I tried writing this the day my step-father died. It took several tries typing away on a tiny phone and eventually I had a product I was satisfied with presenting. Of course my phone refused to post it and then promptly deleted everything I wrote. Again we are at the drawing board as I attempt to eulogize my step-father, or as you may know him, the man who raped me multiple times in my childhood. All the trigger warnings apply.
I’ve told our story once before and I am linking back to that here. I don’t want to retell all the details but I made promises at the beginning of the year to write a post by the end telling a particularly difficult bit of the story. Apparently the narrative I had come to accept had to be shifted as more skeletons were revealed. Wounds in my past I thought were mostly healed were formed anew and goddamn it’s taken a year to write this.
But he’s dead now and the year has one more day. It’s time.
Once there was a mother who lived with her son and younger daughter. They had recently branched out on their own from the grandparents. Things were good. That is until jobs were lost. Money was lost; men were found. Things turned dark quickly for this family when the mother met a very bad man.
I’m going to interrupt the narrative for a moment to describe to you this very bad man. He was not my step-father. He never raped me but I hold him in my memory in near equal hatred. He started my mother drinking. He brought the first memories of true fear into my life. Times my brother and I huddled between a bed and a wall while he and another man fought over a gun. Weeks of him and my mother binging on liquor and not caring weather we got fed. He never even had the pretense of being nice. But I didn’t know bad he was then. I know now.
Once the very bad man showed the mother the wonders of alcohol. They drank together every day and night. One night while drinking together the very bad man told the mother she should try something very bad herself. He told drunk mother that doing this THING wasn’t actually bad. That her then 14 year old son would like it. And so she did what he asked. That night the mother orally raped her own son.
Maybe she didn’t rape him. Maybe they both were raped by him because he forced her to perform the oral sex. Maybe I have to convince myself that was the case to continue functioning. Maybe love makes liars of us all. I don’t know. It is time to fast forward our narrative.
Once the mother left the very bad man. She didn’t leave the drink. She found a new man. The first and only man she was to marry. She loved him. He probably loved her at least a little. She trusted him with the darkest secrets of her past. She told him about being raped in her childhood. She told him about loving a man whose ill-timed heart attack mid intercourse set the town whispering. She told him about her greatest regret, the night she raped her son. She trusted him. He wasn’t trustworthy.
We enter into the parts of the story I’ve already told now. Forgive the brief retelling.
Once the step-father snuck away to the daughter in the night with alcohol on his breath. He told the daughter he wanted to stick his tongue a certain place and that it would feel good. He lied. It felt wrong. The daughter told the mother the next day and they left. The step-father promised it would never happen again. He was drunk and she had done the same thing once. So she believed him and the family went back. It happened again, except the daughter didn’t tell anyone this time. More things happened and eventually the daughter told. She was whisked away to be protected from her step-father but the mother and brother remained.
I had always believed growing up my mother remained because she was mentally ill and my step-father provided some sort of crutch for her survival. She had attempted suicide several times. I believed much of that was centered around the man who died while she was having sex with him. I am less sure now. Maybe it was the guilt of what she did to her own son. I don’t know but my entire narrative was constructed around the idea she chose to stay with him.
Once the mother told the daughter all the secrets. She told her about raping her own son. She told the daughter the how the step-father wouldn’t let her leave him. He threated to tell everyone and that she would lose both her children. She broke the daughter’s narrative.
Maybe she was seeking absolution. I couldn’t give it to her.
Once the step-father developed pancreatic cancer. From diagnosis to death the cancer was swift. Perhaps quicker than the man who stole a girl’s childhood and mother from her deserves. But swift it was and this is his eulogy. On the day before his 78th birthday the step-father died. Neither the mother, the son, nor the daughter went to his funeral. The end.