A Letter To My Grandfather
"Now you can tear a building down/But you can't erase a memory..."
Living Colour, "Open Letter to a Landlord"
I haven't sent this. I don't know if I ever will. But I needed to write it, and I want to put it up on the page. A couple of people have already mailed me and applauded my courage in saying what had happened to me. That helps. Maybe eventually I'll have the courage to confront the bastard, instead of "protecting" my family and my relationship with them but keeping quiet.
I know what you did to me. I feel it in my flashbacks, flinching when a loved one accidentally touches me the same way you did. I remember your words after you took your pants down: "Susie, how would you like to feel this inside you?" Probably the reason I react so violently when anyone dares to call me Susie.
How old was I then? Not old enough to know what it was you were proposing. That little girl (who had to ask someone what a prostitute was when she saw the word in a magazine) should have been allowed to grow up on her own, to decide for herself what physical stuff to do and when. It was almost a decade after that incident before I even kissed a guy, does that tell you how out of place you were?
You tore away my innocence and my trust and left a big empty hole that neither the love of boyfriends nor a total of over three years of therapy has really helped me fill. You made me think of sex as something that men want so badly as to not care who they hurt in getting it, and the men who are attracted to your pre-victimized product often fulfill that prophecy. You made me feel like sex was the only thing I was capable of doing that mattered; you obviously weren't putting any premium on my grades of my skill with my hands or anything. In front of the family, you only laughed at the things that mattered to me.
Perhaps the jewelry, the spending money ("you don't have to tell your mother about this money"), the other gifts are are your attempt to make up for what you did to me. It won't wash. It comes across as trying to buy my silence, and I don't like being bought. The conversation over the dinner table revealed that you've been accused of doing this to someone else. The family pooh-poohs it, but I believe the accusation because I know what you are capable of doing. Did you abuse Mom and Aunt Martha and Cousin Leah too? Sabotage the lives of all your descendants for your own twisted pleasure? No amount of jewelry will give me back my emotional health, undamaged by your violation. It has been years since the last time you tried to touch me, when that fourteen-year-old could finally push you out the door, and after locking it behind you, sit down and cry and cry. Nine years ago, that was, and I still lock my bedroom door at night. or else I can't sleep. And that's just the smallest of the effects of what you did to me.
Don't ever touch me again. Not a hug, not one of your slimy kisses. The only reason I even come near you is to visit my dear grandmother who has never tried to hurt me. If she dies before you, I will have no more reason to risk my stability by being near you. I am glad I don't bear your last name.
Was whatever pleasure you got out of this worth knowing how you've hurt me and how I hate you for it?
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