Tag Archives: memories

Drowning in Triggers

It feels like they’re everywhere right now.

My mother wants to talk about Ferguson and how people just need to take personal responsibility because clearly that would solve all the problems.  My sister the cop posts an “I support Darren Wilson” badge on Facebook.  She wants her department to have more riot gear to crush the race riots she thinks are inevitable.

These are two people who know–know–what cops can and will do to people who can’t defend themselves.  They’ve seen it; they’ve lived it.  Just like I have.

My father, my mother’s first husband, was a cop.  He sexually abused and raped me for sixteen years.  He hit me.  He nearly drowned me in a bathtub when I was three years old.  He regularly suffocated me, though I don’t know whether it was to keep me quiet during the abuse or to make me think he would kill me or both.  He put his gun to my head more than once.  He made me watch him kill my dog.  He forced me to choose whether he’d rape me or my sister.  He let his criminal justice students rape us too.  And he taught me that no one would ever believe me if I told because he was a cop and I was nothing.

My mother doesn’t know the details, but my sister the cop does–she lived it too.  I sheltered her from as much of it as I could, but she still got hurt badly.  She was the one who told, originally.  I would’ve gone on denying it forever because I needed to have one parent who didn’t hurt me, but once she disclosed, I had to support her.  She’s my sister.

We tried to have him investigated–well, my mother did, really.  I don’t recall her ever asking me or my sister if that’s what we wanted.  It was a complete joke.  No jurisdiction wanted it.  The abuse occurred across three states and several cities, so no one wanted it.  Everyone said it was someone else’s jurisdiction because who wants to investigate the cop-turned-criminal-justice-professor?  Finally, the Iowa State Police took the case.  They wouldn’t talk to me at all because I’m crazy.  They interrogated my sister, who would’ve been 16 or 17 at that point, until she threw up in a trash can.  They polygraphed my father, got an inconclusive result (OMG, a cop might know how to fake the notoriously unreliable polygraph?  Inconceivable!), and dropped the whole case.  Welcome to the Blue Wall of Silence, where victims don’t matter because cops have all the power.

Do they really not see the connection?  Do they really not think that giving people nearly unlimited power over people’s lives, freedom, and even bodily integrity with almost no oversight is dangerous?  Do they really not understand that the system that let Darren Wilson shoot Michael Brown and abuse protesters and journalists is the same system that let our father get away with raping us for 16 years?  How can they not see that?

I feel so, so alone in all of this.

And then there’s Bill Cosby.  Another upstanding citizen who gets away with sexually assaulting women for years because he’s such a nice guy and has influence and power.  It’s all the same: the victims don’t matter because the rapists are such nice guys, you know, aside from all the rape.

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I went and bought a suitcase today.  Actually, a three-piece luggage set, which at regular price was $199, but I got it for $70.  Pretty great deal.  It’s just weird to buy luggage.  It struck me as something real people do, and I’ve lapsed back into feeling like I’m not a real person.  Does the fact that I now own a matched luggage set make me a real person?

I’m not sure that will make any sense to anyone outside my head.  I’m not entirely sure I’m capable of making sense.

It’s all surreal, you know?  I’m really dysfunctional; I hardly leave my bed or get dressed or brush my hair or anything.  But at the same time, I’m planning for this big trip all on my own.  Going back to where I grew up, to most of the people I grew up with.  And I don’t know how I’m going to do with it.

I still sort of think of Birmingham as home.  It’s a little confusing–I never intend to live there again, I never really fit in anywhere there, but I’m still fond of it.  But I haven’t been back there in seven years, and there are a lot of bad memories there too.  And some bad people.

And then–Florida, with my mother, to help her after her neck surgery.  I volunteered for that: why?  I thought I was past trying to be good enough to make her love me, but is that why I’m doing it?  I’d prefer to think it’s mostly selfish, that I wanted to spend time at the beach and I volunteered because she’ll be at work most of the time, so I’ll get to do what I want.  I don’t know which is true; it’s probably a combination of both.  But it disgusts me that I’m weak enough to still go seeking her approval by playing the good daughter.

I think a lot of the confusion is because there are so many parts with conflicting feelings.  Cognitive dissonance, because it doesn’t make sense together.  Luckily I’ve gotten good at ambivalence.  I can hold multiple contradictory beliefs or wishes simultaneously, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or if it just means I’m extra crazy.  It probably doesn’t matter which.

I’m not making sense, am I?  I don’t think I’m making sense.  Part of me cares, but most of me doesn’t, anymore.  I don’t know what I’m talking about.  I don’t know what I’m writing.  It probably doesn’t matter.

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