February 20th, 2008, 10:26 am
It was just abruptly borne in on me that a warning for personal history of child-molestation needs to be here.
So I watched it. I watched it after I’d read a bunch of comments, and I watched it twice, and I read a bunch more comments, and read a bunch of tags, and reasons why John argued with his father and never reconciled, and where his mom was and why, and what all this has to do with Nancy, the “best thing he ever did,” and why Nancy – who ought to have known better [as a person involved in top-secret matters herself] – was talking about his secrets that he would never share.
What Mr. Sheppard thought was teenaged rebellion; and John leaving a life of corporate wealth to enter the military. – Why John despises authority to his marrow, and will never abandon anyone.*
Why John of all people would both be MENSA-appropriate and resist appearing to be so.
Why John “never sees it coming,” but performs more or less on command. Why Chaya is the only female who has ever gotten sparks out of him. Why he has an absolute loyalty to his women – Weir, Emmagan, Carter (she’s getting there in terms of Earned Credit, but he gave her the benefit of the doubt immediately) – while having absolutely no desire for a one of them that is not externally-mandated (bugs and other invasive personalities).
Okay, enough with the summarizing. Like any one of us, I compared his life to my own – and was stunned to see that it matched up. (Except for the rich part, but hey. Wait for it.)
He acts exactly like me. And I was molested by my highly-regarded father for years. And tried for years to reconcile his reputation – and my love for him – with what he was doing.
He apologized to me (an apology which I accepted, but regarded as worthless, because after all – it happened after I was no longer available to him), and we cobbled together quite a good relationship until he accepted my cousin and her two young daughters into his house.
Fortunately, by the time I heard about it, and recovered enough from the shock to call him and demand that he remove them, they were already gone. But it was a breach of the promise that he’d made that no other children would ever be put at risk from him.
His sister was of the opinion that I had lied.
My youngest brother was of the opinion that I had robbed him of his father (although I did nothing to remove him from the house), and that I was a danger to his father’s relationship with his own son, simply because I would not agree to lie to a judge, if called upon.
I did not speak to my father for the last four years of his life. My aunt hasn’t spoken to me since I replied to a “Christmas family letter” of hers with a “Christmas family letter” of my own concerning my wife and daughter. My brother has not spoken to me since our father died.[Note from 2016: this changed some years back, to the pleasure and relief of us both.]
I believe that there was molestation in the Sheppard family home. I believe that it was John who was molested. I believe that it was his mother that molested him. I believe that she either drank herself to death as a co-morbidity, or that she directly killed herself over it. And I believe that his father accused him of lying about it.
Survivors of sexual abuse tend to have a “Rescuer” mentality. We (and for the purpose of this paragraph, “we” means, actually, “John and I”) tend to value ourselves well below the needs of others: we’ll accept quite horrible actions toward ourselves, but do anything to rescue another from much lesser evils. We despise hypocrisy, in ourselves as well as in others. We try not to draw attention to ourselves, and are surprised when people notice us anyway. We have a very poor ability to assess our own desirability, though we do all right in assessing our own skills and flaws.
We have real trouble establishing other than surface relationships, and real trouble talking about issues. Unless and until we begin to talk about our abuse, we keep any and all secrets like they never existed. Once we begin to talk about it, no secrets can be held by us: in the purgative speech, everything comes out. Inappropriately. We guard our space from other than a select few, except in the commission of violence. We hide our capacity for violence, because we find it inappropriate to most situations. ~ However, in an appropriate situation, we have no qualms to overcome. We may forgive – but we never forget wrongs done, and we begin to scale up the violence of our response to repeated betrayals. We try very hard not to lose our tempers, because we know very well that we have no sense of proportion once we tip over into violence.
I believe that John, like myself, assumed he was heterosexual since he was molested heterosexually, and simply had issues related to his abuse – which were far easier to deal with through celibacy, except, of course, for situations of demand which he had no more idea than I did of how to refuse. I believe that Nancy fit into this time period, and that he loved her as a friend more than anything, and that her accusations of “secrets” had to do with his molestation secrets more than anything else, whether she ever knew about it or not.
I believe that John had unexpected occasion to experience a consensual homosexual situation and – to his profound shock – it worked. I believe that this was post-Nancy; that he had occasion to talk about it with his father, and that his father shocked him by having expected it since he first learned about the molestation. That his father considered it a result of the molestation. That his father blamed him for not having worked sufficiently through his issues in therapy to have avoided it. (Hypocritically; the Sheppard family does not Do Therapy.) That his father accused him of “becoming gay to punish” his father for not believing him.
I believe that John was so boggled by this that he walked out and never looked back.
And I believe that David bitterly resented John’s crippled, central status in the family dynamic.
I wish I had the skill to write this.
*Although two episodes have failed us in this: Midway, when he left his men to fight – and die – on their own, and the one where Michael was performing his experiments, and John wasn’t worried about his men, who had gotten captured. I lay it down to bad writing.
[Note from 2016: I was immediately challenged to go ahead and write it anyway.]