I am approaching the anniversary of my rape differently. I will be posting pseudo diary entries chronicling the events in real time, be it on a 43 year delay.
May 27, 1974
The day dragged on forever. I hung out in my room. In the late afternoon I started to move. I finally took the trash down to the mine hole. When I got back to the house my dad made a comment. I took a shower. Besides my dad the house was empty, it would be easy to just head out without questions.
Around 6 I left. This was the earliest I had ever gone out. I had an almost full pack of cigarettes and $5. I thought I would go to Atlantic City. I knew it was near Philadelphia, so I headed towards 309. I lucked out, when I got rides they were long ones. But I did spend a lot of time on the shoulder. It took hours.
I got to New York Ave around 1 or 2 in the morning. There were guys everywhere, coming and going. I thought I made it too late, but learned the bars stayed opened 23 hours. I hung out watching everything.
Somehow I found Bobby’s friend. He said I could stay the night, but only one night and he wasn’t going to feed me. That was OK, because I was going home the next day.
My family always referred to this episode as when I “ran away” to Atlantic City. I let it stand for decades, but it wasn’t accurate. When I set out, I wasn’t planning on being gone more than just the night. I was 15 and I did not think it through.
I never felt close with my family growing up. My father’s depression and the treatment of it kept him distant. The intense shame of the assault taught me to be closed lip and secretive. I felt like a fake, because I was. I paid extra attention to knowing the right answer and having it believed. It’s a vigilant skill secrets demand.
It crumbled at the start of high school. Weeks after being molested the drastic changes were evident, hostility and anxiety were dictating every move. I did everything I could to be repulsive. I remember my twin sister asking “What happened to you? Where’s my brother?”. I couldn’t answer her.
My father passed in 2013. At his memorial luncheon my twin made a joke about when I ranaway. It stung how much I had keep to myself for decades. The darkest day of my life is embedded in that episode and no one knew it. I wrote her a letter telling her my entire story. I didn’t dare mail it. I sped read it over the phone to her. She was the first person in my family to know my entire story.
I had tried before. In my early 20’s I had started to work on myself. I decided to tell my mother my secrets. I was going to do it in the broadest brush possible, but still be honest. The assault was still nameless and extremely difficult to talk about. She said it never happened. I kept talking. I told her I was molested in the theater. She paused and told me what she always thought: that I was having an ongoing affair with a man 25 years my senior, “like the greeks”. The man she suspected ran a community theater and picked me up most evenings for 4 years. I was shocked and dropped the subject.
I wasn’t angry that she assumed this. But did she really think it was OK. Maybe she weighed her options, I was extremely defiant, so she couldn’t have stopped it. But even if she did approve, didn’t it warrant some conversation? And what do I do with her denying the assault? I suspect she wasn’t challenging my honesty, but instead couldn’t bare the thought. Neither of us ever said another word to each other about it.
Preparing for this project I pondered ways of sharing it. Besides just posting on a rarely read blog, should I notify friends and my sisters of the anniversary or this project? A serious question came up: was I prepared for how people may react.
Another important question is what do I want from sharing? The anniversary has been a dark and dreadful. I don’t want to go through it alone. I want to connect with people. I want to break silence. My therapist suggested a celebration. Bingo. I’m not sure what I’ll do or if it will be Thursday (the day) or Friday. It seems more likely I will come out as a survivor on Facebook. In addition, every day in the entries I want to note an aspect of myself I admire or cherish.
Today I celebrate the adventurous boy. For a number of years leading up to this episode I had been searching for a better place. Growing up, homosexuality was treated as a dirty, tragic condition. In junior high I scoured the public library and found exactly 3 references, 2 were just lists of disorders. The third was an entire sentence “homosexuality is an incurable disorder”. Hearing snippets on the news about Gay Liberation gave me hope. There was a men’s college 7 miles from home. 1 in 10 meant there would be a high consideration there. Though I was venturing well beyond where I was allowed, I rode my bike there. I was hoping to find posters for the revolution. Damn, I love that dreamer me.
This series continues with ’74 Fold – Tuesday
Thank you for reading. Comments and constructive conversation are always welcomed. I can be reached privately via the contact page.