Dancing with the Devil Who Lived Down the Street
This predator always liked to lead.
I always wanted to be invisible after that first time it happened. I wanted to watch you, but I didn’t want you to see what I was up to.
I remember sitting in my parents’ living room, with my eyes shut down while my breathing became rather shallow. I didn’t want you to hear me either.
I was always in my Sunday best – patent leather shoes with shiny buckles, poppy necklaces and frilly silly girly dresses that were held up by skinny little legs that sprung to life at the drop of a Broadway tune coming from my father’s HiFi. But now I wanted to dissolve into one of those Tom Collins drinks that made their way around at my parents’ shindigs. In between all the merriment and my father’s wit that rivaled Oscar Wilde, there he was. Some one had let the devil incarnate in.
Everybody loved him. What was not to like? His laughter was contagious, his dance moves were legendary and he could hold his liquor. But he gave up his soul a long time ago. Maybe he left it at home? What the hell did a five year old know?
I did not have a shy bone in my body. I could entertain anyone at anytime. Even if they didn’t ask. I was your girl. I wish the little me could have hung out a little longer. But I understand. You had to go. You had to join the underground. Changed your name and burnt your dance card. But he kept coming back and searched you out. Who let him in?
This was when adults knew everything. But they never knew this. I think my father would have killed him if he knew. But instead they shared cigarettes and war stories.
Your lap was like a portal into Hell, and I wonder how many other little girls felt pain when you pushed them down on your lap. Our big tulle and taffeta skirts hid what you did to us. Such a clever man you were.
But I had no one to tell and had no words to describe what had happened. I just knew that it hurt.
I realized if I stopped dancing, if I stayed with the other kids downstairs, if I never went near him again, then I could be safe. Funny how my five year old self became the mother/father figure who saved my own life.
I stuffed that pain down inside just like I used to stuff green peas into my mashed potatoes. Thinking that this crime against my innocence would never resurface. But these memories always do. It’s all a matter of time. For the longest time I did real well in the stuff it and snuff it department.
Until I was 25.
I was living in San Francisco at the time when I was slammed against the wall with my memory, my hidden truth. My own personal earthquake had disturbed the sleeping beast and its black eye winked and welcomed me back home. It was that subtle.
I remembered what he had done to me.
I am so grateful that this sickening truth came back to me after my very anguished teen years. I can almost guarantee that I would have not survived those years.
I tried to find out if he was dead. I wanted to be afforded the opportunity to sit with him.
I was always told that I could give looks that could kill.
And I would have taken a really long hard look at him.
© 2011 My Views from the Edge ™
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Originally published September 20, 2011
We share the same story, though mine was done in secret while my mother slept or wasn’t home. I thought I was the only one who wanted to know if the abuser was still alive, to stare him down. Only one is dead now but I stared him down many times in the years before he died. Another came to my mother’s funeral and I wasn’t sure I was angrier at standing there at the casket. I didn’t let the memory through until my early 40’s after so many messy relationship I lost count. There is healing though. In time.
Suzann- I think sharing our stories makes us stronger. I am glad my abuser can’t do it anymore. And it was comforting that one of my brother’s helped me find this out. Wishing you peace and remember – we are brave and strong.
I read this today because Kay referred to it on Creative Intentions. I admire you for standing tall and sharing this painful truth with all of us. Please know that from however far away, we love and support you.
Keddy- thank you so much, Sometimes telling the truth helps more than oneself and that is why I came out from my darkness and wrote it. And thanks for the love. Sending it right back to you. elizabeth
Not something I would like to have in common but I can relate to everything you said. I was six and it was a family member. Just like you, I grew up with it and it only crashed on me when I was in my late twenties. Needless to say, every relationship I got myself into before that was a mess. I’ve had therapy and I sometimes still doubt the good things that come my way but I’m slowly learning.
Please know that we are worth all the good things that come our way. I hear you about bad relationships – i was always waiting for something bad or disappointing to happen and it did until I got a handle on it. We have to not give these people our power – it is all ours. Keep healing and know that you are worthy of wonderful things. elizabeth
Terribly terribly sorry that this happened to you. Yes, children should feel empowered to speak about what happens to them. And parents should stop and listen.
You write beautifully.
Padmavani- thanks for your comment and I hope parents do listen and kids get the help they deserve. elizabeth
Frightening story, more so for how you articulate it. The need to keep dancing reminds me of the story of the Red Shoes, dance in time to someone elses’ music in someone elses’ red shoes, or become a cripple as you hack your feet off with the shoes. Read Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ version.
Yes, this is my truth from when i was 5 years old. While it did happen, I refuse to let it define me. I have too much going on in my life and so much I want to accomplish that I can;t give this person too much time. He will have someone else to answer to. But we have to let kids tell their truth if this ever happens to them.
You telling your story empowers lots of other people who, as innocent children, were also victimized. Thank you.
Wow, Elizabeth. This is very disturbing. Is this a true story? Did it happen to you? Sadly, stories like this are all too common. It’s disgusting to think that grown adults could be so despicable and vile.
I can’t imagine the loss of innocence and the pain something like this causes. I’m not a violent person, but when I read accounts like this, I feel enraged and want to right this awful wrong. So sorry.