Posted in Insight, Sexuality

Not Rape, but not right

I was 16 when I met Richie at the restaurant on the water where I was a junior hostess and he was a busboy.

He was quiet, and handsome, and two years younger than me so it was safe to flirt and fan his adoration.

Richie was a summer kid so when September came, he returned to wherever he lived while I remained at the shore and grew up.

A handful of years later, when I was the manager of the restaurant, our paths crossed again.

Richie was big and strong now, still quiet, and even more handsome, but no longer “too young.”

We were at a gathering one night, circling each other as we drank and laughed with friends. It was a small apartment and so the party spilled into the bedroom which is where I had migrated with him.

One by one people left the room, and soon I found myself alone with Richie, standing in front of each other, as he leaned in for a kiss.


It was our first kiss. And it was weird. Like some kind of time warp. (How had we become adults, let alone peers?)

But there was something else. A prickling shot up my neck.

Richie was leaning in too hard. He was too quiet. Too drunk.

I glanced out into the livingroom and into the kitchen and my stomach turned. (When did the last people leave?)

Like a football player, Richie began driving me toward the bed.

I tried a joke to shift the mood, but he wasn’t there, not really. If I didn’t think of something fast, I was about to be… raped.

“Not here, let’s go to my place,” I said, hoping to wake him from the spell.

It worked.

Richie stumbled into my car and rode with me to my apartment; climbed the stairs, and got into my bed.

Whoever he had been at the party was gone; and now he was only generous and gentle.

But I felt dirty.

I’d never felt that before.

Afterward, I slipped on what was once my mother’s silk nightgown (the one my grandmother gave her to wear in the hospital after my birth; that was a thing back then; you wanted to look pretty after labor. You always wanted to be pretty.)

I stepped out onto my small porch and sat down in the rain until it soaked me through.

Richie came out a bit later. “Is everything okay?” he said.

I smiled weakly. “I’m fine,” I said.

25 years have passed since that night, and I can still feel the rain on my skin, and the humiliation in my bones.

Kelly Salasin

Author’s note: Do you ever wonder what makes you write something, all of the sudden, that happened long ago? And then you see this CLICK HERE. And you know. We’re all connected.


Click here for my blog on women’s voices.

Click here for my blog on women & the mystery.

Posted in Insight, Milestone Moments, Nuts & Bolts, Takes a Village, Teens, Underage Drinking & more, Wisdom of Youth

Right Relationship

When I posted that my teenager was ready to drink and smoke pot, readers offered all kinds of helpful suggestions, including one adamant woman who wrote: “NO, DON’T DO IT!”

Her clarion call continued:

Be the level headed pure kid who saves the others… the thoughtful clear-headed guy that makes the difference. The one who is sober and can be the designated driver, the one who does CPR on their friend when they have stopped breathing because they have overdosed on something they didn’t realize would affect them LIKE THAT… and be the one who has enough wits to figure out how or when to call 911 so their friend doesn’t die this one time because you were smart enough to notice that something just doesn’t or didn’t seem right and that something is life-threatening!

Other readers complimented my teenager’s honesty and our family’s openness; while professionals shared the statistics and the risks and the undesired outcomes. One mother took us in a completely different direction with hard-earned wisdom:

“Let go, and trust.”

A lone father chimed in suggesting that we explore both the dark and the light side of partying in order to get after, what my son was after, in making these choices.

Our family’s practice of non-violent communication (NVC) allowed us to do just that. Months ago when he made the proclamation that he was thinking about drinking, NVC enabled us put aside our agendas–to explore each of our needs.

I so clearly felt his need for fun and connection and exploration that I almost ran out and bought the booze myself.

He so fully heard my need for safety and responsibility and respect that he appeared defeated in his desires.

It was then that I realized how important this was to him.  Not just the partying, but the relationship.

As the months passed and his desire to explore intensified, I noticed that his need to stay in right relationship with us was competing with his need to stay in right relationship with himself.

As far as I can tell, we are approaching the break. The place where he chooses self over family so that he can move on to create his own life.

As a parent, I have to support that drive. The tricky part will be managing right relationship with myself as he begins to make choices without me.

Kelly Salasin, November 2011

To read more about parenting teens, click here.