Why didn’t you protect me?
Why do you hide behind a plastic smile?
Don’t you love me…
It’s not my fault. Jen’s right, I didn’t not protect me. I didn’t fail me. It’s not my fault.
NONE OF THIS IS MY FAULT.
Every time you talk to her it hurts me, it kills me.
Why can’t you see that? Why don’t you understand?
I don’t want to be broken. I’m more than shattered pieces that used to make up a whole.
What’s wrong with you; are you capable of looking and truly seeing me?
I was 12 years old. I was a fucking 12 year old and I needed you; I still need you.
This marked a profound change in our relationship and I don’t know if we can ever go back.
I’m not sure what’s worse. Is it worse that you weren’t there for me, that you didn’t protect me, and you didn’t look after me? Or is it worse that I know?
I really wish I didn’t know. I wonder how life would be if I never found out that you could have protected me that to some degree you knew and you still put me in harm’s way.
The person I trusted most in the world besides you betrayed me. And you let it happen.
Where it started
Growing up I was extremely close with a family “friend.” I’ll call her “Dallas.” She was always very sweet and kind. Dallas would listen to me talk for hours. My family often teased me for talking too much. They wanted me to be a normal kid. While kids my age were outside playing I was inside reading. I loved learning about any and everything.
One day Dallas called on the phone and wanted to talk to me. I was 12 years old and very naïve. She started off by saying, “I need to apologize to you, please tell me you won’t hate me.” I could never hate her; she was the only person interested in anything I ever had to say. She showed a genuine interest in my life, my well-being. Everything gets fuzzy here. I remember fragments. She continued, “I had a dream that I slept with you. I don’t think I’m a lesbian but I had a dream that we were together.” I was 12 years old, terrified, and confused. My mother was seated about 5 feet from where I sat. I wanted so desperately to ask for help. I wanted her to grab the phone. I can still feel the phone cord stretching across my legs. I can see that wooden end table with green legs. I remember that cold feeling, the chill in the air. I feel that chill now. It was a day like today. I said, “No, I don’t hate you. It’s okay, it was just a dream.” I can remember the tremble in my voice. We were on the phone for a few hours and I don’t know what words she said. I remember the horror that I felt. I remember looking at my mother and silently pleading for help. I remember wanting to hang up the phone. I never did.
At one point Dallas ended the phone call and said she’d call back. This time my mother answered. I watched my mother from my spot crouched by the end table. My mom laughed and smiled. I wondered if I’d get in trouble, I prayed that I wouldn’t have to talk to Dallas again. I remember seeing the phone cord stretched along the couch and watching my mom play with the end. They spoke for I’m not sure how long. The call ended. I was free.
Dallas called back about 2 minutes after the call ended. My mom pushed me to answer the phone. I beg her to not make me. My voice trembled as I fought back tears. “Answer it now, I don’t want to talk to her, just say I’m busy” my mom said. I begged, trying to look in her eyes and she watched the caller ID never looking at me. Dallas hung up but quickly called again. My mother lifted the receiver on the first ring and placed it next to my ear. I spoke to Dallas for a few more hours still crouched in my corner. Still cold, still alone. I’m not sure exactly what was said. I remember that feeling; being alone. Watching my mom watch television for hours as I sat and listened; dying little by little inside.
I tried desperately to wipe this day from my mind. I was 12 years old. I would forget for certain extended periods of time and then it would flood back in a dream or something that brought me back to that place. Like Jen said, I didn’t not protect me. I didn't not fail me…
At age 14 we went to Dallas’s house for Thanksgiving. I had forgotten at that point. Towards the end of dinner Dallas asked my mother if I could spend the night. She was going to go shopping the next morning and wanted me to babysit her children during her shopping trip. Everything flooded back. I tried to make excuses. “I don’t have my contact solution and I can’t wear them [my contacts] to sleep.” I said. My mom said, “You’ll be fine, you’re staying.” I spent the evening playing with Dallas’s daughter. I’ll call her Kaylee. Kaylee was very excited to have me over. She was around 4 years old. At bedtime Dallas said, “You can sleep in my bed. My husband won’t come home tonight. It’s a California king.”
“I’m fine in Kaylee’s bed, thanks.” I said.
“Suit yourself, but my bed’s much bigger than that twin bed.” She added.
“I’ll be fine.”
I went to sleep on a twin bed in Kaylee’s room. Kaylee slept on the floor protecting me. She stood guard between the door and the bed I slept in. I didn't sleep. I stared at Kaylee’s NSYNC poster all night long. I’d drift off and get startled awake quickly. I’d look at Kaylee, then back at the poster. I prayed, and prayed. God please protect me.
This experience had a profound effect on my entire life. It was one day, and a series of phone calls with the same person. I was 12 years old. I’m 27 now. Dallas was over 15 years older than me. To me, she’s dead.
On a random day I had a conversation with my aunt, my mom’s youngest sister. My aunt told me a story about Dallas. She said that one day Dallas called and said she had a dream that they [my aunt and Dallas] had sex. That they had a weird conversation and Dallas called her to apologize. I stopped her and filled in the blanks. This was the first time I’d ever told anyone what I’d been through. My aunt apologized for what I went through. She said, “I’m sorry. If I had known I would have done something. I didn’t know you spoke with her [Dallas] that day.” Then my aunt added, “You know, your mom had the exact same conversation with her that day. Your mom knew. We both thought she was on drugs or something. Why would your mom push you to answer the phone after she already knew something was wrong with Dallas?”
My mom knew. My mom knew when she pushed me to answer the phone. My mom knew that something was off with Dallas. She knew something was off and thought nothing of Dallas calling and calling. She thought nothing of me being on the phone for hours.
Dallas is still around. I've expressed my hurt to my mother and she refuses to apologize. Her story often changes. At times my mom will claim she doesn't remember. Then she’ll say she does remember but had no way of knowing that Dallas would have the same conversation with me since I was a child.
I have had to see Dallas at family functions. Very rarely she’ll come around. I found myself buried in a bottle. I downed a few pills and chased it with a couple beers. She touched me, hugged me and tried to go on about how much she missed me. At the first family function I pleaded with my mother to not invite her but I was quickly put in my place. After that day my mom said, “See it’s not so bad, she kept hugging you and you were okay.” I screamed, “Did you see how much I drank? I took double my dose of Xanax and kept downing beers. I had to be that drunk to get through that.”
My mom and I don’t talk about it now. It hurts that she still invites Dallas around. Recently my mom invited me to a family dinner. I couldn't make it. Dallas was there. I’m really happy I didn't go. I’m really not sure what I’ll do if and when I see her again.
The Important Part
Like Jen said, I didn’t not protect me. I didn’t fail me. I'm not broken.