by Cheri Lane
This is a memoir of incest and, as such, the contents of this book constitute a work of nonfiction.
“Big blue eyes; Tiny little figure; Stand back boys, ‘til I get a little bigger.”
I remember the words and the singsong manner in which they were repeated to me time and again by my uncle. Then he would smile at me and play “got your nose” as he swiped his thumb and fingers across my nose. I would laugh, thinking what a fun game we were playing.
I have heard the charge to children who are either experiencing abuse or who have experienced abuse at the hands of another, to tell someone so that the abuse as well as the abuser can be stopped. But what if the signs and symptoms of abuse appear slowly over time and long after the incident or incidents have occurred, leaving the victim scrambling for plausible reasons for them? If a child lacks the cognitive or emotional maturity to acknowledge that what was done was wrong or harmful, then how can that child tell someone? The answer to this question is that the child is incapable of telling someone. As a result, that child lives a lifetime of fear, shame, pain, as well as a lifetime of various psychiatric and medical issues. I know, because that child is me.
My visit to the home of my aunt and uncle was only going to be for two weeks, but this was the two weeks that would change my life forever. Trusting that my uncle had my best interests in mind, as I had no reason to distrust a family member at my tender young age, especially one who looked so important and respectful in his police uniform, I was eager to play whatever new game he made up. We played many games during my brief visit, but there was one game which my uncle seemed to prefer to any other. We always played his favorite game at night, and only at night.
My life seemed like a sweet storybook to one who did not know me well or to those who did not know what had happened to me. But to me, creating a storybook existence was the equivalent of erecting a stone wall around what had become my reality. It was my defense against further pain and hopefully further shame. I did whatever I could to make my life appear as picture perfect as possible on the outside so that no one would know the truth about me, the pain and guilt which were hidden beneath the shiny veneer of perfection that I had worked so diligently to maintain.
The doctor leaned over, placed his elbows on his legs, looked me directly in the eyes, and dropped the bomb. “I have never known of anyone experiencing what you have just described to me who has not been sexually abused at a very young age.” I asked him how this could be, that I would not know that “games” played as a child could be responsible for a lifetime of altered thoughts and feelings.
- Beau to Beau Books, October 2012
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