The innocence of children figuring out the differences between boys and girls. A hot day in the cool basement with neighbour boys and their little sister pulling down our pants and looking at each other. Just wondering as at minimum we always at least have our underwear on as we run and play. Boys have pee sticks and girls don’t.
Sleepovers at a best friends house, baths together then as we got older showers to wash off the beach sand before bathing suits and jumping in their swimming pool. Then we became more private about the bathroom but no problem stripping and changing in his room. With L there was a certain circumspection about our “private parts”.
With another best friend G, the bathroom often became our bodily exploration place as long as we were alone in the house. Feeling and touching and rubbing, we had no idea about sex but humping each others butts just seemed right. No hard on or boners unless we held our pee too long… then it was a pain to relax the penis to actually pee.
Soon Playboy centerfolds gained our interests and group sleepovers… along with seeing how many cardboard “No Parking” signs we could collect without getting caught. Getting caught meant the town cops supervised putting all of the signs back up even those taken by other groups… luckily our group never got caught… they were put up around the Big Ten football field before game days.
Game days after half time, the guard at the mass exit gate would let the few of us in and direct us towards the few empty seats… and half drunk cups of beer… and noise makers…
We started learning about sex and girls… and that sex between boys was a no-go. The fun with G came to a mutual end as we couldn’t be having such feelings but we also started into different circles of friends. From yucky girls, we started to notice them, to strange feelings and boners to waking to sticky sheets and PJ’s. Our bodies were starting to change on us. For me, girls got on my mind… but a hot boy? A few boys intruded on wet dreams from time to time and sometimes daydreams. Odd but I filed those feelings away.
Survived Junior High School but my parents were concerned about how I would manage at Evanston Township High School… just think huge and filled to the rafters with Baby Boomers and civil rights and racism and Vietnam and and and… like a kettle constantly boiling over or on the verge of boiling over. In Junior High we managed and pretty well got along but outside events and parents prejudices grew in influence as we hit High School… so many fire alarms pulled that they rigged paint bombs near them – you got paint on you? that meant detention until 5pm period, it didn’t matter if you were a star athlete or had a 4.0 grade point, unless you were willing to become an outcast and tell.
A childhood friend of my mother and uncle to a girl that I had been in school with since kindergarten ran a very small boarding school. He specialized in the troublesome youth that for one reason or another didn’t fit in the regular school system. They thought that it would be a perfect fit for me.
I was that smart brainy kid that didn’t give a flying F about school. I was perfectly happy with doing just enough to pass with a “C” average. I would be even happier not going to school but with books and encyclopedias to read on rainy or wintery days and to wander as far as I could go on sunny days. As a white Anglo kid, wandering around black communities is where I felt safest and I loved listening to Chicago blues and jazz. The Italian and Polish communities almost always lead to fights or threats of fights.
Today I would have lesson plans galore “to deal with my issues” of autism spectrum, ADHD, OCD, ODD and likely various levels of other issues. Good teachers back then just dealt with us and just knew how to get the best out of us, first and second grade teachers were great but third grade teacher never heard of Olde English writing and spelling – I thought it was a perfect fit for a Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales book report… a couple months of tutoring killed my school interest or any desire to do well.
That little boarding school, for me it was a “godsend” but also hell on earth. Mr. P was like me at 120 pounds soaking wet. He had been a fighter pilot in the Pacific during WWII, had a Masters in Wave Science but had that New England practical streak so physics, science and math was always relatable to life in general and so often to work we were doing at the school.
Today’s parents would likely go apeshit over “the prison like atmosphere” and the work that we did looking after ourselves. Well yes, shinning 100 feet up trees to prune them without any safety gear would never pass today but to us was a perfectly normal thing to do, just like I had at home in our backyard, it was my favorite place to think.
Research into child sexual abuse shows time and time again that the victims become stuck mentally and emotionally at the age that the abuse started. He claimed to be bisexual. I still had dreams of his niece. I liked the attention and sex, I hated the attention and sex. Looking back, I was silently screaming doing all the known actions to tell… but no one listened.
Drugs and alcohol became my companions. Sexuality that I should have been figuring out as a teenager was stuck and hurtful. Summers I tried but failed to make sense of my feelings towards boys and girls. Further and further falling down the rabbit hole of drugs and alcohol trying to become completely numb to existence. Toss in a major concussion and I was even more screwed up.
The boy I cooked with, I wanted to hug him, I wanted to kiss him, I wanted to explore his body but I was too afraid/shy/repressed…?was he (former she) really trans?… female cut to his jeans, always very private, stayed in the smaller dorm with a “private” bathroom… his father was neat to listen to, Russian Scottish English all rolled into one wild accent.
Then the boy that I sucker punched after blacking out in post concussion frustration… talk was that he and another boy were gay… I did really like him but a sucker punch does not help with making a sexual query. And I wanted sex and I loathed the whole thing about sex. Mixed up and going nowhere.
On to college and a drunken drug induced haze of survival with a strong shot of psychosis. Sex and sexuality were drowned and drugged into a stunned stupor while mentally I came to two options – prison for murder or the mental hospital for trying. I picked a third – runaway to a new land.
I had always had a practical streak so I called another friend who had dropped out of college. I had visited them over the previous Christmas. His parents agreed to take me in under one condition, I had to stop taking speed. As speed was my biggest demon at the time I readily agreed even if withdrawal was a complete unknown to me and them, but I suspect dad made some inquiries as a church minister.
I arrived after an interesting journey of trains, boats and buses. Got a clean TB x-ray and went to work part time as a janitor at a jump start program in the church basement. At home in the church manse, I only had one job – make lunches for the other five teenagers in the house. For withdrawal it was perfect as could be, sleep in, have lunch often with mom and dad, walk around town a bit, usually go to work early and rough house with some of the so inclined kids for a while then start cleaning. Head home, yes in many ways it was the best home that I had ever known. An older brother, two younger brothers (one my buddy and confidant), a little sister and another “sister” added temporarily to the mix but most importantly was complete acceptance as a family member.
Not sure if it was other things happening in town that were then deep dark secrets that no one spoke about or just a desire for change. There was one night that Dad was extremely upset but mom booted us all to our rooms and made the lunches. The upshot was their moving away and for myself and oldest boy moving out on our own.
My confidant, he is an actor now. Last role I saw him in was ‘that kindly older guy that magically appears in the darkest hour to make things right’. Last I heard from his mother was that he still struggles with getting things right.
Rooming houses, bed sitting rooms, apartments working at making leather goods and even western saddles and harness racing gear and riding tack. A government grant program kept that going… the young kids in town called us the drug front. I got into drinking every night, the biker bar I would be allowed to jump the queue, the gentlemen’s club I could walk in at 1am with jeans on but anyone with me was not allowed, loads and loads of different bars and music, and a gay bar and the bar maid…
At last, hot boys that asked me!! And sex that was consensual and that felt good and right!!! But that bar closed like so many others that came and went. It became more difficult to just meet up for a night of frolic. Other bars were fine but being openly gay was not in them. Party meet ups became the safer way but still homophobia was strong. The sex was good but but but I liked girls too, well I could be bisexual but NO!! He said he was bisexual and no way did I want to be like him!!!
The grant ended for the store, two of the eight managed to keep it going for many years. Selling drugs to keep my drinking up as UI just wasn’t enough. That bar maid? Ended up sharing an apartment with her and her boyfriend. She worked at another bar, her boyfriend and I would end up there every night to walk her home and she had a couple of regulars one of which was going through a divorce…
Busted one night, knew I should not have sold to that young boy that had run away from the Catholic Orphanage but the child missing in his eyes made me overlook the danger signs. But I didn’t understand that look even though it stared back at me in the mirror. The biker gang made sure the cops got their search warrent while others cleaned out my place. Meanwhile two US Navy intelligence officers questioned me posing as US Consulate Officials for several forgotten hours… these days US Border Services personnel give me odd looks while looking back and forth between me and their computer screens then pass me on through sometimes without a question or small talk…
A lawyer friend got me off on possession with no weights from the lab analysis and a promise that in seven years my file would fall into the round file. (and yes it has disappeared).
New Directions but the Past is Present
Met a young girl and fell head over heels for her not heeding or thinking of past persons in my life. Her mom had a nickname of “Aunt Rat” as the girlfriend’s cousins would hide out there. Why? Remember that bar regular? He was their father and he appeared sometimes drunk and armed at the front door. Then there was my lawyer, he was their mother’s divorce lawyer. Many of the family friends? They were regulars at the church were I first appeared in town.
The girlfriend’s Aunt and her boyfriend likely knew about my run in with the law as they both worked in media but they kept the secret. At times I think that Aunt can read me like a book but allows me to be me, just a gentle admonishment after a wild drunk and testing out my truck with a 4 barrel carb with her youngest son, yes, we were being stunned and lucky to survive. The girlfriend’s mother? I guess she saw potential in me of more than a drifter leathercraftsman interested in her underaged daughter… opps, I only clued into that after marriage – a double wedding with her Aunt and lawyer as a guest among many others.
Long story short, mother in law convinced me to head back to school, this time my brain was ready, course of study? the same as ‘big brother’ of where I first arrived but I continued on to university.
After education, we settled down then started a family.
A Kick in the Guts
A number of the boys from the Mount Cashel Catholic Orphanage went public with the sexual abuse that was endemic there. Years before they had tried going to the police but generally were just delivered back to the Orphanage, one investigation was started but killed by the Chief of Police. That Chief of Police? His son t-boned my brother in law, the son was drunk and had run a stop sign – brother in law “was at fault”. Many of the boys that came forward? They were my drinking and drug buddies seeking oblivion while others did not ask or sell me Turkey Raffle tickets on Water Street to support the Orphanage. The night dad got very upset? The last two boys from the United Church Orphanage that was closed just before I arrived had been transferred there. Some of his comments that I overheard seemed to fit now.
An Inquiry was called, that Chief of Police convienently passed away, a few more of the boys chose suicide, I came to understand that missing child look that was in their eyes, I knew that my story must one day be told… but not yet… I silently cried for them as I rocked our oldest to sleep.
The tentacles ran deep from the Archbishop to the Premier to the Social Services that noted but said nothing to the Police that would not act. Only a few had an inkling of the true extent but actively insured that it was hidden.
And my confidant had a role in a movie about it… he found out about people by talking with them as they slept – he swore that he never did that with me…
Rebirth and Acceptance of Who I Am
The Orphanage thing keeps rumbling along through the courts almost 35 years later for those from the 50's and 60's with the Catholic Church fighting tooth and nail… at least the provincial government accepted culpability and reached preliminary settlements with the victims.
Children, it is a joy to watch them grow and develop into adults. Their road is never perfect, steam roller parents have only made a huge bump in their children’s future. Then there are the sexual abuse survivor parents, either they are over protective or they run into troubles as their children reach the age that they were abused.
The oldest, dyslexic like me and maybe somewhat autistic as well… I managed.
The middle, “shy” around adults but as her teachers put it, during group activities they would listen for the mystery voice to check up on her vocal abilities. I was somewhat “shy”… I managed.
The youngest, never diagnosed but manageable signs of ADHD, OCD and ODD and cannabis usage… too many similarities!! The DARE program? He quickly saw the farce for what it is, his question was why is alcohol legal then as he watched other parents drink too much (I had at last quit drinking when he was very young). As he reached his teenaged years I started into the depths of depression doing the best I could to at least keep him safe but as he confronted things like sexuality I was absent but hurting for him knowing he was hurting and confused but unable to help him.
He was growing up, I was in therapy and on depression and anxiety drugs. He was struggling, I was getting a new view on how screwed up my youth had been from birth. He was accepting himself, I was wondering how in the F*** I had survived, I learned the truth about the myths of pedophilia and survivors. Now, we share one more trait it ain’t pedophilia.
At last I can say “F*** U, you are not bisexual, you were and always will be a God damn pedeophile that stole my innocence!! Now at last I can proudly wear bisexual and be myself as I always gave indications of being”.
There is a lot of crap that I waded through in my life, roads taken and not taken and some roads washed out before I even got a look. Being able to have skipped the abuse? It would be nice but who would I be now?