I Was A Problem To Be Ignored: Krysi Kovaka’s Story, Part Two
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I was a problem to be ignored.
At a post conference party in Texas, I met a man who used to be part of the NCFCA/CFC scene. He was well into his twenties and I was seventeen. We talked for a bit and ended up exchanging numbers. Our relationship happened mostly via text and IM, and it was a case of trouble attracting trouble. We never dated, but our relationship was really creepy and weird. One night after I had taken loads of my Xanax and other meds, he drunk texted me and over the course of several hours, ended up talking me into sending him naked pictures of myself. Despite this creepiness, I ended up disclosing a lot of my life’s story to him and I told him about my father abusing me. He really encouraged me to tell Mrs. Moon about the abuse. A few weeks later we ended up sexting again – eventually my mom found out about him and threatened to have him put behind bars if he ever talked to me again.
Towards the end of tour, I really started to fall apart (as if I wasn’t falling apart before.) I started to stress about having to return home. Things got so bad that I did end up telling Mrs. Moon and several of the other interns about my father molesting me. I don’t know what an appropriate reaction is when a teenager tells you that her father molested her, but what happened was far from a right response. We were at a conference in TN when I told Mrs. Moon about the abuse, and she had me tell my two younger brothers about the abuse, and then she had me tell my mother. My memory of this conference is pretty fragmented, but I remember crying a lot and feeling absolute horror about what was going on around me.
At the time, I really didn’t have words to describe the abuse. People kept badgering me and asking me questions about exactly what happened, but I was in no emotional state to talk about it. I felt like I was on the verge of having a mental breakdown. My behavior got more and more erratic and shortly after I told my family about the abuse, Mrs. Moon kicked me off tour.
We were in Pigeon Forge, TN and Mrs. Moon told me that she had asked my mother to drive down to TN to pick me up. I would not be able to finish the last two weeks of tour. Apparently, she had finally realized that I was in no condition to be on tour. The Moons had a goodbye breakfast for me at a little diner in Pigeon Forge. At this breakfast, I said goodbye to all the people who had been like family to me. The Moons promised that they would stay in touch with me and help me and that if I ever needed to talk about anything that I could call.
I was completely numb at that breakfast. I cried a lot and I remember several of the other interns crying. Very few of them really understood what was happening or why I had to leave. I hardly understood why I had to leave – in a way, I felt like I was being punished for speaking up about the abuse. I was on vacation last week, and I ended up driving through Pigeon Forge – to this day I hate that place.
After being kicked off the internship, I didn’t return home. I went to live with some family friends until my mom decided to divorce my father. Life got really rough after that. I attempted suicide again just a couple months after leaving tour. I also started drinking all the time and I started using more prescription drugs. I felt like my whole world had crumbled. The following is an excerpt from an email I wrote to Mrs. Moon the day I left tour:
“Saying goodbye to the team was the worst thing I think I’ve ever had to do. Arriving in North Carolina was even worse. It occurred to me that I might be stuck here for a long time. I really, really, really hate it here. I don’t know anyone. I’m lonely, depressed, teary, and scared out of my head. Life is so confusing right now. I hate this….All I want to do is go home. I have no clue what home is right now, but I know I want to be there. I just wish I could be somewhere where I knew people and where I felt safe and cared about. I’ve yet to see what that would look like in practice…”
I tried to keep in touch with the Moons and with the people I toured with, but shortly after leaving tour, one of the other interns told me that none of the people I interned with would be allowed to talk to me. As it was explained to me, Mrs. Moon felt like it was best that they not be in contact with me. I later contacted Mrs. Moon and received a similar answer from her. I can’t even begin to explain how much this devastated me. These people were my friends and support system and all of a sudden it was all yanked away from me. The Moons stopped talking to me shortly afterwards. On tour I was treated as a problem to be ignored – when that problem got too big to ignore, I was dismissed from tour. Once again, I could be ignored, as I was now someone else’s problem.
Needless to say, I was not invited to the annual Masters conference. A week before Masters I was diagnosed with meningitis and was hospitalized. I was told later that when Mrs. Moon heard I had meningitis, she was relieved because she would be able to use that as an explanation for why I wasn’t at the conference. When she heard I was in the hospital, I was told that her exact words were, “Oh thank God.”
Several months later, my mom emailed Mrs. Moon and asked if I could use her as a reference for another internship I was applying for. I should have known better. This was part of the reply she sent to my mom:
“I have not really had a chance to experience the Krysi that is dependable, trustworthy, honest, respecting of authority, a team player – many of the qualities I would expect an internship director to look for. I am optimistic that these character qualities can become a part of how Krysi is known. I currently have no real frame of reference for making that type of recommendation. I recall receiving only a few pieces of communication from Krysi shortly after she left the team complaining about her life and her options…”
The email to which the last sentence refers is the one I quoted previously. As to the rest of it… what did she expect? I was an emotionally traumatized teenager put in an impossible situation. Tour was one of the most stressful environments I’ve ever been in. Mrs. Moon knew I was unstable and she still allowed me to intern – when that didn’t work out, she took away the only support system I knew. I’m really not sure what other outcome she would have expected.
Six months after I left the internship, I sent an email to a friend and tried to explain to her how tour was for me. This was part of what I said:
“People put way too much pressure on 17 and 18 year olds. This was what damaged me the most, I think. Everyone expected all 13 of us to be absolutely perfect. On the platform and at conferences, we did a great job of meeting those expectations. After a while though, it become sort of soul killing. I’d go to a conference and feel absolutely dead – no one really knew me. They thought they did, but they had no idea about my life.”
That’s the thing, the one person who had an idea about my life (Mrs. Moon) accepted me to intern – being fully aware of my mental health problems – and then put me on a platform and expected me to act, look, and behave perfectly. When I didn’t measure up to those standards, I was rejected. I really don’t understand the reasoning behind any of it.
The last contact I had with the speech and debate world was during the spring of 2010 when I went to an NCFCA tournament to judge. I showed up with an orange juice bottle full of vodka. I was completely drunk and I gave alcohol to several of the competitors. After that I never went back.
I’m definitely not proud of all my actions over the years. I know I’ve made some mistakes, but then again, so have the responsible adults in my life. What happened on my CFC internship definitely messed with my head – I learned that nothing in life is permanent, that people will eventually abandon you, and that talking about trauma is unacceptable (and even punishable.)
Post tour, I got into a decent amount of trouble and did some crazy stuff (I was a wild one). I rejected Christian fundamentalism, in large part because of the hurt I experienced in the “Christian community.” About a year ago, I started to work on my trauma and substance abuse issues. It’s been a journey, but I’m finally in a good place. I’m happier than I’ve ever been, I have a great job, and I have people in my life who don’t abandon or reject me when I act a little crazy. It’s the first time I’ve ever known what stability looks like. I’ve re-embraced spirituality; I don’t consider myself a Christian – I’m just trying to figure out what it looks like to follow Jesus. I still screw up a lot and make mistakes, but I have people who love me through those mistakes rather than rejecting me.
I’m sure that there are people who will be angry for the things I’ve said about CFC/ICC, and I’m okay with that. I’m past the point in my life where I feel like I have to pretend everything is okay.
End of series.