Born By One

Creating communities one family at a time

Born By One

Creating communities one family at a time

Born By One

Creating communities one family at a time

Born By One

Creating communities one family at a time

Born By One

Creating communities one family at a time

Born By One

Creating communities one family at a time

Born By One

Creating communities one family at a time

Born By One

Creating communities one family at a time

Born By One

Creating communities one family at a time

Born By One

Creating communities one family at a time

Born By One

Creating communities one family at a time

I'm not ready to play nice

 

 

Sundays are usually about my little family - just me, my husband and our 18-month-old son. Most of the time, we end up doing nothing, but we love each other’s company so much, it doesn’t matter. On this particular Sunday morning, I was running around the house, trying to get everyone showered, lotioned and dressed so we could meet friends for yum cha shortly after noon.

In the midst of this chaos, my phone kept ringing with a FaceTime request from my younger sister. Like the wonderful big sister I am, I ignored it four times until she texted, “Thomas and his family are having a meeting with mom and dad about you.”

My mind went into overdrive. Why did they feel the need to have a meeting about me? In the five years, I’ve lived in Australia, I’ve tried to put them out of my thoughts to maintain my sanity. Why couldn’t they mind their own business and leave me alone? I’ve minded my business since April 2016, the last time I was in Ohio.

I called my sister, and she explained that some guy from Africa wanted to “fix the family and get over this hurdle.”

It’s amazing how people can water down an unpleasant truth with a euphemism so it won’t leave such an unpleasant taste in their mouths. My sexual abuse by Thomas’ daughter, my cousin (how I hate to admit in writing that any of those people share my DNA), has been referred to as “the situation,” “the thing,” a “hurdle” -- everything but what it actually was, a violation of the worst kind. A violation not only of my body but my soul.

As it turns out, the African guy thought Thomas’ daughter owed me an apology. He arranged the meeting with my parents to ask them if I would be willing to sit down with her so she could make that apology to my face.

This was one of the moments in my life when I was glad I’m black because my face would have been the most furious shade of red.

How does someone apologise for ruining a life? There are no words that can undo all the emotional and psychological damage. Will her words give me back the hours I spent on my knees, asking God why this had to happen to me? Will they give me back the years I spent going from doctor to doctor, trying to figure out what was wrong with me? Will they give me back the months I spent in mental hospitals? Will they give me back the childhood I lost? Will her words make me the Alice I was before, or take away the agonising knot I get in my stomach when I smell the soap her family used or the crippling fear I have of someone hurting my child? Will they remove the labels her family slapped on me to save face?

I just don’t have the spiritual strength to forgive all these terrible sins against me. My mother always warns people, “Don’t do wrong to Alice, because she will never forget, and it will take the Lord’s powers for her to forgive you.”

Only God himself knows the hell I’ve been through, the nights I’ve spent lying awake because I was too scared to sleep lest the nightmares returned. Only he knows how many times I’ve had to swallow my tears because I was worried that if I started crying, I might never stop. I’ve tried to follow people’s advice to “grow up and get over it,” but my anger and need for justice won’t let me.

As a Catholic, I say the Lord’s prayer at Mass every week. That prayer asks God to forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. But it’s hard to forgive someone when she doesn’t understand the hurt she’s caused nor is genuinely sorry for her actions.

I know it’s not Christian of me, but I don’t want the fake apology her parents are forcing her to make. Besides, I have a voodoo doll of her that I like to poke in the eye with a needle at least once a week.

Clearly, my psychologist still has some work to do.

XOXO

-Alice