ellensagh

11. Moving Through It

I pulled out the thirty-nine or forty volumes of my journals. It was the first time I had looked at them since moving to Oiltown. I reread the first three. I was certainly doing better now than I was then. I was breaking my dependence on my family. I had more compassion for myself.
 A new counsellor – the one who had asked me to look on my memories as friends rather than enemies – told me that Health Services would provide a support worker of my choosing for a couple of hours twice a week. I was definitely impressed – and grateful. A woman from the Shelter House agreed to meet with me on a regular basis. I went home thinking, “I’ll be able to reread my journals and summarize them, and I can debrief with the support worker if it gets too heavy. Finally, someone will hear the whole story.”
 One of Allinblack’s survivors called to tell me that our church lawyer thought the church would probably settle very soon, probably for about $75,000 per survivor.
 I had to get another note from my doctor to qualify again for financial assistance from Social Services.
 I decided to see my Saskatoon counsellor and go to the once-a-month therapy group instead of attending Allinblack’s parole hearing at the penitentiary. I told the Parole Board that I wanted to be informed of their decision.
 On October 11, l995, I finally managed to mail a letter to Calvin:
This is the third letter I’ve tried to write. In my other letters I tried to be compassionate or accepting, but when I’d go to write, the anger was there full force. I know I do care about you both, and I miss hearing from you. I am reliving memories to do with you, Calvin. When the letters come out of reliving memories, I don’t know if I’d help anyone – myself or you – or just add to the hurt.
I repeated a lot of what I had said in the letter to Stretch about acceptance vs. forgiveness, a close family vs. a closed family, why I made the police statement. Then I got angry and included what I had originally written to Calvin, ending with:
I am not and never will plan on pressing a civil suit against you, Calvin. I am tired now. I think the only other thing I want to say is, again, I miss hearing from you. A big part of me knows you are trustworthy and trying your best at what life has to offer. The other night in my dreams I spent all night yelling my head off at you, Calvin. Maybe this is why this letter can finally be sent.
That same day, the National Parole Board informed me that Allinblack had been denied parole.
 On October l3, the RCMP detachment in Oiltown called me for another interview. They showed me the file that had come back from Legend. Calvin had phoned them and admitted to abusing me when he was fourteen years old, in l966. But he said it was complicated, and he would come in for an interview later in the month. Legend police said I had been involved in a previous case. I’d been able to give more details then, and should be able to give more details now.
 I wrote in my journal:
Right now my body is vibrating and I still know there is no one to hear my screams, no one to be there as I relive what it was like to have a cock forced down my throat – only it never got down my throat because I was gagging so much, so it went into the side of my mouth. No wonder my fucking teeth got so rotten. It’s not my fucking teeth – it was your fucking sperm. And me telling everyone I got hit by a ball. Well, that might have happened, but they went rotten long before that. No wonder my mouth hurts. My throat muscles are in a knot where I can feel your cock hitting them, over and over. My back is killing me. Was it the way I was bent over in the car when my left hand was masturbating you? Why did you do this to me? You had no right. No right. I could have learned about sexuality somewhere else. I didn’t need to learn it this way.
I was meeting twice weekly with the support worker, rereading and summarizing my journals. I started thinking about writing a book.
 On October 24, I received a copy of the decision from the National Parole Board. Allinblack had been denied both full parole and day parole. A further review of the case was not anticipated. The statutory release date was December l, l996, when Alllinblack would be released to serve the remainder of his sentence in the community under supervision.
 A few of Allinblack’s survivors were still phoning me. They were struggling. So was I. I could relate to what they talked about, but had no energy left to fight.
 The pain in my mouth – my body’s memory of forced fellatio – was radiating outward and giving me pounding headaches.
 By October 3l, I had finished rereading and summarizing forty-one volumes of my journal. On November 3, I began writing this book.
November 6, l995
 Thoughts are down today. They say that spiritual issues emerge toward the end of the healing process. Maybe I should welcome this grief today. Yesterday and today I haven’t wanted to work on the book. Why would anyone want to read it? I know I have to trust. I’m not scared now, just sad. All those years no one was there for me. All those years I spent in church, at home in bed, praying, praying, praying for it to get better, going to confession, feeling bad but not knowing what I had done. All those years, always feeling desperate. Now I just feel destroyed.
November 7, l995
 Sitting in the doctor’s office, I filled out form with over a hundred problems listed. I had none of them, so I wrote at the bottom, “GRIEF, and I smoke.” The kids are doing wonderfully in school. Interviews all positive. No negative feedback.
November 9, l995
 Go to try on a pair of shoes and I have to leave the store because all I can see are Allinblack’s shiny black shoes, and I feel like a little girl again.
On November 28, at l0:00 in the morning, my back muscles went into spasm as I was driving down a street in Oiltown. The pain did not ease appreciably until a week later, when I realized that l0:00 a.m., November 28, was a year to the day and hour that Allinblack had been in court. If I had felt like arguing with God, I might have pointed out that I didn’t really need any further proof that my body had a better memory than my mind.
 On December 5, a survivor of Allinblack called. She had spoken to our church lawyer. Based on a psychologist’s report and other cases, the suggested figure for compensation had dropped from $75,000 to $50,000.
December 7, l995
 Project Houseclean.
 Good-bye to the hero me. Good-bye to quick-fix therapy, self-help books. Good-bye to Streak, my kitten. I miss her. Good-bye to The Secret of Sexual Abuse. I don’t miss that. I don’t miss the power men had over me. Good-bye to no more interest in a job, in family life, in things I used to do, in sexuality. Good-bye to all the times I couldn’t concentrate or couldn’t remember anything. Goodbye to night after night of not sleeping. Goodbye to not caring about myself. Good-bye to crying, constant and unexplainable.
 Hello to there being nothing to hide. Hello to all the things I’ve found that have helped me to survive: my writing, my many ways of expressing myself, my collages, my poems, my colouring, my searching for an action plan, for ways that comfort me and support my children, speaking up for justice, my expectation that abusers must be held accountable. Hello to the true story. The deep dark secret is behind me. Hello to depression explained and understanding how abuse affected me in ways I would never have suspected. Hello to the changes I think will help the next generation, the women I’ve seen who have turned their dreams into reality, other survivors, the women at Tamara’s House and the Shelter House. Hello to the unexpected pleasure of discovering myself, the natural me who takes pleasures in small treasures, who appreciates the angels who have allowed me to find my courage to find the little hurt girl inside and give her what they have given me – unconditional love.
I decided to move back to Saskatoon at the end of January, l996, largely because Social Assistance in Oiltown was insisting I see a doctor again for yet another note about why I couldn’t work. When I went to the doctor, she asked me how she could help. When I started to, she asked me to consider medication or a psychiatrist. When I went to my counsellor the next day, she suggested the same thing. That helped me make my decision. Over the Christmas break, I went to Saskatoon to look for a place.
January 6, l996
 How I Finally Found Myself
 Coming to Oiltown was like escaping to freedom. I was seeking peace, a new way of seeing things. I needed to put the last couple of years into perspective, take all the parts of me and bring them together. I needed a place where I could face my fears. The time off was soothing for my body, mind, and spirit. Relaxation and exercise helped me to recharge and reach an acceptance of why the past keeps resurfacing and affecting my life today. I’ve come to an acceptance of the way I am – my strengths and limitations, how important my belief in childhood and family is. A few bad men are not going to spoil the rest of my life. My book is a reminder of the first steps I took to wholeness, and a remembrance of how alone I felt at the beginning. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now. I can laugh.
On January l5, l996, the RCMP called to ask me to come in and record another statement about my brothers abusing me. Minutes later, Social Assistance sent another worker on a surprise home visit. When she stated her purpose at the door, I started crying. That threw her off balance. I told her it was not her, it was the RCMP asking me to make yet another statement about the same damn thing. Just the day before, my daughter had told me about a man being acquitted of rape because his victim’s evidence had changed from the first statement to the second. The woman at the door said she’d come another day. She wondered if I knew there were people I could talk to about this. She obviously hadn’t read my case file.
 That same night, a male survivor who had been abused by a priest phoned me. He said he had proof that the hierarchy knew the man who abused him was a paedophile before they moved him, the priest, to the parish where he, the survivor, was abused. I wished I could have told him I was surprised.
Immediately after he called, an Allinblack survivor phoned to say that two women whose charges had been dropped had received a settlement from the church of $l5,000 and $12,000, respectively, and that the church was offering her between $20,000 and $30,000. She had been led to believe the compensation would be much higher, and she was upset that she was the one contacting our lawyer instead of the other way around. As to what the lawyer was telling me, all I could say was that I had not heard one word from her since I moved to Oiltown in July.
January l8, l996
 To the police station. The RCMP officer told me they need more detail, more evidence. The defence has all the power. The prosecution won’t proceed with what they’ve got. I told him I can’t add any more to what I’ve already said. He asked if I’d tried counselling. Signed a two-page statement acknowledging that I understand the file will be closed and I am okay with that. I left feeling good. More is over.
January l9, l996
 Dream: my car is stolen and I’m deciding whether there is any point in telling the RCMP.
 January 23, l996
 Wrote a poem during the night. I realize now it’s a thank you to the women at the Shelter House in Oiltown who had listened to me. It also applies to all the people who listened to me in the past three and a half years, as well as people who support shelters, safe homes, and assault centres, and anyone who listens with respect:

Help, I need someone to listen
Is what inside me said
As I deal with all these feelings
That used to be just dead
You weren’t afraid to see me cry
As I spilled out all the hurt
You never turned away from me
When I felt like I was dirt
You were there as I got rid of
Pent up anger rage and tears
You listened to my child inside
As I dealt with buried fears
I know you wish the best for me
As I go to make it on my own
I thank you for all the comfort
When I was feeling so alone
I think of you as family
In the best sense of that word
Cause you were always there for me
When I needed to be heard.
On January 27, l996, I moved to Saskatoon.

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