When I was 13 and 14 and 15, all I wanted was for someone to ask me "What happened? Who hurt you?".
No one did.
When I was 16, I wanted my Biology teacher to ask me. I would have told him. He was Socrates, Lincoln, and Patton, all rolled into one.
He taught me more about being a responsible human being, my own potential, and the imperative of Life, than any one else I have ever met.
The very last day of the school year, I hung around his class after dismissal. Other students were there. More came and went.
He stared at me at one point, as I skulked in the rear of the room, but his eyes were focused behind or above me. He said, "Don't disappear. I want to ask you something." His face and voice were serious to the point of solemnity; Or of pain.
I nodded and worked my way slowly to the front of the room. My heartbeat was deafening. My body was hollow. No breath escaped.
He still spoke with Marsha and Al. I got to the door and I paused. I needed one more word. Just one.
No word came.
So I was gone, but he had let me go, no question. Nothing, no one ever got past Mr. F. But I did, that day, and I never understood why.
Either he just couldn't bring himself to ask me and hear my answer, or he saw my fear, and released me.
I still think of him often.
When I was 17, I told a Guidance Counselor, that I needed and wanted professional help. She asked me why. I wouldn't say. She told me, in that case, you have to talk to your parents.
It took months to build up the courage. I told my father I had a problem. He said he couldn't help me.
So I waited.
And I buried, and I denied, and I ignored. And if anyone had asked me through the next long years, I wouldn't have known what they were talking about.
I never let anyone close enough to even suspect; to even get a tiny idea.
Until I was 21.
When I was 21, I had my Renaissance. It didn't last long, but it sustained me for a good long time.
Afterward, I just disappeared slowly, trying this, trying that, giving up and finally giving in.
Because the truth, buried alive, burrows deeper and deeper, crushing and displacing, carving out the very marrow of life.
From about 25 through 43; well, I lived as best I could. I never hurt anybody. I stayed healthy. But I didn't much care; not about being asked, not about anything really.
When I was 44, I nearly died. As my life passed before my eyes (it really does, you know), I saw little besides two things; sex at age 3, rape at age 12.
I went numb. For a week I lay in bed or I sat on the lawn watching the moon rise in the afternoon, and transit through the darkness.
Sometimes I heard echoes from the moon. They were echoes of the traffic passing by my yard, and as the echoes faded, they took on the quality of the fading reverberations of a snowball hitting the pine tree I was leaning on.
Then the snowball was the stinging sensation of one which had hit my cheek on this same lawn.
Thrown by my cousin, my rapist, and I was thankful that he was dead, because I was filled with a rage that would have driven me to murder just then.
And I cried and sobbed and I swear, my hand to God, I heard just then the words of Mr. F., that I had heard decades before, "He's just not worth it."
And I felt better.
But I still had a long way to go. In a moment of clarity, I realized that part of me was still waiting to be asked, "What happened? Did someone hurt you?"
I realized that I had convinced myself that it didn't matter, and no one cared anyway.
I had lied, denied, and hidden so well, that no one would ever ask.
I had to tell.
So, I have.
And that has changed everything.
Colors have renewed.
I am moved to hug.
If you understand everything, some things are just as they are. If you understand nothing, things are still just as they are.