Nervous Knots

True Confessions and Crochet

Because Joe Harry: “As You Know, There Will Be Haters.”

Back in 1955 these two psychologists, Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham, came up with a technique to classify relationships: the Johari Window (Get it? JoeHarry?).

The Johari Window comprises the Arena (the knowledge you and I share), the Facade (what only I know about myself), the Blind Spot (what only you see in me), and the Unknown (insert your personal theology here).

Corporations use the Johari Window for team building. My therapist helped me use it to figure out who I trust, who knows me best, and who maybe ought to know more.

The most traumatic incident in my life isn’t a secret, but it is private. I didn’t speak of it for years, and then only to my family. Since then I’ve shared it with certain people for various reasons.

This awful incident doesn’t define me but it has cast a shadow over my life. It’s time to shake it off, and to help do that I need to bring a few more people into my Arena.

In other words, today I’m knocking the scales from your eyes.

I grew up in a very, very small town. From the outside looking in, my family was perfect.

Mama was always in the community, busy with church, bridge club, music club, home room mothers, even serving on the school board.

My brother was a good looking, smart athlete. My oldest sister was pretty and popular. My middle sister was beautiful and brilliant. I was the baby and it was sooooooooo much fun following in their footsteps. (Seriously, I love my siblings. Life without them would be unbearably dull.)

Then there was Daddy. Daddy (better known as “Doc”) was a genius. As a college junior he was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi, the elite academic honor society for land grant colleges. Very few juniors make the grade.

He was admitted to veterinary school without having to finish his undergrad degree. Have you ever tried to get into vet school? It’s a harder admission than med school.

Then he went to work and developed things like preventive treatments for bovine diseases caused by the stress of shipping and being handled. He took someone else’s portable cattle chute, something that could be set up by one person, and perfected it. He pioneered and taught other veterinarians how to educate ranchers in herd management practices that reduced calf mortality and increased profitability. He was a shrewd businessman but never sought patents or copyrights; he shared his ideas for free.

Doc was highly regarded by his peers. He was a preceptor for two veterinary schools and served on the admission board of his alma mater. I recall hearing him talk about papers he was delivering at this meeting or that conference. A couple of times he traveled to Nova Scotia for calving season just because one of our local ranchers wanted a hand-picked specialist caring for his Charolais cows.

He was a member of the Chamber of Commerce and a Mason. He gave to the right causes and supported the right politicians.

He was also an alcoholic. This is not news.

In my youth Doc was not usually a sloppy drunk. He was highly functional, but he was never truly sober.

Although he would often do kind and generous things, he had a mean streak (also not news). Doc bragged about “pranks” he pulled as a teenager and young man. These days we’d call him a bully, but he got away with it because he played sports, he was handsome and smart, and he was born in a different age.

By the time I was born he got away with his meanness because he was Doc, and Doc could pretty much do whatever he wanted. This was particularly true where his children were concerned.

So we come to the part of this essay that will shock and offend some of you, but that’s your problem, not mine.

Doc sexually molested me. He was drunk and I was 13 and it happened more than once.

Now let that sink in. Digest it like I’ve been digesting it for nearly 40 years.

I cringe every time someone tells me how much they admired Doc. I swallow my resentment every time I hear how lucky I was to be raised by such a man, and I say thank you for the kind words.

No more. I am, as they say, letting it all out.

I’ve had a lot of counseling over the years. I go along just fine for a while and then I’ll hit an emotional wall. My current therapist, however, is a man with a plan. He’s helping me embrace all the good people and things in my life so I can have the strength to deal with my past once and for all.

Today’s issue: Telling the truth when others don’t know they’re telling a lie.

So when you praise Doc say something true. Tell me he was smart or what a good cow doctor he was and I will acknowledge how right you are.

Don’t tell me I was his fortunate daughter because you will hear the truth whether you want to or not.

And don’t pity me. I have my own family now. I married the love of my life and together we have raised two remarkable sons. A different history would make for a different life and maybe a different family. These three men are my world, and that’s the truest thing of all.

Thank you, Joe and Harry, for building your window.

Thank you, Dear Therapist, for encouraging me to write.

And thank you, Dear Friend. I knew there would be haters, but it’s nice to know you have my back.

9 comments on “Because Joe Harry: “As You Know, There Will Be Haters.”

  1. Dana Crow
    June 2, 2015

    I’m so sorry Michelle. I knew your dad drank but I didn’t know about this. You are brave to face this and bring it out of the darkness so that you can move on. It’s true that you are the individual you are because of your past, and if others don’t like hearing, sobeit. You are all the stronger. You are in my prayers . Dana Crow

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michele
      June 2, 2015

      Thank you, Dana. Share this if you think it can help someone else.


  2. Laura P.
    June 2, 2015

    I love this …and I understand

    Liked by 1 person

  3. JK Cooksey
    June 2, 2015

    I didn’t know your Dad, I only knew you. You’ve always been remarkable, kind, eager to learn and welcomed people warmly when you could. I’m sorry this happened to you. Abuse happens in many forms in most families. I’m glad you’ve found a good counselor who can help you. Thanks for sharing your story, Michele.

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Nettie
    June 3, 2015

    You are brave Michelle. I can relate. My grandma was who helped me and told me to not let it define me and the woman I will become. I hope this helps others. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Aimee
    June 3, 2015

    Beautifully and bravely written. Your strength inspires me. Even though I enjoyed an overnight trip to Six Flags with you, your sister and your mom and dad, my naivety did not allow me to see that he was an was alcoholic. Sending best wishes for peace and happiness.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. mary (morrison) cohea
    June 3, 2015

    You are brave and strong,intelligent and beautifully made!This is one of the saddest illnesses of our world.I remember coming over and hanging out,the play house was amazingly fun,I enjoyed your friendship at church also.I have always thought you a very kind and exceptional person.Even though I was getting a feeling of something not right my naivety too blinded me. Your timing for this blog is for me another sign that the new road I just set in motion in my own life is the right thing and right on time.My church has just embarked on motivating us women to band together IN LOVE OF EACH OTHER and for us to make it our mission to start this movement .I am currently pulling together this movement to address sexual abuse in all it’s forms,I to was sexually abused in my family,my little sister was a victim, my mom was a victim,this decease touches millions daily.IT’S TIME TO PUT A STOP TO IT! Once we get this off the ground we will band together with our young girls and start the very important lessons of how to love,respect,stand up for and treat your self and all that ,that involves.Then how to recognize the words and ploys an abuser uses to trap you and all the ends and outs of all that.And so much more.Most abusers are not strangers! Then for the men in the congregation to start the same movement with our young men to do the same. The time for the old school sweeping it under the rug,don’t tell mentality is over!Stop it from being a taboo subject! YELL IT FROM THE MOUNTAIN TOPS,WE WONT TAKE THIS ANY MORE!TIME TO PULL THIS DECEASE OUT OF THE DARK! IN JESUS NAME,AMEN

    Liked by 1 person

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