I was told in the springtime that you touched me. What I hate about this information isn’t that it’s true, but that I don’t remember it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mad that I don’t remember—I don’t want those memories anywhere near my conscious mind. I’m just mad because had I known before, everything would have made sense.
For twenty-three years my mind was divided: the part that wanted me to forget and the part that wanted me to remember. Let’s call the former Carol and the latter Anne.
Carol kept telling me nothing was wrong. I’ve known how to masturbate since before I could remember. “It’s OK,” Carol said. “I’m sure that’s true for everyone.” In second grade I found out was sex was, but I already knew that. “That’s not crazy,” Carol said. “Everyone knows what it is.” I had oral sex with a girl in my class. How did I know how to do that? “Everyone knows how to do that,” Carol cooed. “No one will ever find out.”
Anne did not agree. Anne tried to send me messages, but Carol was quick to intercept them. “Something’s not right,” Anne would whisper before Carol could clamp her mouth shut. “That’s not normal,” she would breath before Carol slammed the door shut.
I can’t feel your touch, yet I know it’s there like skin still warm from a recently moved hand. I see how it changed me as a little girl even though I don’t know the inciting date. I see how it affects me as a woman even though the knowledge has only been confirmed for the past three springs.
Carol told me that everyone knew what an orgasm was and how to have one. But Anne was right. I only knew how to come because you showed me how. It’s a blessing and a curse I can’t know you. Won’t know you. Won’t seek the information out. And I won’t.
Was it a moment of passion or was it habit of practice? Did you betray my mother or my father? Was it once or was it routine? I hate not knowing. I don’t want to know. When your veins feel cold has your actual body temperature dropped? Sometimes I wonder about things like that.
Once, Anne told me something bad had happened in the Rocksford house. But I was only two years old at the Rocksford house, what could have possibly happened? Carol ran in and wrapped her hands around Anne’s neck before I could get an answer.
What’s weirder is that I’m actually incredibly thankful for this knowledge. Because of it, so much of my life makes sense. For years I’ve had unanswered questions and this piece to the puzzle is the peace for my soul. At least, I think it’s peace. Or maybe the awareness of you is just a Band-Aid. Perhaps I’m just pretending you’re real to make myself feel better for the things I’ve done. I find myself wishing it happened. Hoping you violated me. Praying you raped me. It gives me courage for the future. How disgusting is that? You give me courage.
When I got pregnant with my firstborn, I would wake up every morning hysterical and shaking due to intense sexual dreams. Dreams about women. But why? I asked Carol. I’m attracted to men, married to a man. “It’s just a pregnancy thing,” Carol said. “It’s fine.” When I started watching porn for the first time in my life, Carol said, “It’s just because of the hormones.”
Carol was wrong.
I just keep wondering if something happened to you when you were a little girl. Did someone touch you when they were changing your diaper? Was your vaginal canal penetrated by a woman, too?
The dreams stopped when my daughter was born. I forgot about them. Stopped the porn. Moved on. Two years later I got pregnant again, and it happened once more. The dreams came back. The porn came back. I hated myself. Oh, I hated you, I just didn’t know you existed yet. When my son was born, the dreams disappeared overnight. Everything stopped overnight. So, when I got pregnant the third time, I freaked out.
In second grade a girl in my class showed me how to get an orgasm from a bathtub faucet. I thought it was a waste of water as I already had my finger, but I tried it out. I asked Carol if what I was feeling was sex, and Carol said, “Does it matter? You’ll find out one day.” But how could I know what sex is? I asked her. “You don’t,” she said.
Carol was wrong.
Sometimes when I think about you, I feel so nauseous I have to lay down. Sometimes I hear someone laughing in the back of my mind and I wonder if it’s you. Sometimes I masturbate to fall asleep and I question if you touched me as I fell asleep and that’s why I find it comforting. Sometimes I hate you so intensely my back seizes.
Anne snuck out. She’s crouched in the hallways. Hiding in the shadows. Carol can’t find her.
If I was ever to meet you, I want you to be beautiful. I want you to be sophisticated and clean. I want you to routinely sanitize. I want you to have manicured, well-groomed fingernails. I want you to have a contagious laugh—one that makes others more comfortable. I want you to feel bad about what you did. I want you to apologize. I want you to tell me that it was the worst mistake you’ve ever made; I was ever the only one and it was only ever once. I couldn’t breathe if you were disgusting or wretched or spiteful. I couldn’t stand it if your hands were dirty. I can’t stand you either way, I suppose. But if you’re going to meet me, dress nicely for Christ’s sake.
I was pregnant with my third, lost in hopelessness, drinking bile and porn, depressed and empty. One night, when Carol was busy looking for Anne, Anne and I had a frank conversation. It was in secret, in the twilight of falling asleep. She told me she was the one sending me my dreams. “They are memories,” she said, “of the woman that touched you.” A bitter tear fell down her cheek, “I’m sorry I had to hurt you this way. But you had to know.”
When I went and saw a counselor, he confirmed everything Anne had said was true. Everything in my life pointed to you and your cursed touch. The counselor was so kind and loving and had just the right words. Carol was wrong, it was finally out in the open. And now that I know, I can finally move on.
I hate everything that you did. I hate everything that I did because of it. But I won’t let you turn me into a bitter, hate-filled human. Wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever you’re wearing: I want to forgive you. I want to move on. I want to find healing.
If you ever think about me, I hope what was once the bitter pang of regret is the numbing throb of a life moved on. I want you to love springtime.
“I once had someone tell me that I would never really be healed from what happened to me. For many years I couldn’t understand why this person would say this to me. It was her job to give me hope and help me through what had happened . . . not reinforce the darkness that surrounded me. Now, years later, I see what she meant. She meant that it doesn’t matter how much you work through what happened, it doesn’t matter how much counseling you go to, it doesn’t matter how much healing you do find, you can never go back to how it was before you were violated. I have found peace in this truth and have found the truest sense of healing one can find on this earth in the Person Jesus Christ. It is only through Him I am as far along in my healing journey as I am. The scars I have forever will help me encourage others whose wounds are still gushing and I am thankful that I can help them walk through what healing they can find here. May you start your healing process and continue on until your last breath.”