The Word Friend Still Bothers Me

Well.

Here we are again. And again I really don’t want to write this.

But, in trying to find a way back from crazy, apparently, some of the shortest paths run through sewers.

I was a shy awkward kid, bad haircut, thick glasses, and thoroughly intimidated. I was a reader early on, as a kid, I was not a talker. Add to this my family were the most repressed WASPs ever, and half of them were from rural North Carolina-that is to say, The South.

No one in my house talked ever about bodies. Not living and certainly not dead. I don’t remember my body ever being mentioned at all. I knew I had one. It was the vehicle that carried my consciousness into the varied acts that resulted in my carrying my body to yet another ass-whupping.

But as far as concepts like me being “in charge” or “having sovereignty” of my body…perish the thought.

In short, I was a victim awaiting a circumstance. It didn’t take long either.

He was a “friend” of the family. He is the first person I remember specifically being told was our friend, our family’s friend. It gave me a shitty perspective on friendship.

Not long after I made my acquaintance with our *friend* my hapless Gommy (featured in the diffenbacchia  story, too, poor soul) tried to teach me the song “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” I let her know that I didn’t want to be friends with Jesus, and that friends were big yuck.

Gommy was no dummy, but she was not particularly gifted with little kids, either. She added 2+2 and came up with 4 no problem. The problem came when the South reared its ugly head. She asked me gently and seriously if I was “being interfered with.”

Interfere…interfere…that word raced around in my little reader’s brain.

thought maybe she meant what was happening with the friend, but I was very leery of making a terrible mistake.

Interfere…interfere…AHA! Interference! Football!!!! I had what Gommy was asking. I confidently told her ‘no.’ (I was not allowed to play football, so there was no possibility of interference.) Hell, I was only allowed to watch my beloved Steelers if I was completely still and silent.

By the time I figured out how wrong what was happening to me was, I was too ashamed to tell anyone. It went on for years. Even now, writing this, I cringe, the shame is as fresh as it was over 40 years ago.

But in time, anger grew over the shame, then adolescence and the punk rock sensibility grew over the anger. Like layers of a tree. After a time, you grow numb to it.

It is bad enough to be a perfect victim at 5, at 15, or 25 it is a nightmare.

But that code of unshakable silence is hard to break. Even here, trying to break the silence, I’m still hiding in the shadows. At 25 I was chain smoking Kool straights and telling myself that it was “only rape” just get over it don’t be such a baby.

What I didn’t learn at home from our “friend” I learned soon enough through mental hospitals. They call it “milieu therapy” That sounds a lot nicer than ‘we save a ton of money on staffing by putting the violent and the victimized on the same ward.’

I remember at about 25, in the hospital just sneering at this blubbering woman who was dragging group out forever by crying and moaning over and over “he made me suck his….blahblahblah…” Yeah? well, so what? If that’s all he did, grab some mouthwash, and chalk it up in the win column.

I have a lousy track record for compassion for any victim of sexual assault.

And suddenly, it seems overnight, I am being bombarded on social media to speak out against “rape culture” I am suddenly being told that this is not okay.

Well, no shit? It’s not okay. I know it’s not okay. Personally, it’s never been okay. But it is going to take a lot more than signing facebook petitions to change things.

It means changing how every institution in this entire country is organized. We know that there are huge problems in the prisons, and on college campuses. But I’m here to tell you that the mental hospitals, many nursing homes and many many group homes for the differently-abled deserve the same treatment.

I’d like to think that I’m at least evolving personally. And I guess I have a lot more compassion for victims of sexual assault now-as long as they are not me. But I also know if given a choice between getting the daylights beat out of me or sucking a dick, I’ll hit my knees in a heartbeat. Nightmares are no fun, but broken bones are a bitch to heal.

But, as I live and breathe, I’d like to believe that the last generation of perfect victims will die with me-my sisters in silence.

Author: belladonnareed

Pamela Alexander is a 48 year old mother of two and mild menace to society. She resides in a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA with her sorely oppressed partner, and flatulent dog and a cat. She smokes like a chimney, swears like a sailor, and has been known to drink. When she grows up she hopes to move to the West coast of Mexico.

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