Wisdom is in my experience hard won. If I had known how hard, I'm not sure that I would have thought it worth the purchase, but I made a promise to myself and others that I would do what I could do to move forward, and how could I move forward without being totally willing to look at who I am.
My father who has been dead for a number of years was a child molester.
While I had every reason to know this--because two of my sisters said so, it took a long distance conversation with a first cousin I have not spoken to for 40 years, to corroborate beyond any reasonable doubt in my heart. I suppose, I had previously held out some hope that my sisters had misread my father's actions or my sisters suffered from the same defect of comprehension about our lives, that I labor under. Learning what I learned yesterday, is not unlike having a brick wall collapse on my head. I'm tossing emotional bricks off in an effort to recast all of my childhood memories and all that happened since. What role did this play in my life, and in my choices.
I thought I was prepared to know the truth about my father, but when my dear cousin told me yesterday that my father approached her when she was 14 to try to bargain for sex, (she was living in our home as a foster child to escape the step-father who had raped her), the information changes everything. No more rationalizations.
The best part of my career has been spent pursuing child abusers, the irony is not lost on me. Why was I certain that accused child molesters were guilty? I knew what guilt was. Why was I so afraid to have children? I did not want to become what I knew my father was--I thought my father was just a violent child abuser. That is, until my sisters spoke up in the year or two before he died. Now I have absolute certainty.
In the last 12 hours I have tried to visualize being back in that house, what would I have done, if I had known? I was gone, when I was 17 I escaped into the Army and was stationed overseas--maybe by leaving my father felt safe to exploit these girls? Don't misread me, I didn't have the emotional IQ to protect my sisters or cousin, but just being present in the house must have been a deterrence.
So where do I go from here? What can I or you do with this information? Children are entitled to love and support and to be unmolested by adults. It's hard enough to love and suppport them, but to molest children, to sexualize them. The outrageousness of the crime shakes me to my core. In my lifetime we put men to death when we suspected them of this crime, and yet the dirty, filthy secret is that it goes on all the time in every neighborhood and in many families including as it turns out in my father and my mother's house. Now what?
I've got the darkness, now I need light.