Lillies in the night

Dear Anybody,

When I was a child I absolutely loved the movie ‘The Nutcracker Fantasy.’ It came out in 1979 and not many people are familiar with it. In order to protect the privacy of the people in my entries I have changed their names, using character names from my beloved childhood film. The names are strange and at times, all too fitting.

This Journal addresses a dark topic, and may not be easy to read. It is my hope and sincerest wish that someone who is hurting will read this journal and find some comfort in my story.

This could also be helpful to someone who is trying to understand what a loved one is going through. Everyone’s experience is different, but sometimes a little insight goes a long way. The beginning will be difficult but I promise you a happy ending.

I am buried in secrets. Time to start digging my way out.

Thank you for reading,

-Clara

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Move in shadow

Dear Anybody,

Throughout my childhood I had a reoccurring dream. It was always exactly the same, but didn’t make any sense to me.

The dream would begin with the Watchmaker. He would give me something sweet to eat, french toast maybe? I wondered for years what it was, it had a very strange texture. After that it was nap time. He would take me to bed and lie down next to me. The dream would fade after that but I remember his smile, he didn’t look sleepy at all, and something soft briefly touching my backside.

After being raped at the age of 13, the dream became clear. Memories flooded my mind and I was finally able to piece it all together. I was very young, maybe three years old. The watchmaker was an old man who used to babysit while Aunt Gerda was working. I remember his house, the way the kitchen looked and all the furniture in his living room like I had just visited yesterday.  During ‘nap time’ he would rub his penis on me. Thankfully my memory still won’t go beyond that.

Once I asked Aunt Gerda about him. I explained the dreams, the memories, I even described the layout of the house to her. She listened and when I was finished all she said to me was “well it doesn’t matter, he’s dead now anyway.” I don’t think she could handle hearing it. We never spoke about the Watchmaker again.

Just a few months ago my brother and I were at a diner. My dinner came with a  free desert and I was in the mood for something I had never tried before, so I ordered the bread pudding. 26 years later I recognized the unique flavor and odd texture immediately and the dream, the memories came rushing back.

Sometimes it’s hard to live in the moment. A person can be going about their day, enjoying time with their friends or family, and then bam! One free desert and it’s all over. You have to pretend that nothing happened, everything is fine.  You struggle to fight off the disturbing images in your head,  and you are alone again.

Thank you for reading. I already feel a little less alone.

-Clara

Knocking on the door

Dear Anybody,

Uncle Drosselmeyer and I were close in age and he had the coolest bedroom. He had video games, star wars toys, and tons of legos.

This is another story  about things that don’t really make sense until you’re older.

I looked forward to visiting my uncle. I lived in a very small town with no close neighbors so hanging out with another kid around my age was awesome. I think I was five years old when uncle Drosselmeyer introduced me to his new favorite game, He was probably eight or nine.  The deal was first we played his game, then I got to pick the next game, which was usually ‘street fighter.’ I thought his game was boring but I went along with it anyway. He would lay down and ask me to get on top of him. He would move around, grab my hips and move me, and I knew the game was almost over when he started breathing funny. I didn’t understand it but he never hurt me, and sometimes it was funny. I used to laugh at the faces he made.

Eventually I moved out of state. I haven’t seen uncle Drosselmeyer since I was 10 years old. As I got older I realized that his “game” was wrong, what we were doing was wrong and to make it even worse, I had willingly gone along with it all.

Being a victim is one thing, participating is something else entirely. There’s a lot of shame attached to incest and even though I didn’t understand what we were doing at the time, I feel it. There was never any nudity or penetration involved, just that unmistakably inappropriate back and forth motion. We were not far apart in age either, he was a child just like I was. Which one of us should have known better?

I wish I could say that the experience was traumatic. I wish I could tell you that it was a big deal to me when it happened. The sad truth is that it didn’t phase me much then, and it doesn’t phase me much now. The only difference is the guilt and shame that comes with being aware of what we were doing. Maybe that was the beginning of my detachment from sex. I’d always blamed it on the rape, but looking back now, I’d say it may have started long before that.

I never told Aunt Gerda about that part of the visits. It would kill her inside. Besides, what good would it do? That part of my life has been over for a long time. It’s up to me to find a way to reconcile it and move on.

There’s another reason I never talk about it; I’m afraid of losing all my friends. I’m afraid nobody would love me if they knew what I had let happen. I’m afraid that deep down inside I must be bad. After all, those things just don’t happen to normal little girls, do they?

Maybe it was more traumatic then I care to admit.

Writing this was hard. Thank you for taking the time to read it.

-Clara

Calling Clara

Dear Anybody,

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a police officer. That was my dream ever since I was nine years old. I wanted to help people.

I also wanted to be a writer, a ballet dancer, and a lawyer. My parents were crazy about the  lawyer idea and thought I’d be great at it. Apparently I argue very well.  So well in fact that I talked my parents into agreeing to let me get a tattoo at the age of 16. I remember that argument vividly, I made a damn good case!

I saw myself living in my own house alone. Maybe I’d have a dog. I had no interest in marriage or children, I was all about having a career and running my own life. I was planning on changing the world!

Well I’m 29 now and I haven’t changed the entire world, but I’m still working on it. I didn’t go to college and unfortunately my ballet career fizzled out 20 years ago, but I do have a job that allows me to help people, and I volunteer my time rescuing animals.

Staying busy keeps me sane and feeling useful is the best feeling I know. I love my life. Even with all the crazy memories I wouldn’t change a thing. This is who I am now. All I need to do is find my calling.

My only regret is not doing this sooner. It’s time for me to put my past to rest. Step # 1- face it head on. Writing these experiences hasn’t been easy. Maybe when I’m finished with this journal I’ll print the pages.

Then I’ll burn them.

-Clara

Somewhere in the dark

Dear Anybody,

In 1996 I was the victim of a violent crime. Five years after it happened I decided I was done, it was dealt with, I was healed, and it was time for me to move on. That was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my entire life.  February 2012 he was released from prison, and I realized how angry I still am.  I am not o.k. I didn’t deal with it back then and I’m still not sure how to deal with it now, but I am determined to figure out how to put it away for good.

Here’s what happened:

My bedroom was in the attic which was too hot to sleep in during the summer, so I was crashed out in my sleeping bag on the floor of our living room with the TV on when my father and The Ragman came home from the bar. I opened my eyes long enough to see The Ragman lay down on the couch and Dad walk out of the room, and I fell asleep again. The second time I woke up, my sleeping bag was partially unzipped. I could smell beer, and realized that someone was over top of me. I froze, unsure of whether I was really awake or just dreaming. I lay completely still and heard the sound of my sleeping bag unzipping further. I knew I had to get someone’s attention, and remembered that The Ragman had been sleeping on the couch a few feet away.  Terrified of whoever it was that was touching me, I opened my eyes just a tiny bit, still feigning sleep, to see if The Ragman was still there. He was gone! My mind was spinning, who the hell was this? How could I make them stop? Did they have a weapon, would they kill me? Hoping that my attacker would stop and run off if he thought I was waking up, I pretended to move in my sleep. I turned onto my side and was crushed by his weight on me pushing my face into my pillow, my hipbones painfully digging into the hardwood floor, unable to move. He slid my pajama pants down and I started to cry, obviously awake, all hope lost. Consequences flooded my mind: I barely put up a fight, what if I’m blamed for this? Would anyone ever forgive me? What if I screamed now, right now, would me parents see this? Would my little sister and my baby brother walk in and see? Would they think it was my fault?  My mind raced, torturing me for what seemed like hours.  Then it was over. The weight lifted, and I rolled over and onto my knees to face my attacker. The Ragman. This couldn’t be real, there was no fucking way. “What the fuck?”I whispered. He leaned towards me; I stumbled back, horrified, got myself together and ran out of the room, out of the house and onto the beach.

After that, everything that happened when I was a child came rushing back. The dreams, the memories that didn’t make sense, it all hit me at once as I crumbled on the beach and cried until I couldn’t breathe.

I told someone, they called the police and he was arrested. The police came to the house and collected evidence, including my sleeping bag. I was forced to testify against him in court. It was humiliating, sitting in a room full of strangers explaining every detail, trying to justify why I froze. I was on the stand for over three hours. Honestly, if anything like that ever happened again, I’d never report it. The rape lasted minutes, but the court process, the doctor visits, the deposition, the trial…all that lasted for over half a year. The entire time he was innocent until proven guilty and his lawyer did his very best to make me look like a 13 year old slut. I was under age and there was enough physical evidence to convict him of statutory rape. The state, my parents, my lawyer, I don’t know who but someone decided to charge him with a violent crime. That meant it was up to me to prove to a room full of adults I had never met before that I didn’t really want a fat, balding, 30-year-old man to fuck me while I was sleeping. How ridiculous.

I tried to convince my parents to find a way to keep me from having to testify. They told me that The Ragman had a criminal past, that he had done this before to other girls my age. Everyone told me that when he was convicted, I would feel better.  I looked up his criminal history online and found out that my parents had lied to me to make me want to testify. He had no prior charges.

The damage was done. I was lied to and manipulated by my parents and my lawyer. Everyone who claimed they were on my side. I was raped by a family friend. For some, trust is a gift they give to those who have earned it. For me, it is an act of sheer defiance against my own better judgment. After the trial the police asked if I wanted my sleeping bag back. “uh, no. Thanks. ” I glared at the officer for a second and walked away. I’ve never owned another sleeping bag. I’m too afraid of the sound of the zipper.

Thanks for reading,

-Clara

Dawn awakens

Dear Anybody,

If you want to get better you have to do the work. Time doesn’t magically heal all wounds, you have to dig, pull off the scabs, bleed a little and face the pain that you’ve been hiding from like your life depends on it, because it does.

One of the most difficult lessons in life is learning how to forgive. I recently had an extremely helpful conversation with a friend about moving on from a bad relationship. She told me I had to forgive myself first, then forgiving my ex would become easy. She said “you will then be coming from a place of love, love of yourself essentially.” Love and forgiveness appear to go hand in hand.

As daunting as putting away a grudge against your ex can be, it doesn’t even begin to compare with the idea of forgiving someone who assaulted you.

First I’m going to forgive myself. This does not mean I am accepting blame for things that happened to me as a child, but I do accept responsibility for the way I have handled (or refused to handle) my own life as an adult.

Forgiving an attacker certainly presents special challenges. I don’t know if ‘coming from a place of love’ is even possible in this kind  of situation. I’ve decided that instead I will come from a place of empowerment. I am starting to realize that holding onto the pain and staying angry at the people who have hurt me will not have any affect on them whatsoever, but it’s done some serious damage to me.  I’m tired of seeing myself as the finished product of past injustices. I was a person before, I’m my own person now, and I’m far from finished.

The question is how. Forgiveness is a good idea, but it’s still just that, an idea. It’s not something you physically do like driving a car or cleaning the dishes.  Some people pray, some meditate, others have a conversation with the person they want to forgive. Whatever the path a person chooses, forgiveness is always a positive choice.

It’s funny, this entry was harder to write than I expected. The idea of letting go of the past terrifies me for so many reasons. It’s also liberating, exciting, and gives me so much hope. A year ago I would have never, not even for a second, entertained the idea of forgiving someone who hurt me so deeply.

It’s always a good idea.

-Clara

To dance a dream of fantasy

Dear Anybody,

For years I’ve been searching for something or someone to rescue me. The people in my life are wonderful and supportive, but for the most part I think that this process is something I have to go through alone. At least at this point.

Sometimes it’s difficult to feel connected to people; there’s that uncomfortable feeling of being separate from everyone else because of the things that have happened to you.  Even around your closest friends it’s possible to feel alienated and dreadfully alone. Sometimes opening up and talking (to people you know you can trust of course) helps. I think I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve talked enough and taken all the advice I can, now it’s time to look inward.

There’s nothing anyone can say that will take the pain away and there are no magic words that will give me the answers I need in order to heal. I needed to stop looking for someone to rescue me and take control of this process myself. I’ve spent the past week focusing on redirecting my thoughts. Anytime an unwanted memory or image pops into my head I say to myself, out loud, “nope.” Then I laugh at the fact that I’m talking to myself and I think about something else, like a social engagement I’m looking forward to or my massive to-do list. I try to stay busy and productive.

This might sound more like avoiding issues than facing them. Avoidance is not the goal, I assure you. I’m training my brain to switch channels because I’m tired of these thoughts popping up when I’m trying to live in the moment. It’s not about ignoring these thoughts, it’s about controlling them. I want to focus on the past in a constructive way, when I’m writing about it or meeting with a friend to discuss it specifically. I do not want disturbing memories to continue to invade my everyday life.

It’s been frustrating, it seems like the more I try not to dwell on something the easier it is to obsess over it. Hopefully with a little time and practice I can get my mind to cooperate with me.

If you’re undertaking this this kind of journey, I hope you have found this entry helpful in some way. The answers are different for everyone but sometimes learning another person’s way can lead you to your own.

-Clara