Overall I am very happy. Most of those seven years on the streets were that young kid in me running from a guy that I thought might still be after me. But they also provided enough time for me to heal and reestablish a relationship with a God whom I wasn’t sure could love me. I could not love myself you see.
As a Christian I practice forgiveness and take it seriously. I often picture my attacker in my mind and tell him I love and forgive him. This has brought me quite a bit of piece, however sometimes the psyche needs more than just forgiveness to feel safe.
I had always remembered part of the night I was molested, but I had an ugly memory surface about the same time I started working as a reporter for a weekly newspaper in the Florida Keys. The memory was disgusting and with it came panic attacks and an overall dread that left me not feeling safe anywhere with anyone.
The job was stressful for me because I was not trained in journalism. I was also new to the area and had not established very many friendships. I did however, enjoy writing everyday. I covered politics and everything else in a middle key area called Islamorada. It was, and I imagine still is, one of the richest city per capita in all of Florida.
I was naïve about politics and assumed that most local politicians were there because they honestly wanted to serve the people. This turned out not to be the case. The city council members were brash and colorful in their own way, but also prone to breaking the rules to see things go their way.
At that time there were no sewers in the Keys and everyone ran on septic tanks except the larger hotels who treated their own waste water. Islamorada was looking to build a sewer line and an expensive treatment plant to service the three keys in the incorporated area.
Three other papers covered Islamorada and one thing that I found interesting was that most were not investigating anything. They just went to meetings and wrote up what happened.
I developed some contacts and found out the company who was going to install the sewer line has some very close personal connections to local politicians and the bidding process was highly suspect.
Well my reporting ended up exposing the fraud, killing the sewer deal and got a very popular politician run out of office. Someone said to me they thought my reporting was Pulitzer worthy. You would think it would have been the start of a brand new career for me. However it was the start of my collapse.
I became even more surly at work, did few of my assignments outside of a children’s page, and eventually got demoted to part time sports. I was also paranoid the folks that lost the sewer deal were going to be coming after me. The part time salary was not enough to maintain an apartment and feed myself so I wound up living in my car for a year and a half.
It was the same old story. Every time my life looked promising I would find a way to sabotage things. Psychologically I tied it back to the molestation.
I was a slow starter at Judo but in the time just before I was molested I was starting to win some tournaments and was becoming excited about the sport. It may have been why I was attacked.
The guy who hurt me was an instructor but was lousy at tournaments. We were buddies when I was also doing bad, but as my success grew, so did his anger apparently. His attack had a lot of both physical and emotional domination with it. For some reason he did not want to see me get better, perhaps to cover his own anxiety about losing tournaments.
So becoming good at something has always brought up dreadful feelings for me.
I quit judo after the night I was molested, but had lost a part of my soul. My parents were divorced at the time and my mom, who had started working, was not able to do anything really to help me feel safe. I am not sure I ever admitted what happened, but I suspected she knew.
The guy never got caught until years later and I imagined molested quite a few more kids, which looking back really raises some guilt about not being able to say or do more myself to stop him.
This summer however, I was doing some yard work over by the area where I was attacked. I started having a panic attack and for some reason decided I was going to report the guy to the police.
I had found him on sex offender web-site and knew approximately where he lived. Seeing his picture again stirred some strong emotions, but also it allowed me to develop some empathy for him.
I was eight or nine at the time and since he was driving a car had always assumed he was quite a bit older. Turns out he was only 16 when he came after me. This does not make what he did right, but it help me understand that to be doing something like that at his age, he may have had some horrendous things happen to him as well.
It reminds me of an old episode of Hill Street Blues. There were some grisly crimes being committed in a section of New York. When the caught the guys it turned out to be a group of fresh faced teenage boys. One of the cops said, “Where do you put your hate.” From my perspective you just stay patient and love it out of existence.
The statue of limitations had run out, but just filling out the report did a whole bunch for me psychologically. That young boy whose voice got caught in throat had finally told the truth.
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