My son is at an age where he loves to pose “would you rather” questions. His scenarios are always silly and completely unrealistic. For example, he recently asked me if I would rather live on Jupiter or inside a volcano.
As I was pondering which option would cause the quickest and least painful death, my mind wandered to a version of my own: Would I rather fall into a pit of hundreds of writhing poisonous snakes — think iconic movie from the ’80s — OR confront one of my abusers?
At some point, every person will find themselves in a situation where they will have to decide whether or not to confront someone, about something. For CSA survivors, this decision can involve absolute agony. Do I confront these people with what they have done and let the consequences of that action play out? Or do I remain locked in a mental prison of wrongly directed self-doubt, shame, and guilt?
Fate has mostly solved my confrontation dilemma. I do not have a choice, not for a face-to-face confrontation anyway. If I want to confront two of my three abusers, I have to make do with a symbolic confrontation.
One of my abusers was a complete stranger in a foreign country. I have no name. I made no reports. It was 27 years ago. I have no way of EVER finding this person to hold him accountable, in any way, for what he did to me long ago.
Another abuser committed suicide, taking with him any hope of getting my questions answered. I am left with awful bits and pieces of memories and body sensations that will haunt me for the rest of my life.
I will never get the chance to look these men in the eye and tell them about the pain and damage they inflicted in my life. They won’t be subjected to feeling the extent of my rage and suffering; feelings that should have been directed at them all along, not at myself. I want these assholes to know what it’s done to my life, my very soul.
Whether or not I was going to actually confront them is not the point. It’s the fact that they have stolen not only my innocence and parts of my childhood, but also ultimately silenced my voice and a sense of control over my own healing.
How am I supposed to let that go? Where’s the justice in that?
I’d like to think that getting in these men’s faces and calling them every name in the book would make me feel better; that causing them pain is the retribution they deserve. But it’s just not an option.
So for now, I’m taking little steps. I try to remember that carrying around anger, bitterness and hatred of myself is not hurting them; it’s hurting me.
When I was a child, I couldn’t stop them. As an adult, however, I can choose to learn how to stop hurting myself.
Maybe letting go means owning the idea that just because these men are part of my history, they are not required to be part of my future.