I just woke up from the most horrific dream. I was having supper with Jake and he served a baby. A human baby for supper - yes, that's what I said. And I ate it like it was completely normal.
Then I woke up shaking in a cold sweat. WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!
It only took a minute for my waking conscious to understand the metaphor (and to resolve never to forgive my inner-self ever again for creating it). I want to explain it to you, but let me do it through some flashbacks.
Flashback 1: The first time Jake was arrested, back in February 2011, the investigator who found child porn in Jake's office immediately turned on me to accuse me of knowing about the child porn and suggest that I was using it myself. I was excessively offended that someone would ever think that of me . . .
Flashback 2: One of Jake's sisters, while absorbing the shock of her brother being arrested, told some of her friends about it. One of her friends told her, "Well, his wife is probably a part of it. The wives always know."
Flashback 3: I had to prove to social services that I was taking this all very seriously, so I did some serious reading. I picked up some books on sex addicts (not to be confuse with sex offenders, but sometimes an addict becomes an offender, like Jake). It was very enlightening, but the material regularly offended me. Spouse's of sex addicts are sometimes known as "coaddicts" meaning that they are somehow supportive and complicit in the addiction.
I have asked myself over and over since this whole drama started if I was a coaddict. The coaddict of a child molester. I want to scream "NO!" I have always prided myself on my morals. I want to assure myself that my instincts as a moral person and as a mother would always steer me in the right direction. But really, as my subconscious has pointed out, there is a part of me that wonders how stupid I really am. Could Jake have placed his sins right in front of me and I would have lapped them up and called them delicious? God, please tell me that is not the case! Luckily, my time with Jake was cut short. I don't have to be tested. But I still am driven to understand my own character, so I find myself doing a lot of searching through memories to find answers about who I am. Here are a few more flashbacks combined with confessions.
Flashback/Confession 1: When Jake and I were dating, Jake told me that during his first teaching assignment he had a romantic interest in one of his students to the point that they even went on dates. This strange turn of conversation was off-kilter with the man I was falling in love with. I asked him a few questions like, Didn't you know it was wrong? Is it over? Are you sorry? His answers were all the right ones, of course. I keep trying to relive that conversation to get at a few other points. I keep trying to part the fog of my distant memories to find out if I asked him if he slept with her. If I did ask him that . . . if he said yes . . . if I still decided to date him and marry him . . . what does that say about me? I would never forgive myself. (That student, by the way, brought charges against Jake at the beginning of this year and he will be sentenced for those charges in just a few weeks. He did sleep with her while she was a student and he even carried on an affair with her after we were married)
Flashback/Confession 2: During our dating or maybe early in our marriage, but definitely before we had kids, Jake would come up with weird sex games sometimes. Once he suggested that I pretend to be a daughter walking in on her father masturbating. I freaked out with the grossness of it. Another time, he suggested that I pretend to be a young girl that he would help teach about masturbation. In a moment that I am proud of, I did tell him that his idea was horrible and innapropriate and I asked him if I needed to worry about him with our future kids. Yes, let me repeat (if only to make myself feel better) I asked my husband point blank, "Do I need to worry about you with our kids?" He said no. The confession part of this is that I didn't see the reality of the danger. I actually thought that by putting him on notice like that I had cancelled out the danger . . . Almost daily, I am thankful that my kids won't become the subject of Jake's fantasies. Because they could have . . . God, they really could have.
Flashback/Confession 3: Jake liked to read erotica. He found a website with erotica stories. I read a few with him and they all seemed quite harmless, although I normally rolled my eyes at them. One story was about the man coming over to clean the pool and ending up in bed with the lady of the house. Typical men day-dreaming. Another story was a memory of a girl's first make-out session with her high-school crush. There wasn't even sex in it, just sort of a hollywood level of teen romance. But then one day I sat at his computer when he wasn't around and I saw the website was up, so I read it with an attitude of, "What stupid man fantasy is this?" It was a story set in Sparta, Greece in which a father prepared for battle by raping his own son. In the story it wasn't portrayed as rape, of course, they were both wildly turned on . . . I shut down the website and walked away. I later told Jake that I didn't think he should keep reading that site, but at the same time I was too embarrassed to talk to him about that particular story. I wish I had. I would be more satisfied with myself if I had told him that the story was wrong. If only I had made a big deal out of it and really let him know that it was horribly misguided and should not be giving anyone pleasure! Instead, I let myself be reassured by the fact that I never saw him on that site again.
All of that happened before we had kids. In fact, after we had kids he never said or did anything that I would call suspicious. Obviously, he was doing it elsewhere . . . or in a more concealed way. Now that I reach the end of these flashbacks, I am more convinced that I was never complicit in his problems. Unlike Jake, I see a child as an innocent person needing protection from adult sexualization. He sees children as potential sex partners or, worse, as sex toys. If Jake's crimes were "served up" to me, as the metaphor in my dream suggested, I would truly scream and point it out for what it is. My problem is not a moral one. My problem is that I lacked suspicion and sense for the insidious nature of Jake's crimes. It never occurred to me that his moral compass was broken or that he would be sneaking around hiding things from me. In the simplest terms (the ones that I will use to berate myself with for the rest of my life) I am an idiot, a stupid love-blinded patsy.
Sadly, I'm unsure if my blindness is cured. It's not love related anymore, it is just plain good-person, never assume the worst blindness. Even sadder, I think I am not alone in my blindness. No, I KNOW I'm not alone. One in four girls are sexually abused in their childhood, usually by a relative or friend of the family. The amount of boys who are abused is not much better. All of those children probably have someone like me in their life. Someone who has an intact moral compass, but is blind to the signs . . . Someone like you, too, dear readers. One in four. Keep that in mind as you watch your children play on the playground or perform in a concert. Look at all the kids around your own kids and start counting. One fourth of all those kids are being abused and exploited for the sexual pleasure of an adult. Let's not be blind any more. Don't let the bad guys serve babies up on platters . . . God, I want to wash my brain now.