Loss of Innocence
I’m seven or eight years old and I am spending the weekend with some family, and it was one of the first times in my young life that I’d been away from home without a parent. It’s any given morning and it’s just us three boys in the apartment. I may be the youngest, but only by a year, I’m not sure. Some time after we’ve woken up one of them tells me to lie on the bed on my stomach. I don’t know why they told me to do this and the reason I do is because I’m the youngest, it seems like they’ve done this before and since I don’t have brothers maybe it’s what brothers do? I’m wearing my t-shirt and no underwear. One gets on top of me and the other gets on top of him.
In the moments that follow I don’t remember much else. Whenever I revisit that memory what I see is that little boys face with no discernible expression. He looks like he is sleeping with his eyes open. If you can imagine it, it’s a body with no spirit in it…vacant. I don’t know how long it lasted or even what I felt while it was happening. This was the last time that I ever stayed with these family members and I haven’t spoken to them in more than 20yrs. I never said anything to my mother or father about it and when I told my mother I was 19 or 20yrs old and I told my father at the age of 25. I’m currently 32. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and scared to say anything at the time and there are several reasons why. It was family and I didn’t think that family would hurt you and as I don’t have any brothers I thought that maybe this was just something that brothers did with each other and I wanted to fit in. Also, I didn’t do anything to keep it from happening. What I now know as an adult is that there is only so much that a child can physically do to keep something like this from happening to them. Therapy helped me to see that every person has their own coping mechanisms and mine was to survive and the way for me to do that was to become emotionally disconnected from what was going on.
In the past few years I have learned to not blame that little boy for doing the best that he knew to do in a situation that no person should ever have to experience. I’ve also forgiven the family members that did what they did. I don’t believe that it was something they thought of on their own, it was done to them by someone else. They did, however have the choice to not continue the behavior, just as I did after it was done to me. I will never know why they made the choices they made that day and I don’t know how long it continued between them. What I do hope is that they have been able to move beyond it and find some sort of healing for themselves over the years.