The Longest Conversation

The man in line behind us at the grocery store told my 11-year-old daughter that she had beautiful blue eyes like her mother. It was probably a very innocent compliment. But my heart started racing. All I wanted was to pay for our groceries and get my daughter away from him.

Mom, what’s wrong?
Why did we rush out of the store so quickly?
Why are you crying?

The answer was complicated, and I could have just made up a story. I could have told her my stomach was really upset or that I had a migraine coming on. I could have lied. But I didn’t.

When I decided to become a mom, I knew I didn’t want to be “perfect” in her eyes. I wanted her to relate to my flaws, to find comfort in my honesty, and learn from my mistakes. She would feel safe asking for my advice and know I didn’t expect perfection.

My daughter and I have been having a conversation about sex since she was a toddler. It started with naming her body parts. She learned about appropriate touch and eventually the importance of respect and honesty.
When she was seven, she tried to Google the word “sex” at school. We talked about how sex was a very big topic and that it wasn’t appropriate to talk about at school. I told her sex was what people did to express their committed love to each other. Sort of a bonding ritual. That was enough for her.

When she was eight, she wanted to know the “details” surrounding sex. We bought a book and though I skimmed the book, I had missed the page that said, “Usually the sperm and egg meet during sexual intercourse when a man and woman fit his penis into her vagina.” Apparently, this was too much information and caused her to declare a week later she needed therapy. We then had a conversation about how it was completely normal to fixate on things she didn’t fully understand.

I was beating myself up because I had an 8-year-old that could not stop thinking about sex. She was coming at me with questions I wasn’t ready to answer, but I never once told her she was too young. I always started with basics and slowly added to them when she needed clarification. My daughter always had my full attention and the conversations always lasted until she was confident in her understanding.

Little did I realize that talking about sex would be one of the easier conversations we would have.
We’ve discussed same-sex marriages, different religious ideas, sexism, domestic abuse, molestation, sex abuse and abortion. These were all hard topics. I had to balance the value of her innocence with the amount of information I gave her. I wanted her aware but not oversaturated. I wanted her to understand without being fearful.

When my daughter asked me why I was crying, I could have lied but I didn’t. Because even at 11 years old she was ready for the conversation I had been dreading since she began kicking at my insides.

My daughter already knew what rape was, but she didn’t know I had been raped. One of my biggest fears has always been not being able to protect her from sexual violence. It is a valid concern. According to RAINN, 1 out of every 6 women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape. Not telling her was never an option. I just needed to wait for the right time.

I took a few deep breaths and asked her if she remembered when I told her what rape was. I told her when I was 18 a boy I really liked said I was beautiful, and I had gorgeous blue eyes. He was nice. I told her I kissed him and even though I said NO he forced me to have sex. I told my daughter I had been raped.

A few moments of silence passed as she looked at her lap absorbing the information. I told her I didn’t want her to be scared, but I wanted my experience to make her wiser. She asked me a few questions, and I answered. She looked up, reached across the front seat and gave me a hug. She told me she really loved me. I told her I love her too.

We sat in silence holding each other’s hand and gave the moment the respect it needed. This was certainly just the beginning of many more conversations that would take place on this topic. Once a few days passed and I asked her if she had any new questions or thoughts. Her response surprised me.

“I keep thinking about how happy you are considering something so bad happened to you!”

I told her people are resilient. It takes effort to overcome trauma, but people do it every day. We talked about how bad things can happen to good people. How we can use our good and bad experiences to help other people.

One day my daughter will fall in love. I hope he will be kind but if he isn’t I hope she will be wise. Perhaps someday a kind man will tell her she looks beautiful, and she won’t panic. Perhaps a nice man will tell her she has stunning eyes, and she will be able to enjoy it.

Photo Credit: donnierayjones via Compfight cc


Hasty Words

HastyWords is an anxiety driven over-analyzer. With a mind full of rainbows and devils she began giving her thoughts a way out of her head by writing poetry. Writing began as therapy for her depression and helped her gain perspective by putting her tears and laughter into words! Be sure and follow her journey, you can find her on Twitter and Facebook.

  1. Avatar

    I hate any of us have these stories. I am assuming a coma as a result of rape? My heart literally stops every time I hear another story of abuse and violence. My hand reaches out to you in solidarity and I hope that when the time comes for you to share your story with them (if that time ever comes) that it will be a moment of triumph over hate and that it will benefit them in an awareness they wouldn’t otherwise have.

    Much love to you!

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    I’ve read this six times since you posted it. I have hidden from this conversation many times. Changing the tv channel suddenly, racing out of a store suddenly I know one day I’ll have to explain that I was raped. I say I’m a survivor. My children assume I mean my coma. You are right we are resilient. The way to ensure we remain this way is to tell our stories. I’m sorry about what happened to you. You’re a wonderful mom and woman. Thank you.

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    These conversations are difficult for sure, but your daughter is much better off for them. You are raising an amazing human being.

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    Your daughter sounds very wise, which means you’re doing the parenting thing right. I’m saddened that you were hurt the way you were, but I’m glad you’ve survived the way you have.

  5. hastywords

    Oh boy!

    YES talking and communication are so very important. We really have to check our initial reactions at the door before stepping into a logical conversation. So hard to do with our own children.

  6. hastywords

    Yes her response really shocked me. It was a very hard decision to tell her but I really do feel it will help with later conversations. Kids learn and hear so much at an earlier age now. I really want my voice to be the loudest.

  7. hastywords

    Sometimes I look at my daughter and wonder how I got so lucky to be raising such an amazing young lady. I feel often she is incredible without any help from me.

  8. hastywords

    I’ve had the same reaction to your writing. You have created a community of strong women I am so proud to be a part of.

    Together we all make a difference to the younger generation watching us.

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    I’m sitting here reading this with tears in my eyes. You are so gifted, in every way, Hasty.

    I’m sorry you are that one in six — that you are one of the club none of us wants to be part of. I’m honored to read your brave words and send you love.

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    This is beautifully written and I’m in awe of the amazing relationship with your daughter. I had tears for what you described but like you said your resilience has been your gift to surviving something that most don’t. Thank you for sharing a piece of your heart here today. ❤️

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    Sounds like she was well prepared, not that you had planned on telling her something so terrible that happened to her mother, but that when it came up, you made the decision to be honest. She had a very wise response. Well handled, both mother and daughter.

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    Well said my friend! I thought I had the “sex talk” with my dear, darling son a few months ago but yesterday his girlfriend spent the day at our house. They were supervised and censored, or so I thought. When time to take her home came and I rounded up everyone, my son had two “hickey’s” on his neck!! I was proud of myself, I did not freak out but him and I had a serious discussion at bedtime where I calmly explained my concerns and feelings on the matter! I’m still not sure if I’m ready for a teenage son. Ur now that I am faced with it, I’m glad we have a good enough relationship where we can discuss uncomfortable topics calmly and with both of us talking and listening!!

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    I love the relationship the two of you have, and how open and honest it is. I know she trusts you completely, and knows she could bring anything to you to talk about and have a supportive conversation rather than being shut down. I think you’ve fostered a brilliant attitude of openness and honesty, and HUGE kudos to you for managing this challenging subject in such a positive manner. You’re awesome.

  14. hastywords

    Thank you Mary. It is always nice to get positive feedback on something that could be considered controversial. Telling her at such a young age was a tough decision.

  15. Jackie Cioffa

    Thank you, Hasty, for being brave and honest even in the face of the harshest truths.
    Your daughter’s eyes will remain hopeful and beautifully blue, thanks to your openness.
    Thank you for sharing.

    “I told her people are resilient. It takes effort to overcome trauma, but people do it every day. We talked about how bad things can happen to good people. How we can use our good and bad experiences to help other people.”

    xx Jackie

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    Wow, what a brutally honest, yet beautiful post, Hasty. I’m so sorry about your rape, but as your daughter so beautifully pointed out, how wonderful that you’ve survived, and thrived, and found happiness. I wish both you and your daughter much happiness and many bright days.

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    I’m amazed by your honesty and inspired by the relationship you have with your daughter.
    Your daughter sounds like a lovely & thoughtful young lady, who is blessed to have you as her mom.

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