September 20, 2015
Today my daughter, Mackenzie, turned 9 years old. A milestone normally celebrated with gusto has left me distracted and with great unease. You see, I have been afraid of 9 year old girls for over two decades.
“What could possibly be scary about 9-year-old girls?” you may wonder. I wasn’t bullied by a crew of 3rd graders and I would have no problem putting a gaggle of them in their place if necessary. My fear isn’t so much OF them as it is FOR them.
My biological father is a twice convicted pedophile (which does not account for all the victims for which he did not serve jail time). In clinical terms, 9-year-old’s are consistently his “age of preference.” And not just any 9-year-old girl, mind you, but ones that fit a particular profile; sweet, artistic, highly sensitive, hopeful, trusting to a fault. Stanley scouts out little girls, deeming some desirable victims and others too clever or judicious to adequately manipulate. It’s beyond difficult for me to stomach.
Growing up, my older sister was, thankfully, one of the sophisticated ones. We joke that Stanley was more afraid of her than anything else. I didn’t quite make the same cut. I was 7 when Stanley began “grooming” me, 8 when his parental rights were terminated. I didn’t survive him completely unscathed, but was miraculously spared the worst of his atrocities. I turned 9 just outside of his reach.
During a time when girls are often deeply exploratory, enthusiastic, and exuberant I have come to imagine them as terrifyingly vulnerable. Who knows how many other 9-year-old girls were his victims? Most days, I’m no longer haunted by the thought. Today was different.
Mackenzie is incredibly sweet, charismatic and animated. She’s got a clever sense of humor and a sometimes painfully compassionate heart. She’s witty, creative and imaginative. Today, in alignment with her true nature, Mackenzie literally danced her way into her 9th year. She did so encompassing the same innocent and enchanted spirit with which, I too, identified at her age, making it all the more unnerving.
Being in fear is a choice I have made. For, as long as 9-year-old girls are imagined beacons of abuse, than I can focus on ways to control and protect them. The alternate reality has, until now, been much more appalling; that I will never, ever be able to control him.
Choice is a gift; the choice to interpret, the choice to heal…of course, it often requires patience to integrate a new way of thinking. Today my intention is to release 9-year-old girls from this imagined cloak of vulnerability and, instead, become present to the glowing light that is my daughter; to celebrate her blooming.
On this, my daughter’s 9th birthday, I choose to acknowledge that she is wildly free and, in doing so, I have freed myself.
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