What I Didn’t Realize

Kennedy and I are sitting across from each other on the floor in the hallway.  My red suitcase is beside me ready to go.  Ma and Joe are in the bedroom yelling at each other.  I can hear Ma crying.  I look at Kennedy, she has tears streaming down her face.

Kennedy and I are playing with our dolls.  She looks up at me and smiles.  Ma comes in with Neil to change his diaper, Joe right behind her.  Kennedy says, “Daddy says they might get a divorce, Brittany.”  Ma, “Don’t say that Kennedy.”

Kennedy, Neil, Ma, and I are all in the car at night.  Neil is screaming and crying.  All the sudden, “I miss Daddy, Mom.” All I can think is, “He wasn’t even your dad, Kennedy.  You can’t miss him.”

Looking back I should’ve been able to see that Kennedy was just as hurt about what happened as I was.  But it wasn’t until I read her posts about it on her blog (Kennedy Stafford), that I realized it.  When Kennedy and I were really young, Neil still a baby, our stepfather, Joe, sexually abused me multiple times.  Somehow, even though she can remember it perfectly, I can remember almost none of it.  All I can remember is family coming to talk to me and ask me if I was okay.  I remember Joe wrote me a letter, but Ma wouldn’t let me read it.  I remember going to counseling.  I remember my dad saying I might have to go to court but not to be scared because I didn’t do anything wrong.  Only now, after reading how torn up Kenny was, do I remember her during this time.

I can tell you it sucks to be raped.  I can tell you I didn’t like it then but I thought I had to because he was supposed to be my daddy too, and you have to listen to daddy.  I can say it affects my relationships with older male figures even now and trusting is hard.  Never did I think, it was Kennedy’s dad too.  He just left her.  No apology; no excuse.  Just there and gone.  And if anything, I am more ashamed of it now than ever.  Not because I had to do stuff to a man no little kid should know about; no, I’m ashamed that my family focused all their attentions on me.  They wanted to make sure I was okay, make sure I knew I didn’t do anything wrong.  Nobody told Kennedy it was okay.  Nobody told her she didn’t do anything wrong.  Nobody told her anything.  Just that her daddy wasn’t coming back anymore.  The rest was left to her imagination.

Kennedy, I wish I could give you the same gift God gave me: forgetting.  I was able to forget it all.  The few times I do start to remember something, it’s so blurry I’m not sure it’s even real or just a picture of what people have told me.  I’m sorry I never realized how much it affected you.  I’m sorry that, that instance, started many instances in which I would forget about your part of the story, when I wouldn’t be a good big sister and make sure you were okay.  You lost a dad more than me that day.  It shouldn’t take me eleven years to realize it.  But now I do.  I know you still hurt.  But I am too.  I know what it feels like to want to hurt yourself just for that shot of adrenaline, that feeling of pain that tells you, you’re still alive.  You burned; I cut.  I just wish I realized.

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