I have something I am ready to share with someone I value in my life. I have a story of mentorship, hope, and appreciation I want to tell. But is that what he will hear? How do I craft my message? This post is about sorting shit out in my brain. I seem to do that often these days. Here’s how I see it.
My Bond with My Cousin
I’ve been thinking about my cousin frequently lately. He is a doctor about fifteen years older than me who lives about five hours away. Years ago, when I was a small child, he moved into our area to attend medical school. I was about eight years old at the time and I didn’t know him very well. Back then the five hours between us seemed like an incredible distance and our families didn’t see each other very often.
Even with the distance, my mother and my cousin’s parents were very close and would talk often. So, when my cousin moved here to attend school, my mom extended an open invitation for dinner or to hang out with us anytime. He took her up on the offer and began spending a great deal of time with us. The two of us developed a close bond. He was like a big brother to me. And for a boy who lost his father a few years earlier, the relationship was special.
He remained in our area for four years before moving back home to continue his medical career. I was twelve when he moved home. During those four years, the highlight of so many of my weeks was the time I spent with him. We didn’t do fancy things or go to elaborate places, we simply spent quality time together. He helped me become a student of life. But most of all, he helped me learn to trust again.
My mother knew how upset I was that my cousin was leaving. When he asked me if I wanted to help him move, I jumped at the opportunity. I helped pack him up into the U-Haul truck and drove across the state with him for his ride home. I couldn’t believe it was over, but he promised we would remain close. He didn’t lie. The five hours between us never felt that far again. We would see each other frequently in the years that followed. I always enjoy our visits.
My Decision to Share My Story
It is no coincidence that he is on my mind. I have decided that I am ready to share with him that I am a survivor of seven years of child molestation and now I am laser-focused on it. For four of my seven years of personal trauma, my cousin lived in our area and spent a great deal of time with my family.
I plan on telling him my secret story and frankly, I hope it goes well. For the last few years, I’ve been opening up to some folks in my world about my past. With each conversation, I grow stronger and gain more insight into who I am, what I want, and why I want it. After decades of running away from my past, it has become my way.
I’ve been putting off my conversation with my cousin because it is one of the more complicated talks to have. Other than my mother and my younger brother, most of the people I have told didn’t know me as a child. My cousin had a front-row seat in my life as the molestation was occurring and I’m guessing he had no idea. I imagine that might hit him hard.
I was a Jedi Master at internalizing my struggle. Yes, children can be Jedi Masters at internalizing their pain. This is a valuable lesson I learned a long time ago.
He Was Always The Guy
If I was going to tell anyone what was happening to me back then it certainly would have been him. I thought about confiding in him so many times but always hesitated because I was so incredibly embarrassed.
There are multiple stages to molestation which I have written about here. It doesn’t simply happen one day. As I was moving through those stages, I began blaming myself for what happened more and more. I forgot about the innocent little boy who was grossly manipulated. All I could focus on was the embarrassing decisions I felt I was making daily to survive another day. I didn’t respect myself and I certainly didn’t appreciate what my monster was stealing from me. So I kept my struggle to myself.
I’ve lived a double life. My cousin only knew the kid that was wise beyond his years who seemed to have his shit together. He didn’t know the self-loathing kid who was contemplating suicide as a way off an emotional roller coaster ride. Other than my strong obligation to protect my mother and my little brother, I thought the world would have been better off without me.
I Trust My Cousin With My Story
The story I want to tell my cousin is one of hope. He really helped me back then. He set a good example for me. He didn’t take himself too seriously. He was fun, smart, and playful. He was easy to be around and my relationship with him was not complex. I could relax with him. I was always so guarded. It was nice to feel secure in a relationship.
My Cousin, My Mentor
I learned a lot from him. He knew how to talk to kids without making them feel inferior or immature. He still knows how. My eleven-year-old son loves it when he comes to visit. The two of them have built a bond like the one I enjoyed so many years ago as a young child.
I really needed that bond back then. It gave me hope and restored my faith in people. After being violated by someone close to me, I needed to learn to trust again. My cousin was the first person I trusted after my molestation.
He earned my trust and he never violated it or took it for granted. That simple fact was so fucking special to a kid who didn’t think he deserved a meaningful relationship.
My cousin also began seeding confidence in me. That gave me hope. Maybe my life was bigger than simply protecting my mother and my younger brother. Maybe I had something larger to offer this world. Maybe, just maybe, my life was worth living.
Moving Away But Remaining A Good Example
A few years after he moved home, he became a loving husband and good father to three beautiful girls. They look up to their dad and trust him. He doesn’t violate their trust. All these years later and he enjoys a super-strong bond with his adult children and their families. I could always look to him to set a good example for me.
Our Story Together
That’s the story I want him to hear. The one where he helped me find my purpose and conquer my monster and self-loathing thoughts. It’s the story where I go on to live my best life. I’m sure he will need some time to process what I share but after doing so I hope he settles in a good place and sees himself as the hero he is.
I don’t like having this power to hurt someone with my story. But it is important that I share this with him. He deserves to know the truth and I deserve to be myself when I am around him. This is who I am, and he should know he helped get me to this good place in my journey. Also, I need to tell him that I love and appreciate him with this greater context in mind.
My Cousin’s Lesson for All of Us
We don’t always understand the impact our lives and our example have on others around us, especially the children. There are people in our lives who carry heavy emotions and trauma. Often, we have no idea of their struggles. They don’t hold up a sign asking for hope. But we have the power to give it by being caring, trustworthy, and a good example for others to follow.
Our influence might even be the difference between life and death. I live each moment of my day with that in mind. That’s a superpower I acknowledge and embrace in my relationships and in my actions. I’m not sure if my cousin knows it, but he does too.
I look forward to our collective sharing and growth together as thrivers!
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