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My Two Cousins, The Rapists, Part 1 by Kyle Phoenix
Two of my cousins rape children....and probably adults as well. That's a hard reality to digest because it means that I have to make hard choices, odd choices and sometimes non-choices. As they are cousins to each other as well, they are the sons of two aunts, they infect and affect half of my family directly. Their mothers are both dead now but when alive I know that both were terrified of not only legal repercussions but vengeance from my mother when she found out what they'd done to me.
Fast forward to our adult years---I haven't seen Eric, in his late forties/fifties now since....his mother's funeral in 1993. And unfortunately David lives with my other cousin, his brother, so he comes to family functions unexpectedly.
The beauty of their lives is that both of them have amounted to not only nothing, to shit basically but without raising a finger their lives are awful. Eric has spent the past 30 years in and out of juvenile detention and now maximum security prisons. He's in one now. He'll probably die in one.
David is so skeletal and dark skinned and frankly desperate looking---think one of those adult feed the children victims---that my mother actually decided a few years ago that he looked too ugly to come into her house. he looked sinister and dying, she said. She was making a murky allusion to his being ill, AIDS perhaps. We could only be so lucky.
As a teenager, when I came to grips with their abuse, having secretly gone to an incest anonymous group as therapy and then eventually sharing about it in small group therapy and eventually individual, I fantasized about destroying their lives. Violence, financial ruin, destitution--contemplating what I could do to bring harm to them, retribution. My mother wanted me to prosecute, to confront them but the convoluted laws and time frames and a child's spotty memories made that near impossible and confrontation...didn't seem feasible or necessary.
Over the holidays, David came to my mother's birthday party, both my father and I, who were planning it not knowing that his older brother was going to bring him. I'd thought about it as a possibility but then I thought---he wouldn't show, he'd be working, we'd be spared him. A year ago, at another holiday party he was there and spent an inordinate amount of time trying to talk to me, to get to know me, to relate his life...what little there is of it. I sat on the other side of the room---he was often trying to talk from about 30+ feet away and I looked at him through the lenses of my sanity, my accomplishments, my degrees, even my bank book and i realized why he'd chosen me. To cross me, to destroy me, to try and consume that bright, intelligent, attractive child I was. I'd fleetingly thought about him, knowing he was in town and when I was looking at childhood pictures that my mother had made copies of for me. I can tell the pictures that are pre-abuse and after.
Sitting, holding my plate of food, I felt nothing. Not a disconnected numbness but only the mild irritation I feel when I am forced to suffer fools. He chose to relay to me when my father and cousin mentioned I have a TV show and have published books that he had a musical group. Yes, I know, they resembled the group Ready for the World, singers of Oh, Sheila---remember that song? Well my cousins we're in silver lame jumpsuits, sang off key and never even cut a record or had a hit----and it was 30 years ago. That was his claim to fame. It's only because I have an eidetic memory that I remember it at all, his current life has been a series of lack of education, low paying jobs, sponging off of his siblings and I expect raping their children at every opportunity.
I do see now that their dark hope was to squelch me, to rub me out but it didn't work. By the estimation of others, I've done very well and by my own, I'm ever growing and expanding and becoming. I've traveled and I'm about to go abroad again; worked in great places, started some businesses that have proved my hunches and made me a few dollars; written some good things, maybe even one or two great things. Most importantly I am a reasonably good person. I expect that should the opportunities or necessities present themselves I can lie, steal, hurt others---but I know that my sense of spirit, of morality means I choose not to, I generally don't. To their aim, whether conscious or not, to obliterate me, they failed. Big time.
I can't quite revel or laugh at their obvious pain, at the wasteland of their lives but they have suffered. Forgiveness, I perceive as releasing the need to believe that things should have been different than they were and accepting what was. Therefore, I forgive what occurred because if I have a belief in some sort of order, divine intentionality to my existence, pre-knowledge of life from my spirit---then they too, their actions were part of the plan that I, my soul, chose for this journey. I've done the work around it, I've written about it both personally, in fiction and in magazine articles. It's not over. Like glass that washes up on a beachfront, shined and gleaming every once in awhile a fragment will come up in a dream or in a memory or in a moment of contemplation. I have to look at the fragment, deal with it---but there's no rage, no terror, no darkness.
I think of Eric, his most caring sister dead of cancer two years ago, of course while he sat in jail, his mother dead, his other sister, just looney tunes enough to need medication that she doesn't receive after her prison jaunt, homelessness and being beat often by her lesbian wife-husband (as my mother calls her.) She was a couple of times emotionally abusive to me so I don't' exactly revel in her misfortunes and pain and lifelong Welfare living as much as I think about dharma and unfulfilled possibilities and the pain one must be in to realize that. But Eric has no visitors. Ever. His baby's mama is a pastor's daughter and once he proved out to them who he was, they separated from him, his dead sister often trying to visit the girl and his daughter. But they won't be visiting him in jail. He's smart enough to be sitting there in jail and know that his life is effectively over, it's a wrap. Sometimes I look up online to see which prison he's in now; maybe I'll send him one or two or ten of my books.
I don't exactly laugh at their lower circumstance...but I see the fingertips of justice in their lives.
Part 2: Rape and Sexuality, How I Reconciled Them