Have you ever thought, how everything in life, every choice and every consequence leads you to a certain path, that could have been entirely different from the life you lead now? I see it as a game of connected dots, a puzzle that you struggle to solve, every piece directing you to the next, I came here to search for myself, for the fragments of me lost over time, and little did I know that I was sent here for an entirely different purpose. To make peace with my past, to come to terms with the aftermath of my childhood trauma and silent shaming as an abused kid, but more importantly to hear the exact story from a friend, to hear him/her recount the details of his/her rape as a child and how he/she kept it a secret for all these years. He/she read to me a personal letter that began with "To him". I listened in tears, and when it was my turn, I shared my story. I was 12 when it happened. It was a relative. I remember the very first time it happened vividly. He kissed and touched me that night then sent me to my mother’s. I didn’t fight it, but I remember being in a state of utter shock. A fuse in my brain disconnected. I felt betrayed, ashamed, awe-struck, afraid, perplexed, but at the same time, I was a curious kid and in a way it felt good. Abused victims never speak about that? And my friend validates that. We blame ourselves for it, because in a self-loathing repugnant way, we secretly enjoyed it. It continued to happen for quite some time, so much for my oblivious mother, whom I secretly blamed for not noticing. My grades at school dropped, I used to be the second, slowly I became the fourth, sixth until I lost all interest in school. I was silent, hardly ever muttering a word for a few years, unable to form a coherent phrase, we continued to live in the same household until I was 16. I had learned to cover myself up, avoid all communication with him, and sought salvage in art and cinema. I hated the guts of him, wanted him dead. For years, I’ve lived in shame, blaming myself. If I had confessed to my mother then, I doubt any action would be taken, I would be probably be forced to remain silenced for fear of scandal and breaking up the family. He is married and has three kids. I’ve never confronted him, all I know is that I don’t want him in my life, (he sent me a tweet earlier this month). I’ve never shared this with anyone before, but my friend’s coming out letter sort of gave me the courage to come out as well. This is no secret, and there’s no reason to be ashamed. I need to forgive that little girl. And maybe voice it out, for other girls and boys as well, for them to know they’re not alone.
I don’t have much memory or written records of the post-abuse period (from Age 11-16). I was silent most of the time, for years, unable to form a coherent sentence. I would stutter from one sentence to the next. I would resort to imagination and movies as a source of escapism. I would memorize lines from films (mostly dramatic films) that I would act in front of the mirror in the bathroom and watch myself come undone. OR I would conjure up imaginary people, real or fictional whom I would talk to, since I had no one to talk to. It was therapeutic but I had no voice. No written or spoken voice. I couldn’t master the courage to write until I was 16. That’s my biggest fear now. Not having a voice. I spent years finding my voice and I’m only beginning to find it. Watching Anywhere but here brought this up. I don’t know if it was the title that got to me or Natalie Portman’s relate-able aloofness that resembled my own, the way she carried herself as an adult even though she was a mere teenager, or her plan for escape as I daydreamed of my big escape. Her audition where she played her brat of a mother and sang “Just be optimistic and smile” with characteristic despondency is engraved in my memory. I think mostly it was her turbulent relationship with her mother, loving her but wanting to get away from her, which again echoed my own (except that my mother is now dead and I got to get away and live alone like I wanted). It’s like she had to die for me to live my life. How sick is that.
Acting is a safe haven for neurosis to reveal itself. I think it was James Dean that said something along those lines. I believe in that. Anyway, I made a list of films I remember that resonated with me during that period:
Anywhere but here
What’s eating Gilbert Grape
Little miss sunshine
Good will hunting
This boy’s life
P.S I am not a victim and I do not want to be perceived as one. I was victimized but I refuse to take part and act the role of the victim mentality.