When People Stop Looking At You

In June, I went public with my molestation. It was a bit earlier than I had planned, because someone made an announcement that included part of my story. A couple weeks earlier than I had hoped, I gave a snapshot of my journey. It had to be done. It was part of my healing. I wanted other people in similar situations to know that they are worth that police report…no matter what our statutes of limitations say. And I wanted to tell my story on my terms, before anyone learned from public records or hearsay.

And it was pretty easy to write a quick post at 3 am in a castle. It was silent, other than Dave’s breathing and sleep mumbling. No air conditioning. No televisions. Just the sounds of the animals at Garden of the Gods. And the occasional toilet flushing in one of the other guest rooms.

It didn’t take too much bravery to hit publish. I wouldn’t be sitting next to her when she opened her email. Or sitting across from him while he scrolled through his newsfeed. Even though 5,000 people saw it, it still felt intimate. Small. Support poured in through messages, comments, and texts.

But then I returned to real life. Home from the hearing and our mini-getaway. And seeing people eye to eye was difficult.

Someone who would normally greet with me with a hug, abstained. Friends who knew I was going to the hearing, but didn’t know as a victim, wouldn’t look in my eyes. It was not what I had expected, but what I should’ve assumed.

One person told me she was there to talk if I needed it. Ironically, she hadn’t even read the post. She doesn’t follow this blog or use Facebook. And she was one of the few who reached out to me in that uncomfortable silence in the real world. Face to face. Never looking away.

So maybe going public was a mistake. I thought it would be the best way to communicate such an enormous part of my life, but maybe I was wrong. Maybe it was a mistake to hope that my story might also give someone a boost of bravery.

Yet dozens of strangers contacted me to share their stories. Some even said I had given them the courage to go public with their own pasts. But when real life acquaintances avert their eyes, I don’t know what to do with that.

It’s the struggle of sharing. I can’t control how people will react. And everyone processes differently. I was the victim. I am the survivor. But I quickly realized that people aren’t just dealing with my situation. My molestation doesn’t really affect them all that much.

They are dealing with the truth of my molester. That we had a wolf in our midst. And maybe that’s why they can’t look me in the eyes. Maybe they are trying to embrace a truth I’ve known for 18 months. That my suppressed memories knew for decades.

Either way, ‘real life’ is hard. I share things here that I couldn’t possibly share one-on-one. Not enough time. Not enough coffee.

But I threw something so incredibly difficult out into the internet. I thought I did it to help others, but maybe I was selfish. Scared to have the conversation and the eye contact and the awkward body language. Instead, I typed it out in the dark and published it in the calm and then waited for it to explode. And I may have damaged friendships, as she opened her email with no warning and he scrolled through his newsfeed to stumble upon the news.

I want to thank everyone who has supported me through all of this. It can’t be easy. I had to keep so many things vague and quiet until after all the court proceedings. I think I hurt people who thought they should’ve known earlier. And I’m sure I’ve alienated people who wished they would’ve never learned.

I don’t really know how these things should be handled. But if it keeps one person from being tricked by him when he is paroled in six years, then I feel like it is worth all the awkward interactions. Because he’s good at lying. But I’m better at telling the truth. For whatever that’s worth.

My victim’s advocate had warned me more than once, but nothing prepares you for that moment when people stop looking at you.

lyndse castle

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6 thoughts on “When People Stop Looking At You

  1. […] Finish reading over on the Firefly Friends blog. […]

  2. Rachelle says:

    I hate that you were abused. But I loved the post you wrote about it. I felt empowered by what you wrote. I remember being a teenager who was a little too intense, a little too morbid and kind of…odd. My friends and teachers didn’t get most of what I said or did. But when you put it in the context of a teenager who was getting the hell knocked out of her by a stepfather…then things make a little more sense.

    I’ve come to realize that people go through the motions of authenticity all the time. We’ve learned through social conditioning, small groups at church and basic interactions with others that “realness” is valued. So we volunteer semi-embarrassing tidbits and anecdotes about ourselves to feel “real”, and embrace others when they do the same in return. “Oh. Your kid threw up on you this morning? Tee-hee. Mine too. Your so “real!”

    But then sometimes another person offers up true authenticity and shares a tragedy. An abuse. A loss. A sin. Suddenly, we are reminded that our previous efforts to be “real” with others are kind of a joke. It’s embarassing to realize that we aren’t as genuine as we thought we were. Especially when we stare into the face of true, painful, devastating honesty. Like the kind you shared on your blog.

    When people don’t respond to your story, it’s not because it wasn’t heard or received. It’s because they heard you loud and clear. And they are now trying to grapple with what your honesty means for them and all their past efforts at authenticity.

  3. I have several friends who were molested as children by family members; two by their fathers. I know what they did to get through it; how they felt when other family members didn’t believe them. Or worse…family members who knew and did nothing. I was drugged and raped. ..one time. It was devastating and I felt guilty. That was just one time… to have that going on for years by your own father is a hard place to be. I don’t get to see you often, but I’m not going to look away or avoid contact when I do. You’ll get a great big hug and probably a few tears.

  4. MamaM says:

    Don’t let the devil take some courageous and brave and righteous that you just did and twist it into utter confusion for you. You were and ARE brave and courageous and standing up for not only yourself, but others who have not yet been able to find their voice, or CAN’T find their voice. The hard stuff is hard stuff, and us fallen humans haven’t learned how to handle hard stuff with grace love and dignity yet. But know that if any of those people who looked away from you and go through hard stuff themselves… they will likely be the very first person to run to you when hard stuff hits for them, because you took the first step and showed them how they can be real and not hide. You showed them that it’s ok to “publish”, with pen, paper or your mouth. And I know they will remember your story when they need to find their own strength to battle their own hard stuff, or console another friend who is going through hard stuff. Vulnerability is never done in vain. Thank you so much for sharing and continuing to share!!! You are so encouraging even when it doesn’t seem like it’s a happy topic. Thank you for being real!!!

  5. Tasha Martin says:

    I love you, Lyndse. You are a strong and beautiful woman, whose courage blows me away. It breaks my heart that you have to live with this pain. I promise there is a really big hug in store for you the next time our paths intersect!

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