I guess it is inevitable, the past never stays completely buried. Eventually it finds its way into the present. Today one of the worst days of my life came to light. It is a night I have not discussed outside a therapist’s office. Now I may have to. I am unsure of how to deal with this. I have learned to share even the most shameful of secrets. Just not to my family. It is somehow very different. The details of the night my brother raped me have been mine to hide. I don’t want to share them. I don’t want to be questioned about them. But here I find myself faced with that difficult task.
I’m not sure why it is so different talking to Virgil or Beatrice. Maybe it is because I figure they have heard it all before. My story is no different from countless others. Abuse is abuse, and it seems so very common. Maybe it is because I know they won’t judge me. I know they won’t say the wrong thing, or make me feel worse than I already do. It is never easy to share something so deeply intimate. There are details of that night, that even I can hardly think about, let alone say. So, I now face the task of sitting down with my sister-in-law and sharing my story with her. It was not my decision to tell her, it was not me who did the “outing”. But it will be me who has to deal with the aftermath. I know she has questions, and she does deserve some answers. All these years we have kept this awful secret hidden from her.
I thought my brother deserved a chance. A chance at a life, and a family and a future. I did not feel it my place to rob him of all that. In the blink of an eye, I could take all that away, just my sharing my story. Instead, I stayed silent. I was not alone. Each of the members of my family that knew also remained silent. All these years, one piling on top of the next. Each making it more distant. I could almost make myself believe it never happened. It was never talked about. If only I could get myself to forget. Sadly, there is no forgetting. It is there forever.
Here it is again. Somehow it can’t just disappear. I have to face it this time. It is time to lay it out there. Once and for all. I guess one could view this as positive. The secrecy of all these years is a thing of the past. None of us have to worry about what she knows, or suspects. She knows what he is now. She knows what he is capable of. He is deeply flawed, and haunted. His demons chase him, and his behaviors show it. He never received the help he so desperately needed. I was wrong about him. I thought he might be okay. I thought he just needed to get sober. I was wrong, dead wrong. Wish the chance I gave him had worked out. I never wanted anyone else to get hurt. It pains me deeply that in remaining silent I allowed him to again act on his impulses. How could I have known. It is hard for me because I want to fault myself, and place blame on that silence, and what it has cost this family. If only I had spoken up in the beginning, she never would have stayed. Now a little girl has lost her father, seemingly overnight. She does not understand why he cannot come home. In my heart, deeply, I know what it feels like to be that age and have a parent disappear. I could have prevented this, if only I had opened my mouth.
Here we are 8 years later. I am now about to share my story. Not one of my family, or my partner know the details of that night. It has always been carefully wrapped up in one sentence. There is nothing in the human vocabulary like the word rape to stop a conversation cold. It is all that is needed. Most people need nothing more than their imagination to finish the sentence. I have hidden behind that for 20 years. No other information needed to be shared. It was a comfortable place to hide, and no one pressured me to move. Even my partner let it be. I don’t want to share this, not with her or anyone else. I get anxious just thinking about it. Not because the sharing is so difficult for me, but because the hearing it is so awful for everyone else. Listening to someone tell their story can be so heart wrenching. It was one of the first skills I learned as an inpatient. Everyone has a story. Some are so heinous it defies all logic. But, I came to know I was not alone, so many others had been, raped, abused and harmed by those they trusted. It was healing to learn that. I hope that I can move on from this day. Let everything come to light, and let them each ask whatever questions they need to ask. I hope I have the strength to do that for them. They each deserve the truth, after all these years.