Behind closed doors

Behind closed doors

My privacy was publicized by familiar hands that turned out to be foreign. Then, I was still a child. I didn’t know what was right, and I didn’t know what was wrong. I was still learning. I remember snippets of instances, maybe my mind is making them more vivid then they really are, but nonetheless, they did happen.

I remember, me standing in front of a mirror in my aunt’s bedroom, hearing the sound of a door open and close, feeling him press himself up against me from behind, placing his hand between my legs and pressing upwards, kissing and biting my neck, then staring into my eyes through the mirror, and stating, with his knowing smile, “You like this, don’t you.” I remember feeling confusion, not knowing how to feel, what to feel. It felt awkward, yet I still remember breathing out the word yes, not because it felt good, but because I wanted to alleviate this feeling of awkwardness. His sentence held no room for opposition, and I was a people pleaser, I still am, and maybe, in some twisted way, I didn’t want a confrontation, that, at the time, I knew I would face had I said no. So, I said yes, and till this day, a part of me holds myself accountable for saying it. At the time, it seemed like a feasible solution that my 9-year-old mind had conjured. Now that I look back at it, I don’t think it would have made a difference had I said no; he still had the upper strength and power to control me. He would have still taken advantage of me no matter what. Regardless of this, there is still some part of me that blames myself for saying it.

That instance was strange, but it was one of many times. It still felt strange to me, even though it had happened countless of times. I remember developing some defense mechanisms to avoid him. I would lock the bathroom door every time I visited my aunt, and needed to use the bathroom, avoid a certain part of the balcony where I knew he would be, because he would catch me if I went through that section. I would even avoid going into the room where he slept, in the mornings, unless one of my cousins asked me to go get them a charger from there. When that happened, I would try my best to be quiet, so that I didn’t wake him up. Sometimes, I was lucky enough that he would stay asleep, others not so much.  Some of the defense mechanisms worked, others didn’t. I succeeded in preventing him from coming into the bathroom, but sometimes he would wait outside until I finished and unlocked the door. It was like a game of cat and mouse, except it wasn’t like Tom and Jerry. It was more twisted.

I never told anyone about this. I remember stopping it when I was around 13 or 14. I stopped it by threatening him that I would tell our mothers, and the entire world, and just like that, he never touched me again. As the years progressed, I blocked this out. It happened for a few years, and that’s it, I would say. Its not a big deal, let me just forget it ever happened. And I did. I had other problems like getting good grades and making good friends, simple high school problems. I knew it never affected me, and honestly I had found it odd at one point that it didn’t, because I had read so many things on these topics that I developed an interest in them, and the books that I read, I couldn’t relate to, so I just figured I was one in a million that walked away from this unscathed. But all that I knew wasn’t much. I still wasn’t educated on the topic.

This all surged back into me abruptly around a month ago, like a fast moving truck hitting a car. I had come across an article about the effects of sexual abuse on children, when it hit me. It was sudden, like a splash of water in the face, but it didn’t take much time to remember what happened several years ago, because I realized that I hadn’t forgotten anything. I just suppressed it.

I found out that my lack of self-esteem, my constant fear of confrontation, my ill thoughts of myself, my unreasonable anger that popped up at the most unexpected times towards my family and the entire world, among other things, have been in one way or another an indirect affiliation of what happened to me in the past. I had thought that this was part of my personality, part of who I was as a person, that there was no changing me. I truly believed that this was normal, that not everyone had confidence, that maybe with age I would gain some; that it was understandable that I don’t like how I look because I’m just not pretty, that all teenagers get angry at one point. These were just excuses I would give myself, and then I would say I’m fine and move on. These small things were all subtle, but they were there.

I always had this feeling of incompleteness inside of me, this hole within me; it was like I kept searching for some sort of happiness even though I had everything I could ever ask for. It was as if something was always missing, and I thought it was possibly a boyfriend, but I figured out that it wasn’t the case, because even when I had a boyfriend, this feeling never left me. It was a sort of indescribable hollowness. When it all came back to me, I felt, in a sense relief, then sadness, then anger, then more anger and frustration. The hole within me was filled. The big question mark in my head was answered. 

 I thought it wasn’t a big deal, but it was, it is. I thought it didn’t affect me, but it did, it still does. I write this, because I’m sick of replaying every single small decision I took and linking it to what happened to me. I’m sick of being so damn affected by it, that I can’t think straight. I just don’t understand how I wasn’t affected by it in the past, when now it feels like a nightmare. I write this because I know there are others out there like me that kept all this inside them; that thought it wasn’t a big deal; that were afraid of speaking out, that felt and still feel trapped. I write this because I want to stop letting what happened control me and dictate my life. I want to move on, properly this time.