During the last month of counselling I’ve found myself pretty traumatised and upset by the details which I couldn’t recall, and the things I re-discovered. It ain’t been easy – for me, or anyone unlucky enough to spend much time with me. Compiling a timeline, to give myself reference points and really start to understand what happened has felt very important, although I’ve typically minimised its importance and my desire to compile one. Score one for prevarication. Regardless, some common sense has won out and through my diary entries, some help from Dad and application of some logic it is starting to come together. I have to accept that through my own choices in the past there are areas that will never become clear. There are others where I have chosen to record quite useful information, thoughts and decisions. It’s the danger with diaries – they are self edited, censored and potentially full of lies by omission and intent. We create history as we go along. That’s not awesomely helpful.
Anyway, the work on my timeline was aided by a few hours (with quite a lot of whiskey) going through my diaries from when I was at VI Form. It’s the only period of my life I’ve ever attempted to keep track of – in part it was because I was being hit by bewilderingly vivid dreams which struck me as worthy of record and that eventually became a record of my mental states during those two years (although always primarily a dream diary). I’ve intentionally not returned to them for many years. In fact they’ve been tied up in a bundle inside a locked box for about the last ten years.
I’d started to review them during counselling which had not been pleasant. Some of it is hilarious, in a wistful kind of way – there’s nothing like the pretentious profundity of teenagers (a thing we romanticise endlessly in film and literature), and I discovered that there’s relatively little about Ric in them. It’s apparent that there’s so little because I literally could not express how I felt. As a fairly articulate fellow (even then) my frustration and painful rage are almost tangible when I do manage to write about him. It’s very noticeable in the handwriting, which declines well below more normal poor legibility.
I still haven’t read through them in full – just skimmed with an averted eye – looking for dates and matching facts for the timeline. I have also marked them all up so I can find them easily, and avoid them when I’m looking for something else.
This is the timeline I have:
’88 (10) my parents split up
Sep ’90 (12) I choose to live with my Dad (in a very acrimonious and destructive way)
Late ’90 (12) first meet Ric when he’s a lodger with D (my ex-steps-sisters’ mum)
Early ’91 involved with our family activities, drinks with Dad, theatre etc.
Late ’91/early ’92 (12-13) – moves to Winshill, about half a mile away from home
’92-’93 (13-15) Ric founds BYTE (Burton Youth Theatre Enterprise) and I spend a lot of time with him
Aug ’93 I turn 15
Nov ’93 Ric moves to Amsterdam – we exchange letters for the next year or so
Aug ’94 I turn 16
Sep ’94 start of 1st year Sixth Form
Oct ’94 I have a bad falling out with almost all my close friends
Nov ’94 start of a close friendship/relationship with Miss L
Feb ’95 my beloved cat, Holly, is put to sleep
Feb ’95 I visit Ric in Amsterdam (Spring bank holiday)
Mar ’95 1st reference to self-harm in my diary
May ’95 1st account of what happened in Amsterdam in my diary
May ’95 account of my nosediving sleep habits and history in my diary
Jun ’95 I write to Ric, challenging what he’s done and forbidding him to come to Burton (he’s supposed to be visiting in Jul/Aug)
Jun 95 account of self-harm in diary
Jul ’95 increasingly infatuated with Miss L
Jul/Aug ’95 Ric visits, sees Dad. I see him very briefly but avoid him
Aug ’95 I turn 17
Sep ’95 start of 2nd year Sixth Form
Oct ’95 brief fling with a guy in the year below at school
Oct ’95 lost virginity (Miss L)
Nov ’95 last reference to Ric in my diary
Aug ’96 I turn 18
Sep ’96 start of university
Oct ’96 split up with Miss L
I realise there’s a lot of stuff in there which doesn’t necessarily sound relevant, but I’m increasingly thinking it is. All of life is tied together. When you’re talking about predatory child abusers it’s important to see the bigger picture. How could I possibly be a victim? Well, I can increasingly see that far from my current “go fuck yourself” aura of self-confidence I was a vulnerable and at times very lonely child. And that’s what these fuckers prey upon. I had a genuine need for an interesting friend who would make me feel good about myself and tell me about interesting things. And that’s sort of what I got…
February ’95 is the tipping point. Before then there was a year of peace, except for letters (which we’ll talk about separately later) and before that the two years in which the rest of the molestation took place. I don’t have any diary records for that period, and I don’t see how I can ever piece it together. I may, if I feel tough enough, write down every instance I can recall, though without dates or surety that they are separate or complete.
Although it takes me a while to write about I distinctly recall clawing at my own skin in horror, being unable to sleep and physically wracked with horror. I remember snapping the razor blades out of disposal razors with a penknife and a compass. And of course, I’ve got the scars. Though not too many. I remember cutting and hoping it would bleed through my clothes and someone could stop me and ask me if I was alright, and then I could collapse and break down in tears and let it all come flooding out. That never happened. I eventually had to explain to Miss L because I was just not the same person when I came back from Amsterdam.
I got out of the instant decline awful self-harm and depression by burying myself in a relationship with Miss L. From my diary I can see that was actually an incredibly stressful relationship (as well as being quite marvellous). I’m clearly fighting back – making choices to affirm who I am, at heart, away from what has happened to me. I don’t yet know what choices I made by myself, as opposed to those I felt compelled towards.
Whatever happened worked for a while. I got lost in love and A Levels, and then when I got to university I buried it all in drink and drugs, and love again. But then it came back. That’s one of the things I need to figure out next. Where did it go, why did it come back; did it ever really go away?