Johnny's been on my mind a lot this past week.
I was eighteen. Just out of eating disorder treatment (the first time), trying to figure out who I was. And hurting, but I didn't understand that back then.
He was the Elder's Quorum President and my home teacher. He was the kind of guy I thought my parents would like me to date. Although I knew I was in no place to get married, I also knew that was the next step. The only way for a girl to progress...
I wasn't really interested in him, but I wanted to progress. He was nice. He brought scriptures over all the time. He was desperately trying to reactivate me. Teaching me lessons. Discussing the gospel. We also went on several dates.
That night, I was wearing a t-shirt and overalls. We were sitting in the car. He reached his arm around my lower back and put his hand under the overalls and touched my stomach. I was gone.
If you've never dissociated, this will sound so strange. I have no memory of what happened next, but still... I have nightmares of what happened. I CAN'T tell you for sure. Which makes me feel crazy. I could talk about it back then.
I told the bishop. I felt horribly guilty for him touching me and for all that happened. He listened enough to tell me that I had done nothing wrong. There was no sin on my part. I remember him also talking about forgiveness and love.
I told my friend Shawn some things. He told me to love him and forgive him. He told me about all of the nice things that Johnny did for their Elder's Quorum.
My roommates were frustrated with me that I wouldn't listen to the home teacher anymore.
My (non-member) friend, Matt, asked where Johnny lived, so he could kill him.
Matt's response scared me, but as I think back on it, it felt REALLY good to have someone validate my hurt and my anger. If the bishop knew enough to know I did nothing wrong, why didn't he suggest I call the police?? Why didn't he suggest counseling? Why didn't he DO anything with Johnny?? He was also Johnny's bishop... Why didn't he at least release him??
I have often talked about Johnny as the catalyst to get me back to church. I directly blamed MYSELF for what happened. If I had been a "good" girl, that never would have happened. I became BEYOND obsessed with being good. Church. Service. Callings. Read the scriptures. Do what everyone told me to do, so I wouldn't deserve to be hurt.
I don't know how to say this strongly enough... I BELIEVED I DESERVED WHAT HE DID, BECAUSE I WASN'T GOING TO CHURCH. I deserved what he did, because I wasn't good. I had an eating disorder. I was bad (although I haven't really come up with WHY I was bad, I just knew I was bad).
That belief has motivated me for a long time.
It motivated me after Larry left too.
Its different now. I don't believe that anymore.
I don't want anyone to believe anything like that.
It doesn't matter who you are, what you've done, what you haven't done, what you think, what you feel, what you want or don't want, you don't deserve to be hurt.
You are beautiful.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
I didn't deserve it
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I am sorry for what Johnny did to you. And, for anything anyone ever did that hurt you. Or hurt others. I HATE when people get hurt. And, HATE even MORE when the hurt involves violence, implied or actual. I understand about dissociating. If you would like more info, I believe you have my e-mail. And, did the photo of the horses come through alright for you?ReplyDelete
Love and respect, always.
Thank you. I think you understand a lot of things, that really, I wish you didn't. For your sake.ReplyDelete
Yes! The picture of the horses came through. I deleted the one that wasn't signed. The one that IS signed is currently my desktop. :) I kept meaning to write back, but... I didn't.
I wanted to comment on your last blog post. If not writing is best for you, then don't write. Just know I'm thinking of you. Praying for you.
love and respect,
That story does raise a lot of questions. Why didn't the Bishop do something? Why didn't anyone else understand? I wish we could go back and ask some of those people why they acted the way they did. Unfortunately, we can't.ReplyDelete
But, regardless of all that, you certainly didn't deserve any of what was done to you. You weren't (and aren't) bad.
I personally don't think it's ever possible to "deserve" those things. Even if someone has done things they're not proud of, it doesn't mean they deserve to be abused.
I believe the bishop did the best he could, and still... that doesn't change that I needed more. My guess is, it didn't even cross his mind to do something else. Without education and experience, he didn't even think about it. I completely believe that he never meant any harm and that he didn't want me to believe that I deserved it. (I was about to say, "I'm sure," but I'm not SURE of anything. I can't read his mind.)I believe if he had understood, REALLY understood, he would have done it differently.
Sometimes the Christian maxim of love and forgiveness just goes way too far, and people don't get the validation of their feelings they need when they are truly wronged. It's one thing to say it's good to forgive, but that's something that comes way after. If you aren't given a chance to really grieve or rage about what happened to you, you end up justifying what was done to you.ReplyDelete
And at the same time, the Christian idolization if "purity" and "virtue" (not having sex) probably only exacerbated the trauma this caused you. Knowing that only you have a right to decide what happens to your body is healthy, and to be upset when someone violates your rights is normal and natural. The absolute terror instilled by many Christian denominations about the consequences of pre-marital sex is not.
@ Jen - I think that's a big problem with having an untrained clergy in charge of people's spiritual direction. They simply have no idea what a person needs in so many situations, they cannot help.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Jen. It is OK for me to write. In fact, I think it is the only thing helping right now. I appreciate your support.ReplyDelete
And, you are very perceptive. Yes, I think I do understand what you have been through. I am here to offer support to you as you go through it.
I wish I could take the hurt away that has been caused out there. Yet, I know that even when we have horrific things happen to us, we grow despite the ill conceived hardships people throw onto our lives by what THEY do to us and others. It really does not seem fair.
I am sending good thoughts and good healing energy your way. :)
Love and respect, always.
I'm so proud of you. And I'm sorry he hurt you - you did not deserve that in any way. I respect, envy, and look up to the way you are able to be truthful, open, and honest. Your writing, sharing, and truthfulness helps me, more than you know. Thank you. I love you.ReplyDelete
Carla, Yes. The shame that came from not being "pure" was awful. I am slowly finding a way to feel healthy about my body, my sexuality, my boundaries... I have a lot of unlearning to do.ReplyDelete
Duck, Thank you!
Amanda, I love you!!! 'Nuff said.
I don't know you. I've only read a few posts of your blog. And I'm fucking angry about what happened to you. (I don't swear, either, so it means something.)
I am actually crying.
You are very brave.
I haven't been abused physically, but as a former fundy I know the shame a female must live with.
The part that scares me is that I can feel so much hearing your story, but when I think about my own brothers I feel empty.
prairienymph - Thank you!ReplyDelete
I understand feeling something reading someone else's story, but not your own... That is how I have dealt with many of my emotions about my own life - through others. It was easy for me to get angry at people that hurt my friends (and even just bloggy friends).
Thanks for dropping by!