Saturday, April 28, 2012

MOLESTATION: PART II

MOLESTATION: PART II

TO SEE ANNIE’S ORIGINAL LETTER GO TO “MOLESTATION: PART I” ON THIS BLOG

 

Nadine’s heart trembled nearly as much as her hands as she clicked through to read Annie’s email letter. Her best friend from childhood was not only writing her off as a friend, but Annie had accused Nadine of sexually abusing her when they were preteens. Had she really forced oral sex on her friend? Was the fondling of each other’s breasts really that devastating to Annie all of these decades later?

Although they now lived in different cities, Nadine remembered how two years before, when she travelled to visit Annie, they had talked in-depth about how as teens they had both been sexually abused by other people—Nadine by the stranger who assaulted her in the parking lot at the TG&Y store, and was drug by her hair into his old car, and then raped at gunpoint after he parked on a rural two rut dirt road; and Annie was abused by her next door neighbor, a married man who had fondled and kissed her on numerous occasions.

Nadine, jarred deeply by the horror of how her very own Annie could accuse her of something from their childhood, after all of these many years, made her question her sanity—not her own, but Annie’s. Nadine understood Annie’s mom had suffered severe mental illness and breakdowns and how her sister had suffered depression to the point of suicide. After hearing Annie’s new story the last time they had visited together in person, about how she had flashes of supposed memories of her own dad molesting her as a very small child, Nadine was not sure if Annie was imagining things or if it was real. She remembered Annie admitting at the time that she did not know, herself, if she had fabricated the “memories.”

Nadine considered this as she read through the letter again, trying to make sense of it all. It took her a good many days to ponder on Annie’s letter, and to formulate a response. Finally, she was able to send it:

Dear Annie,

Your letter came as a complete shock to me. I had no idea you had harbored such horrible feelings towards me all of these years. I think that some of what you said was authentic, and some was a projection on your part, but I will explain and perhaps you will see what I mean… and please forgive me for using some of your original words, but they seemed quite appropriate.

Annie, I am deeply sorry that I ever made you feel that I had abused you in any way. You have been my best friend for over fifty years and the thought of hurting you makes me want to wretch; I care for you very much.

However, Annie, you also sexually abused me.  Although fondling each other’s breasts was interesting at such a young age, when we were still developing and trying to find out what “normal” was, you violated me and my freedom by making me perform oral sex on you.  I wanted to know what it felt like, but when you insisted that I do it first to you, every time, I found the experience to be absolutely disgusting, and I felt dirty, and never wanted to do it again, yet you insisted I always do it first or you would not do it to me.

I felt coerced and only did it so you would love me back since your friendship always seemed… well, conditional with what you could get out of it (money was the biggest one, and why you dropped me in Freshman year for your “new best friend” (the rich girl) and made fun of me and made me cry in front of everyone). It seemed I was often your victim, yet we remained friends, until now, because of what you claim I did, as if in total denial about what you did to and with me at our young ages.

These events caused a sexual block that lasted into my adulthood, and it took me a very long time to not feel that my own parts were not “dirty” or “ugly” or inferior to that of a man. Having a previous husband who hated going down on a woman that way made matters worse for me. My low self-esteem grew to the point of where he couldn’t stand me (was self-perpetuating), and he cheated on me, and we wound up divorcing. 

I now realize you had a power issue and that it was related to the abuse you received, either from your dad (if that memory of his abuse is even real), or your mentally ill mother, or even the next door neighbor who abused you repeatedly. I think you see the same abusive behavior in your kids because it is an issue within yourself. You’ve never heard me speak of having addressed an abusive issue on my end because no one in all my years has EVER mentioned such a thing to me, except you right now, so I doubt you’ve dealt with it within yourself and are merely projecting it onto me.

I am not aware that anyone sexually abused Erika and Rachel from down the street… the only time I remember anything happening with them is when we all danced naked while drumming on an upside down bucket at the empty condominiums that were still under construction. Of course, that was actually Erika’s idea, not mine. Are you actually wanting me to apologize to them (who even knows where they live after all these years!), or to you so you can feel superior and “right” in your negative view against me?

As kids, when we did that stuff, it was because you were my very best friend, so yes, in my mind it was only that we ‘were just kids experimenting’ and so I put away the feelings that you coerced me to do thing I didn't want to do via threats. Even though we were kids, it was abuse. I have come to terms with that long ago though. Evidently you haven’t.

“I've done a lot of research on sexual abuse and abusers most often outright deny the abuse. If they admit what they’ve done, they claim it was mutually consenting.  They also consistently deny responsibility for their actions, occasionally blaming the victim. You might consider how this applies to you.” You can see how your own words, turned toward yourself, make you realize there is no forgiveness or “out” with the options above? These were your words, not mine.

 

“I cannot be friends with you until I can see something different than what I've seen from you thus far.  I'd like to see you own your own actions from our past.  I don't believe you'll ever be able to heal without that piece.” Honestly, since this is classic projection, I think that you believe YOU will never heal without this piece in place. The further you go to try to blame others, without taking responsibility for the part you played (it takes two, especially to keep doing it over and over), the further away from healing it actually takes you due to denial or self-deception; I learned that lesson when I was pregnant at age 15 when a lady told me that directly. I took responsibility for the sex I had, and also for my son, and I am rather proud of the adult he has grown up to be, to this day.

 

You refuse to accept responsibility for the problems in your current marriage, and the abortion you almost had (when I came down to help you through it) when you were also pregnant out of wedlock. I know you’ve had issues with and hated sex since the beginning, and is also likely why you claimed your first husband raped you in the beginning weeks prior to your annulment/divorce. I had my doubts then that what he did was actually more of a projection on your part than anything he may have actually done wrong, but since I was not there I never judged you.

 

I am sorry to hear you no longer wish to be my friend except to gain an apology for something I never knew you felt this way about. Is it more evil to harbor such lies against your “friend” for this long, or to lie to yourself? Perhaps your sense of guilt is fueled by your belief system that normal sexual behavior between consenting people (regardless of their age) is wrong and unforgiveable. Saying "No!" is non-consent, and by not saying 'no' it becomes consent by default. When I was molested by someone I knew at age eight, the next time they tried it I said, "No!" and threatened to tell on them, and it never happened again. I found my power, even though it took me well into adulthood to forgive them (after confronting them). I forgave the man who raped me even though I found out he raped a gray-haired lady after that. Perhaps you simply cannot forgive yourself for what you’ve done, too. I forgave myself long ago. Things are obviously, as you said, “unresolved” for you, and I think you need to admit what you did to me in order to offer a balanced perspective to anyone else about sexual abuse.

 

Annie, a quote I just saw yesterday was: “Student says, ‘I am very discouraged. What should I do?’ Master says, ‘Encourage others.’” This is why I am writing a book, to help victims of sexual abuse, and also the abuse by the legal system against innocent people who are wrongfully convicted. I am an advocate of truth and justice and am not here to judge you. I am honest, however, and think that you have a lot of healing to do, and to find within yourself a sense of responsibility for the choices you have made. What are you doing to stop blaming and start encouraging others?

 

I would have never, ever mentioned how your involvement in our sexual games as kids affected me then and into the future, had you not brought it up, and had no idea all of this would have soured in your spirit to the degree it has all of these years later. I am still aghast at your letter; I think you need help. The pattern seems to be that you blame everyone around you for your problems, especially regarding sexual matters and sex crimes. In fact, it appears that you are really feeling guilt and are in denial, so projecting it all onto others, even if they are or are not guilty of such things. You are the common denominator.

 

In the meantime, I can only say I am sorry for anything you took as abuse, and that I feel sorry you are stuck in victim mode and are having trouble moving forward in healing… yet you have reached out to me, even in a negative way, and so I am here to say that victimization is a choice. I admit I was a victim of you and others, and I can grow out of that experience, and in fact, I have. Perhaps it is time for you to grow out of your victim stance. Victimization is not always preventable, but the continued mentality of victimization is always a choice.

 

I believe you are much stronger than you realize, and also you bring this up now because you are finally ready to hear the truth about your own role, and let go of the fear and/or anger you’ve been harboring and feeding all of these years. Forgiveness is based on love and grace. Simply allow it. Focusing on the shadow instead of facing the light will only prevent your alignment with true spiritual healing.

 

Out of respect, I will keep my distance as you wish, and will not contact you again, yet I will always love you.

 

With love and sincerity,

 

Nadine

 



MOLESTATION: PART I

MOLESTATION: PART I

Annie stared at the computer screen for ages before she could find the courage to write to her best friend from childhood. Annie and Nadine had grown up together, since age two, and had gone through over five decades of good times and bad, and their friendship had endured the test of time. Except not this… not the molestation.  Annie was done and was ready to tell Nadine that their friendship was over.

With near-trepidation but great determination Annie wrote. As her fingers typed her heart grew more courageous, and her head became swollen with anger. She told Nadine all of the feelings she’d been keeping secret all of these years, even since she had tried to tell Nadine several years before but couldn’t utter the words. Nadine and she had played sexual games as preteens, but it still bothered her.

Annie could feel it in her stomach, and her words were strong:

Dear Nadine,

It is hard for me to say this after all of this time, but Nadine, you sexually abused me.  When we were young, you violated me and my freedom by making me perform oral sex, and fondling each other’s breasts.  I tried to refuse, but I was afraid you wouldn’t be my friend anymore. You were stronger than me and I was an insecure young girl at the time. 

I now realize you had a power issue and that it was related to the abuse you received. I see the same thing in my kids. I’ve never heard you speak of having addressed your issue, so doubt you’ve dealt with it within yourself.

I am also aware that you sexually abused Erika and Rachel from down the street. I think you need to make an apology.

When I tried to ask you a couple of years ago you said, ‘Oh, we were just kids experimenting.’ I feel you coerced me to do things I didn't want to do via threats. Even though we were kids, it was abuse.

I've read a number of books on sexual abuse and abusers most often outright deny the abuse. If they admit what they’ve done, they claim it was mutually consenting.  They also consistently deny responsibility for their actions, occasionally blaming the victim. You might consider how this applies to you.

 

I cannot be friends with you until I can see something different than what I've seen from you thus far.  I'd like to see you own your own actions from our past.  I don't believe you'll ever be able to heal without that piece.

 

You refuse to accept responsibility for your failed marriages. The way you abandoned your husband makes me ill. Don’t you believe in commitment?

 

I pray for you, but I just don’t want to be your friend, and I have already unfriended you on Facebook. Things are unresolved for me, and I think you need to admit what you did to me in order to offer a balanced perspective to anyone else about sexual abuse. Take me off your email list, and don’t expect me to ever support your endeavors on these kinds of topics.

 

Sincerely,

 

Annie

 

Annie made a huge sigh. She blinked hard, twice. After editing her letter, she mailed it to her former friend, Nadine.

 

She felt much better that she had gotten all of this ‘being molested’ stuff off of her chest… now she could heal.

PLEASE SEE “MOLESTATION: PART II” FOR NADINE’S RESPONSE



DIVORCE


Divorce…
Such an ugly word
And deed
So terrible when the love was replaced by sadness
When the stars that once promoted hope in one direction
Were replaced by clouds covering the eyes
From viewing its splendor
And eventually a distance so great none could reach it
It is here I say goodbye
To the dredging of the past
To the living of a dream stolen away
To hoping for things that could not be
Only with time, and yet, really?
Really?
No time can prove it out
What is known already in the heart
Except to manifest that very thing
Lest one is a liar
To know the choice in the beginning
Was one of loss
Either by choosing to let go by nipping it in the bud
Or because of a premonition that ripped it apart
Or because of an accident, or sickness, or death
Because the years were 25 apart
But knowing the real answer
Was the premonition of choosing
Choosing to lose that love either early, the easy way
Or late, the hard way
Somehow we always hope for hope
And choose the hard way
But now it is over
And what is done is done
So that it is what it is
And I go forward now as a divorcee
Alone…
Yet never truly alone
For love finds a way to renew
And the special spirit of grace
Brings new hope
And love transcendent
In my heart…


Thursday, April 5, 2012

TOLERANCE


I got an email from someone I’ve known for, like, ever… she was very frustrated with how she had stood up and yelled at her college teacher, because of the politically liberal views the professor discussed and promoted in class. Feeling regretful at her behavior, and for causing such a disruption in class, yet still standing strong in her convictions, she expressed a wish that she could be more tolerant and loving, but was unsure of how to attain this. She was not even sure why she had opened her mouth, or where that outburst came from.

This is the letter that I wrote back to her… perhaps you, dear reader, will find some way to apply this to yourself, too, especially if you have dealt with times of expressing intolerance in your life (perhaps especially in the realms of religion and politics--two very taboo subjects!):

Dear (name withheld),

I have gone through similar things in the past... what you have experienced here is simply a product of your upbringing, and what you have been taught to believe is "right." Most of us tend to think that our way is the correct way, and have a one-sided view because of our enculturation. Everybody, without exception, is encultured.

Our culture is learned behavior, nothing more.

It doesn't meant we are unknowledgeable about other cultures, or can't get along with people... it means that we view the world within a specific framework (our beliefs and values, which were taught to us growing up, and then made more in-depth by those we are surrounded by in our daily lives, the groups we join or are party to, the conversations we have with like-minded people, etc.), and so the views we have require us to see the world through a particular cultural "lens" so to speak.

Such lenses act as filters, and produce blinders, of sorts. We see the world as we have been taught to see it. Your political views were not inborn--they were learned.

It is likely you were--like I was--taught that socialism was basically like communism, and is the root of all evil in the world. Our generation, the cold war, television and military propaganda, and a hoard of other social influences have taken their toll. The generation before ours believed very differently, as does the younger generation today, compared to us.

There is a fascinating feature that happens to people who live in cultures that are based on individualism vs. collectivism. It's kind of like western vs. eastern, but it is more than that.

Ethnocentrism is particularly high in individualistic cultures, as we tend to stand up and revel in our independence and uniqueness and the laws that support that type of existence; this is also true and flows over onto our political and religious views.

Alternatively, countries that force a lot of control over its people (China is an example since even their Internet is highly censored by their government, and lots of propaganda ensues) can also be quite ethnocentric, thinking their own ethnic and cultural views are "correct" even if they are the opposite of other peoples in other countries.

The key here is our (and their) self-centeredness of thinking... beliefs and values that are held in high regard as the end-all-and-be-all of our personal worlds. We tend to look narrowly at other views, when it is all we know, understand, live within, and accept.

It is hard for Jehovah's Witnesses--who are enculturated to proselytize--to accept the views of a non-invasive Buddhist.

It is hard for a person who was raised from infancy in Christianity, to fully or ever understand where an atheist's beliefs (or nonbelief, which can still be utilized a belief system, although this is not always so) and stance is really coming from.

It is as foreign as a worker bee trying to understand what a dolphin feels, sees, and knows about its world.

In my opinion, your frustration with what happened stems from your own enculturation (past upbringing and how you were taught to believe and see your world through a specific cultural lens) as well as the ethnocentrism (ethnically-centered beliefs, especially in the micro-circuit of the daily circles you run and the people who surround you who believe as you do).

This is common for everyone, everywhere, and two of the most prevalent, permeating, and dangerous factors in human societies today.

These are the two most direct reasons why there are cultural clashes, a lack of self-responsibility to search out and truly understand other peoples' views and belief systems (as if inside of their own heads and skin--like walking in another's shoes), and is the cause of most misunderstandings, intolerance, and even wars.
It is the very seed of fear, which propagates prejudice, and is a breeding ground for growing anger and resentment... and outlashes in front of others.

I am not here to tell you that you are wrong, merely to remind you to be gentle with yourself because you are human. Others are human too, so be gentle with them as well.

As far as socialism is concerned, it is a huge problem in the US for citizens to think that socialism is the same as communism, and to group the two together. I used to have this view, but learned more later on.

Communism is a totalitarian regime, usually with the country run by a dictatorship rule, with the government telling the people what is best for them, controlling them at many levels. It is like a tyrant situation.

Socialism is actually quite different - it is much more akin to democracy, but is truly closer to the ideal of a government that is run by and for the people (rather than the people voting for rulers in government, who in turn run the country and its people, as in a democracy).

Socialism requires a very small government, such as in Canada, yet they are just as “free” as us.

Big government is usually found in other countries, like our own. The people here have less and less say so as time goes on and government gets bigger and bigger. The founding fathers attempted to keep this from happening originally, by giving the states control, but over the last couple hundred years everything has flip-flopped, including the parties (Democrats used to be more like today's Republicans in their values, and vice versa).

An interesting study was done a number of years ago by asking citizens of different countries how they would rate their own "happiness” and Denmark came out as the "Happiest" country on the planet, and they are a socialist country. They have a high tax bracket (as much as 45% if I remember right) but they also get free health care and they emphasize education of their people, giving them a 4-year college degree for free. I wish I didn't have 48K in student loans, myself, in order to have gotten my degree with social science/cultural anthropology, which didn't even get me as much as a job once I graduated.

The United States, comparatively, has a smaller up-front tax, but once you add up federal, state, local, vehicle and property taxes, school taxes, sales taxes, gasoline taxes (built in to the cost of gas), luxury taxes, and a host of other taxes, added on top of each other, it becomes clear that we pay as much or more taxes, overall, than do socialist countries, and wind up with far less life-enhancing benefits (such as health care and college education) to show for it. Plus our government is in dire condition for the deficit. One begins to question, upon looking at these things, why our democratic ideals are not as successful as they once were?

I have two friends here in WA state--an ultra-conservative, and an ultra-liberal--who are super good friends, and they can talk about politics all the time, and they get along for three main reasons...

1) they can talk freely, giving each other room to express their opinions (freedom), and

2) they don't try to tell each other they are "wrong" or to convert each other to their individual views (respect), and

3) they focus mainly on the things they DO agree on, which are qualities such as fiscal responsibility, small and non-invasive government, personal responsibility of those in office, etc.

They found they have far more in common than they do in differences, ultimately, because that is their focus, and their friendship has been going like this for many years, yet they still hold their own beliefs and political differences dear to them. Neither has changed the other in their beliefs or political stance, yet because of their positions they take with each other, exercising respect and freedom of opinion, their friendship and level of depth in knowing each other has grown tremendously, and so the dynamic of their relationship has benefited and changed significantly over the years.

The only constant, really, is change itself. Change is the one thing we can count on. This is also true when we talk about ourselves.

Whether we like it or not, we are changing every day... our cells are completely replaced every so often, and our bodies grow older, and our minds expand and learn and grow. We are not the same people we once were as children, or even young adults. We change. And thank goodness for that!

So let me ask a few hard (rhetorical - I do NOT want you to answer me; only yourself) questions:

How happy are you with what happened?
Were you trying to influence or change the other person’s beliefs?
Is your way of believing really better?
Does it help you to become a better person and make the right choice by taking that position?

Bottom line: If you don't like something about yourself, change it. It's that simple.

If you like your ethnocentric views, and your enculturated belief systems the way they are, and do not mind the occasional outburst against someone who holds a different view than your own, then leave it alone.

Stasis (a lack of change) is also a common tendency (a feature of self-preservation/survival techniques) of the human psyche, as is change, however, it is not nearly as powerful as change.

Neither is more right or wrong than the other. It is completely relative and depends wholly on you, and what you believe about it.

Beliefs can change, too.

Blessings as you journey forward in your endeavors to love others, and remember to please be kind to yourself first... there is nothing "wrong" with what happened, just as there is nothing more "wrong" about your beliefs vs. any "wrong" aspect of someone else’s beliefs, unless you call it such and draw that line between you.

Be careful what you label and how you view yourself and/or others (we are all just fallible people). Be gentle and forgiving with yourself as you continue to practice the same with others of the human race.

It's all about respect, and giving yourself and others room to grow and expand and live to the fullest potential possible. :)