The wall of silence

Abused as a child?

The very thought is hard to embrace. I was never hit. Never experienced any sexual abuse of any kind… never…

(gasp)   … except once when it could have been… something… perhaps…

He was a friend of my dads. Well… friend or friend… I don’t know now, and didn’t know then, the extent of that relationship. They might have met at work, and my dad always liked to talk to other people. Help with something if he could. He talked to the black-dressed missionaries who was biking around in the neighborhood, talked to people he met at the library, in shops et cetera. He was always kind and always showed interest to their stories.

This man came from Estonia. As a four or five year old I had no idea whether he was a refugee, or had moved to our country for some other reason. He had lived here for many years though, but I never saw any wife or any children. I guess she might have been dead for some time, and the children were grownups with children of their own.

Or I might be totally wrong.

To me, however, he was a very old man, older than my dad. With wrinkles in his face and grey hair. Slim, almost skinny, not particularly tall and with a somewhat crooked figure. And a mysterious accent when he spoke.
He taught me to count to twelve in finnish. Yksi, kaksi, kolme…

At least once I followed my dad to his house. Big old house. Big flourishing garden. Fruit trees and berry bushes. Raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries. Black and red currant shrubs. Apples and plums. Ripe cherries in my hand.

What impressed and amazed me the most, was a swing I had never seen before. Like two wooden sofas built together facing each other. Very odd. And there we sat. Me and my dad in one sofa, the man in the other. They were talking. We swung slowly while the shadows in the garden deepened, until it was time for dad and me to return home.

The man used to visit us once in a while. Sometimes he gave us something from the garden. Jam, or pickled something. Once he gave us a bottle of home brewed wine. Since my parents never touched anything with alcohol, they just smiled, said thank you and pretended like nothing. Afterwards they laughed a bit, but kindly. He meant well, they said. He didn’t know.

And I don’t know what they did with the bottle.

One afternoon the man had visited us and was on his way home. I stood above a stone-stair just around the corner of our house when he saw me and approached.

“Can I have a little kiss”, he asked and pointed at his left cheek. I giggled a little and was about to hastily peck him on his cheek with closed lips.

Then he turned his face to me and opened his mouth wildly, closing in on my mouth.
Oh gosh what a big mouth he had!
Quick as a squirrel I turned around and skipped away to the back of the house, loudly singing  some la la la la laa laa…

I don’t remember him grabbing me, maybe he tried to. Maybe he started to reach out for me. Did he manage to put his hand on my arm?
I don’t even remember being frightened. Maybe I was, at least a little. Yeah! I think so. A little. But since I got away so quickly…
… I kind of won.

Was that a sexual abuse? Did it hurt me? What were my feelings? Really!

It never happened again, I’m sure of that, and I never told anyone either.
What would have happened if I had?
That, I will never know.

Well! This episode occurred, I remember, and I must have recognized it as something grown ups don’t do! The wide opened mouths I had seen so far, was when someone had laughed out loud and such, not while closing in on my face. It was totally unknown to me.

No, he didn’t hurt me physically, I don’t remember he even managed to lay the tip of a finger on me. Didn’t I easily slip away? Yes I did!

But psychically?
Honestly! At this moment – I don’t know.

But there were other things going on in my childhood, that I wasn’t consciously aware of at that time.