Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Final Summation...

Goddammit I hate memory sometimes.

And everything it leads to.  Nostalgia.  Reminiscence.  A concrete sense of Self.  Rambling, confessional blog posts about supposed childhood sexual traumas.  And so forth.

After all that, after my whole humiliating confessional frenzy here in my last few posts (holy crap, was that all the way back in February??), I have to admit now that I'm not entirely sure my memory of these early experiences is even correct.  And I've wanted to write and post this explanation for a good while now, because those posts are still sitting there on the front page, like a severed head at a dinner party; but I've been alternately too busy, or, mostly, too embarrassed by the whole ordeal to want to return to it.  But I can't just leave that shit up there for anyone to read without any context or resolution.  I have to put this to bed.

So here's how it all started.  I was driving to work that February morning, and there was a discussion on the radio of how children respond to parental abuse.  I don't remember what it was exactly, but something they said reminded me of this childhood friend (I'm going to start calling him "Bill" just so that I have a name to refer to him by).  I hadn't thought about Bill in many, many years.  I remembered some of our experiences together, and I remembered his big, angry father.  And that's when I suddenly made the connection and realized, "Oh!  Bill was abused by his father!"  And everything else just followed from that.

I still believe that to be true; I believe Bill was abused (at least mentally and emotionally, if not physically or sexually) by his father.  But the rest of it, I must admit now, I am significantly less sure about.  I know that Bill and I "played doctor," but I don't remember all that we did.  I don't actually remember how far our sexual play went. And, I am forced to admit to myself and all of you now, I don't actually remember who suggested what.  I thought I did at the time, but I've since realized that's not true.  It was just too long ago now for me to remember it clearly.  It was so long ago that even the things I do remember clearly are suspect.  And through my research I discovered that I would be forced to admit something else, something much worse:  it is entirely possible that I am the one who abused him.

Reading through literature on the subject, I was surprised to find out that one of the more common, and yet least often discussed, forms of childhood sexual abuse is to simply educate a child about sex too much at too early an age.  (It had never even occurred to me before my research that this could possibly be considered a form of abuse.)  Sex is one of the most complicated and complex of all human interactions, and a 4 or 5 year-old child is simply too underdeveloped to be able to fully understand it (hell, a lot of adults are too underdeveloped to be able to fully understand it, for that matter); and so therefore giving a child that age too much information on the subject can often lead them to act out behaviors that they are not able to fully understand, process, or deal with in a meaningful way.  That's the basic idea.

My mother's policy was that if I was old enough to ask the question, then I was old enough to hear the answer.  And she was always very quick to let me know that if I ever had any questions at all, she would do her best to try to answer them truthfully and completely.  And she lived by that statement.  And I was a very curious boy.  I had a lot of questions.  And she answered every one she could.  So I remember that throughout my childhood, basically until high school, I always knew more about sex (among many other things) than any of my friends or classmates seemed to.  I was proud of that, actually.  It made me feel grown-up.  It made me feel strong.  And superior.  (Realizing now, as I type this, that this may have something to do with why I value intelligence so highly, in both myself and others.)

But in terms of my memories of my experiences with Bill, that throws everything into a new light.  I only actually remember one thing we did that was definitely Bill's idea, and while that was a little dirty, it also wasn't exactly sexual, either (we were naked, but there was no touching); it would fall squarely in the category of "normative childhood sexual play."  I don't actually remember what else we may have done, or who might've suggested any of it.  But I know that in my memories of all the other boys (and some girls) who came after Bill, I was definitely the aggressor.

The hard part to admit, is that when I suddenly realized that morning that Bill had been abused by his father, I didn't then "realize" that he had actually been acting out his abuse on me, as I originally wrote.  No, the truth was that I actually just assumed that was the case, and didn't recognize that I was making an assumption.  "OMG, Bill was abused by his father!  What do abused children do?  They act out that same abuse on others.  He must've been doing that to me when we played doctor!  So that's why I then went on to do it others; I was acting out his abuse on me!  That's where it all started!  It makes perfect sense."  And it does make perfect sense.  But that doesn't automatically make it true, either.

I still don't know what happened back then, and I probably never will.  But I have to admit that the much more likely scenario seems to be that I was actually a victim of childhood sexual abuse, but the abuser was my mother, not Bill.  And it seems much more likely that I was acting out my abuse on him (and all the other boys and girls that came after him) rather than the other way around.

Bill moved away before we even hit puberty.  I haven't seen or heard from him since I was a child.  I have no idea what his life has been like.

If you're still out there, "Bill," I hope you're okay.  And if you're not... all I can say is, I'm so, so sorry.

It wasn't my fault.  I was only a child.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Please help...

My wife's sister, Kirsten, is one of the strongest, smartest, most courageous, and incredible people I've ever been lucky enough to know.  She moved across the country to put herself through med-school, then lived in Alaska for two years for her residency, and then moved back across the country again to open her practice as a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine.  I admire her and love her in a way I can say about few others.

Earlier this year, just as she was struggling to get her practice on its feet, she began experiencing some difficult and debilitating health problems.  Between the medical bills and the lost work, she needs help right now.

I don't know who reads this, but whoever does, I hope you will be able to help Kirsten.

Please donate any amount you can through her GoFundMe site below.  And either way, whether you donate or not, please share her site through your social media; there are links to share over Facebook or Twitter on her GoFundMe page.  It only takes a couple of seconds, but could help out more than you know.

Please do what you can to help.  If not for Kirsten, then do it for me.  And if not for me, then do it for yourself.  There's no wrong reason to help someone.


http://www.gofundme.com/kirstenandtim

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Twenty-twenty...

Why am I telling you any of this?!

This isn't a diary, for fuck's sake.  This is a MEGAPHONE.

Jesus christ, I'm such an asshole.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Apparent Exaggerations...

Still need more time to write out the full story/explanation, but I did learn something that requires an immediate update.

I knew that the language I used yesterday didn't feel quite right.  It seemed inflammatory, and loaded with a ton of connotations that were not actually part of the experience I was trying to communicate.  But what other language was I supposed to use?  How else was I supposed to describe it?

Well, finally getting around last night to doing some very preliminary research into the topic of child-on-child sexual abuse, revealed the rather obvious fact that I'm not the only person in the world who has ever had experiences like these, and that as such, there is already a whole lexicon available to me to describe it, if I had only bothered to look.

I learned right off the bat that I was not, in fact, molested.  I was not abused.  What happened to me would be characterized as "Normative Childhood Sexual Play," even if it was a little more advanced than most.  The difference being, I was never coerced, or threatened, or manipulated, or made to do anything I didn't want to do.  All this friend of mine did was suggest the ideas; I went along with them willingly, even excitedly.  And I enjoyed them completely, to the point that I then went on to suggest them to all my other friends for the next 20 years.

What I went through was a normal part of growing up that pretty much everyone goes through at some point.  The big difference for me, was that it happened to me about 10 years earlier than the average.  I was regularly having sex in elementary school, and I was having the kind of sex that most other people don't even know about, much less start trying to engage in, until middle school or high school.  (Oddly, I steadfastly maintained my virginity, however technical, until I was much older; I think having so much sex as a child made my virginity seem more precious to me somehow, and I was determined to save it until I found someone I really loved.)

I still think my friend was abused, though.  It's the only explanation I have right now for how he could be so sexually aggressive, and adventurous, and knowledgeable, at such a young age.  And so it's still possible that, from his point of view, he was acting out from his history of abuse.  But whether he was attempting to abuse me or not (who knows how he would've responded if I'd said no), I wasn't abused.  I went willingly, and loved every minute of it.

And while I feel a lot better now, knowing that I don't actually have to wear the "childhood sexual abuse victim" label for the rest of my life, there's still a lot left here that I need to unpack.  I'm still not sure what all this means, or what I'm supposed to do with this new information.

Monday, February 9, 2015

We Are What We Remember We Are...

I realized this morning, that I was - rather technically, I must caveat - molested by one of my very first childhood friends.  And that this series of events was directly responsible for shaping a very large portion of my personality; of who I still am today.

I'm honestly not sure how I feel about this.  There's way too much story there to be able to tell it all right now.  But I had to at least get this much, the realization of it, the acknowledgment of it, out of me and into existence, before I forgot it again, or subsumed it in some other way.

I feel like I'm supposed to be upset about this.  But I don't think I feel particularly upset about it, at least not yet.  (There is a small part of me, however, that is upset at myself for not being upset about it, for whatever that's worth.)  I'd always remembered - and still remember - our "playing doctor" as being entirely consensual.  (As much as it could be, at least.  We were about the same age at the time, so technically, legally, neither of us could consent; but we were also the only ones involved.  So how does that work?)  So, I've never felt - and still don't feel - victimized in any way.  I feel no enmity or ill-will towards this individual, and never have.  And the parts of my Self that I can now suddenly attribute to my early friendship with this person (at least, the ones I know about) are not things that I've ever felt particularly bad about or wished to be different.  Nor have I ever felt a need to investigate their root, or determine their origin.

Which I guess is part of why it feels so strange to suddenly know where they all come from.  I received an answer to an absolutely massive question, before I had ever even asked it in the first place.  There's an almost vertigo to it; the sensation of it makes you dizzy.  A memory you've had for almost 40 years, and suddenly, from out of nowhere and apropos of nothing, one tiny little detail you'd left behind somewhere along the way comes back into focus; and it fits like a keystone into place with all the other memories it connects to:  that time, that place, those people; filling in a hole you never knew was there; and now you see it all so clearly, understanding it all for the very first time, after 40 years; and that realization leads to another, which leads to another, cascading down through your history like a line of dominoes, until suddenly four decades of Self have been re-written.  You understand yourself now in a new, better, more complete way, a more whole way, than you ever have before.  But you also know now, that you're not who you thought you were; and you never have been.  So, then, who are you?

That's kind of a lot to handle when it all hits you in a matter of seconds while you're driving down the highway late to work on a Monday morning.

So, yeah.  This one's gonna take a while to unpack, I guess.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Gloria...

It's a stupid song
Hearing it come on the music station in the restaurant
after the thumping House music that preceded it
I laugh
because it's an old song
a stupid song
so familiar song
My eyes close heavy, rebellious
all I can hear is the song
it comes back to me in the wave pattern
vibrating the memory loose
In the back of the old station wagon
Vista Cruiser
with all the other kids and cousins
on our way to Summer camp
windows down Summer wind lovingly whipping us
with salt sand scrub-pine lashes
making fun of the drivers behind us
SCREAMING this song
Top of our lungs
All of ourselves lost in THIS SONG
This stupid song
that I loved so much so long ago
playing overhead in this stupid hipster sandwich shop
with the sudden ocean-salt taste of these tears
being back there in that Summer
flying to Adventure in the Vista Cruiser
Nothing but open road ahead of us
As far as the eye can see

Friday, January 16, 2015

Screen Door Summer...

first days of Summer
early childhood
first, second, third year of school
when Summers first started to mean something

Free.

I am Free.

i remember
i remember those days
i remember that feeling
only remember
i remember one morning
early
seven or eight
both of us
myself and the day
just starting to heat up

i remember finding our front door open
wide open
propped open
because we'd just bought a new screen door
our first
to let the Summer in
i can still remember the sweet smell
of the soft blond wood frame of our new door
blending with the scent of suburban Summer wafting through
cut grass and pool water
dandelion and hot asphalt

i remember the sparkles of dust twinkling
through the enormous beam of radiant Sun
pouring through our open front door
flooding through our new screen door
pooling in two golden domino blocks
on the orange shag carpet

i remember lying down then
right there on the carpet
right there at our open front door
in my pj's
in that bath of light
and doing nothing else
doing nothing at all

i remember it was so warm
so comfortable
so wonderful
so perfect
i didn't want to leave
i didn't have to leave
i could lay there as long as i wanted
i had nothing else to do
all i had to do was whatever i wanted
and what i wanted was to lay right there
and let the blissful Summer Sun caress me all over
until there was nothing else

i remember i felt free then
absolutely felt it
for the first time
a sort-of tingle in the belly
like falling
or flying
the exhilaration of that new-found freedom
knowing i was free
knowing this was only the beginning
knowing there were months more of this left
months more to look forward to
the upwelling joy that knowledge brings
the surge of happiness at having nothing better to do
than drown in a pool of starlight

i remember recognizing
even then
that there was something special happening there
i didn't know what it was
not then
but i knew there wouldn't be many days like that
and there haven't been
this is the only one i can remember
anymore

but i'm glad i remember
it feels good to remember
it dulls the ache
left from wondering
if i'll ever get to feel that way again