One of Those Things

It was just one of those nights. Hanging out at home, back in the 1990s. 

Mom was out with friends. I think. It’s been decades since all this happened, but I know my brother had moved out to live with some of his friends the year before. Our little family of 3 had gone through such changes in recent years. My stepdad had come along, making our little family number 4 now for the first time in years! We’d been the original gluten free – soccer mom – 3 musketeers for most of my life up until then. Now it was back down to 3 with my brother gone, and I was alone without them. I was just wanting to watch some TV! That’s all really.

Except, my stepdad Doug, was also home. My mom had let him in the house a few years before and, unlike most of my mom’s boyfriends, she’d never sent him packing. Even though he treated me and my brother like shit, he would space it in between all this other nice stuff. So, my mom seemed to worship the ground he walked on. But tonight, he was putting the business to a 6-pack of beer. That wasn’t unusual though. He did that pretty frequently. I’d seen my mom walk away from him in a huff plenty of times when he got shitfaced. But tonight, he was going particularly hard. He’d broken out a 2nd 6-pack! Probably because my mom wasn’t there to give him shit about it.

Like I said, it was just like any other night. I’d been reading some books in my bedroom, but I’d decided to go out to the living room to watch some TV. He was sitting comfortably in his chair, looking high as a kite. His face was so red, and his eyes were so glassy. I knew my mom would have already sent him to bed a while ago. If she’d been home.

I can’t remember what show we were watching. It’s hard to access any memories of that night. Luckily, for me, my mom taught me how you can always make a funny story about pain. 

Not to change the subject, but she’d do it all the time at parties. It’s really entertaining! No matter who’s house we’d go to, you’d eventually find a group of people strung around my mom: listening to her stories about pain. Most of her siblings did the same kind of shit. Told the same kind of stories at parties. I’m sure their parents did the same crap in their day too. Shit like that usually gets passed down.

You see. My mom had been heavily abused as a child, and then throughout her adulthood. Or so she said. I should know. She told me about most of her trauma before I even went to kindergarten. A kind of old school before new school. You understand? 

By an early age, I knew men were sick motherfuckers who’d stick a finger in you if they’d the chance to get away with it. That’s why I sometimes feel I should have known better when I sat down next to that drunk motherfucker that night. I guess that’s what I get! 

Not to be dramatic, but a lot of people seem to think it’s my fault for what happened, when I start to tell the story (or else they find some way to stop listening, or they try to shut me up). But they don’t give me the time to tell my story. The cruel ones (mostly older women) tell me to basically walk it off, before I get too graphic. Nicer people, young women actually, listen to me, sometimes. The younger women in my life validate my pain and tell me that it’s fucked up what happened. They also tell me that I got to walk it off, but the older gals never give me that. Baby Boomers always seem to have a story about what it’s REALLY like to suffer, when those of us from a younger generation complain about anything to them. They’re so entitled to hardship.

But I’m getting distracted. That’s a problem I have because of my trauma. Sometimes the things that come out of my mouth don’t seem to make sense or have anything to do with what I was just saying. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, let me tell you that You don’t expect your life to change so drastically in one night. You see? Am I even making sense?

Anyways, back to my story: I’d been sitting there only a short while, in my own seat on the other side of the living room, watching TV, when my step dad began to hit on me. If I hadn’t already made it clear by now. I’m a boy.

“You’re so cute.” He slurred while looking like a grinning tomato.

“What?” I think that’s what I said after the 2nd or 3rd time he told me. 

I guess I tried to ignore it at first. But, like I said, these memories have been intentionally degraded in my brain (by me). Like video tapes from the 1980s rotting in your garage, I try not to open those boxes, so I have trouble remembering the details. Don’t pull me up in front of a judge. If my stepdad ever wants some kind of confirmation hearings, okay. He might not have a calendar like Kavenaugh did, but I’m not so great with memories around trauma. However, recent breakdowns have unearthed things I’ve tried to throw out.

“I’m gonna kiss you.” That definitely got my attention the first time he’d said it!

“No you’re not.” I can’t believe how easily I said it. No matter what my mom had let him get away with up until this moment (with me and my brother), all the fights and shitty stuff only stepdads can do. We were totally in inappropriate territory now! So much so, that I felt confident telling him, a full grown adult man-giant, what NOT to do. I was such a stupid little slut. Or so he probably thought. Or… I don’t know? Can only women say that kind of thing? I am a boy right? Sometimes it gets hard to remember.

“Yes I am.” He joked with his glassy stare glued on me. What was that look in his eyes?!

Panic is an interesting feeling in times like these. I was 15 or 16 at the time and, once again, sorry I can’t remember all the details: but I remember feeling strong. In my teenage body, I had recently found some budding strength at last! And he was drunk! What could he do to me? 

Except maybe gross me out, with the way his wet lips puckered every time he kept fake kissing the air, making some strange gesture with his right hand (or was it his left?). His fingers looked like what I imagined was a coochie-coo kind of thing you do with a little baby. But the combination of that and his wet, jiggling lips didn’t seem paternal at all. In fact, it was making me more than just nauseous. I was starting to think he really wanted to kiss me. And not just once. Holy Jesus! But no. That’s crazy! Right? I’m a boy. Right?

Who knows how long the exchange went on. It must have gone on long enough for me to give up on watching TV that night. Whatever show it was, wasn’t worth this kind of sexual harassment. I know I’m not a girl (maybe I’m like one now), but this was a MeToo Moment if there ever was one! I talked about feeling panic before, but it was nothing compared to what came next.

When I stood up to leave, I couldn’t believe how fast that drunk motherfucker stood up to match me. Actually, he was standing more like a crouch. Like a fucking tiger about to spring on it’s prey! Sorry if I find that funny but my mind doesn’t always do what I want it to do. 

He didn’t look so drunk anymore, as he continued to stare at me with a playful smile. This guy wasn’t going to let this kissing thing go! I thought. No matter what I was telling him, he seemed to want to play some game with me. I was scared shitless.

Maybe I was misreading things at this point. I could always apologize to him later for running away. That’s why I sprinted to my room. I knew it didn’t have a lock on the door, but that was the only place I could think to run towards at that moment. However, once again, my stepdad’s physical body must have been under some random effect of that too little blood in all his alcohol. I mean. I was 15 or 16. You know: young and fast! But he was faster. 

Though, to be honest, my mom had robbed the cradle with this boyfriend (so to speak) so my step dad must have still been in his twenties back then. Not too far behind me in age. Maybe he thought that made us closer. 

I can’t believe that I must have given up on getting to my bedroom (so it’s kind of my fault), as I ran for my innocence. That’s because we eventually ended up in the bedroom at the end of the hall. The room where he usually fucked my mother. I didn’t have time to be amazed at this point how easily he picked me up (and had to whip me around in the air a bit) so he could throw me onto the floor. On my belly. 

It was terrifying how he was instantly on me. Full body. Nuts to butts, as drill instructors would yell at me when I was in Navy boot camp: lining us Rickies up to go through some bullshit or other. I should actually thank Doug for that night though, or else my thus-far tarnished virtue might never have survived a worse tour on submarines before my military career ended. Whatever anyone wants me to believe today, there was something going on here with him. This didn’t feel playful. He felt hungry, and his kisses hurt everytime they landed on the places I couldn’t cover with my hands and elbows.

I guess what finally happened – was something just broke inside my head. It didn’t take long. When I realized that no matter how hard I pushed with my body, I couldn’t get him off me. I simply wasn’t strong enough. In fact, it just made us grind together harder. Did he like that? My screams didn’t help either, or shouting to ‘get off!’ But let me backtrack and say that it was the final scream, when my mind broke in half (or who knows how many pieces) that he finally got off me. So why am I complaining? Right? He got off.

I don’t know if my stepdad can remember it. Maybe he woke up the next day and didn’t remember a thing? Flushed out with the alcohol he pissed in the toilet the next morning. But I remember the sound of that scream which escaped my mouth when I left this world, officially. It sounded like someone getting eaten by wild animals. You know? While they’re still alive.

Anyway. He was fast. My stepdad. He got off of me so quickly when he heard that scream, you’d think they really put something in that beer he was drinking! The echo of my inner horror must not have affected him too strongly though, because he still pointed his crotch at my ass the whole time he followed me to my bedroom door. He had this way of walking that’s hard to describe. The whole time, I felt like such a whore the way I flirted with him, just to maintain the distance between us and have the chance to get the door closed between us. 

“Now you let me go to bed.” I said sweetly. Like a girl. Like my mom would. The way I imagined a woman would say it to a creep who’d just pinched her on the ass. Not the kind of way you’d see in the movies, where a waitress dumps coffee on a guy in front of a restaurant full of customers. I said it the way a woman would if she was the only one working in a diner at night: when the only customer in the place just grabbed her butt, and she realized there was no one there to see how clever she was at thinking of a response.

Flirting worked though. I finally made it into my room and closed the door, never knowing that I was closing it on a whole world for the rest of my life. Doors still weren’t enough, so I had to put the covers over my head. I couldn’t pretend I was just a boy, going to sleep in a home-made fort. I needed those blankets over my head so I could let myself start crying. It took a long time for me to fall asleep, but no matter how long I tried to stay awake, I never heard my mom’s car get back home. I was still crying when I finally drifted off.

The next day, it really did feel like Doug had forgotten everything but, from time to time, I could see a certain look in his eyes when he’d look at me: so it was hard to tell. Mom was back! Who knows when she got home? I guess now, in my forties, she thinks it was my fault that I waited for her to come talk to me back then. I didn’t give her enough information to work with at the time. Nothing to be sorry for now.

You see, I always thought she had a 6th sense. Growing up, she always told me about these visions she saw, and she told me she felt like it was a Gift that was in our family. I mean, people would sometimes call her to ask where their lost keys were! You think it’s crazy, but when she closes her eyes and pictures your lost items, she can tell you right where they are. 

So I figured, failing her amazing Gift, she’d be smart enough to put 2 and 2 together, eventually. I know things get fuzzy around these events. But, I know for sure that I only waited 3 days before finally telling her about how her boyfriend scared the shit out of me the other night. It felt so good to finally let it out, but I couldn’t control all the sobbing that came with it. She says she barely remembers a thing I said, but it could have just been because I was crying so hard. I was alone with my mom at last. Little did I know, while I just let the fear flood out my tear ducts, that I was about to face an experience even more traumatic than the romp with my stepdad had been.

“Oh, Jeff! I’m soooo sorry. But it’s not what you think it was.” She said it so easily. I guess that’s why it shocked me. For how little effort she put into blowing away the trauma I went through. It was a misunderstanding. Guys do this kind of stuff with each other. It’s just playful.

I know I said she had a 6th sense, but even I couldn’t believe she could miss the way my jaw hit the ground when she continued to tell me a story about how ‘what I was telling her’ wasn’t what actually happened. She didn’t need to be there, I guess. She just knew. She’s incredible that way. She has a Gift you know.

I was so speechless that I couldn’t tell her that I was losing my grip on reality. Now that I’m older and we’ve talked about it a couple of times, she’s told me since that it was really my mistake (did I tell you that already?) that I didn’t give her more information to judge the situation better at the time. I didn’t realize back then that I was supposed to do her fucking job for her. I’m a good dad right now, but back then I was a pretty shitty mom.

Unfortunately, I had to learn, almost 25 years later, that I made another mistake that day. At one point, when my mom probably couldn’t understand a word I was saying (in all my blubbering), she said, “Let me talk to Doug about this.”

“No!” I shouted. I was so scared of what would happen if he knew I’d told on him. If he hadn’t actually tried to rape me that night, would he still get mad if I put a false claim on the table? She’d never stood between me and his rage before. So, in any case, my mother translated my exclamation against talking to Doug as, We All Shall Never Speak of this Again. It’s hard for me, as a parent myself now, to understand how easily she brushed it away. How she’d leave us alone with a drunk man and not want to hear what happened when she was away.

“Can’t we just leave?” I asked her. She doesn’t seem to remember a word of what I said through all that crying. A friend of mine thinks she was too worried about losing her breadwinner to care. I don’t know what I think.

“No.” She said it sadly. Like she felt sorry for me.

“I just want him to go!” I yelled. Here came the tears again.

Rock bottom came when she just shook her head and said, “Oh Jeff.”  In a way that I knew she’d choose him over me. Had already chosen him over me.

All her talk. Her stories about pain. All her bullshit over the years! About how horrible her own mother was. All the stories she told me (made me listen to as a young child) about molesting priests and abusive husbands (my father, her father, or whoever), were just for her! She was telling me without words – those kinds of stories didn’t belong to me because I was a boy because those kinds of things just don’t happen to us. That’s what she thinks, but she’s wrong.

“This is just how men show affection with each other.” she told me recently, as I began to finally share more details of what I was remembering. You don’t get to feel that way Jeff. Stop being a drama queen. She said without words. Actually, let me backtrack: she did call me a drama queen. I think. It’s hard to remember shit like that.

It’s also hard to remember writing this a year ago (post mental breakdown). I posted this story and then treated it like a monster in a cage. Scared to even approach it again, after I locked it into my blog. When I first wrote this post, I was in a manic state. It’s hard to describe the pain and limitless energy that seemed to fill me. I’m trying to edit this now and make it more palatable, but it’s tough. What’s trivial? What’s not?

When I wrote this last year, I had just won my kids after a long legal battle. However, after that positive win, I lost my job soon after because I worked for an evil company. What made matters worse, was that my mother had come to help me with the kids after the divorce, and in my desperation I had forgotten that she’s just cruel. She’s got a lot of people fooled otherwise though. My mom likes to think that because she cuddles and makes birthday cakes, that she’s a bowl full of sugar. To me, I see her like a barrel full of hungry badgers, who’ve just been told they’ve gotten syphilis. I see through her bullshit now.

She’ll tell you she was just trying to cook herself breakfast when everything came to a head, and I kicked her out of the house last year and ended our relationship – wrote this post. To be honest, I was being annoying the way I just stood my ground and kept challenging every bullshit platitude or metaphor she flung at me about how I was being a cry baby for losing my job. You might think I was the one to push our relationship off a cliff, but if she was going to live in my house and take care of my kids, I wanted to know if she felt bad for the way I was treated by my employer. I was sad, and I thought talking to my mom would help. Not surprisingly she didn’t feel bad for me at all. In fact, she had a story she wanted to tell me about how she’d once had it worse. Fucking Baby Boomer.

I don’t know why I brought up my stepdad molesting me in an argument we were having over my lost job. It had been 25 years since it happened, and about 4-5 years since we last talked about it with each other. That last time: she’d thrown in my face that I had made friends with my stepdad after the incident I described. So, she found it hard to believe that experience was as traumatic as I made it out to be, because otherwise it would have been too difficult to be friends with Doug. But I’ve made friends with a lot of my abusers over the years. I’ve had to, since my mother never cared enough to keep them away from me.

A year later, I’ve now deleted a whole mess of description about how I kicked my mother out of my house. But, I still want to detail how, after I kicked her out and found myself in emotional freefall, I called anyone I could think of who would hear my story. I tried to tell a few family members about what happened with my stepdad, all those years ago. While I got a good 10-15min talk out of some of the people I called, I soon found myself in complete radio silence. But when is a good time to talk about this kind of stuff? Does anyone really want to hear about it? Is it even appropriate to dump it on someone out of the blue? Maybe I was being rude to ask for any help?

With my family suddenly so busy with their own lives, I was daunted at being alone. Without my mother, the only parent I ever knew, I was also left without a counselor. I knew how to take care of myself, but I was in a bad mental state. So, after years of avoiding counselors and psychiatrists, I finally decided it was time to see one. And, wouldn’t you know it? On the very first day of counseling, my life changed again. It wasn’t the psychiatrist that made me have a breakthrough though. It was my life falling apart all over again. Another breakdown.

Unfortunately, I’m too poor to afford any kind of mental health care. I paid out of pocket for a few visits. However, the experience laid me bare and caused me to be insecure and vulnerable. Not a good place to be when my mom wanted to come back and grab a few things she forgot. When I gave her a little push back and offered to mail her items to her, she got a friend of hers (named Rose) to send shaming texts to me (so my mom could collect her frying pans). When I tried to tell Rose that maybe she didn’t know what she was talking about and said our argument was about my stepdad molesting me, Rose said she already knew all about it. She said my mom had already told her my embarrassing secret, and I needed to grow up. It made me want to kill myself. Really. I still want to, but I have kids. So…

A year ago, my psychiatrist tried showing me tricks for desensitizing myself to my traumatic memories. But I hate that word. Desensitized. It describes my mom’s whole family. It’s why I think I have trauma myself and can never get past it. No one I reach out to in my family validates a goddamn thing I say. Or maybe I’m just an asshole who asks for a soda and complains when they’re handed a diet Coke. But why don’t they want to listen to my stories? I know all of theirs’. 

I’m just now figuring out that my mom indoctrinated me into a life of depression. At a young age, she told me all about her horrible Irish Catholic upbringing (probably because no one else would listen to her talk about it). I can understand that. I just think that it’s sad that, before I even went to school, she told me all about her dysfunctional family. All this creepy shit. What priests did her and her brothers and sisters. What they did to each other. How her parents just never loved her. She used me like a counselor, to make her feel better. But the process just made me learn to see the world as a dark and evil place.

I think it just hurts that she made me listen to all her pain, my whole life, and she couldn’t even listen to one story of mine, because it reflected badly on her. My mom and many other people probably wish that I would just shut up or erase this post completely. But I decided to edit it instead. I’m trying to help out my former manic self and bring some order to this chaos. On top of that, I want this to be easier to read so that there is more conversation about sexual assault against boys. I’m not trying to say that women get all the attention when it comes to this kind of abuse, but let’s get real, boys are targets too. I’m also done being quiet on this subject, because I have two extremely handsome sons who might face similar experiences someday. I want to point out that men (with the addition of alcohol) are usually the aggressors, but women are just as complicit in most of these cases (even self-described progressives like my mom). What kind of Me-Too Movement can we start about apathetic women? #Cunts?

As humiliating as it is to talk about, I still want to put this story out there. I remember writing this a year ago and the incredible release it gave me. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. Back then I was scared I’d regret telling the world about this, but I was suicidal and trying to do everything I could think of to stay alive. Today, I still want to die, but I’m not actively thinking about it like I did back then. Though, I do get some pleasure from the stray thought of a car hitting me or an early heart attack. This is just my new normal. If you previously read this post, sorry for the mess up till now. All I can say is that it sucks having mommy issues.

Before I conclude, I want to make something clear. Just like I never want to detract from mothers when I write about the empowerment of fathers in my other posts; I don’t want to take away anything from female victims of sexual assualt by describing just one of my experiences with it as a male. You have to understand that males of all ages have to deal with this shit too. You can’t group us all in with the aggressors and rapists. Both boys and men can be victims of sexual assault too. It’s just really awkward to talk about.

I was in the Navy okay. Submarines kind of have similar rules to prison. Doug isn’t the only guy that’s done me dirty. He wasn’t the first, or the last. As much as I’d like to just shrug it off, I can’t. I also am deeply troubled by my mother’s refusal to admit wrongdoing or even speak to me again. She refused to read this original post and that’s the last I’ve heard from her. Just like her parents refused to listen to her about her own experience with a priest molesting her when she was young, she’s blanking me out. For some reason, the fact that she’s doing to me what she complained her parents did to her, makes it hurt even worse (I imagine). It’s probably for the best that we aren’t speaking anymore. A year ago, I thought she was evil, but now I just think she’s broken and can’t help the harm she does to other people. I just stayed too close to her for too long and finally broke under her apathy and egomania.

Almost a year ago, I sent this to my mom on Mother’s Day and posted it here too. I also emailed it to a couple of other mothers in our family too. Not sure what reaction I was expecting, but it felt good to expose her. I guess I was just tired of her telling people what a great mother she always was. Raising my own kids is what empowered me to get to this point. To think how I’d feel if one of my sons had been mauled by a drunken mess, when I’d left them alone with him. I’d have felt terrible and sent whoever it was to the hospitable. Even today, I’m not expecting her to crawl through broken glass and beg my forgiveness, I just needed her to say sorry and mean it. She’s not even speaking to me anymore. You’d think it would be the other way around. The last time we spoke, I asked her if she was sorry about what happened, but she just said that it’s something that happened, and she can’t change it now. So.. Why do I keep mentioning it?

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