Oct 2, 2014 - In Pursuit of Innocence by Sunny Red Bear

In Pursuit of Innocence

By: Sunny Red Bear

I’ve chased my innocence. I have searched for it like a fifty-year old woman searches for a husband. Like a man searches for success. Like a fireman searches for a child in a burning home. Like an adopted child searches for their identity. Desperately.

I lost my innocence at an age before I even understood the word. I was Kindergarten age, where we mixed blue and red paint and magically made purple. The age where most children are struggling to learn to ride a bike instead of learning to keep quiet during foreplay. The age where instead of trying to color between the lines I was trying to wash away his hand prints on my thighs & just as permanent as the markers used to grade my report card, were the marks he left on my image.

I remember attending church every Sunday. It was such a bittersweet time for me. Praising the Lord while playing “MASH” in the back pews, running around the church yard & playing in the baptismal bath. Most of my childhood was spent inside a church as crazy as that sounds. My best friends were made there & my first crush was always a random visitor. But the struggle came when my best friends who were blonde haired & blue eyed angels that seemed as though they were the ones that could forgive sin, open the flood gates of heaven themselves & possibly cure ailments as well. Inside I adored them because it seemed as though their pureness evened out my darkness and I was thankful. As an adult now I look back and see that my resentment with them lead to bossiness and it didn’t necessarily come from a place of brattiness or disrespect. It came from a darker place, a place of wanting to adsorb just a little bit of their innocence. I was overwhelmed with a desire to sabotage their pureness so that I wasn’t so alone in my pain, in my feelings of being completely used and the flooding emotion of having no control. It’s amazing how an adult mind could reprocess the thoughts of a child. When we are children all we can truly understand is the minimalistic emotions that drive us & create for us very few options. When you see a child angry or bullying another child remember, there’s roots to all emotions & for children their coping methods aren’t advanced enough to make better choices than those they’ve been instinctively taught.

She hasn’t said anything so she must be okay.

It amazes me that I can close my eyes and take myself back to those exact moments and watch my 6 year old self struggle with carrying a weight that a grown man had pushed unto myself image. An image I couldn’t recreate at such a young age because it was already created for me. The connections I had produced within myself with the outside world were already evolving into a destructive path that could only feed me what little esteem it had to offer. Instead of connecting hugs and kisses to love and nurturing, I was connecting sex and groping to acceptance & identity.

I was never innocent.

I never felt like I was ever REALLY a virgin. I felt like it had been gone for years. Like I was already 30 years old inside & experienced. When I dated, letting boys go to second base was like having breakfast in the morning, completely essential. It was no big deal- My father did it. Sex class in middle should couldn’t even guilt me into refraining from sexual behavior especially when it was taught to me at home that it was perfectly okay… Just don’t tell anybody.

I chased my innocence my whole life. I strived for it. Tried to distract from the absence of it and molded myself to be immune to the feeling of lack.

Immune to the feeling of Lack.

Forgetting sometimes how much I have worked through just to be normal. It was always so hard to accept that most people could BE something so easy, like innocent, while I tried so hard to achieve it. It’s like trying so hard to learn a culture, a language, making the regalia and immersing yourself in traditions only to have to remind yourself that your Norwegian skin will never be Native skin.
I use to never struggle with forgiveness but I had always struggled with worthiness. And when you struggle with worthiness I think sometimes we tend to forgive too easily and we don’t hold ourselves to an esteem worthy of contemplating the “giving” in forgiveness. Sometimes we think we deserve the bad things that happen to us, but that’s not true. Sometimes we accept the bad things that happen to us because we think somewhere down the line we deserved them or that it was meant for us, but they aren’t. Bad things like that happen to people because bad people make bad choices. A lot of times people say its “good people make bad choices” but when you start thinking about it and think about a 5 year old child who was sexually molested for years who struggled with her self-image because of the sexual things that her father did to her; a father that had adopted her, that had taken her in, that had sworn to protect her not just as a father’s duty or from a personal level but through the courts…through a tribal court that entrusted a native baby girl into a wasicu home. That is a bad person.

No child, no grown man, or grandmother or daughter should ever have to chase their innocence. And when there is no law, no voice, no one to fight to protect that innocence all it leaves is the opportunity for this to happen to YOUR daughter, to YOUR wife, to YOUR brother, YOUR granddaughter, YOUR best friend, YOUR husband. Because sexual abuse doesn’t just happen to children or to girls, it can happen to anyone. I bet you already know someone that has lost their innocence and maybe some of your closest friends or relatives that have but no one has ever known. The grieving process of losing your innocence is a long and sometimes never ending journey that can leave so many people angry, hurt & changed forever. It’s our duty as a mother, father, uncle, sister, brother, teacher and advocate to protect the innocence of our people. Tunkasila gave it, no human has the right to take it away!

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