Not The Only One Affected

Ripple_Effect_by_LilCoroner“What affects one in a major way, affects all in a minor way.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

When something happens to you, good or bad, it’s easy to think you’re the only one affected by it, but that just isn’t so.

I’ve mentioned before that my father molested me when I was young.  I don’t know exactly when it started–though, with many clues, I’ve deduced it was before the age of five–and it ended at the age of ten when I told him that I understood what he was doing and why (thanks to an article I’d read a couple years before), but that I also knew it wasn’t right and that I wasn’t comfortable staying the night with him anymore.  Then I called my mom, asked her to come pick me up (they’d been divorced for a few years), and didn’t stay overnight at Dad’s house again until I was a teenager.

Mom was pissed at Dad when she found out, and told me that she’d made sure my dad knew the ONLY reason he wasn’t rotting in jail was because I’d begged her not to turn him in.  I’d done that because David, my brother, lived with Dad and it would’ve devastated him to have to move back with Mom and me.  Not to mention that it would’ve driven an even bigger rift between David and Mom.

What I didn’t know was that both my mom and David carried around their own feelings about this act for several years.  I had somehow naively assumed that–once a few years had passed–they wouldn’t be affected by the instance anymore.  I knew I would be for many years to come in ways I couldn’t even imagine, but I thought that this was something that had happened to ME, not to them.

For years after it was over, my mom would often say how she couldn’t believe that my dad had done this to her; that there was no way he could have hurt her more than this one act.  I actually used to get mad at her every time she’d say it, because she wasn’t the one who’d been physically violated, and I felt like she was trying to take the experience away from me and make it about her.  It sounded like she thought Dad had done this on purpose just to hurt her, and it used to anger me a lot until I realized that she was dealing with the pain of knowing she’d once loved a man who had committed this atrocity.  Thankfully I have no idea how agonizing that must’ve been for her, but I can now understand why this thing from our past haunted her so.

My brother, David, reacted with anger, as he’s prone to do.  I had journaled about my experience, because I thought that I would one day write my autobiography, and wanted to be able to go back and see how I’d felt about it in my youth.  After I’d moved out of my mom’s house, David came across the journal while he was living with her for a while.  He burned it after he read it, and when I found out a couple years later that he’d done so, I was pissed because he’d destroyed something that was personal.  He explained that he didn’t want other people knowing this thing about our father, because he didn’t want them to think badly of him.  I was still angry that he’d burned my property, but I could understand that he was embarrassed by what Dad had done and how others might perceive it.  It doesn’t excuse what he did, but it does help explain it.

Through the years, I’ve been leery of telling people about this part of my history, partially for the same embarrassment reason, and partly because I know molestation (or sexual abuse of any kind) is such a hot button for people.  When I have told people about it, I’ve received reactions spanning the entire spectrum of human emotions.  From anger or pity to shock that I seem so “well adjusted” in spite of this event, you name it, I’ve seen it.

It’s become obvious to me that even the people who were never there all those years ago–and who are only hearing about this as a story told so often that I have no emotions attached to it anymore–are also affected by the experience.  Even if it’s in no other way than how they now look at me as a person, something about them is changed by this act, too.

Keeping all this in mind has helped me to better understand that the things that happen in my life don’t affect only me.  Each of us thinks about events in very personal terms–even if said event never directly touched our lives–so we all have emotions and thoughts about the experiences, even if they happened to other people.

I’m sorry that I don’t have a more upbeat story to explain how everyone you meet is affected by things that happen to you.  I do have them in my history, so I’ll be sure to share one of those at a later date.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dana Fredsti
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 11:04:26

    I think everyone tends to make a situation “about them” when they’re in the reaction stage as opposed to the responding stage.

    Reply

  2. Malena E.
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 13:24:39

    Wow, Alyx. I am impressed that you can write so eloquently about such a horrible experience. This whole blog holds very good clues into character development for writers. It’s really got me thinking in terms of the characters I’m writing about right now.
    Thanks for another great blog.

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Mar 22, 2013 @ 13:37:56

      I’m glad this blog helps you develop your characters, Malena. Thank you for being impressed by my “eloquence,” but honestly, I know I “survived” relatively unscathed compared to others who’ve had similar situations.

      Thanks for stopping by today.

      Reply

  3. Craig
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 14:30:35

    Thinking about that makes it even harder. Not only did you live through it, and have to carry that around with you for the rest of your life, you have to figure out whether or not you can share it, with whom, and respond to whatever their reaction might be. No wonder it’s so hard to let things like that go.

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Mar 22, 2013 @ 14:35:02

      Wow, that’s a good observation, honey. I hadn’t really noticed it before, but yes, it can be taxing to have to handle the other person’s reaction(s), depending on the severity of it. I find that I only bring it up nowadays if the conversation directly discusses molestation, & even then I’ll weigh in my head whether or not it’s “worth” divulging that bit of info.

      Thanks for the insight.

      Reply

  4. Katka
    Mar 26, 2013 @ 03:09:55

    And now you’ve affected your blog readers. No man is an island and I’m seriously glad that you’ve found courage to expose your personal life and share something so delicate. Somehow it draws people together and inspires them to overcome their “story”. I started to comment cause I realized you have no idea I stop by time to time and find your blog inspiring. Every single thing that happens to us –good or bad, makes us into what we’re today. And it’s not upbeat stories that move you to tears and make you thankful . “Así es la vida”… “And the challenges we face in our life are always lessons that serve our soul’s growth.” I’ve been really affected by this song “Scyscraper” by Demi Lovato…the emotion of it moves me so deeply every single time I watch it and I don’t even know her . She’s not well known in Europe.

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Mar 26, 2013 @ 10:03:10

      Thank you, Katka. It’s very nice to hear that you get inspired by my blogs. It’s always nice to affect people in a positive way. You’re right that we’re molded in some way by everything that happens to us, as well as by the people who come into our life.

      I know of Demi Lovato, but haven’t heard too much of her stuff, but I just checked out the lyrics to “Skyscraper” & yes, I can see how it could be very moving.

      Thanks for stopping by again today.

      Reply

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