Get ready for a post full of pain. I’m angry and hurting and not quite sure what to do with it, or how to find peace again. I’m still struggling with what is right.
I made it to my niece’s wedding. (See this old post )
The day itself was lovely. My niece was so obviously happy and in love, full of hope for her future. It was amazing to share her special day. I just wish I didn’t have to share it with two known pedophiles. Yes two. This family has two abusive grandfathers, one is my father, and the other is my sis-in-law’s father.
I was prepared for my own abusive father to make an appearance. I was feeling strong and knew I could handle it. I was completely taken aback to see the other grandfather there, and seemingly welcome. Just 2 years ago, he was caught touching a few of my nieces. They stopped talking and visiting at that time. I guess they asked the bride not to invite him, but she did anyway – since the grandfather had never violated her and she had nice memories of him and missed him.
So let’s paint the picture. It was nice small wedding, in a tiny chapel, and then a fairly small reception hall. My own abusive father did not attend the wedding (I personally think he fears the lightning bolt may strike him down if he dares enters a church) but the other guy did – all smiling and proud like he owned the place and nothing was ever wrong. I felt like a hand was gripping and crushing my heart when I saw him there. But I focused on the ceremony and how happy the young couple looked, and how much in awe my own children were since this was their first wedding. (I did not like the old churchy phrases in the vows of her submitting and obeying her husband, but I didn’t dwell on that)
After the ceremony we had a couple of hours before the reception, so we explored the quaint college town. After a stop at McDonald’s, we visited a tiny candy shop with many flavors of popcorn, a cool antique shop, and an art gallery/store with many amazing handmade items like wooden boxes, felted creatures, mobiles, candles, etc. We were all truly enjoying our time there. I was not feeling nervous at that point. (Although the interesting and over-friendly shop owners in the small town made me wonder if I was actually in a Stephen King novel at one point)
We knew in advance that this would be a dry reception and had made the necessary preparations. Hubby bought a dozen little airplane or mini-fridge sized bottles of whiskey. We dosed our sodas before going in, and filled my purse and his pockets with extra bottles. Not that we couldn’t make a few hours without drinking, it was for the fun of it. We felt like we were in college and sneaking a drink became a fun distraction for us. We’d sneak off to the restroom and have a secret shot, and giggle together while the pastor and best man spoke of the evils of drinking.
After the long, way too long, toasts and introductions, I heard a waiter say they needed to make room for a man in a wheelchair. They were making room at the table next to mine, right behind my seat. Yup, you guessed it. In came my abusive father on his motorized scooter, with his mini oxygen tank. His emphysema makes him unable to stand any more. I looked out the window and at my kids across my table as I heard the scooter behind me. I did not turn around. Hubby put his chair closer to mine and sat with his arm around me.
Somehow we had our dinner, with a pedophile directly behind us, and another a few tables away. My daughter asked “Is that Grandpa?” and pointed behind me. I said yes without turning around. She looked away and went to talk with her cousin, completely uninterested in him. My boys didn’t even ask. My youngest doesn’t even know who he is. I felt so good that they would never be a part of his world, never miss him, and never know him. So happy I was able to do that for them. Even if he is still alive, there will be no confusion about wanting him invited to special events.
Then my little guys needed a potty visit. I went with all 3 kids out to the lobby. As I waited outside the Men’s room for the boys to finish up, I saw my abusive father, my brother and his youngest son heading outside. I was curious but not worried since my brother was there. When I got back to my seat, my mom said she overheard my abusive father asking the little boy to go out to his van! She said she told my brother right away and he went along with them. No idea what that was about, and I’m not letting my thoughts wander too far about it. Needless to say that brought me up to high alert level and made me question if we should stay, but everyone else was having a good time, so I should be as well, right?
Dinner was over and the happy couple had their first dance. It was so sweet and tender, I was bursting with joy for them. And then it was time for the father-daughter dance. I saw my brother head out onto the dance floor, but then my mind turned him in to my own father, and I was immersed in a flashback. Instead of my brother and my niece, I saw my father and I dancing at my own wedding. I felt my father’s hand on my back as we danced. I felt the crowd watching us, so few of them knowing our secret. But the ones that did, let me dance with him, so I took my cues from them. And then I was back to current time, the flashback passed, but I was afraid I was going to scream, cry or vomit. I told Hubby I had to get out of there. We rushed out of the room and went to sit in our van for a while. My vision restored, my fear passed, and was replaced with a deep seated anger – nearly rage – that I was out here suffering while the pedophiles were in there having a grand time. So I steeled my nerves, downed another mini-whiskey, and went back inside.
Like anyone raised as prey, the first thing I did upon re-entering the room was locate my children and the two predators. I realized I shouldn’t have left them and felt so guilty. They were fine, more than fine, dancing with their cousins and not even aware I had left the room. My Mom was watching them and motioned for me to join her. I wasn’t ready for that and shook my head as I scanned the room for the predators – the scooter-bound one was taking picture after picture of the children dancing (vomit rose in my throat as I thought about them lustfully viewing those pictures later) and the other was on the dance floor, twirling one of my nieces (She was 18 and seemed to miss her Grampa). Everyone seemed to be having a great time, and only I was suffering or worried. Although I am used to this now, it is still surreal to feel like the crazy one. The only one with problems, why can’t I just relax and have fun? That’s what they say to me, not to let these creeps have power over me, to ruin my day. I tried to eat the wedding cake and convince myself that we were all OK and safe, but it wasn’t working. I couldn’t take my eyes off those men for a second.
My other brother brought his new girlfriend over to meet me, and I cringed. I didn’t want to meet her, and I had no energy left for small talk. She started asking questions and demonstrating ownership of my brother, with her hands all over him, and telling him where to sit and stuff. I don’t like her, and view her as manipulative, though I don’t really know her. But I’m an expert at spotting fakes. I was ready to leave, and about to leave soon, and told the kids just a few more dances. They were having a great time and hadn’t seen their cousins in nearly a year. To them – nothing was wrong. I so much wanted for them to have this wonderful memory and begin thinking about falling in love some day.
But then something was terribly wrong. I felt it before I saw it. The other grandfather left the dance floor, and walked over to one of my nieces (about age 13) that was holding my youngest niece (about age 2) who had fallen asleep in her arms after making her pretty dress twirl and twirl the hour before on the dance floor. Her grandfather held out his arms and though I could not hear him, obviously asked to hold the littlest one. I watched in horror as my niece easily handed over the tiny sleeping girl and went off to dance, never looking back, never thinking twice, never viewing any harm or threat in the situation.
I lost my mind. It’s a good thing the music was very loud, because I screamed, “Oh hell no!!” and then “I can’t fucking do this any more, I have to get out of here!” and I ran out of the room blinded with rage. Hubby followed me again, made sure I was OK, and then went back in to tell my brothers and my mom. I paced around the lobby liked a caged lion ready to attack, so full of adrenaline that it felt like my heart was thumping in my head instead of my chest. It took every ounce of energy I had to remain outwardly calm and not cause a scene. I just needed to feel safe, and to know those little girls would be safe. And to stay grounded in reality. Why was no one else upset? Why?
My brother and sis-in-law were shocked when I went back in there, pointed at the grandfather holding the little girl, and said very clearly, “This is not OK. I can’t pretend that this is OK. I love you, but I have to go now. Please keep your kids away from him. Please.” I walked around the room, fists clenched, my fingernails digging in my palms to keep me grounded and present, and hugged everyone and said goodbye with the best smile I could still manage. Luckily everyone was so busy chatting or dancing, and the music was so loud, I don’t think anyone noticed a problem. It made sense for us to go, we had a long drive home.
I went back out to the lobby while Hubby gathered our kids and belongings. My mom came out to wait with me, and kept rubbing my arm and telling me it was all OK, that everyone was watching the Grampas and no one would let anything bad happen here. She insisted they were safe. Every time she touched my arm I had to control an urge to punch her or her push her right through the door. I was so sickened that everyone was more concerned about appearances, that they actually thought it was OK for that man to hold that sweet little girl. And what about the girls he touched? What were they thinking? I’m sure they were minimizing what happened, and thinking it must not have been so bad if Mom and Dad allowed him to dance with them now. Those mixed messages are so dangerous and can open the door for that man to contact those girls in the future. They listen to him because he is an adult. Even though that teenage niece knew what he had done, she didn’t think twice about giving her little sister to Grampa. It’s just Grampa. Yes he’s weird, but that’s just Grampa.
And now I’m so confused. I spoke with my brother the day after the wedding, and he said he felt he didn’t have a choice here, not a good one anyway. He said his adult daughter invited the grandparents even though he asked her not to. He said he had everyone on high alert and was shocked at first that his daughter listened to Grampa so easily. But then again we weren’t shocked. Children rarely defy adults, we’re just not wired to do so. He said Grampa was watched much more closely after I left, but that they could not tell him to stay away from the children. They said he is angry and unpredictable and would have no problem making a scene and ruining the wedding. So for fear of a scene, a toddler was held by a pedophile. Because it was ok, calm down, everyone was watching, so nothing bad could happen. Why am I the only one that thinks something bad already happened? Why do they allow these people to control them, to do things they know is wrong, to avoid a scene, and actually protect the abuser? Should they have put their foot down and demanded the Grampas not be invited? And then he said that my own father had no formal invitation, that he showed up anyway. I’m not sure I believe that. I think the young bride acted the same way I did, and wanted an image of a perfect wedding, which for her needed to include grandparents. For me, at my wedding, it had to include my father or I would have had to tell hundreds of people why he wasn’t there, and I was unable to do that yet. My delusional world of denial was the the only thing that kept me alive at that point.
But now, me now, would I have done the same for my own daughter’s wedding? Would I have allowed this man to touch my youngest daughter to keep things going smoothly for my oldest? No. Never. If it were my own daughter in his arms, you better believe there would be a scene. Even if it made me look like the crazy one. Maybe they’d accuse me of being drunk. Whatever. It’s bad enough that these creeps get to enjoy viewing children. No way would I allow them to get within arms reach.
But for them – I played along. I can’t change them, I can’t protect every child, and it isn’t up to me to scream pedophile. No one would believe that charming man, smiling, laughing, and dancing with his grandkids was actually plotting out ways to get them alone. At least this man will go back to his own state and leave us all alone. But I still feel responsible and like I let down my nieces some how. Like I should have done more.
Damn these men for putting this burden on us. Damn them.