Push Back

I don’t feel safe. When things are scary, I draw into myself. There is no one I can trust so I find safety inward. I don’t know when, but I have stopped being able to look at myself in the mirror. I will look at parts of myself: eyes, teeth, hair. Just enough parts to make sure I am presentable. I feel shame, I cannot face my reflection. The girl in the mirror asks questions. She wants to know why things are happening, and if we will ever find love. I try to convince myself that the relationship I have with Charlie is real. I know it is not. He is using me for his pleasure, and I feel like a tablecloth. Spread across the table for everyone to feast upon. At the end of the night I am thrown in with the dirty laundry. I am trying to balance between Ted and Charlie. I want to tell Charlie about Ted, the years of molestation and how it’s still happening. I know what would happen: Charlie would tell his Dad, Pastor W, and somehow it would turn around on me like it always has. I stay quiet, I hide, and when I cannot hide, I shut down. It’s better to stay quiet than to be exposed.

I want: to hold hands, to kiss, to walk around in love and unashamed. I do not have that. I have: hiding, groping, unwanted force, public ridicule, told that I am disgusting, and ugly inside and out. I believe them. I don’t know anything.

I have started spending a lot of time with the preschoolers since I am helping teach them during school hours and babysitting most evenings during Institute. I am using the children to avoid Ted and Charlie. I am so relieved to be away from my desk during the school day. I am free from Ted and his wandering hands under the desk. In the evenings the footsteps from upstairs signal a break in their bible studies. I will hurry up and run into the kids’ room if they are sleeping, or try to busy myself with them if they are awake. I hear Ted’s footsteps on the stairs and my breathing becomes rapid, but I try to stay calm. He will persist, hang around, become agitated. I cannot walk away from him, there is no escape.

One night I don’t hear the footsteps, I miss my cue. I was sitting on the couch alone when Ted walked in the room. I got up, he advanced. I tried to walk past him and he blocked me. I told him “no”, he didn’t seem to hear. We are downstairs in the basement of the church. In a room that only contains a door, not even a window to escape, and no one to hear me call for help if I wanted to scream. I pushed against him and he pushed back, harder than I did. I was back on the couch before I even knew I had been pushed. I realize my helplessness. I apologize, and he has his way.

He tells me that he won’t go “all the way”, because I’m not 18. But it is clear to me that when I am, Ted will have more freedom. The thought of that is terrifying.

I push forward. I stay busy with the kids. They look to me for guidance, care, safety. I do my best to provide this for them. I look at them because I can’t face my own reflection. I am lost, I can’t care for myself, and I won’t feel safe for a long time.



2 thoughts on “Push Back

  1. Oh my goodness this is tough. I can’t even imagine the horror this guy put you through, and the way the sick nature of that church made you feel you couldn’t find relief anywhere. It’s a damn crime the way men treat women and girls, and to have the people who should protect you do nothing; it boggles the mind. I’m glad you made it out and I’m so glad you’re speaking up. People should know the terrors that can happen when parents don’t speak frankly and honestly with their kids about sex, harmful touching, and what to do when something bad has happened. And they have to be willing to go to the mat for their kids no matter what the church or God or any other institution has to say about it.

    Another compelling and heartbreaking read. Keep on telling your truth. The world needs to hear it.

    Liked by 1 person

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