Confronting My Molester

I don’t know if it was necessary. I don’t know if it did anything for me.

I’m still overwhelmed by the coincidence that brought me to the moment I felt it was time to accuse him. I felt like… well, hell, I’ve always nominated myself the one to speak for any disenfranchised “us” I’ve decided I belong to.

I started dating a guy a month ago who immediately read my blog. He got to the part where I mentioned having been molested by the neighbor, and knew him by name! I got sick. I haven’t said that name in 30 years. “How do you know?!” I learned that I had not been a fluke, as I believed. I thought that I just happened to get caught up in it because, as the best friend of the sister he was sexually abusing, I was in the home.

No. He targeted the entire neighborhood. In fact, he raped some of the young girls, including the ex-wife of this guy. She had been a childhood playmate of mine.

I was outraged. The first thing I did was call my sister and make sure she had not been victimized, as well. No, praise God, but not for lack of trying.

Then I wondered, why have I never sought him out? Everyone’s on Facebook. Sure enough, there he was, with his schmuck smiling face, boasting of his son’s military service. I typed a rapid-fire message and sent it before I could chicken out. Normally, I try to withhold words at a time of intense emotion, but he deserves no such sparing and I deserve to accuse my attacker. Panicked at the moment I hit “Enter,” I scrolled back to read what I could not suck back from the ether… to learn that he had contacted me 4 years earlier in a breezy message that went to a junk inbox I never noticed. He was casually wondering if I could put him in touch with my brother, as though nothing ever happened! I FLIPPED and wrote again, then blocked him.

I don’t feel any different. Was it necessary? It feels so strange to come from the trauma with Christine in Spain, wrestling with why I didn’t leave sooner and grieving because I know the answer: I was perfectly groomed not to. I went into a place of survival, where the little girl in precisely that circumstance couldn’t leave. And she had to find a way to love the person attacking her. I feel as though I’m recovering from my childhood all over again.

And now here’s my molester. I can’t face it all at once! How do other people process their foundational injuries and move on, meaningfully and successfully? I try so hard. I mean to rise above it every goddamn day. I just keep falling back into it, as though it’s happening now. If others are visited from time to time by the shaky beginning that formed them, it’s the exception in functional, happy lives. For me, it’s the exception to be well. It never lasts.

I’m so tired. I’m so confused. I want so desperately to believe that this confluence of early-life traumas is a poetic, timely event designed to help me at last to put my past to bed. I’m sad to know that it’s really all just random. It happened. It’s done.

And then Sunday came. I’m reeling anew.

Since Jeffrey’s death in 2011 I’ve been wrestling with shame and guilt for verbally abusing him during the lowest days of the heroin addiction that killed him. We were roommates. It was awful. I’ve made peace with the fact that I was fully triggered, and even the sanest person would lose it, but not quite at the level I did. Words are weapons, and he got my worst. I abused his parents, too. They came into my home, in what felt very much like an ambush, to accuse me of stealing from Jeff through the utilities. (How do you figure? Half is half.) It’s amazing how addicts can convince themselves of anything to get the money they need for a fix. It was more amazing, and beyond insulting, that his parents believed him and challenged me to prove my innocence, which I refused to do (though I kept meticulous records and made copies for Jeffrey that I explained, and he agreed to, EVERY MONTH). With more than a few extra words – surprise – I told them to go to hell. Well, really, I told them they were killing him. And then he died.

Sunday, his brother and I were headed to the drum circle when his folks pulled up to deliver fresh garden veggies. I haven’t seen them since that day 4 years ago. They couldn’t see me in the car, but I was moved to act and terrified to do so. I had to apologize. I knew through the grapevine that they’d forgiven me. I’m not surprised. Jeffrey was the most forgiving person I’ve ever known; it came from someplace. But I needed to ask for it, and simply to tell them how very sorry I am for contributing to his suffering and theirs. So I did. I was loved and held, and I … feel terrible.

Why EVERYTHING? Why all at once? I suppose I will put this behind me. Even if we don’t consciously put the past behind us, that’s where it goes. But I feel like I’m drowning in regret and failure, while yet knowing I’m doing better than I ever have before. Why don’t I feel good about it?

I’ve had a headache for weeks. I’m exhausted, though neither sleep-deprived nor sleeping too much. I can’t sit with a book. My food addiction is out of control. My eyelashes are getting more and more sparse. (How can it be psychological when they hurt?) I’m irritable and weepy. I’m not coping well.

Thank god for drumming. It’s my happy place right now. Thank you, angels.

***

TO THE SEXUAL PREDATOR OF MY YOUTH:

July 14, 2014

“I just found out I’m not the only girl in the neighborhood you molested. You made the rounds victimizing everyone! You are a sick, violent pervert who traumatized precious young girls. You fundamentally changed us. You robbed us of our innocence. You raped us. All my life, I thought it was a fluke, that you got out of control with your sister and I just happened to be injured because she was my best friend and I was in your house. But you sought us out. You went out of your way to pursue us, to degrade and mock us, and force us to gratify your twisted sexual appetites. In truth, you know as well as I do that the rage it took to perpetrate your crimes was born of your own impotence and weakness. You’re a disgusting loser who has to act out on children in order to feel empowered. That hasn’t changed. Til you die, you’ll be a child molester and rapist. I don’t know how you live with yourself, and I don’t care. I’ve long-since been rid of you, but I found out just hours ago that I wasn’t the only one. You can never make up for what you did to us. You can never restore what you took. I finally decided to reach out and identify you to your face. I see you. I know who you are. You’re a fraud and a liar. You’re a rapist and pedophile. When you take the Sacrament, you are spitting in the face of God, who made me and all of your victims. Shame on you.”

and then…

“oh my god! are you insane? i just saw that you contacted me years ago asking after my brother, as though nothing ever happened! how are you not HUMILIATED? how do you look in the mirror? how do you not kill yourself? i couldn’t live with the burden of being the monster you are. you’re sick. don’t contact me again. I have the right to speak. you do not.”

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” – William Faulkner

I’m working through it, presently.

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Cheffrey

I’d gone a year without knowing where he died. A couple of weeks afterwards, I did go into the convenience store I suspected and asked if a man OD’d in their restroom, but I felt so gross as the words came out that I ran away. “Nevermind! I’m sorry!”

(“I don’t need to know where it happened,” I chided myself. “It certainly doesn’t matter to him. And why would I wish to put that picture in someone else’s head?” I felt disgusting and morbid for wanting to know.)

Around the anniversary mark Christine told me where he died, a few blocks east of the store I imagined. “I sit at the bus stop across the street every morning!” I exclaimed, delighted for reasons I don’t understand. “They’re tearing it down!”

“Oh, no,” she lamented.

“Are you kidding? Good riddance. He LIVED!”

The next day, I arrived early and wrote his name on the not-yet-demolished building, plus hearts and smiley faces. “Hi, honey!” I said to him every morning thereafter. “We always did share a twisted sense of humor. Why not greet each other here?”

Today, I lunched with friends kitty-corner from that place. When I drove by, I dismissed my intuition. “You’re just thinking of him because of the corner, Christie, not because he’s with you every time he crosses your mind.” But then I passed a license plate that read, “Chef On,” and if you’ve read other posts about Jeffrey, you know my culinary friend talks to us through license plates, too.

“Oh, alright then,” I teased us both. “Hi, honey!”

Animals and Angels

Wow. I had a dream several weeks ago that my friend told me his dog, Remschi, had died. I ran into him in town today and asked how he was doing. “Not good,” he answered. “My neighbors poisoned my dog.”

I stopped by his place and understood immediately that the dog wouldn’t make it. My friend was not well. Emotional and spent from caring for a dog who could not recover, he paced and panicked and paced. Every time he left the room, I thanked Rem for his life and service. “You had a special calling and you served well. You should be very proud. Thank you for bringing him comfort, purpose, and joy. You can go now. You can leave your pain. You don’t have to stay. Beautiful boy. Love him from over there.”

My friend told me that Remshi died hours after I left. I shared my conversation with the dog, apologizing that I’d given him permission to go.

“Well, it’s good you did,” my friend conceded. “I was begging him to stay.”

“I knew you were. Humans stay for their loved ones, too. Of course, you know he’s still with you.”

“I know!” My friend became very excited and shared several dreams he’s had in which he and his dog can now speak. Just then, I remembered another dream I had, days after my visit. I dreamed I was sitting on my friend’s couch. He walked in the door. Remschi followed, thin but smiling and well. “Rem,” I cried, “You’re not dead!”

(I said the exact same thing to Jeffrey two weeks after he died!) http://dreamermadwoman.blogspot.com/2011/07/element-11-2011.html

I woke up confused because I knew that dog was going to pass. “Hm,” I thought then. “Maybe he’s recovering.” I recognize now that Rem came to me himself to let me know that, sure enough, he’s right there in step with the companion who needs him.

I felt honored. I felt humble. I felt like the angels invited me to help a servant home.

My friend is at peace, happy that his beloved service dog is no longer in pain.

One-Year Anniversary

Jeff’s anniversary is in 3 weeks, so Christine and I went to his grave yesterday.

Jeffrey loved sunflowers. He planted sunflowers, talked about sunflowers, pointed out sunflowers, loved sunflowers. His mother planted a memorial garden at her home with, naturally, an abundance of sunflowers. When Chrissy and I visited Jeff for the first time last August, there were wild sunflowers growing on the steep embankment just beyond the cemetery. We plucked handfuls for his plot, our empty 40s for vases.

August 2011

Yesterday at Chevron, the woman in front of us began to back up, thought better of it, and went on to park. Her license plate said, “Sunflower.”

“Jeff!” I squealed, clapping. “Thanks for coming with us!”

No kidding, backed up, like, “Notice me!”

We wrote on rocks to place on his headstone, which wasn’t there last time. It has a sunflower on it! We put “Mr.” in front of Jones and as I looked through the pictures today, I realized it ended up reading, “Mr. Jones, Angel.” He doubtless loves his title.

Mr. Jones, Angel

Jeff had a real talent for loving. And he was so damn funny! He was always plotting a series of cooking shows for YouTube. He talked about it all the time. I wanted to have an apron embroidered that said, “Cheffrey,” and he wanted to wear nothing else. We’d do an over-the-shoulder shot to survey his sumptuous culinary creation, and then pull back to reveal only ass! Christine said they were scheming about it again one day, and decided he ought to wear a hair net on his chest! I could hardly breathe, I was laughing so hard. You laughed like never before with Jeff. He was just fun.

Oh, Jeffrey! Why didn’t we DO IT? Don’t wait ’til tomorrow, folks.

So mostly we just drew hearts and smiley faces on those rocks, because they were so small. When we left we stopped back at the Chevron, and the car next to us had a heart in the window. I tried not to read too much into it, but when we came back that car was gone and a car with a smiley face in the window was in its place. 🙂

I miss Jeff today. We weren’t speaking when he died. One of the last things I said to him was, “I miss my friend. I don’t who you are, but I don’t like you.” I don’t regret those words too badly. (Others? Very much. Viciousness bites back. Remorse hurts.) But that accurately captured what it felt like to watch him disappear the last 4 years of his life. I hate heroin. Even those without a pre-existing panic disorder suffer crippling anxiety coming off of that hideous opiate. For Jeff, his previously-diagnosed condition was as damning as the narcotic escape was deadly. He was so close, but he couldn’t stay clean.

I witnessed many of Jeff’s panic attacks. Once, he stayed in the shower longer than usual. (That was the one of the only things that calmed him, alternating between scalding and freezing water.) This time, I poked my head in the bathroom and asked if he wanted me to go. “Please don’t leave,” he cried, so I knelt down, wrapped him in my arms, and rocked with him in fetal position on the bottom of the tub. This world was too rough and rude for my tender friend. I’m glad he’s free. I can feel him smiling sometimes.

June 2007

I Feel Jeff

When I feel I’ve been led somewhere, I say my angels did it. While I believe that to be true, that certain inspired and blessed accidents are not accidents, it was never personalized. “My angels” are just a term for me to acknowledge a loving universe and my extraordinary good fortune, the truth and warmth of intuition. But more than once, Jeffrey has come to me at this job. I feel certain that it isn’t just the doing of anonymous, benificent spiritual cheerleaders, but of my friend. Jeff had a hand in getting me to this wonderful place, this wonderful work. It’s so healing. I love him for wanting that for me.

Jeffrey Taylor Jones

Jeffrey Taylor Jones                      1967 ~ 2011
 
Jeffrey Taylor Jones, our beloved son, brother, father, uncle, and friend, age 43, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, June 25th, in Salt Lake City. He was born on November 14th, 1967, in Princeton, New Jersey, son of Randall and Janet Jones. Jeff spent his early years in Princeton, Ithaca, New York, and Falls Church, Virginia. In 1978 he moved with his family to Provo. He graduated from Timpview High School and attended classes at UVSC. He served a mission to Minnesota.
 
Jeffrey married Amy Solomon; together they had one son, Jerry. They were later divorced. He spent much of his adult life in Salt Lake, working as a travel agent and in culinary arts for places such as Sundance and Smiths. He was a master tie dye maker, and more recently he developed an interest in hula hooping. He made and sold hula hoops at arts festivals and farmers’ markets. He also volunteered to teach and demonstrate “hooping” for refugee groups. He was a handsome young man who had a zest for life and a love for people. He was happiest when preparing a gourmet meal, telling funny stories, showing off with a hula hoop, entertaining his nieces and nephews, or spending time with his son.
 
Struggles with anxiety, panic attacks, and depression were unfortunately too much a part of Jeff’s life. May he finally enjoy peace. Jeffrey is survived by his parents, his son, Jerry, brothers Kendall, Michael (Kate), Scott (Camille), a sister, Lori Sherman (Dave), and 16 nieces and nephews. He will be missed by all of them as well as by many other people.
 

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m., Thursday, June 30th 2011 in the Edgemont 2nd Ward Chapel, 555 East 3230 North, Provo. Friends may call at the Berg Mortuary of Provo, 185 E Center St., Wednesday evening from 6:30-8:00 or at the chapel Thursday from 9:30-10:30 a.m. before the service.

“Good night sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”