Jul. 10th, 2014

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Do not read this if you do not want to hear ugly things.

About six weeks ago I had this dream in which I had finished a novel and was talking to Marion Zimmer Bradley (MZB) about it. In real life I had never met her, but in the dream she was this lovely older woman who was mentoring me and supporting me in writing my novel and it was just warm and amazing.

When we checked our email the next morning a friend had sent us the stuff about how not only did MZB enable her husband to abuse lots of young boys, but her daughter, Moira Greyland, had come forward to talk about how MZB had abused her from ages 3-12. Moira, if you ever come across this post, I believe you. We all do.

So today I have finally started tearing up my MZB books for compost. It is a funny thing, people here are very respectful of books as physical objects, we do not write in them, we take care of them... it is a little snippet of memory from childhood, being angry at our mother because she would break the spines of our books and otherwise not treat them well. So to rip up this woman's work for the compost bin is really not very much like us, but we -- I -- am just so angry. That she did these terrible things, and enabled her husband to do them, and a lot of it has been out there for people to find out for years and years and years and nobody really talked about, and even now there are plenty of people saying, "Well, let's not be too hasty, this is very suspicious..."

Our mother is a respected lawyer in the relatively small town we grew up in. She was not wealthy or famous, but within the legal community very well thought of, in part because she did so much poorly paid work as guardian ad litem to minor children. She has served on the board of organisations dedicated to child protection and family services. She also abused us, physically and sexually, as well as turning a blind eye to all of the other abuse we lived through until at age 19 we finally left home. In our twenties she still demanded we sleep in the same bed at her when we visited, until at age 22 or 23 we checked in with our therapist about it, was told that it was Just Fine if we said no, and then we did. We visited once or twice after that, and then quit, and haven't seen her since -- I don't know exactly how long it has been, nobody wants to go take the time to figure it out, but lets say at least 14 or 15 years as a rough guess. Maybe more.

When people say, 'Why didn't Moira Greyland come forward about this when her mother was still alive,' I want to bite them. When we found out through Facebook that someone we knew in high school let her daughters to spend the day with our mother, it took us about a week to work up the courage to write her and say, look, I know our mother is your friend and has helped you out a lot in your legal problems, but you should not let your daughters be alone with her. (We were lucky, this woman believed us, although she was also clear she was not unfriending our mother. But she did say she would not let the girls go there by themselves any more. Thank goodness.)

Sometimes I think about just coming out on Facebook, right there under our real true legal name, with all those people maybe reading, our mother's law school friends, people we went to school with in elementary and junior high and high school, people we only met after we ran away halfway across the country and started our lives over. I think of writing: You know, from our earliest childhood memories until we left home, someone was always raping us.

And then the panic hits like a truck, like thunder, like cramps, because there is just no way. I do not judge myself for it, or any of us. But I think of it when people wonder why Moira Greyland waited so long before telling the truth. If after our mother's death people are lionising her, if someone starts a fund or a memorial or a scholarship in her name, if they put up a plaque to her or something -- would we tell the truth then? I don't know. But if we did I am sure someone would say, if she really did this to you, you would have said before.

This did not go where I expected it to go, but that is just fine. I wish this was written beautiful but I am not a writer, despite that dream.
brynplusplus: (Default)
The other reason I am so mad is that my name is Bryn because I decided (in 7th grade or so) that I was Sorshella Bryn Alton y Ardais. That is to say, when I realised I was myself and not this nebulous person who doesn't really exist named after our body name -- when I realised I was me and separate and unique, a snowflake in the blizzard -- I named myself after Darkover, because I loved it so much. I was an Alton because they had the scary dangerous telepathic powers (they can kill people WITH THEIR MINDS which is just awesome) and I was an Ardais because they were catalyst telepaths, which meant that they made latent telepaths active. I really liked the idea of being someone who could kill people with an angry thought and unlock things which were locked up.

But I was also an Ardais because of Danilo Ardais in The Heritage of Hastur, which was my favourite of the books. Danilo is a teenage boy (14 or 15) and he is harassed and tormented by Dyan, who is a relative of his (an uncle or something) because Dyan really really wants to fuck Danilo and Danilo says 'No' and Dyan is not the sort of guy who takes no for an answer. And since it is Darkover and people have psychic powers, the way he doesn't take no is that he psychically tortures/rapes/assaults Danilo until Danilo attacks him, and then Danilo is sent home in disgrace for attacking an Important Person and his life is ruined.

Except in the book you see all of this from the outside, from Regis who is Danilo's friend, and who doesn't understand why it is his friend is getting more and more angry and volatile, and is sure Danilo must have had some kind of good reason for the attack, and eventually hunts Danilo down in his family home and finds out the truth -- which is when the reader finds out what Dyan has been doing all along and how awful it is. And then there is a wonderful scene with hugging and telepathic intimacy and ponies (maybe not really ponies) in which Danilo and Regis are Best Friends Forever (and happy gay male lovers, too) and it is wonderful.

When I read it in 7th or 8th grade it was especially wonderful because I could imagine that maybe one day someone would notice what was happening to me/us, and then there would be hugging and intimacy and ponies, and then whoever it was fucking us would get yelled at for it, and most importantly I would have a Best Friend ever afterwards who wanted me to be with them always and I would never be alone again.

Here is what the author of that lovely scene which I kept as a happy fantasy for so many years had to say about it all:
My message, of course, had not been intended to give aid and comfort to Gay Liberation; the message, if any, had simply been that no one can live and be healthy without self-knowledge and self-acceptance, whatever form one's own differences may take. I am not a crusader for anything except the right of everyone to be what he must be, without being brutalized by the opinions of others. I regard Dyan Ardais, not as evil, but as unhappy, a man desperately at the mercy of his own misery and his own obsessions; and Dyan's tragedy, I have always felt, was that he did not come to know Regis well until he had destroyed himself irrecovably in the younger man's eyes.

Doesn't that just make you want to spit?


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