The Weight of an Apology

There were two people who sexually abused me while I was a child. I haven’t talked about the other one much. And here is why:

I saw him when I was in my mid-20’s. We were all at a dive bar in Anchorage. In front of the entire group of people there, I confronted him. At first, he tried to laugh it off; walk away, minimize it. But I told him what was minimal in his point of view, had lasting effects on my life.

He listened, humbly there in front of a group of people we knew, collectively. I told him how what he did to me was a torture I relived over and over. That torture manifested itself in other ways throughout the years. He listened, he took responsibility, he communicated his wrongdoing, and he apologized to me in front of everyone, which included his own father.

My nightmares about him, after that, have stopped for the most part.

So what was the difference between the two individuals that hijacked my first impressions as a toddler that formed my worldview thereafter?

Being held accountable, accepting responsibility, communicating to me his remorse, and apologizing – brought with it a peace and ability to let it go and move on.

I never, ever, not once attempted to hold the other one accountable. I never, ever, not once even let him know that I remembered any of it. Because he never stopped. The physical part stopped, but the mental and emotional part he kept alive and well up until his death.

He sure did make me help him write his last letter to her a few days before though. Of course, I did not know what would come next, he just always made me help him spell words over the years.

So when he killed someone else, that felt like the ultimate last statement by him, reminding me I wasn’t good enough, worthy enough, of anything, but what I got from him. It was not even that he made me feel like I deserved it or asked for it. I was less. Because if that was a factor, he would have to admit my value or influence that made me deserve or ask for it. No, I was way less.

I used to fantasize about being let free when the day came that he died. But, he took care of that, too.

His killing someone else and himself happened when I was 18. I wasn’t even worthy enough to him that it be me who he killed.

Instead, I was left behind, with this gaping sense of nothingness.

He defined to me my sense of self. He did this by instilling and re-affirming to me that I was invisible to others.

I did not have a sense of cause and effect of my own actions after his death. I just existed as an ameba-like form that took up space.

My whole life has been in spite of his supernatural force over me. There has never been, never will be any closure there. There would never been any apology, etc. regardless if he was still alive today or not.

That makes it very difficult. In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the baseline is safety and security – but what about when you enter the world without even that – sometimes that is not the baseline of needs but a fantasy – and as resilient as children are, they have a completely different Hierarchy of Needs.

I am not fully enlightened in my own journey to define what that is at this point. But I know there is more to be considered.