There are some things I am still holding on to from previous relationships. Things I don’t know how to talk about to Bobby or my family. My depression and anxiety have always been reasonably open topics of conversation, something I had in common with my mom, now with my sister, and something my dad ignored because it upset him and he didn’t understand. But these.. these are memories from my distant past, my more recent past.. Things I don’t know how to talk about.
In and out of therapy and these things still haven’t been talked about. I don’t even know where is the best place to start so I will just start at the beginning and work my way up.
Now, let me preface this with a little fact, I was VERY sheltered when I was growing up. I didn’t get to watch anything but Disney and I was happy to watch them. My cousins.. were not so sheltered. I have two male cousins, both reasonably close to my age. I can’t even remember which incident happened first, but I think it was when my cousin who was a year or so younger than me was over. I was maybe 6 or 7. My youngest sister was only 2 or 3 at the time.
He had been watching some t.v. show where a man rescues a woman, and no matter where they are, they “celebrate” with some very adult acts. Definitely not appropriate for 6 or 7 years old. Needless to say, he thought when he “rescued” me, which was the same thing to him as hauling me off from my sister and locking me in a closet with the door jammed so no one could get it and it was dark so I couldn’t see what was happening.
I tried to yell for my mom because by this point I was beyond confused and not having a single shred of fun. I wanted out of the closet and I wanted out right then! While I was waiting for someone to come and rescue me, he was pawing at me. Trying to touch me in places no family member should touch. He kept trying to kiss me and take my clothes off. I remember finally getting loose and banging on the door. When my mom finally got the door open, she saw me with a hand print of my cheek from him holding me mouth closed so I didn’t scream and scratches on my stomach from him trying to get my clothes off.
I remember her yelling at me, telling me that I was not allowed to play with him anymore and no more games like that ever. I think I even got a spanking because she thought I had followed him there or something. I kept apologizing for kicking the wall and trying to tell her that I didn’t do it on purpose. I didn’t want to play, I was playing with my dress up clothes with Britt and when she had gone to the bathroom or something he had drug me off down the hallway.
I realize now that she was just very scared. It was an out of hand situation. It was bad from any perspective. My cousin lived with my grandparents. His dad was a druggie and his mom was an alcoholic and he had lived with them since he was younger than 1. My mom told my grandma what had happened and she did.. nothing. She didn’t even acknowledge that anything bad had happened. She kept saying that he was a good boy and would never do anything like that, or try to hurt someone on purpose.
Not even 3 years later he was in progressive anger management for drowning their neighbors kittens.. He has since been in and out of trouble for a myriad of things. Aggression, theft, drugs.. It’s a never ending battle trying to keep him out of trouble. Thankfully it’s no longer a problem for my parents. He does not live in this state anymore and even if he comes back to visit, I have moved and he will not be allowed to come to my home. Not under any circumstances.
Now on to the second male cousin, don’t get me wrong, I have quite a few male cousins and they’re all great! There’s just a few exceptions.. Namely cousin 1 above, and cousin 2 who’s up next.
Cousin two was around off and on throughout my childhood. His dad, my mom’s brother, and his step-mom got divorced and then he was taken away and sent to a boarding school for his aggression, notice this pattern? After that he joined the military and then proceeded to go AWOL and gain himself a dishonorable discharge.
But before all of that, there were several.. incidents. Thankfully, he never approached my sisters like this, neither did cousin 1 come to think of it, I wonder what it is about me that makes them want to hurt me. One time, I remember we were all out playing in the backyard or the field behind my house, he had come to visit while his parents were in court. As we were walking, he made sure to walk behind me, which was strange, you would think he would have wanted to go first like boys are generally inclined to do when it comes to adventure type things.
I thought he was doing it by accident, but he wasn’t. Turns out he was walking behind me so he could conveniently watch me walk and grope my butt.. I told him to stop, he didn’t. I learned later that unwanted contact is called assault/molestation, but at the tender age of 8 or 9 how was I supposed to know that?
Another such incident, was when we were playing hide and seek at our aunt’s house, the one with the older male cousins. One of them happened to have a swimsuit model on his wall. I was hiding in the closet, and I saw cousin two come in. He didn’t see me at first, he was staring at the swimsuit model poster and doing something awkward with his hands. I don’t think I need to go into too much more detail when it comes to that. Thankfully he still had his pants on. I tried to sneak out of the closet and out the door to find a new hiding spot but he saw me. He told me we could both hide there under the bed.
I told him no, I was going to go find a new place to hide. He asked me to model like the girl in the poster. In my 10 year old mind the only excuse I could think of was that I wasn’t old enough to wear a bra so I wouldn’t look the same. He said he didn’t care, and I swear he started drooling. I told him no and I ran from the room. I ended up getting tagged and having to be it after that, but it was worth it.
There have been several such problems like this throughout my life. My cousins both assaulted me. And I realize looking back, one of my female friends did as well. I think she was sexually abused by her older brother/cousin? I don’t know who he was honestly.. But I know she was always talking about acting out the scenes from his movies. I am pretty sure those “movies” were porn..
She was always kissing me and my sister. Not like a peck, but French kissing before we knew what it was. She called it tongue kissing. She was also very intimate with her hands and mouth. I don’t think it was her fault, and to be honest, it taught me a lot about what I like, even though it was such an early age. Needless to say though, my mom found out somehow, she talked to child services in regard to the neighbor/friend, and my sister and I got a VERY long talking too about what was appropriate and what wasn’t.
And to think, all of these experiences were just before 5th grade, I didn’t even know what sex was. Didn’t know what sex of any kind could do to you or how it made your body feel. But as I got older I realized, I already knew a lot about it. Too bad it didn’t stop me from more trouble later in my life.
I had my first “serious” relationship in high school. I was a band nerd. I was in all AP classes. I was essentially the text book geek. I couldn’t dress for crap, I wasn’t pretty, I didn’t have a great body. And he used all of that against me. He was a football player. He wasn’t the hottest guy around, but he was a giant step up from me. I remember him telling me he didn’t like the way I wore my hair, so I changed it. He wanted me to keep my legs shaved everyday, so I did (that is actually not a terrible thing to want considering I am now very much of the mindset that legs should be smooth). He didn’t like my friends, so I was told not to see them, so I stopped hanging out with them at school. All of those things are classic symptoms/signs of an abusive relationship.
I never thought much of it, even though none of my friends or family were happy or liked the relationship. He kept pushing me for sex though. Thankfully I held my ground. He never did get what he was after. So, naturally he left me when I refused one to many times for him. Before that though he had a habit of steering me in a direction he wanted with a forceful grip to my arm, or by pinching my upper arm. He occasionally left bruises. And I remember once, when he was mad at me, he called me names. Told me I was fat and would never get anyone else to love me. He pinched my stomach so hard I started to bleed and had bruises for several weeks.
I didn’t learn though. I went on to have my first for real serious relationship in college with another abuser. He was much more into emotional and verbal abuse, and to be honest, he was much better at it. Or maybe it was just easier for him because I was already conditioned to believe it.. I will never know the answer to that.
He used to tell me all the time that I would never find anyone else to love me, or anyone else who would want to be with me because I was fat, useless, dumb. We took some similar classes in college and it never mattered if I was doing well or badly, his classes were always harder, he was always smarter. That was mentally debilitating. It was so hard to get up and face every day. With or without him.
Eventually we went away for a long weekend, he was in a fraternity and he had his fraternity formal coming up. I skipped class to go to Kansas City with him. Before we left, we were kind of fooling around. It went much farther much faster than I was anticipating and then when I said no he said it was too late. I endured a 5 hour car ride to Kansas City when I could barely stand to be sitting. He was not gentle.
Throughout the course of our relationship, the physical side of things never got much better. He assumed he was entitled to it. That he deserved sex for being with me. After all, as he was always telling me, he was a great catch. He was smart (average), athletic (WRONG!), and handsome (This is definitely the biggest lie and, and his mother, told him). I was dumpy (true), fat (also true), not athletic anymore (I played soccer throughout high school but quit playing when I went to school), and dumb (just one of the many ways he insulted my intelligence throughout a hellish 18 month period).
He eventually left me, which turned out to be the biggest blessing of my first 21 years of life. I’ve since had more blessings that I consider to be equal or bigger than that one. But for the 18 months we were together, I look back on it as a form of slow, self-inflicted torture. I hurt for my younger self, but I am thankful for the lessons it taught me. I have since learned not to take things for granted. And I try to be thankful every day for the things I have learned, and I have learned to be more empathetic towards people coming from all sorts of different backgrounds and circumstances.
I think the biggest thing I learned though, was how to pray. I pray every day for men and women to never know my struggles, or to have the courage and strength to get through them if they’re fighting the same battles.
Good luck all, thanks for reading!