I realized today that my daughter is now the exact age I was when you began molesting me. I thought of it because a friend of mine has a teenage daughter who was almost raped last week - she got away with injuries - and my friend was having trouble deciding what to tell her two younger daughters. I told her that they needed to know, because it could happen to them, too. They're in Jr High and High School, while the oldest is in college. I told her that all of her girls needed to take a self defense class, and offered to give the a-hole's name to my black belt friends from when I took Tae Kwon Do, Juijitsu, and Aikido in college. (Which, I did as soon as I get home, and one of them knows the guy. So, I won't be surprised if he gets punched really hard in the next few days.)
So, this morning, I told my seven-year-old that, when I was her age, an older boy hurt me. I told her I was too embarrassed to tell on you, and I didn't want to upset either one of our moms, so I didn't tell. I pretended like it didn't happen. Then I asked her if she knew what to do if somebody tried to touch her privates. She grinned and said, "Kick him. Kick him really hard."
That's my girl.
I gave her permission to kick him in the balls as hard as she can, and if she couldn't reach his balls, then to kick him in the shins then punch him in the throat. She laughed. Then I told her to come and tell me. She won't get in trouble, and she won't be blamed at all. Tell me, and I'll talk to the boy and his parents. She agreed. Then we painted a picture of a clown fish and went on with our day.
I let go of the pain you caused me a long time ago, but I can't let go of the memories. I even prayed for your salvation once. Just once - I'm not that nice. I tolerated your presence when we had to be in the same place as I grew up, but I'm glad you've disappeared out of my life. I'm pretty sure that's because you know my parents will stab you through the throat if they ever lay eyes on you again, since I finally told them what you did to me. I held that information until I was 25 years old.
But you should know what you did to me. You gave me the ability to distance myself emotionally from harmful situations. You made me not want to ever be touched by a boy again and question my sexuality. You made me notice that a scoop of ice cream looks a lot like balls. You made me not able to really enjoy giving my husband a BJ because I remember being forced to do it to you at eight years old. You made me have a horrendous memory of being 9 years old and watching hard-core porn (once I figured out exactly what I was looking at, I left the room and you laughed at me). You made me be a kid full of shame, because no matter how much I hated what you did to me, the physical touch still felt good, and I couldn't understand why, so I felt like it was my fault. You made me be a 12 year old with a first boyfriend who didn't understand why I wouldn't kiss him, but I had already been French kissing for four years, and that had finally just ended.
And why did it end? Because I quit acting uncomfortable with it and quit fighting you. I went along, just to get it over with faster. I guess you got bored then, huh? I was almost 12, and you were, what? About 18? 19?
That's how my friend's daughter got away from her date-rapist, too. She realized that fighting was doing no good, and finally gave up. She pretended to like it, and said she had an obligation, but she'd come back and pick up where they left off. He was cocky enough to believe her. Now he's in jail.
And, now I also know that I was right about the pain the knowledge would have caused my mom and yours. I hugged my friend as she tried not to fall apart. She knows where that guy lives. She's forcing herself to not go murder him. And, now that I'm a mom to beautiful little girls, I don't know that I'd have that restraint. God help the boy who hurt one of my babies, because I sure as Hell won't show him the same grace I showed you.
Here's what else you gave me: strength I wouldn't have otherwise, martial arts training that filled me with confidence, understanding of the struggle victims have with sexuality choices, the ability to forgive (or at least let go of the right to revenge), and the knowledge that everyone's got some secret wound that they're having to overcome. I have empathy, grace, and power. And those traits are stronger because of you.
I won't say thank you, though. I'm sure you'll understand.