It sounds like such a simple concept but it has blown my mind. For years I have beat myself up because there were no direct threats not to tell. Other people I know were threatened - you tell and I'll kill you, leave your mom financially ruined, etc. I wasn't directly threatened. I never considered that his words were just as much of a threat.
J asked me yesterday if I had any good memories of Toilet. And I felt myself soften just a bit. Because I do. He was there to protect me against my drunk father one time; to protect my mother against my drunk father on several ocassions; he stood up for my sister & I against my mom; he lobbied for my sister and I to have more freedom; he was like a "friend" who never told on us when we did something bad, let us get away with stuff, and made us feel like we were on his team. I have two distinct memories that I know intellectually were further set ups. But at the time, we thought he was just so "cool." First, was in the apartment, when Sister and I found adult magazines and "toys" in my mom's dresser. Mom was mad we went through her stuff but didn't say one word about what had been in that drawer. We had no idea what all that stuff was. Toilet came in to see me later, in an older brother type of way and was all smiles saying something like "did you like looking through that stuff" and "did you learn anything?" Me in my cocky 6th grade self said "yeah, I didn't know men had hair between their legs too." I've always wondered if that exchange gave him the wrong idea that I was somehow not disgusted by that kind of stuff (another self-imposed guilt trip I suppose).
The second time was in high school when my friend and I found X rated movies on my mom's nightstand. Not hidden, just stacked on the bookshelf next to her bed. We pulled one out when no one was home and watched it. Curiousity I supposed. Toilet noticed they had been rearranged or moved (or maybe mom noticed and thought he had been watching it). Anyway he told me he knew I had watched it. I denied it. Instead of calling me a liar, he said "look, you can watch them anytime you want, just put them back exactly as you found them to make sure your mom doesn't find out." Again, since I didn't express any feeling of disgust (and my friend & I were disgusted at those videos) I wonder if I gave him the wrong idea.
He'd make comments about my mom and him and I'd say "ew that's my mom" instead of "that's not appropriate to discuss with me." I mean what 12 year old really uses the phrase "that's an inappropirate discussion to be having with me???"
But hindsight is 20-20 and I keep playing the "what if" game. What if I had made it clear that those magazines, videos, comments were not okay and had mentioned it to my father or someone. What if I had told my dad or someone when Sister went home and found him naked on couch one day. What if...What if....what if.........
For years I have thought of him (and my mom) as weak, unintelligent, pitiful people. People that I had to care for. I was the person in charge growing up. I made the decisions. I handled service repair calls. I handled medical issues. I handled disputes with finance people. I took care of it. So to see them as deliberate, manipulative, knew what they were doing, people is confusing me.
The Catch22 is - if he's a weak person, then why the heck did I "let" it go on? It is easier to see the abuse as something that just happened, he fell into it, got carried away. It is easier to see my mom as this weak, pitiful person who was so down-beaten by life that she was utterly incapable of making a decision to save her children. But if he is a strong person who did this deliberately, set out to do it, set me (and Sister) up, "groomed' (GAG) us, did it on purpose, intentionally, then it makes it worse in my head. If Mom deliberately chose him over us, with a full understanding of what he did, not so much as a feeling of being "trapped with no other choice" but a deliberate choice after weighing all odds, wanting to keep him in her life, then that makes me sick, mad and sad. It makes them both more evil and bad. And it makes me mad enough to want to throw something - HARD. And sad enough to want to just run away somewhere and cry. And panicky enough that the xanax I took isn't enough to keep the panic attacks away and enough that I broke my 7 day no-pinning streak and turned all that rage and hurt inward on myself. AGAIN.