I performed a writing exercise two days ago. I attempted to recall memories about my abuser. I’m just now beginning to feel like myself again (whatever that means). Most days my head is abuzz with thoughts about what it means to be a male survivor (whatever that means).
My abuser was my sister and that causes me to have a lot of questions about what it means to be a good brother and son.
Was I supposed to tell?
Was I supposed to stay silent?
Did I rip my family apart?
Will I ever feel as though I belong at another family get together, or did I pay the price of speaking about my abuse with the relationships I once had?
Are there any “supposed too’s”? Probably not. Even so, I can’t help feeling as though I betrayed my family.
I wonder if any other survivors feel this way. I’m sure they do. Especially those that were sexually abused by a close family member, or friend of the family.
There’s one memory (actually a collection of memories that result in years of my life) that I can’t get over.
“Maybe you should just leave,” she said over the phone. I lay in the bed of my dorm room. The pain in my stomach was unbearable. I could barely move. Let alone eat. It had been that way the entire first week of college.
She said what I was thinking and I did it. I withdrew from my classes and left college. I had a year to return, and that’s what I did. But for one year I stayed in her house. I helped raise her daughter, my niece. I worked (Old Navy), paid rent, saved, and even bought my first car from her husband (97 Mazda 626). When I returned to college I still returned to her house for breaks and summer to work.
Peoria was too painful (domestic abuse, sexual abuse, home foreclosure, homelessness, striving to hide depression through perfection).
Without her, where would I have lived?
What would I have done?
Does this prove she is not a monster?
Does this prove I am a monster?
Do I owe her something? My silence. My loyalty?
There are so many memories I could include that teeter the scale from one side to the other.
Memories of her taking me shopping to buy new clothes with her money to stop the bullies at school.
Memories of her wrapping a plastic sandwich bag (later plastic wrap) around my penis and tying it off with a rubber band before raping me.
Memories of waking up in the morning to drive me around my paper route in the snow and rain.
Memories of her pubic hair and bad breathe. Memories of yelling and cursing. Memories of borrowing her money to pay for past due bills while in college and as an adult.
Memories of being allowed to go out with her and her friends.
Memories of sleeping on the floor beside her bed. Memories of an argument over a pillow. Memories of hearing nothing when our second daughter was born, or we lost our son. Memories of the weight of her body on mine. Memories of being told “go get me” over and over again and hating feeling as though I had no control. Memories of lies, half truths, “don’t tell”, feeling alone, and knowing I was going to hell.
So many memories.
Too many memories.
I wish I knew what it meant to be a male survivor, or even what that means.
Do I even have permission to call myself that, or am I an impostor?
Most days I feel like a liar.
I wish I knew.