Innocence Taken

*Warning* – This is the most personal writing I have ever done.  I wanted to challenge myself as a writer to see how I would be able to present the subject.  It is very personal, and unlike my other stories… this one is not presented as entertainment.   This story involves the account of a very personal childhood sexual trauma and its life-long effects… proceed with caution if you are sensitive!  I have tried to be true to the subject and give comprehensive descriptions without ALL of the graphic details!  This post was very difficult for me to write and I could not write it in 1st person… I had to refer to myself as “the boy” as I wrote.  I hope this to be therapeutic for me to write about this topic for the fist time.   I hope people are able to see and  understand there are a lot of kids we never know have secrets and carry pain we may never understand.  It is a tough burden even as I have become an adult.

There was a boy.  A boy who many met and said, “He will either be a politician or a preacher”.  His mother had small suits for him even at age 5 giving him the look of a young politician or preacher.  He wore these suits to church with great pride.  This boy would meet regulars and strangers as the came into the church giving them a warm welcome.  For most, they may not have understood much of what he said because he had his own language due to a hearing issue, but that never slowed him at his mission – make everyone feel welcomed.  He was such a politician that he even would work the room giving the little old ladies kisses.  He was such a politician in that he had a motive with this strategy…. some of the old ladies would give him some gum as a reward.  If the gum had been money… he not doubt would be a U.S. Senator or may even President today!

This trusting and outgoing personality worked against him with one person… a young man.  When this boy was 5, this young man (I will call Mitchel – of course not his real name) was about 15.  Mitchel decided that the young boy was a suitable target.  There were many other young boys in the church, but this boy (now an adult) has no idea why he was chosen.  You may ask want was he chosen for… I can only say the boy was chosen to lose his childhood.

The boy’s mother had bought him a trench coat… no less a London Fog trench coat for a 5-year-old was quite styling in small town Mississippi in 1971.  This was the beginning of forced integration in Mississippi, but this historical event was not the event he remembers from 1971.  This boy remembers being led by his hand by Mitchel to a bathroom in the church.  The boy was confused why he was inside that bathroom with Mitchel, but soon the painful truth was found out.  Mitchel did not need the bathroom…. he needed a locked door and privacy.  This day is what the boy recounts as his very first memory of his life…. nothing before is remembered even as an adult.  He remembers his London Fog trench coat being removed and spread on the floor like a picnic blanket would.  The next action was Mitchel beginning to remove the young boys clothes.  The boy remembers being lain on his trench coat but not as picnic blanket, but as a bed.  Soon the boy saw Mitchel was undressing as well.  The naked boy could not run out without his clothes, what was he to do?

Mitchel was a son of a trusted (and wealthy) neighbor.  The boy relaxed…. this was some kind of game.  But then Mitchel joined the boy on the floor.  The boy had not even seen his father naked that he remembers, so seeing the pubic hair on a male body was also new and confusing.  Soon the boy felt the grip of Mitchel’s hands as he was lifted and laid on top of Mitchel, but not in a position to be told a story because all the boy saw as the private area of Mitchel that was used for peeing.  “Why was hair there?  Why is my face here?” the boy asked himself.  Then another new sensation, the boy felt his “tallywacker” taken inside the mouth of Mitchel.  Then as the boy looked up again he heard, “Kiss it”.  The boy had kissed little old ladies with mustaches and knew this was not worth any piece of gum and refused.  He felt a slap on his small ass that was equal to discipline and not a game and he gave Mitchel’s dick a kiss.  This time it was a simple lips against the dick with no open mouth.  The boy had of course never had an orgasm and could not explain what was happening and reported to Mitchel, “I have to pee.”  But the boy did not know what was happening to him.  Many do not know (I hope) that a child can have an orgasm without ejaculating and there is a pleasurable sensation.  “Do not tell anyone because you did not stop me, you are guilty also.”, the boy heard.  I did say earlier this time… because this story repeats itself over 8 years.  The boy kept the secret out of fear and shame.

The boy began to lose fear about the encounters with Mitchel, because Mitchel refered to the encounters as “the game”.  “Do you want to play the game?”, the boy would hear.  At some point… it had become a game… even the boy found pleasure in “the game”.  The last time was april 16, 1979.  This day is marked for a couple of reasons. Tornadoes were in the area and the boys’ family went to Mitchel’s parents house because they still had power.  Mitchel was away for college and not living at home at this time, but was home for a visit.  The boy knows the exact date as not only the date of his last encounter, but also the day his best friend’s father died.  After “the game” the boy came back into the room with all the adults and saw everyone crying.  GUILT stabbed the boy in the heart.  He thought all the crying was because they knew what he had been doing.  He felt guilt for what he had done, he felt guilt for being more concerned about his situation than his 11 year-old friend who had just lost his Dad, he felt guilt because “the game” was a game that he had grown to enjoy.  That is a lot of guilt for a 12-year old.

There are a lot of ways to cope and the boy’s mechanism was humor.  He became the class clown or at least tried.  At 17 the boy was a good-looking young man himself.  He was tall and thin with a swimmers build.  He had done some modeling that would give most an ego or sense of pride, but not this young man.  This young man was still the boy. The guilt ridden, class clown was now alone at university.  He had few friends to be the clown for and Mtv was new with limited videos to pass his time.  This is when a bottle of pills began to feel comfortable in his hands.  The thought of taking them all at once would pass.  The more times the bottle was held in his hands…. the longer he held them, the more he thought.  The thoughts were only of how to find relief.  The thoughts consumed him even when the bottle of pills was not in his hand.  This continued until that he was not able to set the pills down.  There was a bottle of cherry vodka at his apartment.  He knew when purchasing the vodka that he would want or need some flavor as his plan was to drink all of the bottle with the pills.

The vodka was removed from the freezer and the boy, now a young man, prepared a large glass of ice to pour the freezer cold vodka over.  He drank about 8 ounces before the first pill found its way to his lips.  He sobbed as he placed pill after pill and swallowed the cold vodka.  Once the last pill was placed in his mouth he forgot the glass and killed the remainder of the vodka straight from the bottle.  The boy was dead.  As he felt his stomach heaving, he had no idea his friend was with him.  He woke the next day feeling hung-over and not dead.  He prayed for death as he began to cry again uncontrollably.  The boy was dead… but the young man with A LOT of problems remained.  His friend asked why the young man had drunk so much.  The friend did not know or realize the pills had been in the mix.  But getting sick from drinking too much cherry vodka saved the young man.

The young man wept as he told his friend the story.  It was the first time he had told anyone.  The 3rd grade teacher did not understand why the boy would break into tears explaining why he had not done his homework.  She thought it was because of the guilt of not being a good student, but little did she know about the guilt the boy had.  She missed it!  So did everyone that laughed at the clown.  The family, the friends, the teacher and preachers all missed it.  Actually everyone missed it.  The boy was now a young man with a headache and a friend that knew his deepest secret.  The young man told his family.  He did not become a politician or a preacher!  The healing began …. but as I write this – the scar remains!

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Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

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14 thoughts on “Innocence Taken

  1. Naomi

    It takes an enormous amount of courage and maturity to write about such painful and personal experiences. Many do not understand how powerful childhood encounters, the positive and the negative ones, affect and shape who we become, and how we are as adults.

    I applaud you for your honesty, and humility for telling your story. Now, the “Healing” will begin for you. Remember everyone has a past, and everyone has a future, it is up to you to make the choice to live in the past or in your present. No one ever said that life was going to be fair, make the choice not to be a victim, however to be a survivor. You are a survivor, and you are here to live the remainder of your life with purpose. I believe your gift of words is part of your purpose.

    Thanks you for sharing your story, I believe we all have childhood stories of pain and suffering to varying degrees, each helped shape who we are today, look for the value in all things- good and bad. This is your chance to help the world embrace compassion.

  2. ACastillo

    There is a country where people suffer everyday even before their first breath, is a country full of pain,nastiness, hunger,sadness, injustice, and all the bad things you can imagine…….despite this, people in that country is happy like no other in the world, and you know the reason?, no matter how big the bad things are, if you divided it among 40 millions of hearths filled with love and hope, it becomes in nothing, and also its easier to turn it in good things, to grow up strong as Edelweiss flower, beautiful and complex as Cattleya Trianae……then came with us, and be happy ’cause in my country you’re not alone!

  3. Melanie H.

    I only hope that the older guy, Mitchel paid for his crime and for changing your life forever. This is such a sad story, and I know it happens to so many. I am an educator, and I am sure I have taught kids that have had this happening to them without having a clue. I wish things like this could be more obvious to the public. I can only hope that these kinds of people who prey on young children will one day answer for this when this world ends. I hurt for you, and I feel for you. I also will pray for you to be able to heal and move on. I was not abused as a child, but as a first year college student, I had a friend’s dad try to rape me. I remember every detail like it was yesterday of the event, but I cannot tell you how I got him off the top of me and got myself out of the house. He didn’t succeed, and I never went back to the house. I didn’t tell anyone for at least 15 years other than my husband who I was dating at the time. I am forever scarred, and my attacker didn’t even succeed, and I was what most consider an adult. I didn’t feel like an adult. If I am as messed up from my event, then I can only imagine what you must feel. I think it is a hard thing to understand…someone invading your self unless you have experienced it. You turned out pretty good to others around you, I must say. I think you were a great person in the day, and I am sure you still are even though it has been 20 years since I have seen you. Hang in there, and thanks for sharing your story.

  4. Thanks!! I am happy people are reading this! I have had several people e-mail me that they have had stories as well. I am sorry you are familiar with the feeling of invation! We are survivors!!

  5. Mauricio

    I have to say…I am speechless it must had been though going through all that and feeling confused about all the feelings that arose back then. u know on the outside u look as though u had a “normal” and happy childhood but that situation was anything except normal. I kinda know how it feels to live something u r not supposed to deal at that age and yeah everyone has scars from the past, but u can’t blame urself cuz the scar remains u’ve gotta be grateful for how things turned out. that kind of situations make u thing that life is not fair sometimes and sometimes u win and sometimes u just don’t… u were weak at some point cuz u couldn’t find a way, but now u know there’s always one (at least) and the healing is bigger than the scar. so keep moving on keep the past in the past, forgive but don’t forget and like u said to me try to smile to the life…

    well that’s it (sorry for my english…see ya)

  6. MaryH

    Thomas,

    Such a painful experience but written so beautifully! I want to commend you for that and thank you for sharing. You expressed exactly what I am feeling! While you are male and I am female, we both were violated and our innocence and childhood were taken away. I walked in on my younger sister who was 6 and my uncle who was 15 as he was playing the game with her. I feel the shame and guilt. Instead of protector her and telling someone, I was brought into the game. You see, I was more wanting to be a part of whatever was going on, I didn’t want to be the goody two shoes, I just wanted to belong, I wanted to be pick. So thus, I was primed to be a pawn in this game that last through the summer as my uncle was our babysister. We were rewarded for our game – watch the Price is Right, walk to the store to purchase some boxed mix to bake for our dessert that evening, and then an afternoon of swimming in the pool. At the time we didn’t think much of it other than we knew it was our secret and still is to this day. My sister and I have only talked of this once or twice in the 40 years that have past, but I live with its consequences every day. Ten or 15 minutes in the morning was the price we paid to have fun all day long. It seemed a little cost to pay at the time, but now the expense it devastating. My uncle I believe or at least I hope (even though I would not wish this on anyone) suffers from the guilt and shame. At least that is what I imagine is why he has become such an extreme alcoholic that he has lost every thing and is incarcerated in prison for DUI’s.

    My question for you is when did you tell your family, and what were their reactions? Would you advise it? Is it cathartic? With this being a family member, I am torn, but I have been feeling a need to finally tell my mother. But this is her youngest brother and I don’t want to hurt her. Any thoughts, or advice? Also, I was thinking of writing to my uncle. It is funny, but I don’t hold any hard felling towards him. I only want to acknowledge the past and give him forgiveness. I would hope that this would free him of at least some of his demons and help me heal wounds and not be victimize any further. I would greatly appreciate any thoughts since you have been there.

    Thomas, I am so grateful that you were an overachiever when you decided to end your life. In trying to make sure you killed yourself good with the pills and the liquor, you saved yourself and now the world is a much better place. Please keep writing. You have such a gift!

    • My advice would be first talk with your sister and together decide the next step. Addressing his guilt and shame is your uncle’s responsibility, not yours and if he denies the truth, it will be even more painful for you. What benefit is there for your Mother to know? for you? for her? and would it be worth opening an old wound for you and starting a new one for her? Think long and hard about it…. but if there is anyone to start with in your case… I suggest your sister.

  7. Jo Anna

    Thanks for being so REAL. Your healing has begun.. And maybe for others too….. I’m glad you’re who you are today. You aren’t that BOY anymore – instead, someone who has chosen to look for his true SELF – someone’s whose chosen to face it. Someone whose chosen to share it with others in meeting it head on. What an inspiration…

  8. Rob

    Thomas,

    I’m just speechless. Dont know what to say, but that you are loved and you are one of the best people I have ever met.. I dont know what you could be going thru with this, other then what you have written, as I have not been there.. but I have to say that tears filled my eyes and the fact that you are facing this deamon head on is showing me the Thomas I know and the Thomas I love..

    • Thanks so much! It seems I will be coming back to the U.S. for a while and I will need some beach time!! So maybe we will get to hang out!

  9. Pingback: 2010 in review « Thomas Johnston

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