I think one of the reasons I don’t like reading what I have written in the past is that I rarely write about what’s going on in my life; I write about how I feel. It’s all about who made me cry, who I loved, who I wanted to leave. That’s not a bad thing, but out of context it doesn’t really matter. (i.e. Oh, I felt really shitty that day… I just don’t know why so I can’t determine what I learned so why would I care?)
For instance, and one of the first occasions of this, when I was 15 I was… let’s say “taken advantage of”, for lack of a better phrase. It was summertime and my best friend’s two older brothers took us to someone’s cabin on the lake. Also in attendance was their cousin, her husband, their two kids, the cousin’s husband’s friend and his daughter who was about 16. This was my summer of breaking free. It was the year I (stole and) wore my first bikini, it was the year I started drinking, and really started to side-step my parent’s rules. July 1987 was my one month of rebellion.
The cousin’s husband’s friend’s name was Dick – which I thought was hilarious. I decided to call him Richard and said I would only call him Dick if he was a dick. (He was beyond a “dick”, I just wasn’t wise enough to know it at the time.) Richard was in his late 40s (read: 25 years older than I) and he got me very, very drunk. I’m not saying I didn’t accept the alcohol willingly, I’m not saying I didn’t kiss him back, in the dark I didn’t mind him holding my hand and rubbing against my breasts and putting his hand between my thighs. I felt sexy, being wanted by an older man. Everything was blurry and funny and fresh. I was a virgin and we didn’t have sex but I let him touch me everywhere. While his daughter and who knows who else watched.
A few days later, in the middle of the afternoon, a knock came on my door. It was Richard, with his daughter in tow, asking if I would like to come to their house for a sleepover visit. I said no, I wasn’t allowed to go to Lab City. He was really quite pushy and was coming on to me as he did when I was drunk but this time it scared and sickened me. I realized how far I had pushed my luck with him and remembered all of my dad’s warnings about all of the bad things men would do to me given half a chance.
I became obsessed about him for a while. The fear consumed me. I hid when someone came to the door when I was home alone; I saw him at the mall, in the movie theatre, driving down the road. I remember jumping into bushes or behind clothing racks more than once. He was everywhere I went – whether it was my imagination or he was actually stalking me I still don’t know. But I reacted, I closed up and pulled back and ended my crazy month of rebellion, believing that my father was right and I didn’t want to be alone with anyone anymore. Even thinking about it now, tears well in my eyes and a feel the fear and panic of my 15 year old self. I kept it all inside. Here’s what I wrote in my journal:
July 20, 1987
I felt so empty today. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I was contrary and uptight. I felt alone. I couldn’t talk to anyone, I can’t even write it here. Someone could read it and then I’d die. Stories about parties and beer are nothing compared to this. I don’t even want to remember it.
That’s all I said about the incident. I didn’t write again for a month and then it was all about who I was crushing on again. During that month and before I was the wildest I’d ever been, I was messing around with every man who came in my drunken path, I was…
I just realized that I stopped dressing provocatively then. No more bikini, much more weight gain, I got my first real boyfriend after that, even though I didn’t really like him much. He was safe. That was what I wanted. Safe.
It has never occurred to me until now just how much of an impact that event made on my life. If I had told someone, they would have told me that it wasn’t my fault, they would have protected me and helped me understand that I was normal and human and safe without adding 20 pounds and bulky sweaters. I didn’t want to get in trouble so I pushed it away until all of those fears dried like concrete in my subconscious and stayed there.