A few months ago, I got word from a family member that my paternal grandmother was found unconscious in the middle of the night and rushed to the hospital. She had suffered a brain hemorrhage and was on a ventilator as her heart rate began to slow. The doctors weren’t optimistic that anything could be done.
I didn’t know her well. I spent a summer visiting my father’s parents when I was ten but the rest of my relationship with them was quick phone calls throughout my childhood. As my grandma got older, she began to forget who I was, so our relationship dwindled in my teens.
Years ago, my dad told me that both of his parents had sexually abused him. When he was eight years old, they took him into their bedroom and taught him to have sex with his mother while my grandfather watched. What they did to him made me sick and angry with my grandparents.
I have been silenced, me and my trouble.
I first silenced myself in shame, not even knowing exactly why, but somehow… it was wrong, what had just happened. And I knew it. I looked for a friend but got something else. The trust I had put in him had been violated, shattered. I was pretty sure it was wrong, but there was no one to ask without shaming myself for “not knowing better” It was just a vague feeling then, but it needed a private answer and there was no one to ask. So I silenced The Question. Thus The Silence began.
Then my abuser said, “Don’t tell.” We both knew what had happened. But both of us—my abuser and I— had The Question. But it was a hard question, hard to figure out what the question really was, too hard to figure out the answer alone, and it was too shameful to ask anyone else about. So my abuser told me what he told himself: “Just shut up about this—tell no one.”
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