If you are tender hearted, stop reading this post right now. It is about adults hurting kids.
This is going to be one of those, holy shit I cannot believe that today is the day this bubbled up and this is scary to put out there, but it looks as though you are going on this ugly ride with me.
I was discussing my post on my first boyfriend and out of some crevice buried deep inside me a thought was shaken free. I dated, and I use this word loosely, a man before him. A man, like a real grown up man. Not a man who mentally was still a kid, but a man who had been married. A person of trust in my church.
When my dad went overseas for work, my mom, sister and I moved back home. We started attending my family church. By this time in my life I was already a big ole mess in progress, but was happy to be in familiar surroundings. We had a pretty decent size youth group at my church and they were very active with things to do each week. Hoping to keep me out of trouble, I was allowed to attend everything. I know I brought a ton of trouble with me the moment I stepped in the door, but what was supposed to be a safe place for teens to get together was really a predator hunting ground.
I have been asked why I do not attend church, and why I haven't since I left that church. My reply has always been about sitting through a hand raising vote to fire my dad from a church he ministered at or that while I have a strong belief in God, I do not particularly like Christians. So much judging and so little forgiveness. But today I realized it is because church stopped being a safe place for me. I cannot tell you the lack of supervision and not have you think I am making it all up. I had a hard time, and still struggle with not attending Scout camping with my son. I worry, but I believe them when they mention 2 deep leadership. I have seen it and remind myself that my son will be ok. I pray he will be ok. I am not writing this to freak everyone out, but I need to cleanse my soul of this. Letting my children have the space to grow and experience life is very hard for me, but each day I step back and say a prayer for their safe return.
So many aspects of my life were not safe at this point in my life and when we moved home I had hoped for a little normalcy and stability, instead I found more insanity. Looking to make friends I started attending a youth night complete with a rock n roll band. Now the band was all adults, no teens were a part of it. Just four adult men. While I can imagine this was extremely cool for them at this point in their lives, I can't say that I as a mom would approve of sending my kids to listen to 4 grown up men sing unless it was under the guise of it being a Christian rock band. This should have been a safe haven for us teens. Instead, we became adoring teen groupies to some seriously warped egos. After learning that one of my friends had "dated" and "stopped dating" one of the band members, he moved on to me.
I haven't until today used the word molested, because I was already damaged by this point in time which in my mind made me fair game. Those of us children who are lost and unattended put ourselves in places where bad things happen. We learn that we deserve what happens to us. Sometimes doing bad things gets us the attention we think we want, and sometimes it attracts the attention of predators.
The story I have played in my head just had me dating this older guy. How cool does that sound? He was in the band. He would play music and I would sing. Very cliche, but it was an in with me.
Maybe it is my daughter turning 12 that has caused me to look at this portion of my life without the rose colored glasses, but as a mom, I cannot support a "friendship" between a 21 year old man and a 13 year old girl. What did we have in common, you might ask? Well we both enjoyed Southern Comfort, smoking and the band Til Tuesday. We even went to see them perform in Atlanta! How cool do you think it was to listen to you favorite band warm up and then get back stage passes to meet them! It was way freakin cool. I don't remember a much of the drive back as I had consumed a great deal of Southern Comfort that day.
We went out for most of the summer, smoking, drinking and making out. We even hung out with one of the other band members and his wife. I cannot image heading out to see my adult friends and bringing my teenage girlfriend. I was not a mature looking teen. I was a flat chested, 90 pound string bean, with big ass hair.
In my head this all seemed so normal. Honestly, outside of my head other people didn't seem to act too concerned either. I hung out all the time at his parents house. OMG I forgot to mention he lived with his parents. They were very sweet to me. Still I cannot imagine how everyone made the big ass elephant in the middle of the room appear so normal, but they did.
Did he touch me? Yes he did. Did he have me touch him? Yes he did. Does my stomach roll with vomit right now? Yes it fucking does. I am typing a few words, then I am having to lean back in my chair and sit in this feeling that is a mix of shame and anger.
Then at some point the same friend who has stopped "dating" him before me, stopped dating the boy who I look back on as my first boyfriend, he also moved on to me. Small towns are just like that. I like living in a big city where I will probably go my whole life without sharing a boyfriend with one of my girlfriends.
I am not sure who he moved on to next. Names come to mind, but I hope they were spared his affection. My life became pretty stable and normal because of one boy, who came from a nice stable family. His mother did not like me at all. She tolerated me in southern style, hoping her son would get me out of his system. She sent him to the private school and most certainly has hoped he would find a nice girl there to date. Instead he found me and took great care of me for two years. What of my own mother? Well these were her years of personal hell, battling her demons. She has long since had my forgiveness and becoming a mother has taught me that life doesn't stop hurting me because I have children. Raising children does not stop the abuse, pain or depression that life sends us, nor does it spare our children from growing up way too fast.
Shortly after I joined Facebook, I started finding old friends. I friended him. It didn't last long as the more I read the more my stomach hurt. He taught at a school. He worked with teens. Teens who wrote about the difference he made in their lives. He sounded so normal. I had to unfriend him quick before I wrote about the difference he made in my life.
I look at my mini me and she is lanky and lean and all arms and legs and she still has big child like eyes and that goofy awkward thing about her that is all twelve year old girl. By her age I was already drinking and smoking on a very regular basis. When she is hanging out with her girlfriends I try to picture my girlfriends and I at that age. We were already way too grown up for our own good. I know my children will begin to experiment with sexuality, but I look at them and they both seem so fucking young and still so childlike. I cannot image a year from now, my daughter bringing an adult home to be her friend. While I hope my children becoming sexually active is many, many years away, I pray that they will fumble through it with someone their own age, enjoying learning about it with someone equally as awkward and young and someone kind, not at the hands of a predator.
In my youth it was often joked about that one of the other band members like young boys. I wonder if it is true and who else, like me went to church looking for safety and was met by the devil.
I am very aware that not all churches are bad, that not all Christians are bad. I am old enough to know that there are bad people in all professions, in all neighborhoods. I am working on figuring out what of my "story"is true and what parts I need to step back with the safety of 25 years and revisit. I want to wade through the dark pages of my past so that I can understand how some parts of me got so damaged. I want to own my past and heal it so I can help others. Damage likes to layer upon it's self and hide. I am ready to shine a light on the dark parts and remove the shame and fear that still lurk in heart. I am ready to do the work to fill my heart and soul with so much love that it clears out the old damaged bits.
I am grateful for my journey. It is mine alone and has made me who I am and I am quite fabulous!