ and never mentioned in the same breath as even ‘cute’ let alone attractive, though he had made some comments about how my friends looked.  My classmates had not made much over my new look; they’d watched me grow up every day for 13 years, after all.  To them, I suppose I simply was who I was.  But this man, this attractive 27-year-old man who had had gorgeous women fighting for a chance to be on his arm – from him, I craved words of praise that would finally and oh-so-completely validate my efforts.  I changed into my prized tiny, straight-lined, high-waisted black skirt and a nice, non-revealing T-shirt.  There was a limit to what I was allowed to wear at home, and ya know, there’s semi-obvious and then there is totally ridiculous.   I’m quite sure that I was already a billboard that screamed LOOK AT ME!!  I’m quite sure because I could detect the slight scowl on my parents’ faces that proclaimed their displeasure over their daughter’s audacity.  That look would play an important part in my life hours later and for the rest of my life.

When I opened the door to our guest, I got my wish.  Shock, glee, and effusive compliments.  And did I detect a hint of pride?  I did, more than a hint.  He was very proud of me and very encouraging.  Over the course of the afternoon/evening, we talked about my life and his, the way that siblings would catch up really.  We walked a bit down our country road, me showing him part of my daily routine, while we talked football and fishing, school and jobs.  After dinner with my mom and me, he left to meet my dad at the bar, and I finished my homework, did my exercises, and went to bed.  Happy.  Validated.  Content.

2:30 a.m.
Dys, wake up.
Dys, honey, wake up.

I spent years saying that I really wasn’t mad at him and wondering if I believed it.  Then I spent years wanting to tear his head off and shove it down his neck.  Then I spent a year or two wondering what the hell I really felt or wanted.  It hit me today.

I was angry at him.  I had a right to be angry.  What he did was flat-out wrong.  It wasn’t my fault.  I was a damn child; he was the adult.  Alcohol be damned.  His own lack of self-worth be damned.  He wanted something good that he didn’t have a right to, and he knew it – and he took it anyway.  And for that, he deserved some sort of punishment.  I’ve watched the last 2 decades of his life though, and I can say with certainty that his life is a punishment.  What’s more?  I think he knows it.  I’ve seen the way he looks at me when he sees me now.  Fearful, guilty, sad, and forgotten.  He knows that he cost himself something precious.  He knows that I would have been there for him forever.  And I think he understands, on a subconscious level, that I cannot ever again be his friend.  And, though I never thought it would be, knowing that he has lived his punishment is enough for me.  I don’t feel the need to make sure that he knows it too.  In fact, I wish that he had a better life, that time had not been so cruel to him, that he had love and was not alone, that he had not lived his father’s life in better clothes.  I even wonder if my friendship and sisterly love could have made a difference had he not destroyed it that night.  Though I doubt that it would have, it is part of his punishment that he will never know.

No, today I understand that my anger is for my parents.  For those who were given me, to safeguard, to protect, to cherish.  For the people who put me in harm’s way and then slept while harm had its way with me in their home.    For the people who gave me a slight scowl that would haunt me in the darkness, telling me that I had brought this on myself and kept me from asking for their help.  The man in my room made a terrible mistake, but the people downstairs were the ones with the Power.  The ones who had years to convince me that I could forever rely on them, that they would be there if I needed them, that they would do anything to save me, that they trusted me, that they believed in me, and that I could trust and believe in them.  That they would not let me down in an ultimate moment of need. 

That they would never, ever think that I was asking for it.

It’s been almost 20 years, and I still haven’t told them.  I’ve said repeatedly that I will never tell them because telling them now would mean that I spent all this time silent for nothing — that I let it happen for nothing.  And it’s true, I do feel that way–though more rationally, because I now understand that what happens in the present does not simply void the past, good or bad.  However,  I have also come to understand that I’ve also kept my mouth shut all this time because I still don’t trust them. 

Sometimes that makes me incredibly angry or incredibly sad.  
Sometimes, it’s just the way that it is.

 

(To hear the song below, open the link in another window so that you can ignore the user-made video.)

Slow Down, by Ben Jelen
all of my answers
all my reasons
and all my excuses, they never rest
’cause all of my answers
they keep on changing
I spend my life waiting for the next
Oh, I just keep on moving
Oh, and I just keep on pushing forward
…and, oh, I forgot what I was looking for

No.

and all their illusions
I won’t believe them
I’ll always believe what I can’t forget
’cause all of their reasons
they keep on changing
I spend my life waiting for the next
…and oh, I just keep on moving
…and oh, I just keep on pushing forward
…and oh, I forgot what I was looking for

well I’d trade wisdom back in for innocence
to get away from all my lies
I’d trade wisdom back in for innnocence
to get away from getting by
I’d trade wisdom back in for innocence
for just one look
through those eyes


{Entry originally written June 1, 2008 – held private until February 20, 2009}

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About dyskinesia

Woman, mother, human being, grammarian. I have Attention Deficit Disorder. My child has Asperger syndrome. Philosophy, laughter, therapy, living. Life after divorce.
This entry was posted in Therapy, Who am I? and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Power

  1. Kim says:

    That was so amazingly well-written, I felt like I was huddled on a couch holding your hand while you were telling me the story. Which sounds a little weird since you don’t know me, but it’s true. I also feel relief that you wrote it eight months ago, because I can’t imagine you’d have any strength left to go about the rest of the day after getting something like that out.
    I admire you so much for sharing that, and at the risk of sounding Oprah-ish, you never know how many people you may have just helped just by puttnig that out there.
    If you’ve never read “Lucky” by Alice Seibold, I highly recommend it.
    And one last thing: Wow.

  2. Pingback: Powerlessness « The Taoist Biker

  3. crisitunity says:

    It is something to mourn when parents are untrustworthy. I am so, so sorry – not just for what he did, but for what you have suffered when thinking of what they failed to do.

  4. boundandgags says:

    “. . .I can say with certainty that his life is a punishment. . .”

    That was brave of you to share. You’re a very insightful. It’s like a movie quote I remember from a movie I’ve forgotten I often use, “There isn’t anything I could do to him that he hasn’t already done to himself.”

    I was talking to someone today about letting things go because all they truly do is slow you down. My girlfriend hates that I’m like that (she can hold a grudge!) but, over the years and with as many opportunities I’ve had to carry loads, I know a life well lived is the best way to fight back.

    Good on ya, Dys.

  5. boundandgags says:

    I wasn’t trying to hold suspense. I forgot to add woman after insightful.

    I could see you sitting there, “Insightful what? You bastard! I hate ‘to be continued’s’!

  6. Laura says:

    Bless you my dear friend. I’m so sorry you had to go through such… awfulness. I’m so glad for the healing that is going on inside you, that you can share this with us. You’re beautiful and strong. I wish I could give you a huge hug.

  7. iamheatherjo says:

    Oh sweet girl, I don’t think there’s anything I can say. I just wanted you to know that I’m reading along and wishing only good things for you.

  8. This is a lot to carry around with you…you are a brave person.

    I think this says a lot about the self-control that you have not to blow up at any of these people in your life over the last two decades.

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