I’ll get you before you get me.

I’ve got a tender heart. I always have. If I know someone I love is sad, it hurts me. If someone I know is going through a hard time, I feel like I’m going through it with them. I’ve spent hours giving advice and talking people through difficult times in their lives. It’s much easier to give advice than to take it.

Most people see me as a tough. I’ve got the mouth of a sailor and my temper is an issue sometimes. I’ve been known to fight back. I don’t mind telling you exactly how I feel if you get on my bad side. I don’t care how big you are, I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman. If I am disrespected I’ll defend myself.

Years ago I was in a real life bar fight with a man 3 times my size. He called me a whore and I jumped all over him. I took a baseball bat to an ex boyfriend’s truck when I found out he was cheating on me. I got into a screaming match with a co-worker that was 10 foot tall, I wasn’t scared for one second. He threw water in my face because I wouldn’t date him. Everyone at work was shocked because this guy had been in prison for murder just a year earlier.

I have spent most of my life being a victim. A really good victim. I allowed people to treat me however they wanted, whenever they wanted. I was an abuse victim, a rape victim, a domestic violence victim. Any way that you could imagine being victimized, I was.

My father was in prison. My maternal grandmother was a missionary in Mexico. My mom’s siblings lived a few hours away and battled addiction issues. From time to time my Dad’s sister would come pick us up to visit our Dad in prison and keep my sister’s and I for the weekend. She was a good lady. Sweet and generous. She held my Dad’s family together. She tried to make us feel included and like part of the family when she could. Still she lived hours away and we didn’t see much of any of them.

I felt alone. I had my sister’s and my mother but no one else. I didn’t have a typical family with cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents around all the time. When I did see extended family, they felt more like strangers. I loved them of course but we didn’t have the time to get close and learn about each other.

I got really good at keeping secrets. I don’t remember ever being told not to tell certain things, I just knew to keep my mouth shut. My mom was a very social, fun person. She loved having people over every weekend.

They would laugh, play loud music and play pool. There was alcohol. They had fun and so did we most of the time. If any of my mom’s friends had kids they would bring them and we’d hangout while our parents had a good time. Every Friday after school I’d wonder what kind of weekend we’d have.

My poor mother had been in a long string of abusive relationships. My Dad, the next guy and my stepdad were all extremely abusive. They didn’t mind my sisters and I  knowing it either. I remember hiding in the bathroom with my Mom with the door locked trying to get away from her live in boyfriend after her and my Dad divorced.

My Mom had bruises. I’d lay awake in my bed TERRIFIED, listening to fights and banging, things being thrown and my mother crying. Sometimes she’d come get us all out of bed and we’d leave. We’d stay in a motel or at a friend’s house.

I knew a lot because I’d seen alot. When I was 10 years old I was tucked into bed visiting my dad. His girlfriend came home drunk late one night and things got out of control fast. Before I knew it there was a gun. Then there was a gunshot. Then there was a funeral. Then I had no father.

That’s how arguments ended in my mind so I avoided them at all cost. I literally panicked at the first sign of a fight. I didn’t think I did enough to save my Dad from prison or his girlfriend from death. I could’ve called 911, she begged and screamed for me to. I was just frozen in fear. Every fight after that would send me into this crazy frenzy of panic.

One night after the party was over it happened for the first time. My “uncle” who was my stepdad’s family member, came into my room in the middle of the night and violated me. I was just a little girl. I didn’t understand. I lay awake with my eyes shut tight and let him do it. I didn’t say a word. I faked sleep to avoid confrontation.

It became a regular part of my life after that first time. Every time I just layed there. I held my eyes closed and I didn’t move a muscle. I didn’t say a word. Ever. I never told anyone. I never told my sisters and I certainly didn’t tell my mother. I was afraid of what would happen after I told.

I wondered how life would be different if my Dad was around. I fantasized about my Dad coming and beating him up. I thought my Dad was Superman. I thought everyone was fearful of him and for good reason. He was never anything but loving and gentle with his daughters though. There was no doubt in my heart that we were the most precious things in his life.

My sister got into trouble at school one day and after our Mom picked us up from the parking lot she was giving my sister a piece of her mind. She was angry at my sister and her behavior. She was going on and on about how much trouble she was in. All of a sudden my sister shouted “Uncle Kenny has been touching me!”

Shock, anger, confusion and relief hit me all at once. “Not my sister. He’s been doing this to her too?” I thought to myself. We were close. Really close. We were best friends, never apart. If we had the choice to hangout with anyone in the world we’d choose each other 10 out of 10 times.

We told each other everything. We slept in the same bed all of our lives. Literally, until the day my sister left home we always slept in her bed. We had our own rooms but we preferred to share. We told each other everything. There were no secrets. Except for one.

Hearing her say those words hit me hard, they hit my mother even harder. The look on her face was one I’ll never forget. She looked at me as I looked at my sister and I guess she could just tell in my eyes. “You too” I didn’t know if it was a question, it didn’t sound like she was asking me. I thought she was making a statement. She stared at us, we didn’t speak. My Mom turned her head to the side and said louder “Randi, did he touch you too!?” I just nodded.

I couldn’t imagine the pain my mom felt. The anger. The sadness. The rest of that day was a blur but I remember how I felt. Relieved. It was over. It wasn’t ever going to happen again, the last time was the last time and I’d never see him in my room again. He’d never sit on my single bed again. I’d never have to look at him again. There were no more secrets. I didn’t have to hold that in anymore.

My sister was so brave and strong. I remember thinking “Well, why didn’t I just do that?!” She’s always been fiesty. She was outgoing and made friends everywhere she went. I envied that about her. She stood up to anyone and everyone. I was meek and quiet. I Let people at school bully me. This girl pushed me all the way home from our bus stop once and I was happy to let her. I couldn’t stand up and say “enough! No more!”

I don’t remember when or where I changed. It must have been gradual. I guess I just decided that I wasn’t going to be anyone’s victim ever again. I wasn’t going to be pushed around and I wasn’t going to take it anymore. This world has a way of hardening us, for our own good. Things that effect others don’t even phase me.

I have a hard time showing my emotions. I can’t cry in front of anyone. When other people cry it makes me feel uncomfortable. I don’t know how to deal with it. I can’t even admit to being happy sometimes. “I’m insecure” is something that has never come from my mouth. I have to hype myself up to apologize or admit when I’m wrong.

I’ve hurt people. I hurt people because people hurt me. I push people away. I tell myself I don’t need anyone. I’m angry, I’m closed off and shut down. I have to remind myself to hug and kiss my kids some days. I can’t see Christmas lights without having flashbacks to that December day my father became a murderer.

Things happen in life that will never go away. They will stay with you and haunt you forever. Being a victim is easy. Feeling sorry for yourself is easy. Picking yourself up and deciding you’re not going to let those things control you is hard. It takes a strong person. My physiatrist once said “I’m surprised you haven’t killed yourself or atleast attempted to.”

Getting through life shouldn’t be as difficult as it has been for me. No one should be surprised that you haven’t committed suicide. My life has been crazy. Terrible things have happened to me that should never happen to anyone. When I hear people say “Wouldn’t you do anything to be a kid again?” I don’t get it.

I’m scared of everything.  I have panic attacks. I have nightmares and I fear everyone I love is going to die. I sometimes have trouble finding the balance. There’s a fine line between being a strong person who refuses to be another person’s victim and being just plain mean and hard. It takes effort to open up. It’s difficult for me to recognize a person who truly cares.

It’s hard for me to tell the difference between good people and bad people. I’m on guard constantly.

I have to make a choice everyday if I’m going to be a victim or not. I realize that being hard, yelling and screaming. Fighting and the “I’ll get them before they get me” attitude is still letting them win. They changed me and I force the people I love pay the price. I force strangers to pay the price.

The people who hurt me should be paying that price. They are the only ones responsible for what they did. I shouldn’t punish myself or anyone else for it. That’s just something I’ll have to keep reminding myself when I catch myself being the person they tried to turn me into.

There are beautiful parts of my life. I’ve seen miracles. There’s love and laughter in my life every single day. The people who love me far outweigh the ones who hurt me. Those people, the people who have been here with me, the people who have cried with me and for me, the people who have never let me down, they’re the ones that matter. They deserve the best part of me. kathmanduk2-wordpress-png-cf

Don’t stay quiet. Speak up. If you’re being sexually abused, it’s not your fault. Talk to a friend, talk to an adult. Someone WILL help you. 

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