June 8, 2016
Dear Darkened Rose,
I believe this will take me a while to write, so I’m sorry for the delay.
I need to talk to you about the Tiger thing again. So yes, it was just a single event happening a long time ago (deduced that it was the summer of 1997). It created a weak foundation for my opinion of myself and others. It was a learned disturbance that exponentially grew as I aged; shaping my life and sexuality.
I don’t remember what I have already explained to you. I only recall having one big conversation about it. What that conversation entailed is beyond me. So I’m starting from the onset of my memories and breaking this into parts.
Again, I can no longer recollect the majority of the emotions and fears that originated from this one occurrence. I do remember pieces of the moments afterward, but very close to nothing of the actual incident anymore.
When his girlfriend was not around, he resorted to me. Resorted.
When I shied away, he manipulated me by saying I had done it before when I was younger. But before that, I had not seen him in over three years. Did he take advantage of a 3 or 4-year-old? He would have only been 10 or 11 years old. That did not sound accurate, but I immediately assumed I had to believe him. I could no longer be juvenile. He was older than I was. I wanted to be more acceptable.
I do remember a very daunting, confused feeling that stemmed from a conversation that immediately followed.
We were next to the treadmill, the one on which Brad—many hours after—tore up his shins. I remember feeling incredibly directionless in that room. Tiger said a line that I have since seen portrayed similarly on sexual predator avoidance videos and the start of most young victims’ testimonies on Law and Order SVU. It was the betrayal of all trust and understanding with one simple, dismaying and contradictory side note.
“Don’t worry; it will be our secret.”
That’s what kept the child version of myself quiet. I had to keep this a secret (most presumably from you and Daddy). He said so. But worry? I felt relieved. I came to see this relief was very short lived (relatively, retrospectively speaking). I believed no one would know of the shame I felt if it was kept a secret. But I did not understand why I was so upset.
What happened was too mature for my little body. I had no idea.
Then, there was a time where I just kind of forgot it happened for many years.
I grew up strongly curious. I don’t know if what happened with Tiger was the fountainhead of it all, nor will I ever know. I bared guilt from that curiosity as well as fear. Society did not (and still does not) handle the sexually intrigued child well. That created a weight of ugliness through humiliation. I wanted to take pride in my abstinence, but feared that I hid behind that episode with those emotions until I later used it as a tool for something else.
Mary was the first to know. I don’t remember exactly how old we were when we talked about it. I know I bonded with her tightly because of her unconditional love and understanding of me as a confused and disesteemed kid.
In junior high, I grew talkative, over-inviting, and desperate on my new route to being cared for by others. I was willing to spend my secrets (and some white lies) in exchange for attention. Maybe that’s normal for those transitioning ages. But maybe I lived in a deeper need of this care for reconciling my past. Indignity always lingered, and I could never trust my opinion of myself.
It’s embarrassing that I talked about it so much. From boyfriends to close friends, I needed sympathy (and, more so, empathy) from someone I felt was close to me. Then, I trusted Janie and she cried for me. I cried too and with more emotion surrounding it than I had felt in many years. It was then that I knew it was time to confide in you and Daddy. I wanted you guys to know (with enough mustered memory) that I did not want to see his graduation picture on our refrigerator any longer. I had legitimate reasoning.
June 30, 2016
I’m tired but in good spirits today. I have been at work for—at the very least—54 hours a week for several weeks now. Things will hopefully slow down in the next month or two. I’m too busy to get you photos, but I will eventually have a big collection to hand you when the day comes.
I’ve had to take several breaks in writing this letter but found a lot of energy today to start again. Back to it–
I wanted his injustice to be brought to light in the eyes of law enforcement, but I did not have enough courage until the statute of limitations had expired by a year or so. I have to believe that maybe it was for the better, but I occasionally brood over the possibility that it was not. Was this an unfamiliar mishap that he never experienced outside of me, or has he manipulated another little girl with the same tactics?
He has a daughter now. I now have a trail of worry that I know may never be suppressed.
It is upsetting. I find a very hollow consolation in knowing that he was not aggressive with me. I believe I would remember a stronger fear, long-term physical pain, or scars, and I do not have any of these. I feel because of this I have found it easier to forgive him.
Someone summarized to me parts of a book he read about the progression of sex in society and the origin of the boundaries we now have. We discussed the reasoning for the combinations people tend to frown upon (i.e. a child and anyone older or one family member with another). Finally, I was able to gather education that what was wrong with what happened to me was due to the rules placed by a developed society to remain healthy and thriving communities. I guess that makes sense.
July 13, 2016
I’m tired again and feel like I’m repetitive. I started this. I’m finishing it. I’m onward moving.
A few years ago, my therapist decided we needed to unknot finally what still felt tangled there. She helped me practice finding this revelation that made me cry with the greatest sense of relief. She advised me to try to imagine sitting down the eight-year-old version of myself, and blaming her the way I still blamed myself for it. I lost my shit. We sat in a bit of silence while I wept, then smiled, felt anger, and then sat up with a straighter spine than I can ever remember having.
When I first started dating Caleb, I told him about my recent session with my therapist. I told him about what happened, and with the fullest sense of resolution I listened to him say “I’m sorry that happened to you.”
That was the ending I needed.
I love and miss you, as always.
Enclosed are cool things.
The Song: Youth – Ben Khan
In the criminal justice system sexually based offenses are considered especially hanious. In New York City the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members on an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit, these are their stories.