Intro from Pt 5 The Worth of Fear
I whispered I had a very bad dream and I was afraid. He simply told me to go back to bed. I walked back through the dark house all the way to my bed. I didn’t even know what anyone could do about my fear. I did know I couldn’t say anything.
The Worth of Being Separate
Fast forward to when my sister and I are teenagers. One night, that same brother of my father from the cat-of-nine-tails event was over at my house with his family. “Jude” had a daughter who was also a teenager.
My sister, cousin, and I try to be friends, but I find it difficult with “Nina.” She grates on me. She is coarse and loud-mouthed and doesn’t fear consequences—everything I am not. I know that Nina has a bad heart. I know she must take good care of herself or she can die. She can’t party hardy on drugs and alcohol, which she does as an adult and dies as a result.
I feel put upon when Jude brings his family into my house. I just want them to leave. Yet I also want to have a slumber party of sorts with my sister and Nina, all three of us crowded into one small bedroom on the floor with blankets and pillows to make a pallet.
The idea of a slumber party sounds fun. I always wanted to have my very own slumber party. I was at a few in grade school when a classmate gave a blanket invitation for all the girls to come over. I was quiet, shy, conservative. I couldn’t ever really think of what to say to any of those girls. While they were playing dress-up, talking about boys, talking about each other, showing off toys, I lived in a completely different world, where I was the one being played with and talked to about things I couldn’t speak of to anyone.
I thought that night with Nina and my sister could be a fun slumber party sort of night. The room was dim as we whispered, or rather Nina and my sister whispered. I faced away from them, wanting to be a part of but feeling apart from. My sister and Nina started talking around the subject of sexual encounters within the family. What is that they are talking about? They are saying something about our father’s stepfather and how he touches some of the cousins where he shouldn’t. I couldn’t quite make out what was said because my mind was somewhere else. Later, in therapy I learn about disassociation where in times like these you just kind of go away to a nowhere in your head.
I think Nina started it. She tended to say things for effect, so I didn’t enter the conversation, but my sister indicated she knew what Nina was talking about. They asked me something about if anyone had, you know, touched me as if to ask if I was one of them like it was some kind of club. I suddenly realized that my sister too had been sexually assaulted by our father. But not wanting to open that lockbox of experience, I quickly shut the conversation down,
“I don’t know what you are talking about. I don’t want to talk about this.”
I was alone in myself again. I couldn’t say anything.