Updated: Jul 23, 2020
One of my favourite ways to wake up with the kids is when they come into my room, crawl into the covers and share some of the fun details of the dreams we had from the night before. Gerald’s usually involve some superhero of sorts with sword fights or battling monsters or Star Wars epic battles of glowing light sabres. For Aila, lately, it’s been more about meeting up with her friends, spending time socially with people she loves - the things she’s missing. For one nightmare she shared with me recently. She didn’t describe it as such… but for me, I’ve lived it.
She described this dream where she was hanging out with her friends and a 42-year-old man approached her and started talking to her. He was nice and friendly.
“And the weirdest thing Mommy was when he asked me to marry him cause he was like 42… gross.”
And at that moment all I could think about was that that was the age difference between my abuser and me. But after my grade 9 gym teacher spent time grooming me, being all nice and friendly… I didn’t think “gross”, I thought I was “special”.
YA RIGHT PEDOPHILIA IS SEXUAL ORIENTATION? NO NO IT'S NOT!
The way this teacher made me feel special wasn’t in the class-valedictorian-kinda-way or the way that teachers can shape a life and sometimes save a life. This teacher preyed on the little girl that was abandoned by dad at 3 months, had mom busy working 3 jobs to make ends meet while raising 4 kids and had a dark place of loneliness and a desire so strong to belong that for many years it was only fed by being a perfect student and getting recognition in a report card. My abuser was a classic pedophile - he had a type and knew how to groom them.
He took his time. He was nice and friendly. I remember he gave me a task on picture day so I would have an excuse during gym class to keep my hair fancy for pictures. He took interest in my run for student council president and named the kids’ concession after me, helped me make my campaign look good raising money for a new kids “training gym” in the back hall behind the stage, made flirty comments as I walked past, then threw out the hooks “we should go in the backroom and fuck” and would wait a couple of days to see if I reported him. Then he’d start up again and raise the ante. When I got my school pictures back… one was missing, cut out from the package. The next time I went by his office there it was hanging on his corkboard.
THERE WAS A CRACK IN THE PLANET
The big test was when he called me out of class in early November. He said he had to get something done for the new equipment and wanted to show me so I was in the loop in case anyone asked. We were walking down the back hallway and suddenly I was shoved into a mat storage room, no lights, no room to move and I froze. He grabbed my hand and forced me to touch his erect penis. He was saying something but the silent sound in that room was completely deafening along with the smell of his exposed perspiring body and the musk of the mats paralyzed my senses. In the same hour of those two minutes, he opened the door and shoved me back out, closing the door behind me and staying hidden in the dark.
I immediately went to the girls' locker room and hid in the shower area until time became relevant for me again. I washed my hands, looked at this new girl in the mirror. And returned to a school that would never be the same again.
THE LOSS OF INNOCENCE
I knew it was wrong. But I felt like I had somehow played the game, his game. So that made me just as bad, right? This was my 14-year-old mind trying to figure out what the hell just happened. And he was the Tony Robbins of the school. EVERYONE loved him. Other kids were lined up, lined up at his office door every lunch period to spend time with him. He was funny, charismatic, had this... energy. I didn’t even know who I was at 14. So, I “let” it continue.
And the more it continued the more it solidified the paradox of the dirty Jody who was disgusting on the inside filled with secrets of the little girl who was being shown some attention, who got pulled to the front of the line… who belonged. The abuse continued… for years!! I thought I was such garbage that if I could just keep myself accessible to him that he would leave other little girls alone, right? Wrong - but I didn’t find that out until court 6 years later.
He, like Aila’s nocturnal nightmare, promised to buy me apartments, set me up in places around the world and pay for schooling, talked about forevers and wrote me poems about picnics and love. He would give me cash like a prostitute at Christmas and take me secretly horseback riding in the spring and we’d have ice cream on the way home. He should have been teaching me layups in basketball, not laydowns in the seat of his truck so no one could see us leave the school parking lot.
A VOICE SILENCED, HEALING BEGINS
Just like the grooming took time so would my realization he did this because he is selfish and evil. Not because he cared.
The first crash came when I was finishing grade 11. I was called to the principal’s office. I was met by 2 officers who gained the authorization of my mom to interview me because I was under 17 years of age. We spent 11 hours sharing details as to how I became the plea bargain for no trial. I would get no say, my voice would not be heard.
What was heard was my guidance counsellor pulling me into her office the next day asking,
“How could you do this to him? He is such a nice man.” All because he mowed her lawn in the summers.
The next and second most grateful experience came when I became the first victim to ever go into Bowden Correctional Centre to meet with their offender (I’ll share this story in more detail when I talk about the Civil Suit against CBE). It was here I saw him for who he was. And that probably saved my life because it started me on my healing journey. The longest journey was re-teaching my brain what intimate love even was - that was a long and trying road.
What ultimately released me though was forgiveness. For years I had nightmares that even just with him in my dreams I would wake up exhausted and emotionally a wreck. I have taken advantage of many different healing modalities through the years but ultimately I knew I had to let him go. So?
I tracked him down. Followed him up and down alleys and roads as he tried to escape my unknown vehicle with his paranoid lifestyle until he finally pulled over into a Sobey’s parking lot. I was able to have my voice heard and what I said was;
“I will never forget, and I hope you don’t either. You have impacted many lives. But I forgive you in the sense that I do not hold any anger or hate towards you. You don’t deserve to occupy any more of my life and I want to let you go”.
SURTHRIVING, A CALL TO ACTION
So, why am I writing about this now? I’ve had people say to me over the years “can’t you just get over this?” What most people don’t understand with trauma is it becomes part of your thread. That doesn’t mean you have to hold onto that thread but it has shaped who you are.
Things are going to come up in life that triggers you - like Aila’s dream. Or it may happen again when Aila goes to Jr High. It’s foolish of me to be like “that’s the past, this will never re-surface” and then collapse by being ill-prepared WHEN the situation rises. I have the tools, why can’t I just bring them?
If I chose to not heal, or cope with MY pain, my issues around this abuse then I am actively holding onto that thread and that’s when it can yank me around and control me. But we go through things in life to be the voice in a song others may hear, knowing they are not alone… a collective thread so to speak.
IF YOU have gone through something YOU need to heal. Period. Healing is crafting that tool for your tool belt or toolbox to equip you for the rest of your life. I am a SURVIVOR… and I’m THRIVING because I’m taking action to speak up for others, to change systems and to be the voice that others may not have found yet. Take Action with me… tell me your stories and let’s SurThrive Together!!!!!!