My first taste of control came in my grandfather’s lap

In the second part of a Soul’s Code exclusive from the book Sins of My Faith, Marina explains that what seems like denial is self-protection

littlegirlBY MARINA GIULLIANI (read part one) : “It hit me like a cold slap. That’s when it all started!” I made the connection on a chilly February afternoon, but didn’t realize the impact it made on the last forty-four years until two days later.  I’d been in Vancouver, with my best friend of over twenty years, trying to get perspective on my life. We had shared a lot of memories, but this particular piece of my life story never surfaced until after I returned home.

“I never told you this before. . .” I stated bluntly in an e-mail conversation with her, “. . . because it was never a concern and because it wasn’t traumatic, but, when I was a little girl, my grandfather used to touch my genitals. I loved the way it felt, so I never thought much about it.”

“Fuck!” Lori replied violently. “Here I am reading your letter and buried deep down is THIS message! You were sexually molested! No one touches a child’s genitals! Did your mom or dad know about this? Marina, this is huge stuff. No wonder you are so disconnected with the sex thing! You may have thought it was all right then, but now that you are older you must understand it was more than just feeling good. I wish I was there to hug you. This must be awful for you.”

But it wasn’t, so I never really paid it any attention. It cropped up a few times in my past, but I beat it down with a stick, because compared to stories I’d heard from other women who’ve really suffered in their lives I just couldn’t justify making an issue out of it.

denial1“Life’s a joy isn’t it?” I continued. “If someone told me that story, I’d say exactly the same thing, but you’d react differently if it was you. I didn’t say I wasn’t molested. I just never really thought about it or put the two together.

“You know, denial is what protects most of us through anything. Even when I mentioned it casually to someone else, the reaction was, ‘It doesn’t seem to bother you. You seem to have put it in perspective’.

“Now I can finally say it out loud because my dad’s dead and he adored his father, as did the rest of the world. It would do no good to tell any one in my family, at this point in their lives, that the man they thought was so wonderful did this to his granddaughter. I can’t tell my mother or my sister because they don’t need to feel worse than they already do.”

But man, Lori was adamant! “Why is it your responsibility to let your grandfather’s image live on in the memories of others as a person that he was not. It’s not up to you to protect him and the image everyone had of him.”

What appears as denial may not be

So I continued to explain it the only way I could. “My family, like all families is quite dysfunctional on all kinds of levels. In our case it’s a Catholic thing. Unless you’ve lived with Catholic guilt it’s really hard to understand.

I’m not protecting my grandfather, I’m protecting me first, because I don’t want to deal with their reactions, shock, questions or anything else and I’m protecting them second because it’s one more thing that would just bury them in more Catholic guilt. My whole family is very Catholic. You know that!”

And so it happened. I lived with it. It wasn’t violent or unwanted. I’d climb up on his lap. Stroking lead to intimate touching which lead to feeling good and when I wanted to get up and leave I did.

He never pursued me and as I started entering puberty I decided it would stop and it did. For good. I was definitely in control. That was my first real taste of how to take control and keep it. In the years to come I perfected the technique.

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13 Responses to “My first taste of control came in my grandfather’s lap”

  1. Hi Marina, did you find that you couldn’t remember all the details of what happened until you really thought about it?

    I can’t remember much of my childhood at all. I can remember sitting a lot on my uncle’s lap, but don’t recall any abuse. All I remember is that when I was about 12 or 13 he said I couldn’t cuddle with him any longer. Then, when I said later that I was interested in a career as a photographer, he laughed and say, “yeah right, or maybe as a Playboy model.” Maybe I should try hypnosis to see if I can remember anything…did you ever try hypnosis?

  2. Hi Susan ~
    I always knew what happened to me, but never put it together as “abuse” as it wasn’t violent. I liked it at the time because it felt good. The abuse came later as self abuse in many ways because my root and heart chakra energy was severed.

    In my opinion, your uncle not allowing you to cuddle at 12 or 13 is appropriate as you were maturing. Do you believe you were molested or was this an isolated but inappropriate comment from him?

    I’m not an expert, but I would suggest that unless you are experiencing stress over other things you are experiencing around this issue, you might not want to dwell on it, as you don’t want your mind creating things that didn’t really occur or confusing what did happen. That can happen when our pain body gets involved.

    It’s been my experience that everything, including timing, is Divine. So if there is something you need to remember it will be revealed when you are best able to deal with it.

    Sending you love ~

  3. Hi Marina, Thanks for the sage advice!

    On another note…my mother has mentioned a few times in passing that one of her uncles (it always seems to be about the uncles!) used to fondle her. Should I ask her more about this, or just let it be unless she brings it up again? The fact she’s mentioned it a few times makes me think she wants to talk about it…but I don’t want to pry or upset her by asking a lot of questions. Sex isn’t exactly something is ever spoken about in my family.

  4. Hi Susan ~
    First and foremost, please don’t EVER confuse molestation and abuse with sex.
    Sex is about pure love and the giving of self. Molestation and abuse is about domination and control.
    That said I can only give you my opinion as that’s really all any of us have! Maybe you want to gently tell your mom about reading my story on line. It may open her up. Sometimes “listening” to someone else tell their story and express their feeling encourages others deal with their own pain.
    You can lead her to something that might help, but I don’t suggest you take this on. It’s her journey. None of us are equipped to deal with trauma that isn’t our own and as her daughter this would definitely have an adverse effect on you. We’re given our own stuff to deal with and that’s enough!
    I have a friend who’s mom was terribly abuse by her father and as a result has suffered through her mother’s pain trying in vain to help. I’ve heard it called something like “second generation survivor”.
    It sounds so trite, but “You can lead a horse to water…” You know the rest.
    We can only concern ourselves with our own healing. The Divine in all of us looks after the rest.
    ~ M

  5. Unusual approach of “the thing”, very interesting and actually full of hope I think: living what could have been a trauma only like…an experience sounds like a mystical Buddhist approach of life…

    Additional to the taste of control and the ability to say “stop” and put boundaries at early age, Marina had also a huge ability for detachment and non-guilt…kudos…

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thank you for the great advice Marina. Looking forward to reading more of your journey.

  7. SueAnn Jackson Land Reply 27. Feb, 2010 at 6:21 am

    This point: “Why is it your responsibility to let your grandfather’s image live on in the memories of others as a person that he was not. It’s not up to you to protect him and the image everyone had of him.”

    That stopped me from telling my story for 30+ years. Finally… the story is in the process of being told. Thank you for your courage and your sharing of the journey.


  8. This journey is not a lone woman’s journey there are many out there and thank you Marina for opening the doorway to women acknowledging that the child within should be an innocent. At my mother’s eulogy I realized that I was the 5th generation of abused women and the pattern breaker to it all. I interact with so many women who have had a similar journey to yours and the guilt that they carry because of misconstrued pleasure is a burden no-one should bear. The gift that I have in facing my molester is now being part of a family as a daughter,sister,niece and respected family member as well as a wonderful open caring,insightful and very aware mother and now grandmother. Do I have a relationship with the prepetrator absolutely (a healthy one) do I take any blame for the loss of my childhood absolutely NOT. I now understand when I did approach my mother why she couldn’t accept nor acknowledge what was happening for it was a horror from own past that she never got over and history was repeating it again. Well no more I have a daughter and a son who knows none of this nor should they as they has a healthy wonderful relationship with my then abuser and the next generation will too.

    Marina the path may be long and winding but know that you are loved not only by your husband, your family and your seezters along the way.

  9. Marina, thanks for this. A close family member disclosed their long history of sexual abuse to me in recent years. The impact it had (which they told me it did) for them to be free and clear to express what had happened in their life and how it resonated with all that followed and transpired was quite powerful for them–and me. I felt honoured at their trust in me, to hear how a person they once trusted with their young self had betrayed their innocence. It taught me a lot about how our lives are affected by silence and continued, close contact with an abuser. Your story moved me to tears and I commend you at your disclosure. I wish you all the healing and love in the world. Your words bring hope to others, who may be suffering in silence. Peace out to you, Sue Freeman

  10. Hi Marina; thank you for sharing your story…i can’t tell you how closely it mirrors my own. I have been struggling with the decision to tell my parents. They are both 74 and I’m not sure what the benefit would be at this point in time. My only difficulty is that my mother knows I’m in therapy and seems to be seeking “absolution” as to why I’m there. Not knowing of the abuse, she wonders why I have low self-esteem, failed relationships, and now deep depression. I am torn between alleviating her stress and my love for my father and not wanting to diminish his father in his eyes. Any advice?

  11. Hello Rebecca
    I’m so very sorry you have to endure this. Advice is difficult as these situations are highly personal and I’m not a professional. I only have my experiences to guide me.

    I chose not to tell as I truly believed that it would not be beneficial to me or my family to know as my grandfather had long passed away when I realized the gravity of the situation. My family didn’t require healing as they were unaware of what happened and it I didn’t want to burden them with this after the fact.

    As your mother seems interested in your therapy, perhaps you could ask her some questions. i.e. “Mom it seems you feel responsible for why I feel the way I do about myself. Do you know about something that happened in my life that may have caused these feelings that you can share with me?”

    If she confesses you can heal together as a family. If she denies, she lives with her own guilt and shame, which can’t be your responsibility. If she truly is unaware then she is not dragged into something, which only you can heal.

    Be aware that if you do share this with your parents that they could easily deny out of guilt and shame, so please seek support and help with such a confrontation. Being in such a fragile place as you are, a reaction like this can make things much more difficult before they improve.

    Sending you much love for healing.
    ~ Marina

  12. Hi Marina -
    I am moved by your story. Although it wasn’t my grandfather, and didn’t last as long, I had a similar experience.
    At age 5 I was left alone with my 15 y/o “cousin” (the nephew of my hated stepfather) – I remember the 1st time and the last, when he brought in a friend to join the party. I know there were many times between, but I cannot remember them. I don’t clearly remember the feelings I had, but I know I kept going back for more with only the promise of candy or bubblegum to tempt me. I have been thinking about this more and more lately. I am 53 and thought I had explored this experience exhaustively.
    It haunts me daily now. Even though I am no longer wildly promiscuous, have a good job & a loving 2nd husband.
    It has come back to haunt my psyche.
    Any thoughts would be welcome…
    ~ suzyMac

  13. Hi SuzyMac ~
    Thank you for your kind words. I too am moved by the courage you have to tell the world your story. I’m so very sorry that you had to endure this.
    As you say you’ve explored this experience maybe its time to forgive your abuser and yourself for perpetuating the abuse through promiscuity. Forgiveness is always for ourselves. It’s freedom.
    At 15 this was a child’s mind in a man’s body. True it didn’t make it any easier for you when you were 5, but at this stage of life, you have the advantage of perspective and wisdom. I always wonder what may have happened to the abuser that made them become abusive.
    I’ve also come to realize though the healing work that I’ve done that we all have the ability to choose what we think about. I love Eckhart Tolle’s Book “The Power of Now” as it allowed me to really understand that we inflict pain on ourselves by allowing ourselves to think about and therefore relive the all the horrible details over and over again. He calls this part of us the Pain Body and explains how much it needs feeding until we realize we really don’t have to.
    In “Evolve Your Brain, the science of Changing your mind” Dr. Joe Dispenza tells how we get addicted to the chemicals that go with the over thinking so when we need a fix we pull out those old memories to give us a hit.
    Our minds lie to us all the time. Energy however can’t lie because it’s part of our Spiritual essence, our truth and I found my biggest release through the Energy healing of Cranial Sacral Therapy. CST helped move the negative energy of these events through and out of my body along with the physical pain I endured because of them.
    The book “Energy Medicine” by Donna Eden is a fabulous resource for explaining the way energy moves through the body.
    There are many energy healers and many modalities. If you go this route, be sure to do research, get references and if it your gut tells you, you’re not in the right place don’t stay.
    Sending you love for healing
    ~ Marina