When it comes to talking about my personal experiences I find it really hard to open up because this implies looking vulnerable and I’ve grown up with the concept that vulnerability is a bad thing. I’ve learnt that I had to be strong which meant hiding my problems and solving them on my own without sharing my concerns with anybody. The truth is that many times I didn’t have the courage to talk about what happened to me, it was much easier to look forward and forget about any problem. It hurt, it hurt more than I could imagine but now I know that it’s only going through this pain that I can finally get rid of it.
So here I am, writing it down.
I’ll start by saying that my grandfather had a pretty bad stroke in his 40s, I never saw him before that, he had difficulties walking and probably also some cognitive problems.
When I was about 6 years old, maybe a bit older, maybe a bit younger (it’s hard to set timepoints of childhood memories), we used to go to my grandparents’ house every week. Once there, my grandfather would ask me to go with him to another room before joining the rest of the family.
He would sit on a chair and make me sit in front of him, then he’d start telling me to touch him. He wanted me to touch his pants and his dick, at first I’d refuse to do it and then he would insist and slowly push my hand towards him.
My memories of those moments are very confused and for a long time I refused to believe that it ever happened. But ever since I started trying to remember it, some details kept coming up, like the exact words that he used to say to me and that he kept repeating. I remember my anxiety thinking that someone might open the door and see us, I didn’t want anyone to be upset because of me. I don’t remember either the first nor the last time that it happened, I don’t even know for how long it went on. But I do remember that I got used to it, and what first was so unnatural it then became just a normal act. Going in that room with him, his words whispered at me, and my hand almost automatically reaching across, until it was enough and I could go back to my family. In the eyes of a child even something so wrong can end up feeling normal if said by someone that you know and consider trustworthy.
I vaguely remember when my parents found out about it, my grandfather had tried to do the same with one of my cousins. Obviously, since she was new to it, she immediately freaked out and told my parents. So the whole thing came out, I don’t remember anyone screaming or telling me anything about it. My mum just said that we wouldn’t go to our grandparents’ house for a while, I didn’t ask, they didn’t say and so the whole thing just got buried under a big stone.
Many details are still really blurred in my mind, all I know is that afterward there were no more afternoon teas at my grandparents’ house for a long time. We would only go there after my mum had made sure that he was already in bed and we wouldn’t risk bumping into him. Even when I was older, I always avoided the topic, I was too scared to talk about it, now that he’s gone I still never speak about him. Whenever I think about those times I feel a mixture of shame and disgust. Yes, I feel ashamed that I did those things even though I really didn’t have a choice, I was only a child.
It’s pretty obvious that things like that can’t just be deleted from someone’s memories. However, I was convinced of the opposite for a long time. Too often the easiest way of dealing with such things is ignoring that they have ever happened. Now that I am trying to face the reality of it, I have started to see in which ways it has actually had an impact on my life.
All the experiences that I had growing up were conditioned by the assumption that I do deserve to be treated like that and that it’s fine if bad things happen to me. That’s maybe why I always end up with the guy who doesn’t really care about me, who’s more interested in having sex with me than me as a person.
I find it easier to hook up with a guy that I barely know and that I just met in a club than to be intimate with a guy that I actually like, which is why I often try to find reasons not to like the guy so that I’ll have to end things with him. I am always so scared of not being good enough, both in bed and generally in a relationship, I am scared that they will get bored of me and that they won’t really like me for who I am. I’d rather be the insensitive one that doesn’t show her feelings and makes them think that she doesn’t care than having to open up at the risk of being hurt.
For all the times that I didn’t run when I was sitting in front of my grandfather, I did run when a guy wanted something more from me.