Want to see my guts? Here they are.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
My mother married her third husband when I was 8.
My mother was really never quite together. She was 17 and in High School. I was her firstborn, and then my sister arrived...then she divorced, remarried...my brother came along in 1965. Between those marriages she spent some time at a mental health facility - picture Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty (who my father actually resembles, but I think my father is more handsome.) Mom has told my sister that if she (my sister) had been a boy, she (Mom) would still be married to my father. Nice touch, Mom. Years later, my sister said the same thing to HER second daughter. Way to perpetuate.
My mother's second husband, and my brother's father, was a veteran of the Korean War. He spent 8 days in a foxhole with seven dead friends (in those days, you could choose your unit, including family members and people you knew from your home town), a victim of 'mustard gas', and lost a lung. He was a kind, if brittle, man - and eventually died of alcoholism many years later. (I had to post bail for my brother so that he could attend his father's funeral.)
When I was 8, my mother met Satan. Okay, he was a man from Texas, mostly raised in Louisiana. I'm an atheist - more than a little in part due to him - but if I believed in Satan, this was the guy.
When my mother married him, my baby brother was 24 months old.
He beat my brother with a belt shortly after moving us all to California, away from all our family.
BEATING A TWO YEAR OLD WITH A BELT.
So, life went on. My birth father, along with my brother's birth father's family sued to keep us in Washington State. They lost - in those days (1968) mothers were ALWAYS awarded custody. Interestingly, the judge who ruled on the case was murdered about a year later. Not by anyone in MY family, but he was notorious for his nastiness.
Things in California went downhill after my mother's health took a turn for the worse. She had a cerebral aneurysm at 31. She was only the 7th person to be treated with a new method of sealing off the 'bubble' and she lived. Her older brother had died at 22 of a cerebral hemorrhage - after her aneurysm they concluded he likely had the same vascular defect and that's what killed him.
Mom was never the same. She was chronically ill, and many of her 'illnesses' where related to a particular doctor who gave her a multitude of drugs. About a year later, she had another surgery to replace the arteries to her kidneys with veins from her legs - and she contracted Hep B from the transfusions. Again, she nearly died.
Meanwhile, I'm 11. The oldest of three kids, with a sick mom, and a sh!thead meanie stepfather in the Navy during the Vietnam War. I literally took over being the 'mom' of my siblings. I did all the housecleaning, the cooking, the laundry, the ironing (including this man's shirts that he needed to wear every day, according to my mother's "Seven Steps To Properly Ironing A Man's Shirt" which was in the laundry basket.")
I made the weekly menus for a family of five, and my stepfather would take me to the 'Commissary', I would do the shopping, and he wrote the check.
I would listen to my brother scream from the beatings in the bedroom next to mine. The smallest infraction warranted a beating. We lived in terror, literally. We were supposed to come home from school and go directly to our bedrooms, and not come out until an adult came home. Well, of course we couldn't do that! We would come home, get a snack (sneaking food, of course, yet another crime) and watch TV on low volume - all of us listening for the sound of a car pulling up, or the garage opening. My brother and sister and I would all listen, and if someone heard it, we'd holler out the ALARM and all run to our bedrooms.
Then I would come downstairs first to judge his 'mood'. If he wasn't pissed off about something, I would give the 'all clear' signal. If he was in a bad place, I'd back off, be placatory, start dinner.
It took me YEARS to be able to hear a garage door opener working without having a panic attack.
After Mom's brain surgery, I became this man's - how do you say it? 'Wife.' He chatted me up and gave me special privileges, served me drinks. Talked to me as an adult. Told me that my mother should have never had children because she was so incompetent. Complimented me, courted me.
I escaped to college a few years later. I graduated at 15 with a 4.0 with a full State scholarship.
I came apart at college.
I got pregnant the second year.
I had to move back in with my mother and this man, now moved to San Antonio, Texas.
My brother was still at home, thankfully my sister (who is a lunatic now) had escaped and moved to lived with my father in Seattle.
I was pregnant, at 17, by a MEXICAN, and I was called WH0RE at dinner every night. In front of my younger brother. I fantasized constantly about how to kill my stepfather and get away with it.
My mother and my stepfather arranged to give up my baby to a friend of theirs back in California.
My maternal grandparents came down from Seattle just before my due date. My grama was a retired RN. They were there with me when I went into labor - and was sent back home from the hospital three times (Yah, Fort Sam Houston.)
I gave birth to my daughter - but my parents had given word to the hospital that I was giving up the baby for adoption. I couldn't see her. My grandmother, bless her soul, was in the delivery room - and for the rest of her years was fond of saying, "I saw her first!" :)
After I woke up in the recovery room, sans GLASSES, so I couldn't SEE anything, the nurse gave me my chit in grocery sack and gave me directions to the OB/GYN ward. I couldn't stay on the maternity ward since I was giving up my baby. I remember walking down that long path - stopping and leaning against the wall - so weak and in so much pain. I remember the intern proudly saying to the OB/GYN, "I didn't cut through her sphincter!" Great, didn't know that was an OPTION, MF.
So I get the OB/GYN ward. I'm drugged, I'm in pain, I'm 18, I'm scared. Nobody gives a chit.
Somebody comes in the next day with 'papers' for me to sign.
I say, no, I'm not going to sign them. I want to see my baby.
Three days, I'm recovering from a BRUTAL episiotomy. OMG, it took me about three years to recover from. Jerk.
No, you can't see your baby. Again, again, they come with the papers.
My mother shows up, YOU CAN'T COME HOME if you don't sign the papers.
I'M NOT SIGNING THE PAPERS.
Then they let me see her. :)
They have no choice.
I go to the place where the babies are - and they let me hold my angel.
They had told me that I couldn't nurse her because they'd given me drugs to stop the milk - which I know NOW was BS.
I hold my precious girl, and as soon as she is in my arms, I fall asleep! They send me back to the ward for 4 hours, I pace like a cat, they let me back for 15 minutes, again, as soon as I hold her, I'm at peace.
After she and I came home, it was not good. My stepfather was horrible, my mother was, well, let's say not supportive.
My grandparents, back in Seattle, offered their home to my daughter and I. :) I packed my chit in a trunk, flew to Seattle.
I have never regretted my decision for a tenth of a second.
My brother died in 2003 of an accidental overdose. After his death, his fiancee confirmed what I had long suspected - he, too, was raped. As were my sister and I.
My mother denies that any of it ever happened - has openly claimed that her children 'make things up to make her look bad.'
I guess the bottom line is, you can be a Victim - or a Survivor.
I'm not a Victim.