Saturday, June 10, 2006

An Uncomfortable Childhood Memory

In order to appreciate what I'm about to tell you, you need to understand that my parents had me late in life. They had been married for almost ten years before Mama got pregnant and had already started the process of trying to adopt a child.

Maybe that's why they were so terribly over protective. All I know is, that I have memory after memory of being frustrated for not being allowed to do something that my friends were doing, or that seemed perfectly safe to me. Even now, looking back with adult eyes, I still concur that they really were way too protective, and in many ways tried to keep my young life surrounded by bubble wrap.

With that said, there is one very odd memory that often puzzles me. We lived in Birmingham, where there was an alley behind our house and another row of houses on the other side of the alley. The couple that lived directly behind our house had a garage that opened onto the alley, rather than onto the street, like most of the rest of the houses did. It was a huge, two car garage, something they had added after moving in, and it filled much of their backyard.

Mama knew he was doing it.

She had told me to come in the house any time he was out there "like that". And I did, rushing into the house, time after time, heart pounding. But it was something I "knew" I was not to talk about, as my parents were never comfortable talking about anything connected even remotely with sex.

You see, our nice neighbor behind us, liked to stand in the shadows in his huge garage, and watch me play in the back yard, with no clothes on.

He never once approached me, or said a word to me, and I never did "see" anything, but I knew he was naked. Many a time, wet clothes just had to wait a little while before they were hung to dry, as this went on for years.

My over protective Mama and Daddy never did a thing about it. I've often wondered why, but never had the nerve to break the "rule," and discuss it with them. Even now, I can't ask Daddy, because I wouldn't want to chance that it would get him upset.

No telling what kind of emotional tangles a psychologist could find deep down in my psyche from those early introductions to an uncomfortable sexual situation. Even now, I want to scream at him to stop - something I never had the nerve to do then.

In this day and time, I'd like to think that he would have gotten in trouble for what he was doing.

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Chana said...

i was just going to say to ask your dad about it but i can see your point that you wouldn't want to upset him. i can understand their over protectiveness. i would have and are the same way with my own kids. you are sure right, in these days, he would have been charged with something and thrown in jail. poor you my friend. how horrilbe he, the situation must have made you feel. trust me in this one, i understand. i can see how your parents would have been unconfortable speaking to him about things but i still think that they should have..i can only hope that there were no more children 'hurt' by this man bad choices. i send you a hug. have yourself a happy wknd.

Dirty Butter said...

I appreciate the hug, Chana, and I hope you have a happey weekend, too.

The quandary with situations like this is that the only way to deal with it is to press charges, which means a young child is going to have to be a witness. Ay, that's the rub.

Such things are handled much more sensitively nowadays than they once were. I'd like to think that's why Mama and Daddy never did anything about it. And, because it was a taboo subject in our house, they never realized how upsetting it was for me, or they might have done differently.

Mama Mouse said...

"In this day and time" .... and there you have the answer. It wasn't this day and time ... it was then and those things were NOT discussed ... period. It wasn't just your parents ... it was most parents. I'm sure if you HAD been touched they would have RUN to the police ... but you weren't. They protected you the best way they knew how.

I absolutely understand the 'over protective' part. My mother was 36 when she had me and my father was in his early 40's. I was 'change of life baby' so she said as she had started menopause before she got pg with me. She lost her only other child 15 years before that at the age of 3 to meningitis. I spent my childhood also being over protected ... and even after I was an adult she would try to 'mother' me also.

My children also felt her protectiveness as it never left her.

She never talked about sex with me and only explained about periods after mine had started. I think had my mother and father been in the same position as your parents, they likely would have acted the same way.

Today the climate is vastly different and pedophiles are everywhere. Back when we were little, while they WERE around, people rarely heard about them and no one seemed to know anyone that actually had been abused by one.

It wasn't right ... but our parents lived in a different time and were raised by people who themselves lived in an even more DIFFERENT time.

HUGS sweety ... they did what they needed to ... and you WERE kept safe, which is what IS important!

Dirty Butter said...

MM, we continue to find commonalities, don't we? I'm sure they anguished over what to do about him, and you're right, of course. They would have acted instantly had he approached me.

And I do realize that the code of silence about sexual matters was normal for that time. It's just a shame that, as a little girl, I had to carry those emotional fears alone, because there was no one to talk to about it.

This is certainly one of those Good Old Days I wouldn't want to repeat.

Mama Mouse said...

I can only begin to imagine the emotional scars that many, MANY people of our age and older were left with because of the 'code of silence'. Not only pedophiles, but spousal abuse and rape.

I'm just glad that today children are better protected and in most cases are taught that they too have rights when it comes to their bodies ... AND they get the proper support when and if needed.

No ... I wouldn't want to remember this particular story either.

Dirty Butter said...

Still playing with your icon, or is Blogger hiccupping again??

I taught 4th and 5th graders for 25 years, and always did a unit on sex and reproduction. There was quite an evolution in what I was allowed to discuss and the maturity level of the students over those 25 years. It's a real shame that too many parents still leave it to TV, peers, and teachers to impart the "facts" to their kids.

No, I wouldn't want to re-live that memory, but it's been good for me to analyze it and talk about it. Up until today, only my DH knew about it.

Mama Mouse said...

Must have been Blogger.

Sometimes bringing out the darkest and most deeply hidden secrets whisks away some of the horror they hold for us. The people we become friends with on the internet are usually quite safe because we rarely if ever actually get to SEE them face to face.

I hope that discussing this here has helped to whisk some of the horror away for you.

Dirty Butter said...

Writing about it and having your feedback really does help, MM and Chana. Good Internet friends may never be face to face friends, but they are just as much friends as those we can hug.

Mama Mouse said...

Abolutely Rosemary, ABSOLUTELY!

Chana said...

wanted to stop by and wish your hubby a Happy Father's day. hope you guys have a fun day. enjoy.

Dirty Butter said...

Thanks for the Fathers Day wishes Chana, and the same for Cuppojoe!