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Can't Talk | September 27, 2020

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You Did Not Misunderstand

You Did Not Misunderstand
Guest Post

Please welcome new guest writer Bramblefae with a moving and beautiful piece on childhood abuse. Trigger warning: there is frank talk of sexual abuse in this article. As such, we’ve placed it behind a cut.

 

 

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“You’ll be moving soon and I just want to show you how much I love you.”

When I was nine or tenish, my parents got divorced. While all the things were going on, I spent a lot of time at the home of my grandparents. I loved it there. My grandmother was my everything at that point. She introduced me to garage sales and the joy and discovery of abandoned houses and buildings. I love history and genealogy because she taught me that it’s important to remember where we come from.

I don’t have a lot of memories of my grandfather before this time. I remember that he was recently retired and that he wore a suit and tie to work. I remember that he liked to hit golf balls with my dad and my uncle and that they all liked to drink beer and watch sports.

I cannot remember the first time he touched me. That time period blends together and I only remember parts and pieces in no particular order. That was what he told me though, over and over and in different ways:”This is how I’m showing you that I love you.” He also added, “Don’t tell your grandma, she wouldn’t understand.”

I never did.

I did try to tell my dad when I was 12 or 13. It had been a couple years since the the last time my grandfather had touched me. I don’t remember how much detail I gave him, probably not a lot; certainly not enough. I remember that he was trying to be comforting, but I also remember him ultimately telling me that Papaw drinks a lot and maybe he just got carried away.

He told me that maybe I misunderstood.

I am 44 now and this is the first time in my life that I am talking about this with any detail. Even my husband wasn’t given the details, but then he and I have always understood one another and he has always been wonderfully supportive of me.

When I was 19-20ish, my now-stepmother (And generally wonderful person-I love her very much now) asked me point blank if my grandfather ever molested me and I said no. I don’t remember what brought it on, only it was a confrontational moment between my dad and I, and she was new enough in my life that my first thought was “That’s none of your business!” because I didn’t want to be told I had misunderstood again. Because part of me wondered if I had misunderstood.

Because I’d told myself that it could have been worse (It could have but that’s not the point. It’s never been the point.).

My dad talks sometimes about his opinion of the idea of political correctness and will always use a variation of “I have always been half afraid to hug my daughter for fear of someone thinking the wrong thing.” Only in the last year or so did I realize that he was referencing what happened.

And I want to ask him questions, now that he has granddaughters.

Do you think sticking your tongue in your granddaughter’s mouth is an appropriate show of affection? Do you think that you need to tweak her nipples to see how she’s growing? Do you think that she needs to feel your erection for any fucking reason? Would you expect her parents or your wife to wonder what was up if she suddenly started having screaming hysterics whenever it was suggested that she be alone with you?

Do you think that those are easily misunderstood signals?

I want to tell you folks that I am sitting at my computer fighting tears and nausea because the idea of even typing these things is so overwhelmingly terrifying to me. I saved writing those actual questions until everything else was written because I’ve never gone into detail and I am sick to my stomach with anxiety and I am trying to be very careful not to tip over into panic now that I’ve put this into words.

Who am I trying to protect at this point?

I told myself for many years that it would kill my grandmother to find this out. She’s been dead for over a decade now and as I gather family history together I know that she knew he was, at the least, a shitty, unfaithful husband. He’s been dead for a handful of years now, too. I said for a very long time that when he died I would “dance on that fucker’s grave”.

I didn’t.

Somewhere along the way I—well, I don’t think “forgave” is the right word. I didn’t forgive shit. What he did to me was awful in every way. But, I found a place to put it that would keep it from consuming me, a place where I could remember, if only so that I could begin the journey toward letting me love myself.

But I am still terrified that someone in my family will read this, so you get my “internet name.” I am afraid to hear that I’m a liar, that I’m so dramatic, that I should let things go, that I shouldn’t disrespect the dead, that I misunderstood.

I am still trying to protect me.

In the end, though, maybe someone else out there—someone still questioning themselves, still thinking, “It could have been worse,” someone like I was needs to hear this. Someone who can maybe start on the long path to healing. Or someone else like me, who’s lived decades with it and is maybe doing alright mostly. Someone who just needed a reminder that they’re not alone.

Because you’re not. And wherever you are in living with the remnants of your abuse, you are OK. You are allowed to feel however you feel about your abuse. You are allowed to learn to love yourself.

You did not misunderstand. It is not your fault.

Bramblefae is a jewelry designer, mom, and wife. She likes video games, books, cute kpop boys, and sad elves. She’s also a fairly decent cook. Find her on twitter @bramblefae

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Comments

  1. Bramblefae,

    While I don’t have any experience in this subject matter, I can certainly understand just how nervous and frightened you must have been in sharing this with the world. I really do hope that it helps someone out there in some way and maybe inspires them to head down a healing path.

    For that, I want to commend you for writing this. Thank you for sharing such a personal story.

  2. ps

    BF, you made me cry. Thank you.

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