Chapter 13 : Is Ignorance as Bad as Cruelty?
Now that the ‘secret’ is out, my family have taken great comfort from their close friends. Prior to Twat Faces arrest, they were wary as to who they could tell. There was no legal problem with them talking about this matter, but we were informed by the police, that the more people that knew, the more stress he would feel, and too much stress could render him unable to face prosecution or trial. I didn’t care about his stress levels, but I did care that he should at least answer for this, if not in court, then in the police station. Now that he has been arrested and has admitted in part to the charges, they now feel a little better about discussing it. We all agree that having admitted it, no matter what happens now – if he makes it to trial or not, that is not important. He has taken responsibility, and that is the most important thing. He is now arguing over how many times, whose fault it was, and the severity, but I don’t really care, due to the fact that he admitted it. That makes me extremely happy, and is a big way towards the closure that I needed.
Telling people has been easier than I thought. My mum has been telling all of her friends and family. We knew that no matter what, the people that she chose to tell would give her unwavering support and love. I know that when I leave Wales and return to Spain, she will need her friends more than ever. There has been only one exception.
Don’t get me wrong, this person loves us, there is no doubt about that, but she also speaks without thinking. I have always assumed that it is without thinking, as the alternative is that she really is a cruel and vindictive person, and as hurtful as she can be, there is always the knowledge that she doesn’t mean to be so offensive, and she does love us. It’s almost as if she can’t imagine herself in anyone else’s shoes.
When this happened to me, many years ago, I chose not to tell. People ask me why, and the answer is simple… I wanted to protect my parents, and I honestly thought that I could handle it, and it wasn’t a big deal. Now I know different, but at the time, it wasn’t. I was too young for boyfriends, no-one had ever touched me that way before, and as much as I disliked it as it felt wrong, it wasn’t physically painful, so when it was over, I was angry, but also felt that I had dealt with the matter, was strong and brave when I slapped his face and refused his £0.50p, hence there was no need to upset anyone else.
As I got older, it became harder. I started forming relationships, and they were difficult. From the beginning, when a boyfriend held my hand, or kissed me, it made me feel awkward, a little anxious, and quite confused. They acted like it was the most normal thing in the world, and I didn’t want to be different, so I went along with some things that I possibly shouldn’t have just wanting to seem normal. Those things made me feel bad, and the more people I met, the more relationships that failed, the more anxiety I suffered, the more I realised that it had affected my adult life far more than I had imagined it would. By the time I realised this, I felt it was too late to tell anyone. I had already waited so long, so what was the point in telling, and hurting my family, his daughters, his wife, his grandchildren, the church etc. I honestly felt for years, that I was responsible for all of these people, so as my life was crumbling, and depression was ascending more and more, and treatment was going up and up, my responsibility to all of these other people stopped me coming forward. It took for me to totally break, and lose everything, before I believed that the village happiness wasn’t my responsibility, their hurt was on his shoulders and not mine, that his family would hurt due to his actions, not because I talked about them.
Now you understand why I didn’t tell sooner, and why at eleven, it wasn’t such a big deal, I wasn’t sobbing in to my pillow at night, I wasn’t hiding from adults, I wasn’t afraid to go out, I wasn’t feeling like I was hiding a big secret, it just was what it was.
My parents however, on hearing the news, obviously thought about anything that they could have done to stop it, was there a way they could have known? Should they have known? Was there anything in my behavior that may have given it away? The answer to all of the above is of course no, and I did tell them that. They are still hurting though, so are particularly sensitive about it, and I wouldn’t expect anything else from them. I have said all I can to assure them that there was no way of them knowing as there was, at the time, nothing to know of any consequence. By the time the effects were affecting my life, I had left home, joined the forces, and visited when I felt good, strong, and healthy.
Before telling this person, the one who loves us, my mum looked worried and said:
- “I know what she will say,”
- “What’s that mum?” I replied,
- “She will say that she would have known if it was her child,”
- “No way!” I replied!!!! “You know that is absolutely wrong don’t you? You know that there is no way you could have known?”
Thankfully, she said yes, and had listened to me explain how it wasn’t possible.
I honestly thought mum had gone mad. There is no way that someone with children, someone that loves you would say something so cruel to someone in the painful position that my mum had found herself in. No way would someone take this, as an opportunity to point out that she would have been a better mother!! But you know what, mum was right. She said exactly those words.
I was lucky that my mum had the foresight to know what was coming, and to tell me, not only for me to confirm to her that it was rubbish, but to prepare me for the shock, and in doing so, allow me to ignore what she said, say it was wrong, but not argue the point to much, risking a falling out.
It actually got worse that day; after I lost weight, consciously after being diagnosed with diabetes, and feeling much better for it, and in eighteen months managing to reverse the diabetes, yep, very proud, I am no longer on medication, and this is no mean feat! This is quite rare, and control is the best outcome in majority of cases, so big kudos to me for that! My BMI is perfect, and other than a little flabby in the middle (I’m more ‘skinny soft’ than ‘skinny toned’) I am doing great. My cholesterol is good, and all blood results for glucose etc. are perfect. She told me I look terrible, not once, not twice, but continually. I look like I am ill, I look the image of my brother (if you knew my brother, you would realise how painful this is to hear, he has a growth disorder, his bones are extremely long, and his joints are large, he is unable to eat large meals due to his throat being too small, he is around 6ft 4” and weighs 10st wet, it is all down to a condition called Soto Syndrome. He is the nicest person ever, and being likened to him is not a bad thing, but looks wise, comparing me to someone with a growth disorder, especially when I am currently so fragile mentally seems a little harsh. It hasn’t stopped yet, even when I’m not there, she tells my mum how bad I look, she is hurting her, and doesn’t think that should the shoes be on the other foot, if someone kept on and on and on about how bad her child looks, she would literally flip out, even though we know, that if someone commented, they would obviously be wrong, talking through their backside, and being cruel.
So as we travel this bumpy road to recovery, with our fragile hearts and minds, not yet strengthened by time, people we love still think it is OK to criticize in the most hurtful way. It’s a good job that we love her, and by loving her we can move on without causing a row, as you can be sure it would be our fault!!!!
I don’t know if she will ever read this, or if she will know who I am talking about. If it was an OK thing to say, then I guess there could be many potential candidates. If there is only one suspect, then I guess that rather than be upset, a simple reflection on how it would feel at that time would be better. I would love an apology to my mum, but I won’t hold my breath. I guess that if she didn’t mean to upset us, and said it out of love, we would be better to leave it be. She is too important to lose, and it doesn’t bother me as much as it does mum. I just hate that someone could make such a comment with absolutely no knowledge on the subject, no experience – thank god, and so little foresight in to the pain that such a comment could cause. She was and is a good mother, her daughter is amazing, hardworking, kind, happy, friendly and funny, as is she, but to me, my mother was obviously better.
Just because you have an opinion, it doesn’t mean that you have to share it. The shock is gone, the hurt caused by her words has washed over me, and my mum said it doesn’t bother her as she knew it was coming. How anyone can guess that reaction still baffles me, but it shows how well they know each other, and yet she still chose to share with her for her support. She knows without a doubt that it wasn’t cruelty, which unfortunately, by default, only leaves ignorance. If anyone comes to you with this news, please don’t say you would have been a better mother, or imply it. Someone is opening their soul to you, sharing the most hurtful secret, a life changing event that will literally be sucking the sunshine from their lives, just be nice, even if you think you would have done it better.