i promise

~

Yesterday I said the following.

I have a post brewing, my friends. A big one. A really sort of terrifying one. One that – as desperately as I want to write it THISVERYSECOND – demands, and deserves, far more than the eight minutes that I have right now to write it. So it will have to continue to simmer just below the surface for one more day.

I wrote it yesterday. And it was big. It — is — big. In fact, it is too big for Diary. So I sent it off to the Huffington Post.

It was — is — so big that I am at once relieved and terrified that it is now out of my hands.

It was –is– so big that I had to call my parents to tell them what it contains.

I told them both that I thought it best if they not read it. My mom said she had to. I get that. I would too.

But my dad agreed. He wouldn’t. Because he simply couldn’t.

I did what I could to convince him that he didn’t let me down. I promise you didn’t, Daddy. I really, truly promise.

I listened to his voice break as I explained why now – why twenty-three years later. “For your babies, Jessie,” he said. “Talk to them. Katie will read it someday. She’ll need forewarning. But more than that, she’ll need to know the lessons. She’ll need to know …” His voice broke again before he found the words.

I promised I would. I will.

“And Brooke too. I don’t know if she’ll read your blog someday too, Jessie, but she needs to know too. You’ll have to teach her differently, but she needs to know too.”

“Please God,” he said, “let them learn from you and not by experience.”

I promise, Dad. I will do everything I can to teach them both. I promise.

The post took me twenty-three years to write.

It’s time.

*

Ed note: This is not meant to be a cliffhanger, but unfortunately the post has not been published yet. It should hit HuffPost today. If you’d like to receive notification as soon as it’s up, please click HERE and then follow me by clicking on any of the buttons next to my name.

** Update: The post is now up on HuffPost. please click HERE to read it. Thank you for your patience. **

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33 thoughts on “i promise

  1. “And Brooke too. I don’t know if she’ll read your blog someday too, Jessie, but she needs to know too. You’ll have to teach her differently, but she needs to know too.”

    “Please God,” he said, “let them learn from you and not by experience.”

    As I wait to read this post, Sweetheart, I have to tell you that I completely agree with Dad regarding the above quotes.

    I want you to know that as you were talking to me on the phone yesterday, I thought (yet again) that you are the bravest and most honest person who I could ever have hoped you would be and I love you so much.

    Mom

    • My mother shuts down and runs at the slightest glimpse of honesty or bravery. She loves me more than anything, but she’s just not that strong. I think Jess is incredibly blessed to have a parent as enlightened and secure as you seem to be. The way you are always the first to comment and support her is inspiring to me as a parent. Basically, you rock.

  2. Dear God, now I am terrified too. I am not sure I should read it either. I know me. If something bad happened to you I will feel it so strongly that it will knock me hard to the ground – and I will struggle to get up. I have no ability to read it any other way – I wish I did but this is how I am made. I feel the need to say that I am so, so sorry – for whatever happened. Like more than you can imagine. I love you.

  3. That was very touching. As I read it got me to visualize and think that I too should do the same for my sweet daughter. My mother has passed unfortunately from cancer, but I want to give my daughter the love and unconditional love I was taught from my mommy.

  4. The community that holds you…..our hearts will break if something bad happened to you…..but as you share…..we hold you….. we hold the tears….a hand on your shoulder……we are with you.

  5. Why do I feel like I know what’s coming? I hope I am wrong Jess. I don’t want to have it in common with you. You are incredibly brave for publicly posting something this big,whatever it may be. Thinking of you today

  6. It is with a heavy heart I wait to read your post. I have a feeling down deep inside me that there will be so many in this community who may also have had this or a similar experience which we have not yet learned about. I hope that you found a healing release in writing it. I’m keeping you close in my heart today.

  7. Oh Jess. I feel like I know what is coming too. You are incredibly brave to share your soul with us all. You are brave, and real, and human and that makes your message so powerful. We are listening. Love to you.

  8. Without even “knowing” you, I know what’s coming. It’s that kind of ESP that one person who gets it, gets from the other. I am so impressed you are going public with it. Your bravery astounds me and I wish I could give you a hug.

  9. Oh Jess, I am so sorry. So sorry this happened to you. And it was not your fault, not in any way. I know you must know that. Praying for you. {{Hugs.}}

  10. Jess, just read the post. You are so brave! Your willingness to bare your soul every day is inspiring. You continue to speak for so many with words so perfect. I sincerely hope that by telling your story you heal. God bless you!!!!!

  11. the cursor is blinking but the words won’t come.

    thanks for being braver than I thought I could ever be. well, yesterday, that’s what I would have said. but today, after reading what your Dad said, I realize that there will come a time when i have to be as brave as you.

    that scares the shit out of me. but my daughters AND my sons need my bravery. they require it of me.

  12. Sometimes stories get told because the time is right. The time is right. As a woman, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Rape is a violent crime, there is no such thing when a person is violated. Hugs, Thanks again. Your are such an example to not only your children but all of us.

  13. Just read the Huff post piece and once again I’m blown away by your words. My high school experience goes like this:

    He was on the wrestling team. I had just transferred into the school. I had previously attended an all girl school so I was very shy and naive. He asked me to a school dance, I said yes. We had fun at the dance and I liked him. I really, really liked him. After the dance, instead of taking me home he drove past my house and parked at a park near my house. I begged him to stop, I cried. He finally gave up without actually raping me and pushed me out of the car, leaving me to walk home alone. He told all his friends I was a prick tease. Ugly words. They laughed at me, their girlfriends laughed at me. After this happened, I had ONE friend at this school, someone I’d known since we were both 7 years old. It was a bewildering and painful experience and I never said a word about it to anyone.

    I have 2 boys with autism. Your writing about Brooke speaks to my heart and soul. The Huff post piece shook me to my very core. Maybe that’s what we all need.

  14. Oh, Jess. My heart hurts for you. To carry this all these years when you were not at fault. I, unlike you, an not a crier but the tears are burning behind my eyes. I wish I could hold you right now. yours, gail

  15. I hear you far more clearly than I’d like. Jess, you are the most amazing person I have ever encountered. I wish that for one minute, I could have the courage you show on a daily basis. Thank you so much. Hugs!

  16. You are so brave for sharing your story. This week has been hard. I’m not ready to share my story, but thank you for sharing yours.

  17. It happened to me, too. I was nineteen. I was on a date with someone I barely knew. He got really drunk, and I was frightened and really wanted to leave. I felt helpless and trapped. I had to go back to his room to get my keys and my ID. That was the worst mistake of my life. I may have lost my life that night, but his roommates had been at the bar, too. They saw how he was behaving and got worried. They came back to check on me. I believe they saved my life. Like you, I kept it a secret. I didn’t tell the police. I “knew” it was all my fault. I was horrified that others could find out how stupid I had been. I was too trusting, too naive, too sheltered. I believed that no meant no. I believed that he would stop when I said no. I didn’t even fight. I just begged for him to stop. The term “date rape” came out around that time. I still didn’t think it applied to me. I managed to block the memory for a couple of years, but it came flooding back when I heard about the rape of a friend’s sister. It was the first time that it occurred to me that I had been raped. But, it was never really dealt with in the right way. I carried it like a shameful, secret badge…and allowed it to limit my self-worth for a decade. I only dated dangerous, abusive men after that…only with hindsight do I understand that I thought they were all that I deserved…being damaged goods and all. After ten years of that, I faced it head on, and got well. I now have a great man, a great marriage, and wonderful kids. God took that which was meant to harm me and healed me and gave me an unbelievable life. The whole experience made me a fighter. I had to fight for every inch of self-worth I now possess. It is what gives me the backbone to fight for my girls now. I know what it is like to be vulnerable and powerless, and it inspires me to do everything in my power to make my girls strong and as independent as they can be. I have taken those years of shame and have turned to countless other women and have said, “You are not alone.” You have no idea how many women you have encouraged with your story. It is an act of extreme courage, and of THAT you can indeed be proud.

  18. Isn’t it amazing that so many women can tell a similar story? My own experience was mercifully interrupted by a family member, but I remember the ongoing humiliation and questioning of my own integrity. You are brave. Thank you for telling your story.

  19. As I imagined – I am sad and sorry beyond measure. But I will honor your bravery and your experience by having the tough conversations with my still 11 year old son as he grows – - and with my daughter down the line.
    I am sure you could not have changed your circumstance. There was nothing at all wrong with walking into the dark and kissing a cute boy. I think the answer here lies with me – - the parent of a boy who will grow to be a man. I feel the call – the sense of urgency – - I will not miss my opportunity – - for you, for Kaitie, Brooke, Bridget and every other young girl and for him too. I will teach this lesson as bravely and openly as you have shared it. I promise you that. I love you. Now please, let the guilt go. Carry no more shame – - not one more damn day. XO

  20. So sorry that so many of us can relate to your story from our own experiences. We need to share our stories with our sons as well as our daughters so that assault and rape are not part of the growing up experience that young women face.

  21. We all feared what was coming in your blog and had our fears realized today. I’m so sorry from the depth of my soul that you went through this. I look back on choices I made as a young woman and recognize that it so easily could have happened to me. Rapists come in all shapes and sizes–even as charming, all-American momma’s boys. Thank you for sharing an incredibly painful experience with us. I agree with the others who have said that they plan to make sure their sons and daughters are brought up to respect one another and, especially, the choices each makes related to their own bodies.

  22. I hope that by writing those feelings and memories from 23 years ago that you were able to let them have wings, let any ounce of guilt fly away, and let God take the memory of young-Jess and hold her tenderly. She is okay. You are more than okay.

    Thank you for sharing. My two near misses and one “date rape” (is that less than “legitimate and forcible”?) have never been shared. I think I will tonight.

    I wish the ultimate message could be “It is never too late to say no. It is always okay to say no. No matter what you wear, how long you kiss, if you know them or not, if you look sexy, if you’re drunk, if you’re in bed, or if you’re almost there. No is always an option. Always. And it must be honored. Always”.

    Xo

  23. Hi Jess,
    My name is Lori and I came across your blog a couple of months ago. I am a special education assistant in Canada and I want you to know that reading your posts makes me strive to be an even better support for the little ones that I have the tremendous opportunity to spend my days with. I have read the first 3 years of your blog and am continuing to read up to present day every chance I get!
    I work with a little girl who actually looks remarkably like your Brook – she has the same gorgeous brown eyes that look you deep into your soul on those treasured occasions when we lock gazes. I also have a niece who has Autism combined with being blind, and a nephew who is has been very lightly grazed by Autism. I treasure the time I spend with all 3 of these little loves!
    What has prompted me to write to you today is that you have been on my heart since I read your post about your rape. I want you to know how brave I think you are. I experienced years of sexual abuse (ages 4-12) and then rape by the same man 14 years ago. You are now the second person I have shared this with. Your message resonated with me. It has prompted me to contact a therapist with a plan to begin unraveling my feelings and address the negative effects the experience has had on my life. I have never felt so overwhelmed and lonely as I do at this moment but I am empowered by your strength inspired by the amazing woman you so clearly are.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

    Lori

    • You have also shown great courage Lori, for sharing your story and taking big, huge, steps towards healing. I can’t imagine the hill you have to climb, but I just wanted to leave a little note (from a fellow Canadian) saying you are not alone. Jess has created a wonderful, caring community of like-minded people. They would all hold you up in spirit if you needed.

      Wishing you well on your journey.

      Also, a sincere thank you for doing good work with kiddos like mine (I have two on the spectrum and hold my hands up to the wonderful, energetic, thoughtful people who are teaching them to interact in a foreign and sometimes hostile world).

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