Ordinary Evil: Memoir of a Buried Life
Monsters in the Bedroom
“The monsters in the bedroom are not always what people think they are.”
~ Alethea Marina Nova
by Alethea Marina Nova (all rights reserved)
Unlike Madison’s scribbled diatribe on scrap paper, my mother’s letter was handwritten and she used personal stationery. I also felt a slight sense of relief come over my body when I saw the word “Dear” in front of my name.
My mother’s letter held no real validation for me. She wrote that as far as she was concerned, nothing gave her any reason to be suspicious of abuse. Yet, her casual advice in the next paragraph told an entirely different story.
She wrote, “What you say happened was thirty years ago, go on with your life.” She concluded the letter with, “I think we all have said what needed saying, so let’s put the past behind us, where it belongs.”
Let’s put the past behind us? I just accused her and her husband of serious crimes against a child, and she tells me “what you say happened was thirty years ago, go on with your life.”
A bombshell had been dropped on her, yet she brushed it off as if my memories were of my father running over the family cat with his car.
Then I read the most painful words. She said she knew my father as a man who worked hard and loved his family very much.
My tears fell onto the paper. Those were the memories she had chosen to compose in her mind, and the ones she convinced herself of for decades -to her, they were true.
Punkin wanted to believe my mother truly did not know about the abuse, but my instincts resisted this.
Even though I wasn’t ready to fully grasp it, I knew the truth within my depths. Yet, I could not accuse my mother of lying, just as I would not wish to be accused of it, but my heart knew my mother had written an untruthful letter to me. It was a letter of self-protection.
I chose not to write back to her because I had already expressed everything that needed to be released and knew it was impossible for me to sway her position. I could not possibly convince her to think or behave differently. Any further push from me would be like beating my head against a brick wall.
After placing her letter in a drawer, I heard nothing from my mother for three more weeks. Then my heart dropped into my stomach when I picked up the telephone one day and her voice was on the other end.
It was the same old mom.
“How is the weather?” she asked.
So we chitchatted and discussed current events, and talked about her latest church meetings, and I was in complete amazement. She did not say one word about the letter. I had disclosed that my father had sex with me as a child and had threatened to kill me, and that she knew it; yet my mother behaved as if everything was perfectly normal.
Denial was her self-survival system.
In spite of her avoidance, the conversation was a good one, probably one of the best in years. But for my mother, the subject of incest had ended. I suppose that my decision to not write her back, and to not mention my letter during the phone call, had helped my mother assume that I had taken her advice to drop it.
By not replying to her letter, I essentially told her that I was taking her suggestion to “go on with my life.”
I could feel Athena growing impatient and angry that I had not asked my mother about the letter. Athena was tapping her foot with irritation, so I told Athena that the important thing was that I had let the secret out and that my mother was aware that I had remembered.
I don’t think Athena liked my rationalizations.
For a time, my relationship with my mother changed after the letter. During the following year, she called me more than she had ever called me in the previous fifteen years. But the incest and my letter, were never mentioned. Nor was the fact that Abigail and Madison would never speak with me again. My relationship with them was just another forbidden subject… ‘your sisters don’t ever want to talk to you again, but let’s not discuss why.’
During that following year, my mother stopped talking over me, she listened to me and she respected my opinion about politics and religion. For the first time in my life, my mother and I began to speak about more important things. We never spoke of the letter, but after the initial phone call, we also stopped talking about the flowers and the weather.
Telling my mother, and moving on with my life without any validation from her or my sisters, was enormously empowering. I had found my strength in the middle of the emotional chaos of being treated with such cruelty by Abigail and Madison.
I cried deeply over the loss of Abigail because I always thought she loved me.
Madison made it clear since we were children, that she merely tolerated my presence in the world, and occasionally, she even went out of her way to be mean-spirited towards me, but Abigail was always someone I felt loved and accepted by.
However, my sisters both chose to have nothing to do with me and they made it clear, that to them, I did not exist. Without me in their life, they did not have to think about the word incest, and this is where their comfort remained.
Kylie stayed neutral.
I eventually learned to grow past the pain when I realized that my sisters had to work things out in their own time, and in their own way. I continued to concentrate on my healing, and knew the reactions from my family had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with them. I had handled the entire situation from a place of love, and was prudent in how I presented things.
Breaking the secret to my mother gave me the courage to move forward but it also accomplished something extremely unexpected.
My new strength had begun to unearth the most humiliating memories, and they were not buried in trauma, but in deep personal shame and guilt.
“I wanted to have sex with my father.”
That’s what I said one morning in therapy as I touched on the fact that my mother resented me and blamed me —a little girl— for going to her father for sexual attention.
If my mother had loved me, I would not have wanted what my father was doing to me, nor would the incest have continued because my mother would have protected me when it began.
As my memories surfaced, it became clear that my mother did not see herself as the problem in the cycle of the incest. She believed I was the problem and refused to see that I was only longing for affection, attention, and some kind of love –not to be sexually violated.
My mother wanted to think I was the sexual aggressor. She wanted to think her husband was being seduced by an over-sexed little girl.
If my mother blamed her husband then she would be forced to look at her own culpability. In blaming me, she conveniently relieved herself of her own guilt.
Until this very important therapy session, my mother had succeeded in removing the guilt from herself and placed it on me as a child, which allowed me to carry it into adulthood. The result of this unwarranted guilt was that I sabotaged my life with self-denial of pleasure, and with self-sabatoging behavior, self-punishment behavior, and self-loathing.
Even my love of good food had been ruined by the guilt that my mother instilled in me as a child. Eating good food commonly brought even more hunger, depression, or irritability; and eating something that tasted particularly good often caused guilt and fear when the food was finished.
During the next several therapy sessions, I allowed myself to remember that I received favors from my father, and some of what he did gave me the feeling of melted butter through my body.
But the most difficult to deal with, was rousing the memory of moving my pelvis right along with my father as he lay his adult body on me in my bed.
Madison said that I made her sick. These memories were vile and degrading for me, so I made myself sick too.
Following this recall, I lay in a ball clutching my gut and I wailed. The pain was not because of the memories themselves, but because I knew they were true.
The crime of causing a child’s body to feel pleasure by being sexually molested is a felony against the victim’s soul, not just the flesh or the mind, and my mother was just as guilty of this offense because she withheld her love and abandoned me, so I took what my father offered and my body responded.
I cannot say for certain how or when I began to enjoy the abuse because fear had been coupled with pleasure. Fear that my father would come into my room, but eventually letting go and allowing the human closeness and sexual gratification to smother the anguish. Children will pay almost any price to be accepted and feel loved by their parent.
I know my father massaged my back at times before the sexual assaults, so the abuse was not always forced or violent. The dynamics are so complicated. It’s not as if I had been attacked by an unknown and physically heinous rapist. I loved my father.
The awakening of these memories gave me instant clarity about living with shame my entire life. Long before my memories returned, my subconscious carried the weight around in the form of hunched shoulders, hiding my face from people, and sabotaging things that brought joy and pleasure. The child inside me felt she deserved punishment her entire life.
These emerging memories led me into a very dark period of my life. I sat alone at my computer late at night writing my thoughts to other survivors on the internet because they were the only people who understood my pain. I quickly became thankful to the other women, and men, who validated my feelings of degradation when they shared stories of their own shame. Due to their honesty, it had finally become okay to say that I experienced sexual pleasure with my father.
I was dumbfounded by the number of people who felt both enjoyment and pain while being sexually abused, and how many of them rarely spoke of it to anyone in their personal life. My head lay on the keyboard in tears because I didn’t have to suffer in silence anymore. Every day, messages from other survivors filled my email inbox, and as they did, more memories emerged.
I had to be honest with myself if I ever wanted to truly heal -in a dynamic way.
Within a few weeks, I recalled having orgasms with my father.
I shared my pain on child sexual abuse survivor forums, other survivors were so grateful that someone dared to be so honest about having climaxed with their perpetrator, and I was grateful to know I was not alone.
Society does not want to hear about this part of incest. People don’t want victims of child sexual abuse to be honest. They want us to lie to ourselves, and to them. People do not want to know that the monsters in the bedroom are not always what people think they are.
Lack of love from a parent is like an empty pit in the child’s soul, but the void cannot be filled by any kind of sexual act. No matter how often I looked for physical pleasure to fill my need, I was never satisfied, and continued to hunger for more. As a child I went back to my father over and over; each time hoping for a different outcome. As a child I thought to myself, ‘maybe this time he will just hug me and I won’t have to see that thing between his legs.’ My wish as a child was, ‘maybe he will just sit with me, read me a story, and touch my hair.’
I needed a hug, not an adult kiss. I only wanted to hold my father’s hand, not his erect penis. I desired to sit on my father’s lap and hear him tell me a story –not learn how to give him oral sex. I just hoped to hear him say, “I love you sweetheart,” but when I received sexual contact instead, I accepted it because it was better than nothing, and the price I was willing to pay.
Chapter Nine: Sobriety of the Soul, coming soon…
© 2016 Alethea Marina-Nova. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the author.