A House On Shaky Ground

Pilers at Sivananda Ashram, Bahamas

Pilers at Sivananda Ashram, Bahamas

The house came down.

The summer that was to have no vacation has yielded more beaches, vistas and exotic splendor than I could have dreamed. A big internal shift occurred as I healed from and let go of the abuse of my main perpetrator, which was more deeply rooted and insidious than my own family’s.

This philanthropic family to which my perpetrator belonged has a complex and faultless cover, that makes its members, staff and slaves included, appear grounded, simple, as though their values are real, as if they are not using their intricate family dysfunction to hide the deeply rooted incest, sexual and satanic abuse - from themselves and the world. Every member of that family must have been through the wringer of sexual abuse, and must use the family value system, to some degree, to cope with their own unresolved trauma - just as I did.

As the child sex slave, I had a perfect front in my adult life hiding my trauma - from myself and the world. I had the same values that work very well in a world which has its very culture imposed on it through the influence of this family. It’s like you’re living the real thing of what everyone else is striving for - that is what it feels like. It’s a subtle arrogance that makes you feel, not better, but a little different from others. Like you know things are easier for you but you don’t know why. For the family, they know it’s not the money. For the surviving slaves, we know it’s not the spirituality. It is a brand of denial on which Western society is hinged. it is the denial where the right and the left meet. It is their love for nature’s abundance, exploited through ownership and exclusive access - part of the special feeling. But, large parcels of land have been donated to the public - to cover the lie. It is their love for art, which has shaped movements, their pieces worth countless millions. But, they act as if their love of beauty simply drew them to these pieces, or they happened to personally know the artists before they became huge - part of the ease that creates that special feeling.

The feeling is belonging. As a child slave, as long as I believed everything was great, I was also made to feel that I belonged to one of the world’s most prominent dynasties. I, too, was indoctrinated into the easeful veneer of a life of highly privatized simplicity and charm, where sexual abuse of children was natural and normal.

It works. As long as you ignore the deep fault line under the ground on which such a house is built.

In a last ditch attempt, I tried to return to the ease I knew inside that lie. Like an addict going back to drugs, I reached out to someone who once presented as a safe harbor. He had promised protection and support, just like the American perpetrator did, before I had broken the spell.

This person was something of a friend, though the friendship was plagued from the beginning by his promise of protection and care fueled by his attraction, and my little girl’s need for the protection, trying to ignore the sexual energy. I engaged from that little girl space, believing that this person was the safe man he believes himself to be, as I also believed that the American perpetrator really loved me.

Often, this former friend would act or react from his place of unresolved trauma, clouding his every intention and action, and I would need all my communication skills to help him understand he was off. As I was going through my healing process, I realized I was working too hard and stopped explaining. Then, I allowed my nine year old to speak, expressing something negatively, immaturely. We could have simply talked it through, but there was no point. Just like my perpetrator from childhood, this person became unrecognizable: his previously positive regard switched to sharp distrust, translating to blame and criticism. Every time I’ve tested the waters since, I found him in exactly the same place, as if he is my victim. So, when I reached out the other day, I really could have predicted his response, yet still felt the pain from my hurt little girl self. Instead of allowing her to react to him, I checked in with her.

I almost let this girl, desperate to get back to the lie that she believed to be truth - to lead me and descend into an emotional hole. Until I reached out from my adult self to the child who who needs to be seen in the light as she once was. It’s understandable that a child would be extremely confused with borderline personality behaviors by their adults. So, I told her she was innocent, and that I see her innocence, and that she never needs to return to that space of lack.

I am learning to stay away from unsafe and unstable people who are going to make me wrong no matter what I do. I really do understand this former friend. His unresolved trauma has him drawn in a power dynamic, with me in the role of his perpetrator: first the good side (the attraction and desire to protect) and now the cut off dark side. This is the fault line, the flip side of the pleasant lies on which the house of this friendship was standing.

Without memory of the real trauma underneath his projection, if my former friend looked without bias at all the information and allowed himself to see clearly, he would only access the tremendous shame that was placed on him through the abuse. He would feel like the bad, bad boy all over again, who feels he has no one but himself to blame. The little abused boy was innocent, but the man is not: he is putting himself on the other side of his own abuse and misdirecting his anger. The sexual attraction was the lead-in. My nine year old’s susceptibility was the hook. On the other side of projection lies shame, and, without access to the truth (the abuse) that shame is unbearable - because shame is the central emotion experienced during abuse.

My house crumbled and collapsed. My role was to carry the guilt and shame for my perpetrator so he could feel deserving of his billions, deserving to lightly walk the earth enjoying its beauty instead of getting sucked into the huge fire pit where so many wish him - the hell of shame. I have spent enough time in hell. Now I get the rewards of the inner work - peace of mind and gratitude for everything. I am as open to experience the world’s beauty as I am ready to look without blinking at its ugliness.

There is a bigger house awaiting an even bigger earthquake - one that will finally collapse the lies. That house is those families engaged in abusive leadership that shape our culture, and the earthquake is our collective awakening.

Anneke Lucas