How do you face a monster when it's real...
Ms. Sanders, my therapist, is trying to save my life. She is helping me face the monster as I have known him. That day in the park when she sat next to me, I was prepared to end it all. Somehow, she knew. She didn't just throw words in weighty sentences to soften the sharp edges of my despair; she took a personal interest allowing me to contemplate my misery before placing her card on my lap. She touched my hand with a tenderness unbeknown to me. Empathy came alive in her eyes. It was powerful. So twice a week, I allow her to probe the dark corners of my soul.
I don't have the answers and question whether I want to embrace them. Sanders believes in order to heal, I have to take ownership, find some level of peace so I can move on. If anyone knows she does, for she is the most intelligent woman I have ever met. I stand back, afraid to move forward and when I do make strides, they're made in happenstance fashion. She understands this. I am progressing according to her, but it's difficult for me to see. I have trust issues as well as a serious lack of confidence, but there is always hope. I didn't have good examples to learn from, so I distance myself, just another survival technique. I have paid the price over and over again and I...I ...I loathe my weakness. God, I am so tired of being alone and wondering if there really is a monster chained within. I'm good at deceiving, but appearances don't last the mile.
I am blessed to be by the river's edge, a grateful reprieve from yesterday's emotional session. I never thought I'd reach this point and yet my spirit is alive with this pink-orange blush of a morning. Is it an illusion, I wonder. Regardless, this moment needs to last to remind me beauty does exist and life isn't just an endless stream of painful events. The emptiness that's been my constant companion for much of my thirty years, has taken flight so I feel like rejoicing.
According to Sanders, I have every reason to rejoice but I'm not so sure. I have my days of deep depression and then pieces of a dreamy day just like this where serenity is all around...but like the warm summer breeze in the throes of autumn's path, these moments are fleeting. I want to bury the memories to gain the strength I need to triumph over my fears. I'm doubtful yet I want out of this darkness, so I ask, who will take my hand?
I am thankful for the peace washing over me as if I am slipping into a basin of warm water. My heart yearns to be familiar with life, to walk in the warmth of the day, to appreciate the gentle breeze as it whispers through the Sycamore trees. So much was stolen from me. I want to rise above it, but fear has my spirit in a vise-like grip. The panic that engulfs me is repulsive. I am supposed to be strong, decades parade this fact and yet my weakness and lack of courage surmount every time. Truth is, I'm not ready to see anything more than this piece of heaven before me. It's all so wondrous to just sit here with the sturdy length of a tree at my back.
I can't help but smile because there is safety here which is a milestone for me. Feeling safe isn't a reality I'm familiar with. When night envelopes day, something apocalyptic happens. In the inevitable deadness of night, I feel anxious, everything closes in on me. It is my enemy, like a foreboding layer of fog stealing my innocence. I became his pleasure...a victim to an evil shadow with night as his alibi. I can still recall with vivid trepidation, his deep throaty groans and the smell of his sour breath. Was I the only one who heard the screams?
When it all began is still unclear but in the end, he said it was my fault. And God that sickens me. How can innocence be the cause of such evil and foulness? Why? Because I trusted him and looked up to him? Instinct told me time and time again it was wrong, but I didn't know how to stop it. Sanders insists it was part of his insidious plan. He preyed on a child's need for a fatherly figure. He stole a hell of lot more than my innocence and the hate I have for him and the shame I feel, gnaws at me destroying my ability to prevail. My thirst for life has diminished. I feel aimless, remote and disconnected.
Playing the victim sickens me and yet it keeps me cautious. It is my armor but it's paralyzing. I feel powerless to move on in my life and though I yearn for normalcy, I don't know what normal is. Sanders is still trying to convince me I can overcome but can I do what's necessary? At times I'm so afraid of life. Though it may seem peculiar to you, I ask, do you know what it's like to have a knife at your throat with a molester at your back? If not, then how dare you condemn me. Except when I'm in session with Sanders, I have no identity. It is a daily battle to vanquish the past which emptied me of self, leaving just a hollow shell of a human, soulless, existing without color or brightness, afraid to experience the joys in life.
At first, I craved the attention he gave me, who wouldn't? He couldn't take my father's place, my father died when I was three. My mom married him when I was seven. He seemed genuine and sincere. He even gave me his last name. The ultimate profession of love? It should have been, but it was just one more lie on top of the hundreds before. Funny, I guess he didn't believe my love was real because the monster in him ripped into me. The pain was not just physical. I still have difficulty believing my mother didn't know, and I wonder if she still denies. Perhaps she was afraid of him too. Just how do you face a monster when it's real?
His footsteps were real. They shattered my sleep and my stomach would empty itself on the floor beside the bed. His motivation was to dominate so the night was his salvation, for me, it was an insufferable death. I want out of the darkness, but I ask, who will show me the way?
I am the one who must deal with the relentless questions attacking yet remaining unanswered. It scares me shit-less to speculate but what if the monster in him now hibernates within me? What if a secret part of me enjoyed being sodomized? God, help me. Besides Sanders, am I the only one who knows the conflict I battle daily? It repulses me and yet, it is my guiding light. Why? Because, it's all I have ever known. At first, when we discovered he committed suicide, I proceeded to choke on my own laughter. The truth is, however, killing himself only intensified my guilt. I wanted him dead, yet I didn't want to be responsible for his death. By seventeen, I couldn't take it anymore. I considered suicide. Mrs. Levi, a teacher, found the note I'd written after it fell out of my notebook in the hall by my locker. She contacted the police and he was arrested. He hanged himself in his cell. What a scandal it was. My mother was imprisoned by her own self-deserving shame. Me? I wasted no time leaving town in hopes of a fresh start where no one knew me or knew my shame.
Right now, I love the mellow sun on my face and the gentle breeze grazing my skin. I cannot deny I'm tired of seeking validation from my family for their opinion of me, Oliver, is as futile as ice under springs hello. They don't matter to me because I never mattered to them. Maybe I think I'm a coward but to Sanders, I am Oliver. I hope Sanders understands she didn't fail and I don't want her to take blame because she has given so much this past year, a glimmer of who I could be, yet the strength to carry on eludes me. All I care about is the fluency of the river's current.
I stand and stretch, then walk with supplication into the dark waters resigning myself to its power. The undertow cradles me, delivering me as I flow with the currents in gentle harmony. There is no fear, just an incredible feeling of weightlessness. At last, I know victory as I ascend through an orb of bright light. I feel safe in knowing, I've abolished all hope of the monster emerging from within. I am not a victim, nor can I victimize. I am just Oliver.