As My Abuser Treads Among Us
As my abuser treads among us I try hard to still feel seen. He is applauded by the masses for his quick wit and all he’s achieved in the name of an artistry we all believe in, dressed in virtues we all hold high; and I hear the little, shaky voice inside me whisper, “Is it I?” “Did I bring on my callous treatment?” “Am I the one to blame?”
I know it may seem that I’ve gone insane based on the toll it’s taken on me. I know you’ve caught me distraught in pain and anguish out in public on the street; at times, without a mind that’s thinking clearly, and I’ve been labeled pathetic names, as even friends and those I’ve admired flock to him to see what’s to gain from him through mere association. And that’s how the world creates for itself a silent cooperation and stays quiet.
And I remain my only witness of a truth locked behind closed doors, along with him. And although a few of you may catch a hint and some even awkwardly try to check in, in truth, no one really wants to know more.
And neither did I — which kept my vision tightly tucked within the limits of its prism; finding a comforting discomfort within the familiar walls of denial; perhaps out of fear that if we face it all, we may be called to take a position; or perhaps it’s the greater fear of our own deepest selves; that we might no longer be able to avoid the mirror and no longer be able to look right into the eyes of our reflection, but would find ourselves painfully grieving an illusion that we had so genuinely wished to be true and had grown to love dearly; yet, instead, we might find ourselves forced to undergo a silent internal revolution of our own.
But — I am not asking you to make a hard choice. I do not ask you to dismiss either his or my voice; it is the silence that I find the hardest to carry. For your avoidance is teaching my lips to stay sealed, and that to be accepted my experience with him must be concealed, and I ask that you don’t turn your back on my story just to avoid inner conflict, or conflict with him, but that you meet my biography with empathic curiosity so that those doors may be opened, and the inside revealed; not for him to be demonized but so that I can heal and realize I am not doomed.
And maybe one day, he will, too, open the door with me and take a look around the haunted room.
Even if it is true that it’s easier to love the mighty and have the hurt be ostracized instead of questioning the reasons for why you choose to idolize and why you itch to gain his blessing and wrap yourself up in it as a disguise; perhaps to hide your own voice that you, too, yearn to hear but are afraid that falling as I did might be too much to bear.