Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Survivor's Remorse

This is, I think, one of my biggest issues. “Why me?” And I don’t mean why was I so abused as a child to the degree where I just stopped living, but why didn’t I get it worse? Why wasn’t I sexually abused?

Here’s the thing- I have a brother, older. I loved him so much. He was everything to me. He was two years older, but to me he was the strongest boy ever. I was always a nerd and he protected me at school, beating up kids that threw sand at me as I sat and read during recess.

But things changed quickly. My father had a ‘special’ relationship with his little boy. My mother also had a ‘special’ relationship with her beautiful boy, though I’m not sure of the extent of that one. My father did strip away his innocence and turned him from my knight in shining armor into the one causing me the pain. He’d hit me and insult me at school, and this later escalated as he would bring home knives and guns and became the strong man I always dreamed he was. And he went from being the smartest big brother to failing in some classes.

So as I go to therapy and ruminate about my life, I’ve begun to listen to these thoughts that have always swirled around in my head and they are coalescing around my brother. If I had been prettier, would my father have been attracted to me and my brother saved? My father always said I was ugly; I was never his beautiful little girl. Perhaps if I had looked better it could have been me, not him, and my big brother could have always been my big brother and not turn into the monster he became.

Then comes the other thought – what makes me so goddamn special. Was there a universal plan and I need to fulfill some greater purpose? When I think that way I see myself as a failure, I work one full-time job and adjunct at a college, I do nothing spectacular. If my brother was sacrificed so that I could fulfill God’s plan, am I failing the loss of his innocence?

It goes even deeper. My best friend in Junior High was a girl named Dawn. We used to always play together. She lived in the projects and I only a few blocks away. She had scars around her wrists and ankles. When I asked about them, she said her parents had tied her to the bed when she was little, that’s why she lived with her grandparents. But scars were natural in my world, I have one from when my father punched me in the face when I was about five, a nice white line from when my tooth went through my lip. And that’s just one of them.

Dawn and I used to ride together in the Salvation Army van and lay down in the back seat with our legs over the seat in front of us. Then, with each turn we’d roll into each other giggling and laughing. Sometimes we’d sneak toilet paper from the Army bathroom and hang it out the back window and watch it flutter in the wind and then break off square by square.

Then she turned sixteen and her father was released from prison. Nine months later she had a child and it was a pretty good guess who the father was. I saw her die when she first told me she was pregnant, it was the same look my brother would have when he came from one of his ‘father/son’ moments in the garage. She went on to have another child, and last I heard they were both taken away from her by social services and she was a prostitute.

I’ve seen other people fall too, sexual molestation is the absolute worst thing. But, while I had so many bruises, cuts, and scars not to mention the psychological torture my mother loved to inflict on me, I wasn’t raped.

And I want to know why. Could I have saved my brother from his fate?

Then the rational side emerges – I lived in an irrational world, and living in Manhattan I can recognize the world is still very irrational. I can’t say if it had been me instead of my brother things would have been different. Perhaps my brother would be severely screwed up because he, always the protector, couldn’t protect me. I also don’t really believe in ‘grand plans’ just that I was born to be me, and that’s who I am. Then I start to think of how screwed up I am to wish that my parents had sexually abused me instead, or even in tandem with him so at least we might have an understanding.

One thing I’ve come to realize is that I’m alive, which I guess makes me sorry and guilty that so many other people aren’t. I always thought I was going to die by age fifteen, or twenty-five, or thirty. Then when I finally got out of my mother’s control I realized I had already died so long ago and that now, now I’m actually living.

And now I want to know why I couldn’t bring my brother or friends from that time with me. I want to know why that kind of bullshit still continues and so many children are made to suffer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


As a sexual abuse survivor, I am curious. I didn't think we had it worse than others, but I suppose so.

I doubt you could have stopped your father. You were a child. These were adults who were there to supposedly protect you.

Blame and responsibility are natural feelings, but really, how much can you blame a child?