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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

About the post from three days ago...

It increasingly seems that it was the right thing to do.  I feel an AWFULLY large burden has been lifted off of me.  I carried that particular thing around for almost forty years.  I felt better after talking with the detectives about it three years ago.  I feel better again, now.
It has indeed been a boon.  I'm writing for the book again.  From the very beginning, when I first tried writing it in 2014 before Dad passed, I knew this was going to have to be addressed somehow.  That is possible now, when it hadn't been possible before.  I wish I could tell you that this book is going to be entirely focused on my life as a manic depressive: something that in and of itself is replete with drama and occasional comedy.  But it's not and it can't.  A person's life is like a tapestry.  Try to take one thread out and the whole thing unravels.  This particular thread has insinuated its way into my life since I was twelve.  But in the past couple of days I've found that I'm not afraid to confront that anymore.  So, that's good.
A number of people have privately messaged me about it.  Some have reiterated that the chances of seeing something done in the way of justice are slim.  I know that.  I knew it going in to talk to the detectives three years ago.  I keep thinking though that if it happened to me, well... could it have happened to others also?  As one of the detectives told me then, a person who does a thing like this can't stop.  He (and it's almost always a he) will try to do more.  Who knows?  Maybe others will step forward.
One person left a comment on my blog yesterday, noting that decades after the war that Nazis were still being found and prosecuted.  My situation isn't quite like that though.  There were MANY witnesses still alive in the 70s, 80s and 90s who could recollect individual SS officers and concentration camp guards.  There was very little problem with identifying such people.  With what happened in 1986 it's going to forever be my word against his  But again, who knows?  Since going to them three years ago the authorities may be keen on something I don't have.
Anyway, I felt led to come forward and write about this.  It was more than that even though.  God put me in a place where I had no choice, if I was going to continue writing the book.  And I want and need to write this.  It's as part of my recovery story as much as it is a chronicle of that.  I have been obedient to that and now it's done and well... we'll see what transpires next.
So that's what's happened since Saturday.
Hope you guys are having a great week :-)

Saturday, January 21, 2023

I am a survivor of child rape

It is exactly two hundred miles from the driveway of my home near Spartanburg to the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department office in Wentworth, North Carolina.  That was the distance I drove one morning three years ago this winter.

I went back to where I grew up.  Because I was finally ready to give a statement to members of law enforcement about my being raped at age twelve.

For well over three decades I had kept the agony and the shame close to me, sharing it only with a few people I absolutely trusted.  As if that would be enough to stop the hurt.  But at last it became too much to bear, this far into my life.

Why didn’t I go to the authorities years earlier?  It’s hard to explain.  Partly, it’s because on a primal level I didn’t want to have to face my abuser again.  Anything sexual creates a bond between two people: something that had I treasured in the marriage that complications from my wounds eventually destroyed.

I guess, I can’t really fully offer up an explanation for why I waited for so long.  You have to go through something like this to understand why.

I went to the sheriff’s office and spoke with two detectives.  I knew going in that it was a long shot.  That after thirty-four years the odds of seeing anything happen in the way of justice were against me.  But I gave my statement, and the two officers gained my confidence.  I don’t know if anything will ever come about from my going in, but they still have it.  I’ve no doubt that they have pursued this with all due passion and diligence.

But it’s been nearly forty years.  People move around.  Many die in that period.  Memories fade.

My own memory is a funny thing.  Some things I don’t remember well at all (a quality that to some extent is rooted in the meds I take to manage bipolar disorder).  Other things, I remember all too well.

May 16, 1986 is a date burned into my mind.  That was the day that the remaining vestiges of childhood innocence were ripped away from me.

I can even tell you the shirt that I wore that day, to Community Baptist School in Reidsville, North Carolina.  A place I had been a student at since kindergarten.

Maybe it was my size.  Maybe it was because I was the “nerdy kid” of the school.  Whatever.  I was regularly bullied, by boys as well as girls.  On this day I got into an altercation with someone.

A male faculty member accused me of doing something that I had not.  Of uttering a forbidden word.

I protested that I had not.  I would have never dared use that word toward anyone.

In later years I would find using it all too easy.  Well, why not?  I sure paid for the right to say it.  But I digress.

The faculty member said I had to be punished.

The two of us were alone.  I was told to drop my pants, exposing my underwear-clad behind.

And then he put his hands all over my genitals.  He did worse than that even.

I was sent home.  Too shocked and confused to fully comprehend what happened to me.  I was still dazed by the accusation that I had used that word to describe my classmate.  Too hurt by being punished for it.

That night the movie Godzilla 1985 came on television.  I desperately tried watching it to make the feelings go away and be forgotten.  It did nothing.

That night I had very bad dreams.

I felt violated.  Dirty.  Ashamed.  And you want to know why?

Twelve is the cusp of something that can feel either very wonderful or very terrible.  A person’s body is changing at that age, beginning to become a full fledged entity.  Sensations are starting to come about, that delight or bewilder or both.

God forgive me.  For one horrible moment when he had his hands on me, my body liked it.

And even then, I knew that that was wrong.  That it violated the natural order of things.

That day altered whatever trajectory my life would have taken, toward something polluted and twisted.

Sixth grade had been a hell year for me at Community Baptist.  So much went wrong.  The one bright spot was those fleeting months that Halley’s Comet came, and the astronomer in me was excited to see it.

After that day in May, even a once-in-a-lifetime visit by the comet didn’t make me feel anything.  I was just too overwhelmed.

I didn’t tell anyone what the man did to me soon after it happened.  It was four years before I told someone.  That person didn’t believe me until many years later when the fractures became too grave to deny that I had been violated when I was young.

Three and a half months later my sister and I were in public school.  A place that we were told at Community Baptist was filled with godless heathens who didn’t pray.  I was at once thankful to be away from Community Baptist and also intimidated.  I was bullied a lot.  I cried a few times.  I felt thrown to the cold cold world and there was nobody to help me.

But I also remember seventh grade as the first time I was attracted to the opposite sex.

And I felt dirty because of it.

I will never forget the first moment I found myself wanting to look at a pretty girl in my class.  She had a beautiful smile and she was wearing a nice outfit and it was driving me CRAZY.

I had to turn my head and look away.  I was too ashamed of my feelings.  Felt too much like I had with him.

It was a shame that persisted well into adulthood.  Counseling has helped.  But by that point it was too late.  Among other things I thought that being married would make things better.  But it didn’t.  Marriage doesn’t solve problems, it only brings what is wrong to the surface.  And that’s what happened and I will forever be damning myself for hurting the most wonderful person God ever put into my life.

But again, I digress.

God, I hate that man.

Yes, let’s talk about God.  Because of all that came about from what happened, my relationship with God was impacted worst of all.

I’ve never doubted that God is there.  There have been many times that I have been accused of being an atheist.  My own mother was one person.  There were some who believed her.  Who believe her still, though she has been dead for eleven years.

No, I have never been an atheist.

But I have had my faith in God destroyed.

It was a man who I had respected and trusted and looked to as a Christian example.  And God let him hurt me.

Wasn’t God angry at that?  Wasn’t God going to mete out justice?

But He didn’t.

God let me be abused and violated and betrayed.  And I felt betrayed by God in turn.

No, I never stopped believing in God.  But I hated Him with every ounce of my being.

I was a senior in high school when it began to dawn on me that God didn’t hurt me.  That it was someone who only claimed to be sent by God.  I started to not hold that against God.

But by that point I thought my hatred toward Him made me irredeemable.  That God wouldn’t want me anymore.  Thankfully He put some people into my life a few years later in college who showed me what REAL love of God is.  That God isn’t the tyrannical legalistic despot Who we were taught at that church-run school that He was.  That wasn’t the real God of Christianity.  And so it was that in my second year at Elon, I was able to finally turn to Christ and commit to following Him.

But that still wasn’t enough to completely salve the wounds.

Well, it was a few confusing years more after that.  My faith teetered at times on the brink of destruction.  And then in early 2000 the first symptoms of manic depression began to manifest: one more element of chaos in my life.

My faith has been tried and tested and pushed to the breaking point by so much that has transpired since then.  I have at times shared my despair with others.  Sometimes very openly.

It has taken time, prayer, counseling, and the love and care of many true and wonderful friends.  But at last my faith has begun to become what it should have always been.  And I am thankful for that.

As for what happened when I was twelve…

I have spent much of my life wanting to destroy that man.  Even now there is the temptation to call him out by name and let the chips fall where they may.

But doing so would add many complications to matters.  It would literally be my word against his.  For now I have to trust the people I went to three years ago.  They have resources that I don’t.  They also bring an objective eye to the issue and that’s something that obviously I lack.

And if justice doesn’t come in this lifetime, I have to trust God that it will come in His time.  It is VERY hard to do that, I won’t deny it.  Just one more test of faith.

Why am I sharing this, now?

I am writing a book about my life, especially what has come about because of a condition that almost certainly has a medical component.  But that is only one aspect that has defined me.  If I’m going to be completely honest and forthcoming about my story, I have to write about EVERYTHING that has so impacted me.  Sexual abuse and PTSD are also elements of my life.  And it’s going to have to be confronted full-bore.

I have come to a place where I cannot further work on my book.  The feelings keep breaking through.  I am haunted by the thoughts of what could have been, had things gone otherwise.  Especially thoughts of my dreams of having a family.  Something that is a fleeting possibility with each passing day, it seems.

Maybe sharing what happened when I was a kid now, will help me expel the demons keeping me from writing.  It’s going to come out in the book anyway, if it ever gets published.  Why not tell it as it is?

If my book does get published?

I don’t know what I’ll do.  Maybe God will let me finally die, with my faith in Him intact.  I don’t see what the point would be in keeping going on.  I will have said everything that needs to be said.  My life will be complete.  There will be no need for a sequel.

Maybe if it is published, the people I’ve hurt most in my time on this earth will have some understanding of where I’ve been coming from and why I have done the things that I did.  Maybe there will be forgiveness and absolution that I can’t get in this life.  That’s something to hope for.  I could die believing that.

But for now, perhaps getting all of this out in the open will let me overcome that obstacle.  I want to write my book.  I need to write it.  It’s what God has put before me to do.

I can promise you, it won’t be all bad.  There are some pretty funny things that have taken place in my life.  I look forward to sharing those, too.

Thank you for reading all of this.  Please keep me in your prayers.  I would very much appreciate it.


Sunday, January 08, 2023

Picking up an old hobby again

Way back around 2009 or so I got into the Warhammer 40,000 miniature game hobby.  It started with the now-legendary Assault on Black Reach boxed set, which included two armies: Space Marines and Orks.  I had a lot of fun putting the miniatures together and painting them, and then played against other people at game stores in Greensboro and Burlington.  There are a lot of different factions in Warhammer 40K but I gravitated toward the Orks as my favorite.  It's hard not to like a mob of green-skinned hooligans shootin' and cuttin' their way through the opposition all the while screaming "WAAAGH!"

In the years since I drifted toward other things, but Warhammer 40,000 never left my mind.  I love the setting, the lore, the beautiful miniatures, the various armies to choose from... there's a lot of good to be said about it.  The game is over 35 years old and is popular worldwide.

And it looks as if it's about to get even more popular.  The other week the announcement came that Henry Cavill is spearheading development of Warhammer 40,000 film and television projects for Amazon Prime.  Cavill became well known during the COVID pandemic for posting photos of his own miniatures.  The guy knows and respects Warhammer.  I trust him to deliver the goods.

Anyway, it seems as good a time as any to get back into the hobby.  This past week I returned to a miniature - an Ork Big Mek with Kustom Force Field - that I had glued together in the early days of the COVID lockdown.  It had been lingering unfinished for almost three years and I felt it needed to be "good 'n proppa".  I still have the paint I used back in the day and earlier tonight started working on the mini, only to find that my goblin green had become too thin to use.  A new bottle is on its way so I'll get back to that mini later this week.

But the Orks I've already had all this time deserve some loving care too.  For one thing they need to be adequately based, not just glued to the base.  I ordered some astrogranite paint from the Games Workshop site along with a texturing tool for spreading it.  The first mini to get its base so treated is the Weirdboy that I worked on around 2012.  Here's how it came out:


It's a plastic model and it originally had his left foot atop some debris on the ground.  I removed the debris with a knife so that it looks like he's got his leg raised.  Maybe he's trying to run away from the grots (the mini-orks) struggling to keep him chained down.  Whatever, I think he looks better than how the model comes as.

After I finish the Big Mek I'm going to bring my other miniatures up to snuff.  The base sizes for many of the minis has changed since I played last, so there are some special adapter rings that can be put on the pre-existing bases to make them the correct size.  Once that is done (to almost 40 Ork boyz) I'll be giving them the astrogranite treatment too.  And I'll need to also do further work on Warboss Kaneegutz: my custom-designed leader mini.

And once I'm satisfied with my Ork army... well, I've also been getting some Space Marines minis.  I've had in mind creating my own chapter.  Some years ago I had a thought that, surely there are some religions still active in the forty-first millennium, that hadn't been wiped out.  Inspired by the Dune novels I came up with the notion that the Jewish faith is still practiced in the far future.  What better way to be concealed than to hide in plain sight as a Space Marines chapter that nobody will question?  So drawing from history I'm going to make a chapter based on the Maccabees.  And name the minis after friends of mine (the chapter master will be Marco Solomonius).  I want it to be an army composed of traditional "standard" marines as well as the newer Primaris ones.  Just need to figure out a name for the chapter.  And color scheme of course.

Following that... who knows.  I may put together a small force of Word Bearers.  It might be fun to play a purely evil army every now and then.

I figure getting back into Warhammer 40K is going to be quite an enjoyable pastime.  It will also be something that will take my mind off of actively writing my book.  Some casual downtime may let my brain work subconsciously on what to write, without me actively addressing the matter.

Expect pics of more miniatures as they're completed :-)