Sometimes it can seem like the world is revolving around you with everything that’s going on in your life. As if you were standing still and nothing depends on you. It seems so accurate until you get a chance to look into the dark corner of someone else’s life, and you realize that it can always be worse than you initially thought.
I wasn’t sure what to do next, and there was an inexplicable restlessness in my soul that didn’t let me stay still. At one point I jumped in the car and started driving. I wasn’t sure where, I just wanted to go.
About a few years ago, at about the same time, I was in the middle of one of the greatest dramas of my life. I was still hoping that something could come out of our relationship with Alex. I had lived with this man for ten years. He was my daughter’s father. My sons called him a father before the truth about his nature came to light. I couldn’t understand how he could so lightly think we weren’t worth anything and treat us as garbage. And humility was more than inaf in him. Unfortunately, I only realized this after years of trust, and then years of realizing that that trust was no longer there.
That day I got in the car and started driving in an unknown direction. A few months before that, I had started a divorce from Alex, which was followed by the loss of my job and the appearance of Alex’s new friend in the family. It was chaos. It was a time full of so much pain, frustration, and powerlessness that on that fateful day, I felt like I couldn’t be in the middle of it anymore.
MY GREATEST FEAR HAD BECOME A REALITY – AS MANY TIMES BEFORE, I HAD ONCE AGAIN LOST A SAFE FOOTING AND HEADED DOWNHILL AT THE SPEED OF DEATH. I WAS IN FREE FALL AGAIN.
Alex later claimed that I wanted to end my life with suicide that day. Honestly, I didn’t even know at that moment if I would come back to them. But I didn’t want to die. That was not the plan. I just wanted to go. I needed space to breathe again. The twists and turns of life swallowed me at a ruthless speed without giving me the slightest break. But I did not want to die and I was very much looking for a way out of this closed situation.
Could I have done something different, now thinking about it in retrospect? Yes, I could have sent Alex to hell as soon as I learned of the cheating and lies. I could have gone immediately to court and taken everything that belonged to me. Including daughter. If only I knew how much Alex was dragging it all out and how insidious he could be.
In a way, I might even needed that experience. I definitely learned to be stronger. A year after this incident I was much more confident and began to understand what Alex had done to me. My anger, which I had initially directed into myself because I thought that everything that happened was my fault, was now directed away from me. And more specifically – into Alex. It began to become clear to me that everything he said and did had a well-thought-out plan for how to make me harmless and how to lift himself above me. It was a war for him, and he had to win it. Sometimes I wondered why that was this way. Why did he need to destroy me, why did he try to take my daughter away, and why did he need to make sure no one believed me. It seemed strange to me that someone would work so hard on it without having an important reason for doing so. But at the time, I couldn’t figure out the answer to my questions, and the only thing I focused on was my children, how we could cope and how to move on with life. Experiences where the people closest to me turned out to be the ones I finally had to run away from made me doubt if it was ment for me to be with anyone. Maybe the best I could do was come to terms with loneliness and learn to live with it.
Now I sat in the car again and drove into the now-where. My soul was restless, but my heart knew everything would be fine. Nostalgia quietly took its place in my mind, and I decided I had to meet a few people. One of them was my former boyfriend, who I was with for a few months before moving in with Alex. And the other was Verner.
Life before Alex was one of the most tragic periods I had to go through, but by the time I started living with Alex, everything was getting clear. The man I had been with before Alex, just when I had moved to another country, was the man who helped me with the apartment , and I kept in touch with him many years later. I even remembered moments when I believed I loved this man. We were as different as two people can be. I always knew we couldn’t get a decent pair, but I had a great desire to hold on to him because he gave me a lot of security at such an uncertain time. We hadn’t talked to each other properly for over a decade, and now I just called him and asked if I could come visit for a while. To my great surprise, he said and. I couldn’t stay long, just four hours. But that was enough for me. I just wanted to see him.
When we got together, it was already three in the morning. He took me to his home, to a small one-room, but at the same time nice and cozy apartment. We warmed up the pizza and chatted. I talked about my divorce, he talked about his divorce. About children. About moving and plans for the future.
“Are you still talking to the cop who helped you at the time?” he asked when we had settled on the couch.
“Which one do you mean?” I asked confused. Sure, I knew who he was talking about, but I had no desire to talk about it.
“Wasn’t his name Michael?” he asked confidently. It amazed me that after so many years, he remembered his name.
«Michael? No, I don’t remember any Michael, “I replied, thoughtfully shaking my head at the same time. “I was in contact with someone named Kim at the time, and I still have a good relationship with him,” I added quickly. I didn’t mean to tell him that his name was really Michael, but I also wanted to let him know that I was in contact with the police. It was a momentary decision based solely on my gut, but something told me that if he still remembered that cop’s name, it had to be important to him for some reason. And that reason couldn’t be anything benevolent. He always talked negatively about the police, he always had problems with the police and he also warned me not to trust anyone who was involved with the police too much.
BUT FOUR HOURS PASSED QUICKLY, AND SOON I SAT IN THE CAR AGAIN AND DROVE ON. I WAS GLAD THAT I MET HIM. BECAUSE WHEN I LEFT HIM, I WAS SURE THIS PERSON WAS NOW IN MY PAST.
The next person I had to meet was Verner. He had said I would have to come to lunchtime. Then he could take a lunch break at work. He didn’t want to invite me to his place because he said he lived in a dormitory with many other men and didn’t need me to show my face there. According to my calculations, I had to get to his job just in time.
We went for a walk and he took me to a very beautiful inland lake where ducks swam and some water lilies were growing. The park was in the middle of a densely populated city and was surrounded by tall five-storey houses. It was a very hot day. I could feel how sun burned the face, but it was still cold in the shadow this early spring-time.
“How are you?” I asked as we sat on the park bench.
“Not crazy,” he replied a little carelessly.
“You have divorced your wife, as I understand it?” I tried to move on with the conversation, but at the same time I wasn’t sure if the topic was still too painful for him.
“Yes, she already has a new man and they moved quite far from here,” he continued with the same carelessness. “I think she had this new man before we broke up. We agreed that we would only take a break, and a few weeks later she already announced that she had a new boyfriend. ”
I had always been positive about Verner’s wife. When they visited us sometimes, we got along well and we always talked a lot. I was so sorry they broke up, but I wanted to keep in touch with both of them. That’s why I tried to be very careful with what I said.
«How’s your daugther? Are you in touch with her? ” I asked.
“Yes, we do call sometimes, but they now live so far away that we can barely get together so much anymore,” Verner said sadly. His eyes were full of longing and pain, and he did not know how to live with it. I wanted to say something that would have helped him, but everything that came to my mind seemed too vulgar to say out loud. Instead, I took the story elsewhere. I was hoping we could talk about something a little more positive.
“I’m driving around here, thinking and trying to find out of things for myself,” I said in a bright voice. “What are your plans? Will you stay here for work? ”
“For now, yes. I don’t know, my mother called to me, but I don’t know if I want to go there,“ he answered thoughtfully.
“Do you have good relationship with your mother?” I asked and was amazed that this option was something he was considering. I tried to be neutral, but deep down I couldn’t stand this woman.
“She still makes me angry sometime, but I could do it.”
“I don’t know if I wouldn’t go there if I would be you,” I couldn’t hold back.
“Why?” he asked as if he didn’t understand what I was talking about.
“She never really cared about you. Just empty words. Thank God you left her and your brother. There was nothing good waiting for you there. You had never had anything good there! ” I blew out. Verner wasn’t allowed to go back there, I was sure of that. “What brother has done to you – I really don’t know how you can still communicate with him. And I think your mother have the biggest fault in all of it.”
I felt like I had to stop myself before I said anything worse. The topic I had raised was one of the most difficult topics I could raise with anyone.
“I know,” he replied, and slightly shaked his head. “You know, what happened to me when I was three, it’s even ok, because I don’t remember it myself. But later, all the brother did later when I was older, I remember absolutely everything,” he whispered through his teeth and looked up. It was so much anger and pain I had never seen before in his eyes. It was also the first time he had spoken to me so directly about it.
I CAOUGHT HIS EYES LOOKING AT ME AND THE WORDS DRIED DOWN MY THROAT. WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT WAS SO UNTHINKABLE THAT I DIDN’T DARE ASK ANYTHING ANYMORE.
Verner was three years old when his older brother was suspected of raping him. The police report stated that the boy was showing signs that something had been done to him, but it was impossible to determine who and what exactly. The boy’s mother had come worried that the boy had started complaining that sometimes when his older brother is with the boy, he has difficulty breathing. When asked by his mother what made it difficult to breathe, the boy had answered that his brother had put something in his mouth. An investigation had been launched, but not enough evidence was found to convict anyone. In fact, the case was closed very quickly, and it became confusing whether something had happened at all or if his mother had invented it. But it all turned out to be right, and now, sitting with me on that park bench, he was able to put into words for the first time that it happened many more times later.
“My brother is normal until the moment he drinks too much,” Verner said, calming down a little. “If not alcohol, he would be a perfectly ok person.”
“It’s not okay,” I replied. “It’s not okay, and neither your mother did anything to stop it. She still protects your brother as if nothing is his fault. But it is his fault and one day he will have to answer for it. I’m sure of that. “
It is not at all uncommon for people to remain in contact with each other in such a harmful relationship and the perpetrator can never be punished. First of all, not many talk about such things. Especially if the rapist turns out to be someone close to your own family. Second, in order to talk about it, you must first find the strength to face reality. You always wear it in your soul and heart, it kills you slowly on the inside and often you feel like you can no longer breathe. But letting it out and resisting the person who did it to you seems even worse than living with that secret.
I hated Verner’s brother. And I hated Verner’s mother. Although Verner’s mother tried to do something at first, she was later the rapist’s greatest defender, and it was her who always tried to bring Verner in touch with his brother. I hated everyone who let it happen and did nothing to punish the guilty one. Who knows how many more children had fallen victim to him. But the truth was, I didn’t do anything eather. Like others who knew about it but remained silent witnesses, I stood as a bystander and did nothing. Was there anything I could have done?
After meeting Verner, I drove to the mountains. There were no people, no phone service. Only mountains, streams that flowed down towards the inland lakes and the sky. I slept in the car that night. It was bag blind outside and I was afraid, but I wanted to feel that fear. I needed it. I cried a lot that night. I cried for Verner, I imagined him as a three-year-old, and a six-year-old boy. I was reminded of the pictures I had seen of him facing a cheerful boy with a big smile. Who would have thought of experiences behind this smile. Who would have thought what a heavy load this boy carried. It was clear from that smile that he himself did not understand at that time what was really going on and what was being done to him. He was just a child.
I cried for Verner and I swore revenge. If Verner himself couldn’t and didn’t do anything about it, I owed him so much to do something about it.