An adult’s secret, a child’s shame


A murmured command, a dilapidated porch. His eyes closedfrom ecstasy or from shame, I could not tell. Hands on my skinny thighs. Lego’s and Barbies and Nancy Drew books swept off the bed. Nancy Drew could not have saved me; her wholesome efforts to catch the villain would have been futile. This was a villain that evaded magnifying glasses.

It still amazes me how much detail I remember, for events that feel like dreams. I still remember his black mustache and swarthy skin, and how he used to cook breakfast on the weekends. Mama seemed so happy to have a man so willing to do the cooking. She used to say that in all her years as a mother, the only time she had been able to sleep in was when he was around.

I don’t really feel rage for my mom’s ignorance—feigned or otherwise. More like a quiet, seeping anger. A martyr’s anger, the kind that nibbles at you and serves reliably as an excuse. (Years later, I found out that she may have known something all along. But that’s a story for another time.)

As for him, he was (is?) a pedophile. That was his modus operandi. People say that the effects of shock after trauma are what keep you from feeling anything. After being numb for some time, the pain comes, along with the tears, the recognition of loss, the anger, the self-hate, the sensation of a phantom limb… Well, is there such thing as a phantom limb for innocence?

I once came across a website created by a pedophile, for pedophiles. It sympathized with them. Pedophilia, on this website, is characterized as a disease, as an orientation… Apparently, people who identify as pedophiles cannot change it or help it. They must simply accept that they are sexually attracted to children, and that acting on it is a crime, and will effectively render them pariahs of society. Upon reading this, in my disbelief, I started feeling sorry for them—Stockholm Syndrome instigated by the internet.

He fit the description. He touched me inappropriately, he told me to touch him back; he was an adult and I was a child then. But to label him, to mentally diagnose him that way would make a mugshot out of him; he wouldn’t be my mother’s lover years ago who made us breakfast. I’m not ready, after all these years, to make him guilty.

Updated 8/29/2016:

Upon further research, I have come to realize that, though he committed sexual acts against a child, that does not necessarily make him a pedophile. Pedophiles are attracted to children. But some, if not most, choose not to act upon their sexual desire. 

More later on the topic of pedophiles versus regressed child sexual abusers, I suppose. 

And yet, here I am, questioning if I have overtly been the product of all those incidents all this time, or if this is who I really am. My social awkwardness then and now; my fascination with sex and intimacy; my twisted perspective on father-daughter relationships… Is this all due to occurrences that still feel hazy to this day?

I don’t think I’m angry, per se. I have built my wall of self-preservation, a wall that started being built between the ages of 7 and 12. I merely mourn the normalcy that could have been, if all of it had not happened. I mourn the chance to feel innocent and whole, to not always feel like I’m hiding a secret, a secret that was not my fault, but still unnervingly, a secret that I am ashamed of. It’s a minefield I have yet to tiptoe across with the people I am closest to—my own mother, my siblings—and can only tell an online community of complete strangers.

I long for the day when I can look at a father and daughter playing together, and not feel a sour tinge in my soul, or for the day I can look an older gentleman in the eye and not feel naked. Until that day, this will always be my secret to bear.

A response to today’s Daily Post prompt: Secret


9 thoughts on “An adult’s secret, a child’s shame

  1. Dear petitewise,
    Thank you for sharing this post. You brake the viscous circle of silence, inside and outside.
    That is of main importance, because it is one of “their ” main strategies to keep abuse secret.

    By healing yourself, however long and whatever it takes, you do important healing work to the whole society, because it was a way to long time a “secret” of certain sick circles within the whole (yes ,also and explicitly the so called “higher”-) society. There are many women and men out there who have written books about that . One Lady that wrote a book about this, to break the circle, is already in her 60´ ties now, the daughter of the, in earlier times uuuh so much adored famous German actor Klaus Kinski.( I found this guy always creepy, and now I know why..)

    Their sickness is curable by the very same humanity, that they / we are living in: By giving them absolutely no chance in continuing their ugly victim- aggressor/ abuser game. By being who we truly are.

    I am touched by the very competent and compassionate comments I read already here, under your post.
    Do yourself a favour and be always(first!) compassionate with yourself, do not store any emotion attached to this inside of you. I am sure you can find your very individual way to let all this out what way ever: Art, Therapy, Self-help groups.,Music, writing…
    I am sure you CAN. You are worth it.
    The Shame should be with the abuser, not with you.Until HE does not feel it, there is not even hope for him, to do better.
    You can do your part (50%) and the rest of your physical relations are responsible for sorting out their own 50% of their inner psychological mess.

    You will find your own , real, spiritual” Soul-family” that will support you in most compassionate and beautiful ways. You just have to ask for it; what ever you believe in : Source- energy, The Higher Power, Krishna , Jesus , Buddha, Angels, LOVE…He/She/It will response to it.

    Most important: (Please)Believe in yourself.

    Thank you for Being You.


    1. Dear Andreas, thank you for your gracious and compassionate reply. What you said specifically about him feeling the consequence of what he did all those years back… It hurts me to say that I don’t think he ever will, not unless I confront him about it. And I’d have to confront my mother about it, too.
      Thank you for encouraging me to find some way to let my emotion out. I’m trying my best. I don’t often think about what happened during my childhood, but when I do, I actually feel very detached from it. But when I see something like that happen to someone else (whether it’s through film, book, or someone I know personally), I feel disgusted and emotional. I don’t quite know how to work these “muscles” that will eventually allow me to process this wholly. Any guidance you can give me would be much appreciated.
      Again, thank you for your words full of love and recovery.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Suaylia, for all the support. The statistics are sad – 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men have experienced personally sexual violence, in all its degrading and insidious forms. I think about people I know, and people I see, just walking down the street, and think back to these numbers. It’s horrifying how much is unsaid, and how uncanny it is that you can’t even tell who has experienced it just by looking at someone, or knowing someone on the surface level.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful, painful, from the heart. Keep talking, keep writing, people need to hear what you have to say, to know they aren’t alone…that is, if you wish to share it. Your choice, always. But thank you for sharing today.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Belinda, thank you for the encouragement. Like I said in the comment above, I was compelled to finally write about it after watching a film that tackled the subject matter, in a sense. Seeing it up on the big screen suddenly made it real for me, and it hit home the significance of what I experienced. Thank you for commenting, and sharing your compassion.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hello Petitewise,

    Your response to today’s Daily Prompt was much better than mine, and it took a lot of courage to open up and share this.

    I can not even imagine what that was like and is like, terrible, and I do not even know what to say; but thank you for having the courage to share this.

    -John Jr

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi John, thank you for saying so. This is actually the first time I’ve said this out loud, with the exception of telling a couple of folks in my life that I’m very close to. But like I said, I haven’t even told my family yet. I watched a new fantastic film that came out, called Spotlight. I highly recommend it. Watching it triggered me and made me angry at what happened to all those people years and years ago, and made me realize a couple parallels in my own situation. I just had to write about it. Thank you for being human and compassionate. That’s all I ask. That’s all anybody can ask.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You are welcome Petitewise.

        I have not seen the film Spotlight yet, thank you for mentioning it, but I did see a trailer and a review for it in the past.

        Good luck with telling your family, if you decide to, this could possibly help avoid this happening to someone else you know if this person is still out there; and maybe your family can help support you on this eventually.

        -John Jr

        Liked by 2 people

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