I Love the Flower Girl
It was a song from the 60’s, 1967 to be exact. Probably many of you reading this won’t know the song. It would be good to look it up on YouTube because it is a very beautiful song.
But to me, the song invokes feelings that I’d rather never feel again. The melody feels grayish black to me, and it isn’t meant to be that way, as I am quite sure that this love song sung by the Cowsills and written by A. Kornfield and S. Dubott never had the intention of causing flashbacks and anxiety in a now 59-year-old woman.
I actually tried to listen to it before writing this piece today, but I got through the first to mid lyric line, after struggling through the sound of the rain in the introduction and I had to hit pause and get out of the app.
Since I am so passionate about music, I wonder about the little girl that would have been if she had been protected. How would that song have made her feel now? I’m sure she would have not only loved it, but put it on her hit parade of her all-time favorite songs on her Spotify playlist. But she doesn’t love it, she never did, was never given the chance and neither do I, the grown woman who was not protected.
I’m not sure exactly when it began, I was around 4, which is my earliest recollection, although things are muddled and hazy on a few instances that just didn’t feel right. But I begin this story to all of the abuse survivors who have endured childhood abuse and have lived to talk about it or at least have a mind still capable of talking about it. As I said, I loved music. I realized I could sing at the age of 4, when my sister would listen to me sing to my records, and realized how I could remember every lyric after hearing it one time. That was the beginning of my passion for music, and my flashbacks for now present day.
I was a victim which I hate to use that word, so let me rephrase that, I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse by a family member. Unacknowledged, unspoken about, or even apologized for till this very day. He was older than me much older. And although it didn’t begin with music, music became the tool he used.
But the one day that makes me still not be able to listen to that song, “I the one that attaches itself to the abuse is “I Love the Flower Girl”, because it was how he would lure me into the bedroom. This little girl loved that music, that loved that group, and he would play it, and while he would play it, he would do things to me and want me to do things to him, that no little girl should ever have to endure.
I won’t go into all the sordid details that are irrelevant to this story. What is relevant is the power that one person can have over another, that can change their entire world forever. That was well over 50 years ago, and that song still feels like darkness to me. I feel transported back to helplessness, to hopelessness, and to abandonment. I was left to my own devices to figure this out on my own, and then in an hour go about playtime with my dolls and my toys as if nothing had ever happened, as if no one ever knew. How does a little girl of 4 or 5 can be able to partition this off? But I did. As a matter of fact, to this day, I can still partition off bad things that happen to me. It is a little like dissociation. I feel it, but I don’t, depending upon what it is.
Here is the part of the story when my readers have questions, did you say anything? did anyone know? No, I didn’t say anything, and yes, I believe she knew because she asked me one day point blank if (name omitted) ever touches you, tell me. Now at 4 or 5 years old I was not equipped with such reasoning skills as have this send up a red flag to me. But as I grew up how could it not? My Mother just told me to tell her if another member of our family ever touched me to tell her. What did that mean? Well, the obvious now to my adult and rational mind. She had either known about this, or it had also happened to someone else in my family.
I think one of the hardest parts I have taken away from all of this was shame. To this day, I feel shame at things I should never feel shameful for. On high alert for being guilty of things that attach no guilt to themselves whatsoever. But to me, shame and guilt are one and the same. The over magnification of feelings of shame leads one to be constantly on guard that what they are doing, feeling, or acting like is somewhat shameful.
That night, after he played “I Love the Flower Girl” in my room, and after another episode, I came down to supper to eat. My cheeks were blazing, I was afraid someone would know what I had done, what he had done, but not what was done to me. You would think I would want it all to come out, so it would never happen again, so I didn’t have to be in fear walking down the hallways, or going into the basement, or swimming in the swimming pool or going to the bathroom because someone was at the window, trying to show me a part of himself no little girl should ever see. All I could think about was that no one should get into trouble. I remember my mother looking at me. And all she said was, “Did you do something wrong?” (And then jokingly added), “Kathy’s cheeks always get red when she’s done something wrong.” I think to myself now, really Mom?
Like I said…
Shame just shame.