As a child, I learned to take responsibility for a lot of things. Sometimes, these were the things that most youth learn in order to become responsible adults. Yet, there are other things that I learned to take on that are clearly not my own – or at least it is becoming more clear that they do not belong to me.
I remember thinking that it was my responsibility to protect my mother from the wrath of my father. He said ugly things, lots of ugly things, about her, and I did my best to hide them from her. Not only this, but after I was molested by my grandfather, I remained silent because I wanted to protect her. I knew that if my father found out that her father molested me, he would find a way to blame her – even though it was his fault for leaving me with that man instead of with my mom.
As a teen, I took on a new responsibility, that of the secret keeper. I kept the secrets of my grandfather locked away inside because I was afraid that if I told, I would bring someone else pain. My greatest fear was that someone else (especially my mother) had been molested by him, and sharing my pain would bring back ugly memories. I knew what it felt like to remember, to loathe, to feel shame, so I did anything I could to shield others from the past.
What is even worse is that I even learned to protect my abusers from their own shame. For many, many years, I protected them out of respect for what is most people call “family.” I felt it was my duty not to sully the family names by bringing out the ugly secrets that lay within. I believed that bringing their offenses to light would destroy the world that family members considered safe. I even felt, and still to this day somewhat feel, that to point out their shame would somehow be unfair because, they are “family” after all…
In my blindness, I enabled my family to pretend that nothing was wrong. I was, and am still, fairly certain that my father would not believe that anyone in his “loving, Christian family” would be capable of causing such harm. I believed that my mother’s family would turn a blind eye to the ugly truth, because they have a history (in my opinion) of sweeping things under the rug. “Talking” is something they never truly do.
Where does this leave me? I have not the slightest clue. Sometimes, I want to call them all together and lay it all out. I want to tell them about the dark and ugly secrets of which they are not aware. Yet, my mind keeps coming back to the question, “What good would it do?” I fear that my voice would not be heard – that their collective propensities for blaming someone else would end up making me look like the bad one and once more minimize my experiences.
I guess deep down, what I really want is for someone else to shoulder the responsibility for this entire mess for a while. Yet all my life, all I have received from others are excuses. Excuses as to why it is not their fault and why they should not be expected to bear the burden as well.
So, I keep shouldering the responsibilities, even if they are not my own.