Why I've decided to write about it today, of all days, I have no idea.
I did not plan on doing it today. In fact, I wasn't even thinking about it until about two minutes ago when I suddenly remembered about it and thought, f*ck it.
And it's hard, because I know that once I push "Publish" I am going to regret some of the things I've said, but that, in part, is why I blog. I know that once something hits the internet, there's no way of getting it back - and so, because there's no way of getting it back, it also doesn't make sense to keep on thinking about it or worrying about it because it doesn't help.
The only thing that helps is, simply, moving on.
And I want to move on.
A couple of months ago I called a local counselling helpline not because I was feeling distressed, but because I wanted their input. I said to them, look, it happened over ten years ago and it doesn't affect my life any more. In fact, for a couple of years after the event I think I had actually forgotten about it - as hard as it is to believe now that I could "forget" such a thing. But I wanted to start coming public with this story, and I wanted their ideas on what could be expected once I'd done so; maybe things to look out for.
Because recently something prompted me to remember that such an event had even happened to me, and I had started processing it again.
I wanted to share, because, one, I like sharing. I have gained remarkable feedback, comfort, learning and companionship through this blog, and will hopefully continue to do so. Blogging has been an important part of life, and it has enriched my life in many ways.
But also, I wanted to share because I think it's important. I did nothing wrong, and it should not be my job to keep quiet about it.
Up until a few months ago when I was hearing interviews or commercials on the topic of sexual abuse and violation, I was listening to it impassionately. I understood and agreed with most of what was being said, and it didn't - personally - concern me.
I knew that in a vast majority of cases, perpetrators were people who victims and their families were familiar with: extended family, professionals, acquaintances. I also knew that victims of abuse were encouraged to speak up and not feel shame, because the responsibility of wrongdoing did not rest on them.
And yet, somehow - and I, really, don't know how - I had forgotten that I, too, had been part of the story.
And it amazes me. It really does.
On one hand, I understand that forgetting had to do with the fact that it had been an uncomfortable, confusing occasion which I, basically, emotionally "blocked" from my memory for not wanting to deal with it; and my life was full of other, way more important things so I just pushed it on the backburner and left it there.
But I still don't understand how I could, literally, forget that it had even happened. For several years, in fact, until a recent conversation on a similar topic suddenly reminded me, hey, Maria, do you remember when ...?
Because I do - I do remember. And now that I've remembered, I feel the need to talk it through, deal with it, and then set it aside, done. Finished.
It's one thing to say to someone to speak up and not feel shame, but another thing is to actually do it.
And let's be clear here: I don't feel shame. I don't see why I should.
But I do feel... begrudgement, sort of.
In the perfect world, I would post this story and within a couple of days a variety of friends and good internet acquaintances would comment saying things along the lines of, omg, I had no idea! Or, I'm so grateful you posted this because something similar happened to me, too. Or, I'm proud of you, Maria. Or, it's really made me think.
They would reach out, I would reach back out, there'd be processing and coming to terms with it, and then I would happily move on. Happy, liberating, end of story.
But I know that, realistically, it wouldn't be just that. There'd be family who would insist on knowing who it was, and under what circumstances it happened - wanting to know, know, KNOW more. And I would begrudgingly, tediously keep repeating that I won't share it, and explain my reasoning behind it.
Because that - that - is the thing I resent about it - the fallout.
I think it may be the reason why it's difficult for other people, too, to come out with such stories because, for the most part, the stories involve people who the families are well familiar with and so, coming out means not only processing the story itself, but also dealing with how other people react to such revelations.
And that, I really do find tedious. I do not want to deal with other people's reactions. What I want is to put the story out there, receive encouragement for having done it, and leave it at that. It's a milestone for me, and I do not seek some sort of... social re-arranging of relationships or whatnot.
Which is why I do not want to share the name, or the circumstances of what happened. The only one who knows is my husband, the person who did it, and me.
Which then makes it even harder to even try to share the story, for I've gone on rambling for... an hour, without actually saying out directly what it is that I'm doing here.
But the story is simple. Over ten years ago when I was living in Estonia a person I was familiar with and was supposed to trust reached for my genitalia inside my clothes and did what, in hindsight, is violation of both trust and boundaries, but at the time I was so shocked and confused about it, eyes wide, thinking, WTF!?, that I did not even tell anyone.
I did make a point of never being in such circumstances again, and never alone with that person again, but I did not tell. For over ten years I did not tell, until I spoke to The Man and he, too, looked at me, eyes wide, thinking, WTF!?
And it's something I've learned in terms of bringing up my own children, that it's a subject I will most definitely, in an age appropriate manner, bring up with them both - to recognise, and to share, what trust and violation and appropriate manners and actions are.
It's something I do not remember anyone clearly explaining to me, and it's something which I think has to do with how confused and shocked I had been about it, trying to figure out, on what earth it makes sense.
It didn't, but I did not know it clearly enough at the time.
Several years later when I was on a bus out of Istanbul and more experienced in such manners, in the middle of a night a man behind me leaned forwards in his seat and put his hand on my breast, moving it around, and then retracted again. I nudged a (male) friend next to me, who had been sleeping, explained what had happened and asked that we change seats, so that old, overweight, laboriously breathing Turkish men didn't get to put their hands on me again. I knew clearly then that this had not been appropriate.
But a couple of years prior, I hadn't known yet. And it's something now that I've remembered again, I do not want to carry, silently, inside me when I had done nothing wrong.
But I do - I do - encourage you to have such conversations with your own children.