Hey Jeff -

Like everyone else here, I'm in the middle of my own sordid history and won't pretend to have enough perspective to declare you an innocent, although - quite frankly - based on what you have said - I cannot imagine you have any basis to feel culpable for anything.

What I can do is compare our journeys - they reveal the only truths I feel qualified to tell.

Our situations were similar in that we had co-victims. But I look at how much more you had to deal with and how much better you handled it. Unlike you, no one used physical force or threats of bodily harm with me. I wasn't made to have sex with my co-victims - nor did I. Your perps (and when I say perps - I'm talking about the movie guys, not sfather) threatened your life and used electric torture devices. All my perp did was whine that he wasn't getting any. Your perps used you for all you were worth, promising some financial renumeration which never materialized. My perp promised MY asking price - to leave my little sister alone if I acquiesced - and I didn't get "paid" either. So why is that important? Well - because we both knew our abusers were complete creeps. How did we handle it? When your perps skipped town, that was it. You didn't go after your little co-victims. Compare, my friend - when my sister was finally out of the danger zone, I kept going back to please her abuser. I mean really - how sick is that?

These are the dirty little secrets we never get over. I have no allusions about ever reconciling my lost integrity. Maybe some of us were just little shits and as much as we try not to be shits as grown-ups, we are who we are. I should have known better - I wasn't a stupid kid. I suspect you are wrestling with similar dynamics, maybe afraid to see little Jeff because then you'd have to ask him the hard questions. Or maybe by acknowledging that "little shit" as truly you, then you dilute your integrity, as if it were easier to just pretend he was someone else. I think of that when I hear these lyrics (Hurt):

I wear my crown of thorns
on my liar's chair
full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
beneath the stain of time
the feeling disappears
you are someone else
I am still right here

I don't know - maybe I'll get pilloried for posting this, but if everything has to be diluted down to pleasant platitudes and Pollyanna, then I don't belong here anyways. Maybe - just maybe - we're not supposed to feel good about this. Maybe there aren't any answers that will make us feel better. Maybe that's just the way it's supposed to be with us. And maybe that's what it means to be a responsible adult - to bear those responsibilities and carry on like good soldiers.

We all drag our crosses through life. But it is plain to see that you have carried yours a lot better than I ever would have in similar straits. And years later you are surrounded by family and grandchildren - a true legacy because each child is a new promise you brought into the world. In that sense, you have probably "carried on" finer than most of us. You are a better man than I, Jeff.
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