Searching for a Safe Place

Someone had asked me to write again. I haven’t had the bug because there was nothing for me to reflect or report on. Things have been dandy and I couldn’t complain and it wasn’t something I was going to force myself to do. And then something hits.

I can blame it on the Mercury Retrograde, having the flu, missing the boys, or the combative debater on the Autism Facebook group who liberally used the words, ‘moron’ and ‘stupid’ with no respect to other people’s feelings. Maybe it’s all those things.

Maybe.

I got a message from an old friend in continuation to an online chat we were having about a common friend who appears to be showing socially unacceptable behavior on a social media app. Our common friend never gave me any problems but his body language spoke volumes that his inner world was bearing down on him unkindly. I didn’t want to judge him. As much as I didn’t know how to help him, I didn’t want to be unkind. My chat buddy, the irrepressible joker that he is, decides to crack the wrong joke.

Me: We all knew something was not right but we didn’t know how to deal with it. We probably still don’t because we don’t want to trigger anything.

Chat Buddy: I think it has something to do with that time he was molested by an uncle. I made that up…bad joke.

Me: Yeah very bad because I WAS molested as child. So don’t fault me for calling you an asshole at this moment.

Chat Buddy: OMG. I AM REALLY SORRY. YES, I AM AN ASSHOLE and not just for the moment.  I mean it. I am so sorry and I really feel like an asshole.

Me: I know.

Chat Buddy: I promise I won’t share with anyone what you just revealed and i won’t pull off this sick joke. that’s the least I can do.

Me: OK but I have to go now and shake this off.

In that moment of profound depth and emotion, that was the only thing I could say.

The sad reality was that the shake-off part wasn’t easy. It wasn’t something I could dance off with Taylor Swift. For years, I had buried this and now it shows itself like the ugly zombie that it is, back from the dead.

People have been making child molestation as a comical reference quite a lot in my life lately. Even my own nieces and nephew, would joke about it. I would angrily tell them to change the subject. I couldn’t tell them why. Not even their parents, my own siblings, knew anything. I wasn’t going to ruin their young minds with my own tragedies. They didn’t deserve that. I didn’t want to be angry because I wasn’t angry at them. Kids  do stupid things all the time. It’s all part of growing up and adults are no exception. And so why was I shaking? Why wasn’t I convinced that I did a great job of redirecting that conversation?

I was 10 years old.

I remember wearing my favorite Hello Kitty sailor t-shirt. I wore that shirt every time I had the chance. My dad bought it for me from Japan. Some men and my father’s lawyer were discussing something in the second floor living room. I switched on the TV to watch The Electric Company. I sat on a huge armchair and thought nobody would see me nor the TV because the chair was big enough.

A mere few minutes into my program. One of the men, a stranger, sits on the armrest on my left and asks about my tv show, I looked up and saw a dark man with gray hair. I acknowledged his question and he asked if he could watch it. I was feeling uncomfortable and didn’t say a word. I just turned to continue watching my show. With no hesitation, he starts feeling my chest. I remember being immobile and confused. What was he doing? In my fear and confusion, I couldn’t speak. He explores his hand all over me while his eyes were fixed on the TV. Yet he didn’t stop. His hand went inside my shirt as he was searching for something valuable. He moves his hands down between my legs with no signs of stopping. I jumped up and ran before he go any further. I looked back as I ran and I saw him just walk back to his spot on the couch as if nothing had happened.

I see my mom in the second floor dining room. She calls me out. I ran to her. I was scared. Even worse, confused. I wanted to tell her about it. She told me to join the rest of us outside and not bother with those men and the TV. I said, ‘Mommy, yung mama…’ She waves her hands as if what I had to say was nonsense and motions me to the kitchen leading down to the garage. I complied and found my cousins in the garden where we played for the rest of the afternoon.

We never saw that man again. But the questions of who and why ran through my young mind. I also never saw my favorite shirt again and I remember telling myself that I was too old to wear Hello Kitty anyway. I never watched The Electric Company from then on either.

My own story can’t even compare to the more horrific versions posted all over media. But those few short minutes was enough to take me down to an abyss of worthlessness and powerlessness that kept me in this state of denied discombobulation for years.

I grew up with a massive chip on my shoulder. For decades, I resented the people who were supposed to protect me. I was the angry family black sheep. I kept so many reasons to prove how everyone was beneath me and unworthy. And that meant everybody, even my parents. For as long as I had the words to justify my anger, I insisted I was right. I enjoyed this power play. It felt good. For decades, I insisted on this appearance of strength and bravado of which even I wasn’t convinced. My pretension and my projects kept me busy so I can ignore my anger and resentment. My enemy was no longer in the form of a dark man with gray hair. My own enemy was now my own shadow.

In the years that followed, my power play did evolve to something more likeable. Eventually, I morphed into a less angry version of myself but still did charity projects left and right. Thirty five years down the line and a few bad jokes later, I see a tired and frustrated reflection in the hallway mirror. I find myself walking around in circles, fidgeting. I wasn’t mad at my chat buddy. He apologized and I knew very well that he was sincere about it. I was mad at myself again because I thought I had moved forward. I thought I was done with this.

What can I do? I can handle this. No need to panic.
Meditate. Check.
Pray. Check.
Yoga. Check.
Talk to friend. Check.
Watch some funny videos. Check.
Run off to polish off a few errands. Check.

A few quiet minutes in the car and I start feeling a few teardrops trickling down my cheeks. I guess this isn’t over. I guess I can’t keep a pin on it anymore and cast it off for later. It’s time to take the pin out. I guess I need to address it a little more strongly now. And maybe just gathering to courage to talk about it is a good start. It will make people uncomfortable and maybe even angry, which is not my intention but I have to take care of myself now. I need this.

WARNING: This is my blog and my space. If any of you have any opinions as to how I should get over this without a smidget of credentials on you nor with any direct experience of what I’ve gone through, think it over two times more.  And after that, if you still come back from that same standpoint, you can go fuck yourself. At least, you can’t blame me for not giving you a chance to save yourself from being an ass.