I’ve touched on the abuses of my days at the Babysitter’s house in a previous post. Now I want to tell the other part of that story. This is about The Babysitter’s Daughter.
This is the most personal, most raw story I think I could ever tell. I’m wanting to tell it now because it has coloured my life in ways I’m still discovering. It happened probably around 35 years ago and it burns in me with a growing pain that I can’t seem to escape. I’ve told the story to a few people, including a psychologist. Every time I tell it my heart feels a little lighter. I’m hoping that sharing it here will release that burden so much more. Holding the secret is too much to bear. Letting it go might just go some way to helping me move on. It might even explain a little bit about my character and why I am the way I am.
In confronting the story within myself I’ve used different ways to talk about it. I think I didn’t want to face what really happened. I’m not going to go into specifics here. They are too awful to share. The language I choose to use here I choose knowingly to protect myself. It will be somewhat obfuscatory but this is for my benefit.
Something happened to me when I was a little girl. Something that no little girl should ever have to go through. Someone abused my trust. Worse than that, this person abused me.
There is a misconception about child sexual abuse that dirty old men are the perpetrators. I am here to say that is not always the case. I was sexually abused at the age of 4 by a girl who was 15.
I didn’t know what what happening to me at the time. How could I? I was just a little child. I just knew that the babysitter’s daughter promised me something nice would happen but a nice thing didn’t happen. I processed the disappointment as her just simply lying to me. It wasn’t until many years later (around the age of 16) that I processed what really happened. I was pretty horrified when I thought of it but I was determined not to be a “victim of sexual abuse” so I used words and expressions that explained it away and played it down.
As I have grown into adulthood and now into middle age, I continue to reflect on what happened to me. That one incident has left me with serious trust issues, particularly with women. Actually, I have struggled throughout my life to have meaningful relationships with women. I do have female friends but I am far more guarded in any dealings with women than I am with men.
Having “issues” with women is probably one of the most damaging aspects of what happened. I could say that I sometimes even fear women. That might seem an odd thing to say because I am one…and that’s why it’s the most damaging thing.
I hated myself. I don’t trust myself. I interchange tenses here because this isn’t all in the past. I second guess myself. I question whether my motives are true and good. Or is my innate womanly evil manipulating me again. Yes, that’s how I felt…and, on bad days, how I still feel.
Fearing one’s own gender has lead me down a path of general self-loathing. It has really only been in recent years that I’ve developed any sense of true self-acceptance. Those who’ve known me well might attest to a version of me who puts on an act or that I “wear a mask”…which I actually blogged about way back in 2010.
Being comfortable in the company of women is something I have learned to do. Part of me still can’t fully relax. I value the female friends I have because they are so few and because they have, probably unknowingly, taught me how to be in the world as a functioning woman.
I’m not sure how to finish this post. The catharsis isn’t over and neither is the conversation. But that is as much as I can do for now.