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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Letter to my Molester

Recently I got a friend request from an old family friend. He was an uncle of my neighborhood friends and I would often see him when I went to their house to play. He was unmarried and always liked me a lot. Always bribing me with sweets, magic tricks, I just thought he was so much fun. And then, it started to get weird. He would always want me to sit in his lap, always pressing me against him. I felt something was wrong but my 5 yr old mind could not comprehend it. I never thought about telling anyone. And then one day, he was just gone and I found myself feeling relieved.

25 years later, he has sent me a friend request through Facebook asking me if I remember him, that he is my '**** Uncle' and that he is proud of me and that I have grown up into such a lady. And everything came flooding back. Every. Single. Moment. I understood every touch, every violation, every trick, and I was disgusted. And so, I wrote him this letter. I am sharing this, because I know I am not the only one with these stories. Molesters are HUGE manipulators, seducers and if I had my way, everyone of them would be castrated. You are not a victim, you control how you feel. Feel angry, feel strong, feel the energy that you and I share and stand up to your molester. It is never too late to reclaim your soul. This is the letter I wrote to my Molester to reclaim my soul. He was not my only molester and if any of the others read this, know that this is exactly what I think of you too.

I share this with you my friends in peace. 

PS - When I say 'Allah' I mean God.

This is the email I sent him:

"I accepted your friend request for only one reason. I could not send you a message unless we were friends. I am not sure how you are able to see my pictures or comment on them.

I remember you **** 'Uncle', I remember you well. I had forgotten what you did to me. I never understood it because I was so young, but one day I understood it and you, Allah, and I know very well that you molested me. I always knew something was off in the way you were treating me, but I never comprehended it.

And then one day, I completely understood, there was no doubt. You took advantage of me, you behaved like a pig and I never got to say how I felt to your face. I remember you making me sit in your lap, your sick hard on, you making me lie in bed with you. I really don't care what you say about it, if you deny it, if you apologize, or if you feign no memory of anything, but you and I know exactly what you did. 

I don't care how young and stupid you were, or how ignorant or misinformed, or whatever you were, or were not. You were an adult and I was a child and you did things to me without my consent or understanding. You tricked me with your stupid magic tricks and I do not appreciate that. From browsing your pictures, I find myself relieved that you have no daughters. And if there is ever anything you want to say to me, rest knowing that you can say it to Allah one day.

So be happy in the fact I will never forget you and I know you will never forget me either. I will be happy in the fact that Allah knows, and that one day you and Allah can decide what price you will pay for what you have done to me.

You are absolutely nothing, don't let anyone tell you otherwise."

Update: After I sent this email, he completely disappeared from Facebook. No trace. I kept feeling shame after I posted it, because now everyone knows, but I have to keep telling myself that I do not need to feel ashamed. I suddenly realized, damn, everyone on my friends list knows this, relatives, acquaintances, everyone, but it is not my fault. This was something that was done to me. I was a child. As long as I feel shame, he has power over me and I need to take control of the situation.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How Being Deaf made me MORE.

I recently went for some training. It was a Visual Certification Course which means I can now teach Yoga to deaf or hard of hearing people. There are of course people who are already teaching it and I applaud their efforts. I wish I had that kind of mastery over sign language in order to go full fledged into it. In order to simulate a class full of deaf students, we had to turn our voices 'off'. I did not expect to learn any more than I already knew about myself by turning my voice off. 

I am fairly open about my feelings but I consider myself very tactful. I don't get offended easily and most often you would probably not know if you hurt my feelings. To my fellow yogis and friends I seem very calm, put together and sure of myself. I know I wear a mask when I'm outside. People don't see the mood swings and the binge eating, but essentially I am a nice person. I knew who I was, yoga, rice, sleep, animals, tiramisu, spicy food, yeah,  I knew who i was.

And then I went for this training and I heard a 'clink'. You know how before a storm hits, the glasses start to clink, lights buzz and then the storm hits. I heard that clink when I arrived at that ashram. I felt that clink inside. Something wasn't right. I loved my instructor, I loved my fellow yogis, but I had an unsettled feeling.

The one thing I am told over and over at the end of a yoga class is how they love my voice. How I should tape it and sell it. My response is always the same, 'I wish my husband felt that way, haha' But I never realized how much of my own communication was through my voice. How the inflections in my tone would playfully tease someone, show my insecurities, my indignation or hide my anger. And then I go to this course and my voice had to be turned OFF. Now people were looking at me, looking into me and I felt so exposed. I felt so lost. All I had was my voice and that was taken away from me. I had no idea how to 'talk'. Even if I sign how do I show my 'tone'. I would have to make exaggerated facial expressions for emphasis but I didn't want them looking at me. Deaf people are of course pros at this. They are comfortable with facial expressions, they are comfortable with touching people, because your touch will tell them how strongly you feel about what you trying to say since they wont be able to hear the passion in your voice.  I know logically I am a good teacher, but how good could I be now?

Have you ever wondered what it is like for deaf people?  How do they ever get through school, the way a deaf person and a hearing person functions is completely diff. Take communication. We are taught 'Jack and Jill went up the hill', in ASL, that would be 'J-a-c-k, J-i-l-l, together - they - go up - hill - they' How does a deaf 5 year old learn English they way we speak it and then learn it the way they speak it? And if learning basic sentence structure seems hard, how do they grasp more complex subjects, algebra, newton's laws, and french? And remember all this is done mostly without interpreters, so imagine you are in a sound proof box, there is a teacher at a board outside this box. This teacher is scribbling on the board and you have no clue what they are saying, they are writing french or calculus, they have their back turned away from you so you can't lip read, how can you be expected to excel in this course? We just expect them to join us and figure it out, how hard can it be? It is no different if you go to a Russian school and they are discussing everything in Russian, how would you get through a class like that? It's mind boggling to me, it truly is. I heard of one lady who wanted to become a yoga teacher and her local studio would not hire an interpreter. They did not realize she was even deaf because she lip read so well. This poor lady had to sit in a class for a whole year studying yoga concepts, all through lip reading. How much do you think she learned and will she be able to be the best teacher she can be? The system makes no sense which is why I want to start teaching Visual Yoga.
And then we had to do an exercise, we had to sit as a teacher and communicate directly with each student. We had to look into their eyes and communicate one emotion, any emotion. I thanked my stars that there were only 2 other people in the course. But the exercise completely shook me. I liked these people, I knew I was a good teacher but I was scared to look into their eyes. I didn't know what they would see in my eyes and even as I write this, my breathing has quickened, my fingers are shaking and I am having to calm myself down. I got through it but the whole day I was upset. I felt exposed and vulnerable and so confused. What was the big deal? Do some sign language and teach yoga, simple right? 

But it was so so hard. I thought I had it all figured out, had my life, my love, my yoga, my peace and my place in the world figured out. And yet I wanted to hide, I kept looking away, scared that they would see something and what scared me was I didn't know what I was ashamed of. And then a thought came into my mind. I am scared to say it, and I am not too concerned about what people might think, but I am petrified of what my family will think. So why am I even putting it out there? out here, where I know my brother is one of my 5 followers. I don't understand it and maybe putting it out there is my way of hoping to make some sense of it.
 I don't know where the thought came from, why I thought it, but for a second, I wished that if I have a child, I want my child to be deaf. Why would I want to deprive my child of something, and I know a Deaf person will be offended, will say, 'Being Deaf is not Being 'Less', I know, I know what you will all say but I cannot help the thought. I have replayed the moment I thought it in my head a million times, why did I think it? am I cruel for thinking it? does it mean I will be a bad mother? how can I wish for something so difficult for my child?

I am still trying to understand it. A part of me feels putting it out here on the web is a stupid idea, but the thought consumes me and I don't know what to do with it. I have no sense of peace and I am not sure of my wants and desires anymore. I never was sure what drew me to learn ASL, I know for sure that I am meant to cross paths with someone with whom I will share something special. If this person will be a fellow yogi, a deaf pet, a senior, or if this person will be my child, my child who I have never met but who I  know I love so much more than I ever loved myself, only God knows.

Update: I wrote this piece in April and could not bring myself to post it because I was still trying to understand it. I have come to the conclusion that I will of course love my child no matter how he or she is born, deaf or hearing, yellow or blue, but if I am able to teach my baby sign language from the start, my child can still grow up knowing what the deaf world is like, know how great tactile communication can be, feel free to look into someones eyes and have no shame or guilt to hide behind.  hopefully my baby will pick up the best of both worlds.