When I first started reading the New York Times op ed piece of someone famous recounting how they were abused growing up, my heart started tightening with each word on the page.
I knew, with every word written describing her abuse, and not naming her abuser, she was literally describing one of my many abusers. My chest was tight, and I was barely breathing.
I felt frozen. My mind was alternating between paralysis and flashbacks of this man we shared as our abuser.
She was able to describe every despicable detail of this man and how he started sexually abusing her when she was 14.
My mind was flashing back to a day of being in this man’s van, in my childhood neighborhood, watching in terror out the front of the van window as my mother and this abuser argued outside it. They were arguing about me, and something my mom wanted in exchange for me. I was only 7 or 8 years old.
This was a habit of my narcissistic, sadistic mother. She would trade me to men for things she wanted from them. I think she usually got whatever it was she wanted.
By the time I was in the van watching this “heated negotiation” go down, I was already broken by all the abuse I had previously endured.
My being was silent and resigned to this way of life.
As I write this, I can feel this disgusting man on top of me. His sweaty skin touching me. He was a pig.
My mom got what she wanted from this man for a couple of years. She wanted this former Olympian and pillar of the community to coach one of my brothers to become an Olympic swimmer.
I was excited for my brother because he could have made it to the Olympics. He was a great swimmer, and still has the body of a great swimmer some 40 or so years later. The chaos and pain of our lives derailed those plans.
For this negotiation to work out between the coach and my mom, I had to be on the swim team, too. Sadly, I was a pathetic swimmer, but had to get in the pool with some of the best swimmers who also wanted to be Olympians.
With each lap my weak body swam during those practices, I cried and screamed and wished I was dead while I went from one end of the pool to the other. Sometimes I would swim to the bottom of the pool and try to will myself into staying down for good.
Sometimes I focused all my attention on the cheeseburger I was going to get at the snack bar afterward. Food was scarce for me in those days, so it was a luxurious treat I wasn’t accustomed to.
By this point in my life, I was lost, alone, and like a robot. I didn’t feel human, and thought I was already dead floating around the planet with seemingly no control over my life. I had no one to turn to. It was just me, on my own, in a very cruel world.
My life has always felt ruined because no matter how many years pass, the horrific abuse I experienced is still there. My mind holds it alive for me and won’t let it die.
But, to read this famous person’s account of her awful abuse by this man, I felt terrible. I think she has always struggled to get people to believe her because no one wants to believe this Olympian and pillar in the community also molested children.
I don’t care if anyone believes me. It doesn’t matter to me in my healing.
I reached out to the famous person by sending her a message on Facebook with the intention of validating her by telling her he abused me, too. I never thought of anything past that.
The next day, one of her employees contacted me through Facebook saying the famous person wanted to talk to me.
At first, I was like sure, here’s my info. Then I felt panic and fear sink in. What had I done? I know better than to talk publicly about my abuse while my mom is still alive. It is more than forbidden.
A couple of hours later as I was at a baseball camp with my son, I see a call from Los Angeles come in. I listen to the message and it was her. The tears welled up inside me as this brought this particular abuse front and center in my soul.
I felt pathetic and ashamed because I didn’t even feel worthy enough to speak to her. Not because she is famous, but because I am so ashamed of me and my abuse history.
She has the courage to speak up because she is strong and has made something of her life. She can remember every detail of her story.
I grew up like a piece of garbage to my family. I was disposable as they let my life unfold the way it did. I never mattered to them, so often I don’t believe I matter to anyone but my children.
How can I explain to this strong, courageous woman that I am so worthless as a human being that my own mother facilitated my abuse with our shared abuser?
I can’t just join the “me too” campaign and rock on with my sisters in the world who admitted their abuse.
There is only a small minority of the world who understands the type of childhood I had, and the baggage that goes with it.
My mind shattered. I am not whole. I am a 50 year old woman who lives her life with different “parts” of myself who helped me survive the never-ending abuse of my childhood.
My brain and spirit are ruined most days. I continue to fight and believe that one day I might recover from the brutal experiences of my life.
It’s interesting. I have learned there are those who have been abused who want to punish their abusers, and there are those of us who are only trying to hold onto our lives and have no expectations of trying to get justice because holding onto life is hard enough.
Sadly, Justice left me the moment I was born. Justice is overwhelming and complicated for me. It is not for me.
In the end, I am fairly sure there is no real justice for any of us who have been abused, because you cannot change the lost innocence and the damage done to those of us who manage to carry on with our scarred lives.