Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Day Five

Before I continue with my story I'd like to offer some form of release for my readers. First, please do not pity me, feel sad for me or wonder if you shouldn't talk to me about this. My resolve to do this comes from a deep strength I have, not from me but ultimately from God. This blog is for anyone and everyone. There may be times that I sound weak. Please know that during that writing I might be going through some of those emotions associated with that writing. But, if you continue to see my postings, know that those emotions are just a part of going through the life experiences all over again. Please, please, please write me and talk with me. If you disagree with me, please feel free to share that with me. Part of the problem with child sexual abuse is that too many people don't want to talk about it. So, please share with me your thoughts, feelings, disagreements or encouragements. I have never felt stronger about sharing this story than now. Please, share this with people you know who have experienced this or those who you know would be interested in knowing my story.

Different feelings surface as I write about my experiences as a child and subsequent experiences as an adult. I think I am starting to identify partially some of the struggles I have as an adult are a result of what I went through as a child. My dad wrote an auto-biography about his life - sort of what I'm doing. I am using his book as a reference for my time line and history. As I was reading through his book last night it became very apparent that during the early 70's, I was not a major problem in the family and so, since the sqweeky wheel gets the oil, I didn't get any oil. As I shared yesterday, our family dynamics were very messed up. So, as my dad wrote his auto-biography there was no mention of what I was experiencing in the early 70's. In fact, not much was mentioned about me during that part of his recollections about our family.

As I realized this, I began to understand other struggles that I have had with regards to other pertinent events in my life. It's seems that whenever something major has happened in my life, other events have prevailed and my issues, no matter how good or bad, became lost in the shuffle. I will share more about this as the story unfolds. It is helpful, however, to recognize why I react or respond to certain things. Hopefully, it will make me a better friend, mom, colleague and most importantly, wife.

Thirty nine [now 45] years ago, I started the seventh grade at ASIJ. My favorite class was Japan Lands and People (JLAP). I immediately made a connection there. My teacher actually took notice of who I was. He saw beyond my glasses and confused state. He became my friend.

ASIJ was on a different type of schedule than your traditional middle school. I can't remember if we were on block schedule at the time or converted to it later, either way, we had free time between classes and/or didn't have classes scheduled all the time. Subsequently, this provided free time to study, mingle, go to the cafeteria and play cards, etc. During my seventh, eighth and ninth grade years I spent a lot of time in Jack's office. I began developing friendships with other people who also hung around his office. I'm sure there is a name for those of us who were his groupies but I can't remember what it was.

Surely there are many details that will be left out in this story, only because my mind hasn't retained all of them, or by God's grace I've forgotten a lot. But I will do my best to write accurately about my memories.

Jack coached the junior high girls basketball team and also taught scuba diving. I was on the basketball team and desperately wanted to be a cheerleader. I also wanted to learn how to scuba dive but I believe that desire only came because of Jack's influence on me. I was also on the gymnastics team.

After the first few months of school Jack asked me if I wanted to come help him run his dogs. He had German Shephards. One of his German Shephard's was not very bright. I remember him being a big, lanky, stupid but friendly dog. I'm sure some of my classmates would disagree with that assessment. Anyway, because I lived right around the corner, it was easy for me to get up early (before sunlight) and run the dogs on the golf course. The prospect of me getting to go to my favorite teacher's house and help him walk the dogs was unbelievable. Especially since he was the COOLEST teacher in the school.

So, an innocent run with the dogs turned into joining him for coffee in the mornings. Coffee turned into an innocent back rub. Okay - now this is where it gets hard. I don't really know how to share information with you that is difficult for me to even visualize, much less verbalize. An innocent back rub turned into more invasive exploring. Although, I knew this wasn't right for a teacher to be doing this to me, I also didn't want to lose my "favor" with the COOLEST teacher in the school. So, I continued to go run the dogs in the morning.

I was still only eleven years old.

Wow!! ASIJ was the coolest school in the world. We did so many different and fun learning things. (Have I really retreated to eleven years old?) In fact, the reality is that I would love for my children to experience the things we did at ASIJ. One of the benefits of going through ASIJ as a seventh grader was that you got to go on a week long field trip to Miyake-Jima (Island). Miyake is an active volcanic island about 5 miles around located in the Izu Island chain southeast of Honshu in the Pacific Ocean. If you go to Wikipedia, you will find everything you wanted to know about Miyake including a biography of my teacher. I believe you will find it enlightening.

Jack owned a "farm" on Miyake. The seventh grade class was split up into several groups and each group went and spent a week on the island. We studied so many neat things. We got to look at the tidal pools on the island and learned about sea urchins and sea anemone amongst many other things. We learned what plants grew in certain terraine, we learned about the Japan Culture. It was a wonderful time of learning in a kid friendly environment. For half of the week we stayed in a Minshiku (hostle) and the other half we stayed at Jack's house.

Jack's house was on the island about a quarter of a mile from the ocean. The island sported steep cliffs and unbelievable black sand beaches. The marine life was incredible. And so was the music. I learned to love Aretha Franklin and James Taylor while visiting the island. My favorite group from the 70's is Sly and the Family Stone. I found out about them because of Jack. He also introduced me to the true blues.

Another fun thing that each seventh grade class experienced was the shrine story. Just north of Jack's house was a Shinto (?) shrine in the middle of the forest. Jack would gather all the seventh graders around and tell a story about an old woman who lived on the property. As I recall from the story, (those of you who remember please correct my mistakes) she ended up dying on the property and haunted the shrine ever since. Jack issued a challenge to the entire class. The challenge was to walk up to the shrine at night and retrieve a wooden spoon that had been previously placed there by Jack. Then the next student, who was up to the challenge, would go up to the shrine and place the spoon on the step. Then the next student, would retrieve the spoon........ and on and on until no one would go. Okay, so I was chicken. I didn't go.. at least not then.

Wow! Again. Who gets to do this stuff in seventh grade? We had so much privilege it was amazing. The opportunity to learn about an island in the Pacific Ocean.? The marine life? The culture of another country and people and blues on top of that? Wow! Who gets to do that?

I'm getting really tired now, so I think I will retreat to my book - sofa - and television. Tomorrow I will talk about what life at Miyake was like.

Thank you again for reading my story.

There was so much to gain by being apart of this great ecological work. (If you don't know what I'm referencing, please see the articles I previously referenced.) We were saving the world.

© Copyright 2009 Janet Calcote Simmons All rights reserved.


  1. This is a very interesting story, well paced and well written.

    I too moved around overseas, was put into eighth grade a year too early because the AIS school only had room in that grade. Then was held back senior year because my teachers felt I was too young. They were probably right but I watched all my friends graduate. Moved again to finish senior year at another school - that was loads of fun. Talk about not fitting in. I'm sure the popular clique had some priceless acronym for me as well!

    Anyway, I mention that and comment here because this portion of your story sounds SO similar to what happened later in life for me with a boss of mine - my mentor at work - the up & coming manager. The added attention, let's work on special projects together, closing his office door whenever I had a meeting with him. coming around his desk to sit with me, oooh he's touching me but is that really inappropriate - kind of friendly hug that lasts too long, touching your hand unnecessarily, stroking your arm slowly --- icky but what is it - inappropriate? Until finally, it did go over the line. I am only very fortunate I was older than you were - mid twenties (but so sheltered all my life I was very naive). Thankfully I knew enough to stand up.

    He looked me up years later when he met someone we knew in common from happenstance. Sent his 'warm regards'. Very icky.

    I am going to repond to the similarities as I read your days.

  2. Dear Janet, I am from a very far country. Thanks to internet, I am able to read your story. Not yet the whole.

    I agree with you. For many people, even many governments, child sexual abuse is not a "favorite" thing to handle with. I wrote some articles about CSA and got not so many readers. In contrary, when I wrote my opinion about sex (in the serious way), hundreds people give their attention. I am very sad and disappointed.

    We were kids. Now that we become adults, we all have the responsibility to prevent CSA happens to any kids. To our ignorant school institutions, communities and governments, we should give them reminders, continuously.

    May your experience touch more people's souls to join the act in preventing CSA. God help you, me and all of us who care about children.

  3. Last but not least, thank you for sharing your story to us.