Believe Me

I was in a non-injury accident in August.  I did nothing wrong.  Was simply driving down the left hand turn lane proceeding toward a green light when a woman in a huge SUV with darkly tinted windows decided she wanted to turn left too.  Didn’t bother to look to see if anyone was already in the turn lane. And so she slammed into the passenger side of my little 1999 Honda Prelude, wiping out the door and back quarter panel. 
 
Pretty straight-forward accident.  Except, she denied that she was responsible.  She told the cop that SHE was in the left turn lane and that I hit her.  I was totally shocked that she would not admit fault…I mean, I would have if I had damaged someone’s vehicle.   But she denied doing anything wrong and proceeded to invent a story about what happened.  Claiming that SHE was in the turn lane and I pulled into her.   Which astounded me.  Logically and logistically, what she said made no sense.  It wasn’t even feasible…I would have had to be diving in the wrong lane toward oncoming traffic and swerved over into the turn lane for it to have happened the way she said.   And even then, the damage pattern would have been different.   It wouldn’t have been the left front of her vehicle that was damaged…it would have been the side of her vehicle, the driver’s side.  And the side of my car wouldn’t have been damaged…it would have been the right front.  But the cop, who was totally uninterested, just took both of our statements and said he would let our insurance companies duke it out.  What did he care, after all.  No one was hurt.  It was a minor accident comparatively speaking.  Not worth him wasting time over trying to sort it out or figure out what really happened.
 
That bothered me.  Actually, it deeply upset me that he wouldn’t believe me and put some effort into determining the facts and who was at fault.  But I couldn’t figure out why it bothered me so badly.
 
I talked to my insurance company.  They said they believed me.  They waived my $500 deductible.  That made me feel a little better.  But it still ate at me.  I wanted to defend myself.  I wanted to gather evidence that would prove I was telling the truth.  I was innocent!  I had done nothing wrong!  I was totally dumbfounded that the person who hit me would lie…and such a stupid, implausible lie it was!  But her insurance company took her side.  They believed her!  Which really hit me hard.  I was telling the truth, but I wasn’t being believed.  I wasn’t being heard.  I felt so powerless and helpless and…something else…what was it?
 
The more I thought about it, the more the whole situation bothered me and weighed me down.  And something was nagging at me…something…
 
I was telling my counselor about how frustrating it was to me that she was lying when it hit me…hard…out of the blue.
 
No one believed me.  No one heard me.
 
No matter what I said, it was as if my words made no sound.  They carried no weight.  They were dismissed.
 
When I was 13 years old, I finally gathered up the courage to reach out for help. I tried to tell a pastor of a local church that I was being sexually abused by my father.  He knew my parents (it was a small town…everyone knew everyone) and he told me to stop lying and to go home.  To never tell such lies again.
 
When I was 14 years old and tried to tell a teacher the same thing, she decided I was fabricating the abuse and did nothing.
 
But I wasn’t fabricating it.
 
The sexual abuse started when I was somewhere in the range of 5 or 6 and ended, I think, when I was 14.  After I was hospitalized for horrible stomach problems.  After the doctor made my father leave his office and asked me what was going on at home.  Because 14 year old girls shouldn’t have ulcers.  I didn’t tell him.  At that point, past experience told me I wouldn’t be believed.
 
Not being believed has been an ongoing frustration and fear in my life ever since.  I always feel like people doubt me, no matter what I’m saying or what the situation.  It’s always there, the feeling of not being believed.  Of being found wanting in the credibility department.  It weighs me down.  Makes me doubt myself.  Makes me feel like a liar…even though I know I’m not lying.
 
Not being believed has made me doubt my own senses and perceptions.  It has made me feel less than.  Defective.  Invalid.  I wasn’t believed at a critical time in my life.  A time when I really needed someone to be there for me, to stand with me, to protect me.  No one did.  No one was there.  Not being believed leaves me feeling utterly and totally alone, helpless and vulnerable.
 
It’s hard for me to trust myself, to believe myself, because I was so discounted when I was a child who desperately needed an ally.  I have had to revisit the scene of my accident several times.  I know where I entered the turn lane because as I was approaching the intersection, a car pulled across traffic and partially blocked the turn lane for a short period of time until traffic started moving.  The parking lot exit the car came from was within the turn lane.  I entered the turn lane at the first possible moment you could enter it and I was just driving along toward the green light when I got hit.  I wasn’t in oncoming traffic.  I have had to see it and tell myself it wasn’t my fault over and over and over…all because I wasn’t believed.  Which makes me doubt myself.  Which makes me feel worthless.  Because people who have value are believed.  People who have value are listened to and their words carry weight.  Not being believed has left a deep wound in my soul.
 
It wasn’t my fault.  Not the accident.  Not the abuse.  The abuse did happen.  I didn’t make it up. It was all too real. I know I’m telling the truth.  So why do I feel like I’m lying?  Oh, yeah, because no one ever believed me…so I didn’t believe me either.
 
Maybe someday I won’t blame myself.  Maybe at some point, I won’t invalidate my thoughts, senses, perspectives.  Maybe someday, I’ll believe me.  Even if no one else ever does.  Even if I am wrongly blamed for an accident that wasn’t my fault.

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