No More Masks

autnjessie.jpg

I came across this photo [circa 1971] while packing up my apartment.

My Great Aunt Jessie Neal Hudson and I never had the opportunity to get to really know each other. Despite this I always felt a connection to and with this trailblazing woman. Part of the connection is definitely because of the biological lineage that I inherited from her matrilineal line. The other part, however, is because we were both molested as children. Similar to me, Aunt Jessie also told what was happening to her either during or shortly after the abuse began.
There is a discrepancy in the narratives about the timing of what happened after her disclosure to her mother (my great grandmother). What is 100% certain is that for most if not all of Aunt Jessie's life she struggled hard with feeling like there wasn't enough done to either protect her and I would offer console her. It was easy to focus on her alcoholism than it was to focus on her desire for love with accountability as a balm on a festering wound that alcohol could never heal.

Aunt Jessie told me part of her story during one of possibly only two one on one visits with her in her beloved Chicago. It was in 1993. I initiated the trip because I wanted to spend time and get to know her. I didn't share any part of my story as an incest or rape survivor with her at that time.I also never took the opportunity to share with her before she became an ancestor in 1996.

Over these past few months, I've often imagined what would've happened if Aunt Jessie knew what happened to me when I was a child. Would she have demanded that both my parents do something post haste or would she have buried her head in the sand. If she knew in 1993, when I was 24, would she have asked me why in the hell was everyone still acting as if nothing ever happened to me? I'll never ever know the answers to these imagined scenarios. I know that these wretched child sexual abuse legacies thrive in an intergenerational familial code of silence.