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The verdict in the molestation trial of Jerry Sandusky is in: Guilty.
I read Yahoo Sports writer Dan Wetzel’s article just after breakfast. His previous articles about the case have been fair and shown no bias, which in itself marks him as an excellent journalist, particularly in the sports universe, which often rushed to the defense of its heroes and legends when their worthiness is challenged. With this article, it was as if Mr. Wetzel had let a dam burst. There is no mistaking his personal feelings about this case. And I admire him for expressing them.
I am glad that Sandusky’s victims have found some justice. What happened to them can never be undone, and has left permanent scars but perhaps this gives them an opportunity to live somewhat more peacefully with those scars, knowing their stories have been told, and believed. They have been vindicated.
My own reaction to this verdict has fascinated me. This man is guilty. And yet, somehow, when I read the verdict, I felt a strum of guilt, sorrow, and doubt in myself. Like my childhood self remembering how I must have been mistaken about what was happening, how I should respect and pity my abuser, how it was me that was crazy, not him – not an old grandfatherly figure. Shit.
This has stirred up a lot of stuff for me. How we protect our abusers by our silence, and how we are mentally manipulated by them so that the concept of right and wrong is twisted into something like a cheap candelabra pulled from the ruins of an incredibly hot fire.
I am not one to revel in the misfortunes of others, even when they brought those misfortunes – and this guilty verdict – upon themselves. Perhaps I should find more peace in justice. Perhaps part of my own issue is that my abuser died before I (or anyone else) could confront him. And his sins died with him, except in the minds and souls of those others (and I’m sure there were other, not just me) that he abused. There was no justice there.
I guess I will have to think on this some more.
This will be an interesting (for me) and soul-baring post.
As my world has turned upside-down again in the past 24 hours, I have had some revelations. Some before the polar shift, actually, and one in the tub just now. Yesterday’s was about my mom’s death – and my dad’s – and is best saved for a different post. Today’s is about me.
When I was 9 or 10, I was sexually assualted by our neighbor, next door to the beach house where we spent every August. He was old – in his 70s perhaps. I can’t recall much of the incident, which I suppose is a small mercy. But I can recall the smell of him – cigarettes, the spread on the bed, some of his words in my ear, his weight, the ceiling, and the view out the bedroom window of my own cottage, right next door, almost close enough to touch. But a universe away. I couldn’t tell anyone for years. I spent months making lists of how to avoid him, in anticipation of the next summer. When we went the next summer, he had died.
I look at my sexual behaviors that have focused on power, not intimacy, for all of my adult life. Those same behaviors that are now costing me the one person I have truly loved, because he cannot be convinced that I will not betray him. Those behaviors that served me in a few ways, and were a disservice to me in so very many more. And laying in the tub, trying to breathe, I realized that all I have done with men since that late August afteroon so many years ago, is try to be in control of them before they could be in control of me, before they could hurt me – in any way, before they could do what Mr. Sutton did to me 37 years ago. And sex was the only way I knew how, because of that day, and because I couldn’t tell until it was too late for me to unlearn it. It was so very shameful, and unbelievable.
My soon-to-be ex-husband blames our sexual problems on this experience that he claims I have never really told him about. I have, many times. He just chooses to forget. He has his own demons.
I have been in and out of therapy since my 20s. Of course this came up. I processed pieces of it. But only pieces. Over the last few years, as I came edging into a sense that I might be able to love, I started examining the fringes of my behaviors, of my past. But I didn’t know what to do with it. And there was no one to help me. So it was still, leave them before they leave you, push yourself away.
And then, last summer, just as I had made some resolutions to change my sexual patterns, along came someone who I could love. It felt different. I fell in love walking along a beach and after a little time, I realized I had found a home in this man’s heart. I felt my heart expand in a way I had never imagined. I could open up myself to him about my past, about what happened that day. I processed more in his arms than I had in all these years of therapy and solitude. I gave fully of myself and my heart to him. I finally felt safe. I had never – NEVER – felt safe before.
And now he is gone.
I am not asking for pity. I cannot change my past, and I am not very proud of it. And there have certainly been worse women than me. I am just lost now, without that safe circle of his arms. And it felt important to tell.