Do you ever wake up with your day planned and then bang, the wheels come off and you find yourself in a different place altogether? As a mother of young children this is probably not an uncommon event, however I have become accustomed to planning my day, and for the most part it working out.
Today, was not to be such a day. This morning I was in great form, life was good and I’d a lovely afternoon planned. Five minutes left before leaving, I boiled the kettle (again) and began to read the Sunday papers. There is something relaxing and holiday like, about reading them, different to any other days papers. I scanned the first page, enjoying a piece of cake while reading other peoples lives. Then turning the page I saw him, staring back at me, (they always use the same photo, taken over twenty years ago), the way he was back then, when he stole my childhood and many others.
Feelings of surprise, shock, revulsion, panic, fear, anger, horror and dread, simultaneously swept like a tsunami over me. In an instant I was completely overwhelmed. Struggling to believe it was him I looked at the photo once more, before quickly covering it with my tea cup. “Fu*k off you Bastard”, I heard myself shout. Desperate to ignore the article but compelled to read it I looked at the headline “Alleged abuser Gibney, green card queried”, and I felt part of my wall crumble.
No. No. No. Please do not send him back, my thoughts went off on a tangent. Twenty years ago he had fled Ireland for America. For twenty years I’d been free.
What if they take away his green card? What if he comes back here? What if I meet him one day? What if he comes looking for me? What if he finds me? What if they prosecute him? What about all the publicity? What if I kill him?
Fu*k, F*ck F*ck. I hid in the bathroom and looked in the mirror; the state of me! With a few deep breaths and a splash of cold water I began to recover. By the time I made it back to the kitchen there was a hole in the newspaper where once he stared out at me. I smiled at my husband and daughter, and they grinned conspiratorially back at me. No words needed to let me know they were in my corner.
So now it is hours later and my blood pressure has returned to normal, I can look at the article and consider it better. I understand why they are pursuing him, and I know they are right. Here in Ireland there are fresh allegations against him, maybe those victims would like their day in court? I never got mine, and it was a blow at the time, but he left the country, which was a very good result… for me. It has allowed me blossom, free in the knowledge I would never bump into him, ever.
As I contemplate the possible future scenarios I wonder which will come true. Will he get to stay in the US? Will he be deported? Will he come to Ireland? Will he face prosecution? However it is the question I do not ask that is the most relevant. Can I cope?
I suppose in all honesty I do not know. I have done so well for so many years but I have often wondered would the bubble burst? Would a day come when I realised I was not as over it all as I looked or thought I was. I know others who were abused by him who are very unwell. He has left a legacy of destruction behind him. There have been suicides, eating disorders and mental health issues. He has a lot to answer for, but do I want him to? Can I face the opening of a barely healed wound?
I have no idea why this particular article has hit me so hard, when in fact at least once a year his case is highlighted for one reason or another. I think perhaps it’s the first time I really imagined him having to leave America. Also, having read this latest campaign updates, I can see it is being driven by a very competent American journalist who doesn’t take no for an answer.
It’s out of my hands for now. Maybe, as on many other occasions it will just go away again, or maybe I will be reading updates through closed fingers in the weeks and months to come. Who knows what the future holds, but I suppose one thing is clear…my life is never boring!