I know the moment I grew up. I can point to the second the trajectory of my life altered forever. In the grand scheme, it’s not horrific or brutal. In hindsight, however, it is one of the most painful memories I have.
It’s not a story I like to tell. There are so many harder ones I tell often and without issue, but those don’t involve my family. If it isn’t evident already: I have a lot of “differences” with my family, my mother in particular. Although they choose to believe I do it solely to hurt them, I don’t like telling stories which portray them poorly. Really I don’t write or talk about them much at all. The problem is I did promise honesty. The truth, in my case, isn’t a pretty family picture. The truth is, more often than not, a harsher representation of myself. In reality, no one is innocent, but everything is far more complicated than a blog can portray. I am a complex person, but so is every individual I write about. To each story they bring their own history, baggage, and personality. They have their motivations and feelings as do I.
I grew up knowing with an unshakeable faith my mother would protect me from anything. She was a tiger, a mama bear. She was the most powerful person alive if someone wronged her child. I could go to her for anything. If someone hurt me, she was the person I needed to turn to. She would believe me, even if no one else would. I heard that for the first fifteen years of my life, and I believed it with every carbon based part of myself.
I was fifteen and a freshman in high school. I was at lunch one day with my friends like any other day. The bell rang and we were on our way out of the lunch room. I went to a large school, and there were hundreds of kids leaving the cafeteria en masse. One of the school administrators was behind me and my friends were ahead of me. I felt a hand on the small of my back slide lower and lower and between my legs. I turned around and saw the school administrator. He told me to get moving.
I was shocked. I was confused. I felt guilty. I had also never been touched by a man or even a boy for that matter. I still hadn’t had my first kiss.
I sat through the last half of the school day trying to figure out what happened. I didn’t know how to feel. I just knew it wasn’t ok, but I didn’t know what to do. I just knew I wanted my mom to make it better.
That night I stood in the hallway shaking and told my mom that the school administrator touched me. I was scared to tell her even though she’d always sworn to protect me. That’s the moment my life changed. I heard my mom say one sentence I will never forget: “Well, we’ll see if it happens again, and then maybe we’ll report it.” My world fell apart.
I went to bed, turned out the lights, and cried myself to sleep. At fifteen, I realized I was alone in the world. If my mother didn’t believe me, why would anyone else? If my mother wouldn’t protect me, who would? If I wasn’t safe in my own home or school, where was safe? If I couldn’t trust my mother who swore to always protect me, who could I trust?