To my daughter's "friends"...
To the people who my daughter thought were her friends:
I met you both 6 years ago this month; bright shining faces all hopeful and happy and fun as you became friends with my daughter in her freshman year of college. You three had such fun, being on your own and finding your own ways into adulthood. Somewhere in your junior years, it became apparent to my daughter that you two considered her the intruder; the third wheel. You exhibited it by making plans with my daughter that you canceled with no notice, or simply stood her up. You left her out of your lives and ignored her; including mutual friends in your coffee get together, bar-hopping, fun day trips, and socializing but leaving her out. She tried to talk to you, to figure out what she had done. But at this point, you both made it plain she was out of your orbit.
Until January, when a group of you went to a pub and miracle of miracles decided you could stand to be around my daughter for one evening. She finished one beer and took a sip of the second beer. She felt woozy and sick, and staggered to her feet. She remembers you both laughing and asking how much she had had to drink. She felt ill, and headed to the bathroom and vaguely remembers someone taking her elbow and whispering in her ear, don’t worry, I’ll help you.
Her next memory is of the waitress standing over her in the bathroom, where my daughter was lying, unconscious, nude from the waist down. The waitress remembered that she was with you, and got you to come help her. You both acted disgusted, amidst your giggles, which she remembers. You both told my daughter she was obviously drunk. The waitress wanted to call the police but you both told her that my daughter was just drunk and that you’d take care of her. You took her back to her dorm room and dumped her in bed and left her. She was ill for the next few days. You did not check up on her, ask about her, help her, or, actually, live up to being a human in any way.
She didn’t know what to do, as she isn’t really sure what happened. All she knows is, she had a couple of sips of a second beer and got sick, and that you told her she was drunk. Her v***** was sore, her thighs were bruised, and she had, and has to this day, intermittent flashes of memory of someone trying to pull her sweater up over her head and getting angry and giving up.
And you two special specimens of humanity left her alone, frightened, and humiliated in her dorm room. It took two months for her to tell me what had happened. She had gotten her period since the assault, so she knew she wasn’t pregnant. I went to be with her, and took her to a doctor to make sure everything else was ok. Then we got through graduation, we took her home, and helped her pick a therapist to begin a journey down a road that has been painful, agonizing, frightening, frustrating, and demoralizing. I am happy to say that she is strong, and incredible, and amazing, and while she is not who she used to be, she is becoming happy with who she is now.
I am thinking of you both tonight because she had a major panic attack out of the blue. First one in several weeks. This is her new normal: will I make it through the day? Will someone say something inadvertently that pulls up some forgotten bit of memory? Am I ever going to be happy? You did not do this to her, but you stood by, and for whatever reason, protected whoever did this.
So here’s the deal. I am angry. More angry than I have ever been in my life. At so many things right now, but at the top of the list is a mental image of the two of you, letting her know that she was not liked but merely tolerated, and that whatever the f*** she did that made you treat her like s***, and I cannot imagine what it was, somehow you convinced yourself that it was worth letting her be assaulted, harmed, and humiliated. And you KNOW how this went down. When I dropped everything and went to see her when she finally told me what happened, I ran into one of you, completely unexpectedly. You could barely meet my eyes. Our conversation was brittle, and brief, and you sped away as fast as your legs could carry you when you had that moment of recognition that I knew about what had happened.
We have honored our daughter’s wishes and have not contacted you or made any attempt to speak to you about what happened. She is an adult and this is her journey and we know we cannot make this about us by inserting our anger and ourselves into her wishes. So we are all about her, and being there for her, and assuring her that nothing in this story was her fault or responsibility. I am specifically angry tonight, because I have spent the last three hours texting, talking, face-timing and texting more because she had an unexpected major panic attack this afternoon, after several weeks of smooth sailing, and she feels like she will never be her again.
I am so glad that one of you is out in Seattle, happy as can be, shiny and bright in your dream job and starring in your own life as the glittering, popular center of the universe you always thought you were. I don’t know what happened to the other one of you, but that’s all well and good because you were the one who had planned to walk with my daughter at graduation, and texted her an hour before saying you would rather walk with someone else, leaving her to frantically find someone to walk the processional with. You even managed to crap on her graduation day. I really wish I was a better person, but I can’t hope good things for you.
I will hope this, however, and it’s meant from the bottom of my heart: to the both of you, I hope you never have this happen to you or one of your children. I hope you never know what it’s like to watch a child of yours have their lives completely upended until every waking moment they spend trying to find a new “normal” because everything they thought was good and light and happy has been tainted. I hope you both look in the mirror and think, every single day, that you failed a huge test of humanity, and that you can be better, far better, than what you chose to be three years ago. I hope that someday you both figure out how to be good people. And I hope, sincerely, that you are never walking down the street when my husband drives up in a car. I doubt he’d stop or swerve.
That’s what’s in my heart tonight. I hope some kind of self awareness is in yours. I doubt it, but I always have hope.