In my shock, I dreaded what my Dad was going to say. My only job was to protect my twin sister, his favorite. I couldn’t even protect myself. He was going to hate me when he found out.
But no one ever said a word. Nothing. Not even yelling at me for being so pathetic. I dreaded and waited and nothing. Dread was my punishment.
My parent’s silence was how they screamed Shame. I started hearing it leak out in comments, nothing direct, never direct. Soon everything was a backhanded stab. I filled in the clarifier at the end of sentences that they never said out loud. Praises were tainted, I knew they meant to add “…for a sissy”. No matter what words they used, what they wanted to say was “weakling”, “pussy”. They hated me so much they couldn’t even stomach a whisper. It was so bad, I was so bad, they couldn’t bring themselves to scream the filth at me.
I should have gone crazy, but I didn’t, I adapted. I kept my secrets, kept my mouth shut, I made twisted sense out of the pieces and I stayed in the noise. When it was unbearable , I‘d go into the storm and fantasize about punishing myself. That was the valve that let me function. Relief was just a shit storm away.
Years later while still in elementary school my brother brought up the kid. He said “little guys are like monkeys, once they are on you you can’t get them off.” That was all he said. Was he talking about IT, or just the kid in general? I wanted to know, was the silence finally over? But he didn’t say anything else.
To this day I can’t bring myself to ask him. The guy died last year. I called my brother. I struggled to say I had a history with him. My brother quickly said “you don’t have to tell”. At the time I thought he was saying he didn’t want to know. The next day I thought maybe he couldn’t bare to add to the inventory of sick things he knew the kid did. Just now I wondered if he meant he knew.
I had assumed my sister watched it happen. I thought my mother’s friend could see what was happening from the stairs. The boy was the only kid on our bus sent to a different school. I assumed it was to keep him away from me. Four years ago I got the courage up to speak to my sister. She didn’t see it. I had to face the possibility that no one ever told my parents. It was a bittersweet relief.
It doesn’t change what I went through, it just makes it wasted. Why couldn’t I have gone home that day and said “something bad happened”? Because the shame was already waiting. What was brewing in me before? Maybe it wasn’t one moment that changed me after all. Maybe the assault just focused everything that was in me?