I was ten years old when my mother divorced him. I didn’t know at the time that he had molested my sisters. Neither did she. Nobody knew but them, and they kept their dark little secret to themselves until they became adults. I just knew about the abuse we all knew about. His verbal abuse against my mother and all of us children.
I also knew that he could be fun to be around at times, but then in the middle of the fun he would turn on us. He’d lash out and belittle us and threaten physical violence. He’d lure us into relaxing and showing our vulnerabilities, and then he’d move in for the attack.
He rarely actually resorted to physical violence, but his verbal assaults and threats were terrifying, just the same.
So when my mother divorced him, I felt relieved. Very, very relieved. My spirit lightened. The world looked bright and new. I learned how to relax and be vulnerable and how to play, without fearing the mercurial temperment of a sadistic stepfather.
My new stepfather was a drunk. A likable drunk, but a terrible, falling-down drunk just the same. Two years after the wonderful divorce, my mother made a stunning announcement. She was leaving the drunk and going back to my previous stepfather.
I was now twelve. I pondered what it would be like to have that asshole as my stepdad again. And part of me was excited about the prospect. Maybe he would be different this time. Maybe he had changed. Maybe this time he’d only show us his fun side, and never the sadistic side. I actually looked forward to having him back in my life again.
I was young, naive, and possessed of youthful optimism. It’s the kind of optimism you develop after you’ve gone for awhile letting your guard down, without any harm coming to you.
But I was wrong. He was just as abusive as before. Maybe worse. My carefree childhood was over at the age of twelve. I had to put up the old guard and once again try to hide my vulnerabilities.
I went a little crazy in the ensuing years. But I also learned how to resist and and stand up to this bastard. My failure was letting myself go crazy. That took a long time to overcome. But my success was learning how to stand up for myself. It’s a lesson that has served me well ever since.
I draw from my childhood experience an important lesson for those who are happy, and for those who are horrified, about the recent presidential election.
When he came back, I hoped my stepfather would be a different, better person. He wasn’t. You see, he was a sexual predator. Just like the president-elect. Sexual predators have committed themselves deeply to taking advantage of the vulnerable. If they don’t sexually abuse them, then they abuse them in other ways. Because it’s not about sex, it’s about power and control. And they haven’t learned any other way to obtain power and control, than through abuse.
Based on my personal experience with the sexual predator who was my stepfather, I doubt our new president will change after he assumes office. I believe the next four to eight years will be difficult for vulnerable people who place trust in him. He will not save you. You must save yourself. The occasional good times you experience under his leadership will quickly be overshadowed by problems he will create for you. Be alert, and avoid complacency.
And for those who distrust him, keep in mind that the opposition party will not completely protect you from him. Just as my siblings did not completely protect me from my stepfather. We colluded, and tried our best to be strong together. But we only had limited success.
You must protect yourself. Do your very best to learn how to resist oppression and stand up for yourself. And be as self-sufficient as possible. Try as much as you can to avoid relying on political leaders. Your best hope lies within you, yourself.
And most importantly, don’t let yourself go crazy over this. Calm, objective reason and sanity is what you need most during a time of crisis. When you lose that, it can take a long time to recover it.
Take charge of your life and be your own salvation. That will give you your best chance of succeeding during the next presidency. And for the rest of your life afterward.