Tag Archives: childhood

“Within My Father’s Tears”

On the sad 44th anniversary this month of a great loss for our Nation…I wanted to share with you one memory that still burns brightly in my mind and heart….

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I can still remember that day I walked into a small polling place to vote for the first time. I had taken my grandmother to do “her civic duty” as she kept referring to it as. The whole ride there was filled with her lecturing me on the different aspects of this certain election and how important it was for our community, our country, our family and even myself that I take my responsibility seriously.

I smiled at her a lot that morning because she had no way of knowing that everything she was saying was already a very deep seeded part of my being, that her son…my father had in his own way given me a civic consciousness scattered out over the years with his lessons, his gifts of caring and sharing.

It was a hot, humid night in Chicago the spring of ’68…I was awakened by my mother’s voice calling for us all to get up. The window was on my side of the room and I could see that it was still dark outside. I arose quickly as I knew that tone in her voice and had learned not to question it. I struggled to wake up my little brother who shared a room with me. (My father divided us by age, not gender until we entered our pre-teen years)

For a small four-bedroom house, it was always filled beyond capacity and this night in particular it was busting at the seams with people…Family, friends, neighbors and quite a few people I did not recognize. Everyone was moving quickly about the rooms, talking over each other and filling my home with a very real sense of panic. I was becoming confused and upset as I searched the crowded rooms for the one person who I knew I could count on to help me understand what was happening.

I looked and there in front of our big picture glass living room window was my father. Standing there quietly with a cigarette in one hand and a highball glass in the other, staring intensely out not reacting at all to the chaos of the others running every which way behind him. I tugged at his shirt. He turned towards me with one of his famous half grins and for a moment I was no longer afraid.

Then things got crazy and blurred as some one came running in shouting about fires and a mob. My mother was non-stop crying by now as she gathered up the smaller children and herded the rest of us towards the streets outside lined with double parked cars. As the adults scrambled to place us in the cars, I turned towards the night sky.

Off to my left the dark blended into a strange yellow glow. Living in a big city there was always a night light glow to the sky but that night it was like none I had seen before. It flickered and flashed like one of my father’s lanterns that we took camping. My father was watching the sky as well and as he reached down to put my little sister in one of the cars there was a loud thundering sound that had him quicken his pace and for the first time yell out to my mother to hurry.

I ended up in the far back of a station wagon as we drove through the darkened neighborhoods, eventually away from the city, heading towards my grandparent’s farm in Indiana…my mother still upset but the sounds of my father’s whispering voice comforting her filled the car.

Our stay on the farm that next day, made me feel like the world was coming to an end. There were more than a dozen people camping outside the small farmhouse. My father had dropped us off and returned to the city, so my source of reassurance was gone.There was no tv and the adults had all the radios. As children we had to piece together what was going on from listening to the grown-ups talk to each other.

Martin Luther King had been killed and there had been wide spread chaos in Chicago. We had listened to Dr. King’s speeches as a family because my father had wanted us to grow with open hearts and open minds. We had just buried a friend who had died in Vietnam so I understood what killing was but this was beyond my understanding.

We went back a few days later, our neighborhood still for the most part intact but places around it still showed the signs of anger. My father, usually a quiet man, had made a special point to make sure we felt safe.Surprising us by becoming very excited in the weeks that followed. Senator Kennedy was coming to Chicago.

My brothers and sisters had gone along with my Uncle Bob on some of the visits to houses in our area, handing out election stuff supporting Sen. Kennedy for President. Uncle Bob talked to us about how he had helped campaign for President Kennedy and how important it was to help put good people in Washington. My father hardly ever talked politics to us, decided that he was going to take us to the rally that was being put together for the Senator the following month of June.

We went to spend the week before the rally on the farm…the trauma of that April was still lingering with the adults but we kids managed to have a good time…It was early on a Thursday morning, my father was suppose to be working in the city so we were very surprised to hear his car pull up outside. His face that morning as he walked into the farmhouse kitchen with all of his children sitting around a big table eating breakfast has stayed with me my whole life.

His eyes were red and big tears flowed done his cheeks. I had never seen my father cry before. I mean I was sure he had cried but never in front of us. My mother quickly wrapped her arms around him asking him what was wrong. “Senator Kennedy is dead…they killed him too.” was all he said as he buried his face on her shoulder and continued to sob.

Later that night I went and sat with him on the porch, as I took hold of his hand, he looked at me. I could see the sadness in his eyes as he tried to fake his half grin for me and if I had been older I might not have pressed him but I needed to know what he meant by “they killed him too”.

I can’t remember his exact words but the gist of it was that for all the good he believed there was in the world there also was an underlying evil. That there were people who thought that hatred and violence were the only ways they knew to get what they wanted.

He pulled me close to him wrapping his arms so very tightly around me. He was crying again and whispering to me that things would be alright and that we couldn’t let the bastards win.

A few months later in August, my mother had to go get he and my older brother out of jail because of a rather large heated debate outside the International Amphitheatre where the Democratic National Convention was being held.

My mother was so mad as she worried about the money that had gone for the bail but my father in true fashion smiled that half grin of his and said “we got to do what we got to do”.

Within my father’s tears I saw a passion for this country. We lost him at a young age but his actions and his words have always been with me. Part of me knows that he would be disappointed that I got wrapped up in my own personal world for a long time.

Someone pulled the blanket from over my head and made me look at what I helped let happen to our nation (but that’s a sharing for another time ).I am trying to right that wrong and set as good an example for my father’s grandsons that he had set for me. I have learned that alot of us lost that sense of National Pride but I truly feel that we can get it back.

We have come a long way since 1968 but there seems to be those who want us to backtrack instead of move ahead.We need to stick together and not let the bastards win… “We got to do what we got to do”.

“Time…Distance & Good-byes”

Please forgive me if this comes off as mindless ramble because at this moment I don’t feel as if I have any control over where my head is taking me right now…and yet here I sit in front of my keyboard …looking for answers and yet not even sure what the damn questions are…

Many, many moons ago….my family lived with my mother’s sister and her family…Both sisters were pregnant at the same time and in the icy month of December…I was born and a little over a week later my cousin, Kathy was born. We were together for awhile during those first years. Long enough to develop those character straits that off-set one another. She was tagged the difficult one…hard to handle…bad temper….while I got labeled the adventurous one…easy to deal with…always happy…Ha ! Comparing notes, years later, I had to come to the reality that I was an instigator and a con…getting my poor cousin into trouble and than being so much better at playing innocent.

When our families moved away from each other she and I seemed to be the only ones who kept in touch ….A half a country separated us but we always managed to stay a part of each others lives. We both had to deal with unspeakable horrors as children that we kept secret even from each other until we were well into our middle aged years but despite those buried memories we were as close in all other things as any two people could be. She was there for me when my Dad died…helped keep me sane through my very hard first year of my oldest son’s life. While my family couldn’t deal with my choosing to be a single mom….she was not only supportive but became Godmother to both my sons. We had started out together but took very different paths along the way but we still tried to help keep each other balanced.

I got a phone call over two months ago at 4 o‘clock in the morning, my cousin whose life has been so close entwined with mine was calling me from a hospital….she had been taken to the emergency room and was scared. She was diagnosed with Lupus several years ago and it seemed that every time it was thought to be under control something bad came up…now there was a problem with her throat and she could barely breathe. I had been talking to her regularly and knew that she had been battling colds for the last few weeks but had been going to a doctor for treatment. She had been estranged from her family for a long while and felt like I was the only family she had…there had been many times in the past when I had been the one making the call to her for the same reason. Though many miles were between us, I could feel her pain on the phone that morning …I calmed her as best I could ….took down the information she could give me and she promised to call when there was more to be known from the test they were running…

I felt like a robot going through the motions as I went about that long drawn out day…It was early evening when we connected again…It was hard for her to talk and I’m sure any one of you know how it feels to be on the end of a phone with a loved one who is in pain…..you want so much to be there to put your arms around them and hold them tight but you can’t….you can only listen….It was not good news….the doctor at the hospital had told her that they had found a lump in her throat and that there was a shadow on her lung x-rays that they needed further tests for. They were going to biopsy the lump and take more x-rays of her lungs. She was so very scared and I tried to get her to call her family that lived so much closer than I did but she wanted to wait until she got the results of the tests.

It took several days but we talked every day and the conversation got heated as I could hear her desire to fight whatever was attacking her body this time start to drift away. I found myself yelling into the phone…arguing with her that if the roles were reversed she would not let me give up so easily…she hadn’t even gotten the results yet and she was already talking about checking herself out of the hospital and going home to die…Here I was thousands of miles away …not being able to look into her eyes….not being able to take her hand in mine and assure her that she was not alone and that everything would be ok because an overwhelming panic was beginning to surge inside me…I was telling her hold on….begging her to be strong…but in my heart, I knew that this was not like the other times when she bounced right back.

I got home from work and waited for the boys to get home from school so we could make our call to her that day. Her voice was very horse and barely audible….she wanted me to have the boys leave the room…she wanted to talk to me and didn’t want to upset them but I have always been honest with them and neither were children anymore….they loved this woman as much as they loved me…they let her know it too as I left the speaker phone opened. They had found cancer not only in the lump in her throat but in her lungs as well…they told her it was stage 4 and that there wasn’t very much they could do for her…Again she talked of going home to die…the boys and I once more begged her to fight and accept the doctors plan of treatment. She was quieter through this conversation as it hurt to talk but she did listen and promised she would try.

 Over the course of just a few weeks, she got worse…the Lupus had accelerated everything…the pain was unbearable and our conversations were more and more one-sided…as it got even harder for her to talk. We kept encouraging her to not give up…telling her how much we loved her and how we were trying to make arrangements to come and see her in a few months. This excited her….she loved my boys so much and had not been able to see them in several years. She had difficulties in talking but I swear I could hear more hope in her voice. She finally got in touch with her family and they were now with her. I spoke with my Aunt as much as I could. As dark as it had gotten, in my heart I thought she could pull through.

Then one afternoon the phone rang, it was Kathy, I could barely make out her words but she wanted to tell me that she had tried and that she didn’t want me to be mad at her for not being able to fight it anymore. ME MAD ??? What had I done ??? She was in so much pain…The chemo….the radiation….nothing helped…it only got worse and here she was asking me not to be mad at her for stopping the treatments…What kind of selfish ass had I been ??? There were no words to describe how truly low I felt to be on a phone thousands of miles away from the reality of suffering she was enduring and listen to her ask me if it would be ok if she let go now. I got a chance to tell her how sorry I was for pushing so hard for her to stay with it…Her voice….her words….strangely easy to understand for me during this conversation…The boys were home….so it was just her and me…we talked for over an hour…They were going to move her to a hospice so I couldn’t call her back until they did…She would call me when she had a number. I told her how much I loved her…I reminded her how much her godsons loved her…Right before I hung up I started to cry…Kathy could tell…”I’m ready to go…I’m not afraid anymore…” She whispered to me. Still in denial, I fought back my tears long enough to tell her once more how much I loved her and that I would talk to her soon…. It was our last conversation….they moved her into the hospice but the pain had become so bad that they kept her sedated and within just three days her suffering was over…Her family was with her.

I still am having problems dealing with it. Having lost a father and a younger brother suddenly without warning, I had walked through my days… angry over not being given any time to tell them how much I loved them…not being able to tell them good-bye…With my sweet Kathy, I got to tell her how much she had truly meant to me and how my life would not of been complete with her…You know, it hurts just as much either way…

As I will always think of her…(Kathy’s favorite picture of us)

“It’s A Boy…x2”

I know that I have described my childhood home as a small place filled with a lot of people and love…so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I grew up wanting a houseful of my own. My early beginnings were mixed with the “Norman Rockwell” family that was open and warm to all who knew us and my own secret hell of hidden molestation that went unknown to my family for over twenty years. I know now that many bad memories were buried deep when at nine years old I got sick …I spent a couple dangerous weeks with high temperatures that had me in a coma (which, while I have your attention…if you ever wanted to know if coma patients know if you are there…I am living proof that makes me  truly believe they do.) The aftermath of my illness has been with me all my life but it was an appointment in my late teens that shattered my initial maternal dreams.

My doctor was the same one who had saved my life when I was younger. I had been one of his first patients as he had just started his practice a week before I had gotten so sick. When you see someone almost every day for a year and than once a week for six more you tend to develop a special rapport with them.

This visit was different than any of the others though because it was my first grown-up woman one. You have to remember way back then it was assumed not to be necessary until you were older and anticipating becoming sexually active because of my illness, I had been late to most of my physical development stages and it had becoming a running chuckle between us when he would ask each time…”So, are you ready to talk about sex ?”…to which I would turn very red and always giggle when I replied “No”. I had also gotten to the point where I usually went alone to my appointments so when the doctor had made some discoveries and had concerns, he wanted to contact my parents which I quickly talked him out of. They were dealing with so much at the time because my little sister was sick & my Mom had just been diagnosed with cervical cancer. I was almost 18 and convinced him that I could deal with my problems on my own.

His concerns involved deep scarring and several other disturbing things. He cancelled the rest of his appointments that day…He and I spent hours talking… for the first time I described to someone the horrors of the  molestations….I remember crying a lot especially about how much I wanted him to keep my secret…(he did agree though years later he told me that he regretted that choice.) Many tests later he had the sad task of telling me that it would highly unlikely that I would ever be able to have children. Another secret that I kept from my parents.

I waited until I was 21 to have my first lover….He was 15 years my senior…(which is another very interesting tale I will someday share with you) It was also still that “sex-is-safe” attitude time and because I knew I couldn’t get pregnant we didn’t use any precautions. We were together for almost five years when it ended…he had even moved away to another state but when news of my father’s sudden death reached him almost a half of year later, he came and spent a very touching weekend with me. Three months went by… After feeling a bit run down and no longer living close to my family doctor anymore, I went to a clinic…When they told me what they thought was my problem, I laughed and explained they were wrong and to do more tests…end results had me picking up the phone and telling a certain  sweet MD that he had been slightly wrong in his predictions. I was going to have a baby after all.

It was a very difficult pregnancy filled with complications and constant fears of miscarriage…to add to the dilemma this child (whose conception date I knew) decided not to make an appearance for 9 & ½ months instead of the tradition 9. Then prolonged it with more intensity with the 48 hours of labor it took to finally be told…”It’s a Boy !” I had prior knowledge of this but it was really cool to hear it confirmed that way.

That first time they placed him in my arms, I cried not only because I felt so very blessed at that moment but also totally terrified…His father couldn’t deal with the situation which for the most part I had already understood and accepted but my family had seemingly decided to not want to be a part of this as well which I couldn’t understand or accept. I knew my mother had issues with me not being married as well as her, still hurting, pain that I had  not told her about my abuse until after my father’s death but I had always been there supporting and helping each of my siblings through all of their life dramas and events…now there I was in a hospital room… alone… with a new young life in my arms…Who the hell did I think I was ? I had thought I was so screwed up inside when the only one I had to take care of was me plus I didn’t think I was doing it very well…How could I possibly be able to care for this beautiful baby boy ?

I was truly blessed though because there were people who stepped into my life and into my heart. I had a support system and a frame of mind that saw us through a lot of the pitfalls being a single parent can have. I didn’t date for ten years. I was social but work and my son were always 1st priority. I chose to take the responsibility of being a mom very seriously and before any of you think how sad that might have been to go so long without you-know-what, trust me it wasn’t. Again maybe it was because of what had happen when I was young or maybe because I was taught to believe that you had to be in love ( my friends found it both strange and wonderful) …either way, I didn’t really think that much about it or miss it and considering how truly awesome a kid he was…I’m thinking I did quite a few things right…

There came a time though when even my son started to question my lack of a dating life and so I accepted a few now and then until I met an extremely wonderful young man who made me feel like a really complete person for the first time in my life.(Yet another facsinating bit of prose for me to share with you later) But alas…not everything in life works out like we want it to…I was sad but a part of me couldn’t help but be happy that I had gotten to feel such intensity….such love…so many don’t ever get to know that kind of feeling and I did…so being sorry for myself just wasn’t high on that priority list of mine. And apparently there was yet another surprise from who ever it is in the cosmos that guides these paths of ours… because after what I thought was maybe a bit too much “drowning of my sorrows” after the loss of that one-true-love….I, once again, was telling a doctor to do the tests over….Almost twelve years after my first miracle, I heard those sweet words echoing around me “It’s a Boy!”

This time old and wiser had a whole new set of reality mixed with it but I had the best of people around me and a even a few re-kindled family ties. The greatest of all was my oldest son’s reaction and input…He confessed shortly after his brother’s arrival that he had been praying for a little brother for a long time and that he was glad that God had heard him. It was another difficult pregnancy but I had accepted that struggles are a part of life that we can’t always avoid or change but we can always accept and deal with. The intriguing twist in this was that a somewhat new ultra-sound tech missed the mark so to speak in telling me that she could see that I was going to have a girl at the begining of my second trimester… causing me to spend the rest of my term planning for such an event. Not wanting the same problems I had the first time, they knocked me out for this one and upon coming out of the anesthetic, I heard “It’s healthy baby boy”… to which the nurses told me I replied “But it’s suppose to be a girl”….the anesthesiologist than asked me if I wanted them to put him back ? Everyone laughed including me.

I hadn’t picked out a boy’s name so I asked my oldest son for his assistance and as I had done for him, he picked one name out of the bible and one from our family tree. Our lives have been as blessed as anyone could hope for. There have been battles and struggles but when used as life-affirming lessons that teach and nurture…they have not been anything we couldn’t endure. We are close but I have strived for them each to also be fiercely independent. They have become very caring young men who do not hesitate to do what they can to help others. I didn’t have fathers for them but I did make sure they had the best of male role models in their lives. My youngest turned 16 last month…His brother and I never cease to be amazed as how wonderfully he has managed his challenges so far. My oldest son is turning 28 this week and despite what the economy has done to shatter and alter his career goals he still works hard to re-assess and move forward…

Am I mad that I wasn’t a more active player of the sexual freedom explosion ?

Did I miss out never marrying ?? ( I was asked several times)

 Did my sons miss out not knowing their fathers ?

Should I have used the law to make their fathers participate ? 

I have friends that dwell on such things but I don’t….why ? These are things that can’t be changed…I chose to have my children and I chose not to force their fathers to be something that they couldn’t be…It was my responsiblity that I accepted full control over… I’ve watched others use their children for revenge, monetary gain or simply as pawns in a game of unyielding bullsh*t…I can never understand why people can be hurtful and so spiteful about something as special as being a parent… Regrets are a dime a dozen in most people’s lives but what point is there in spending any amount of brain power on them when I’d rather think about how I can surprise my oldest on his birthday with something I can’t spend any money on…lol….family tradition with us….birthdays have to be from the head and the heart not from the wallet…more fun….more meaningful that way…

I was asked what it was like being a single mom… I just realized that I never think of  myself as anything other than just a mom. All good parents worry about their kids…about whether we’ve made the right choices…taught the right things….been there for them when they needed us…or even just if we showed them that we loved them enough…I don’t think these worries ever stop. I still can remember when they put that little bundle in my arms for the first time ….counting ten little fingers and ten little toes….totally facsinated by the tiniest of things as little kisses followed by little tears and so much amazing wonderment as you experience life all over again through their eyes…There is no greater reward on earth than to help a child…grow and learn…whether you have created this life within or reached out and connected with one in need of you….it doesn’t matter….what does matter is how you open your heart and mind to the responsibly you take on not only to that child but to the world in which that child will become a part of…

I feel very blessed to have been allowed to be a part of such a process and equally glad to be able to share these moments and thoughts with you 🙂

“Thank-you…Doesn’t Seem to Say Enough”

When I posted my last piece about my “secret”…I had no idea the kind of response I would get especially from my Twitter followers. I know how hard it is to go through any amount of time, thinking that people won’t understand…people won’t accept…people will think that I’m damaged goods now…and about a hundred other negative things that we fill our minds with… instead of concentrating on the one most important thing…I’m here…I survived…

There are people who are out there who want to help…One of the things that I’ve discovered is that it is an awful place in existence for someone who has buried it …whose abuser got away with it…those who have gone on year after year not talking about it….not dealing with it…Those are the ones..I try to reach out to…

A child can be healed….with love and therapy…They can be helped to move away from the trauma. They can grow up and lead normal lives. But my fellow victims….the ones who were too afraid to speak out when it happen…the ones who thought they could run far enough away from it…put so many years between the horror and their present world, find out (usually the hard way) that it never leaves you…If you can’t confront the pain…the anguish…the feelings of guilt and revenge…than no amount of time and distance….no walls you build will ever be high enough and the sadness in you for the childhood  that was taken from you, will fester and grow until it consumes you…

It doesn’t have to be that way…There are so many groups and agencies… some people who have been through it and made it….others who are trained to help someone deal with this kind of ultra-personal hell. It doesn’t matter if you think you waited too long….there is no expiration on this kind of suffering.

It was almost 20 years after the fact for me…the 1st person I shared with was a friend and he helped me to realize that I needed to open up to others as well. The more you put it out there…the fog of self-doubt and bitter confusion lifts. It takes awhile and even though I did spend some time with a therapist…my greatest help for me, came when I started helping others. At first it was just helping at shelters and on some phone banks…but the one thing that the effects of child abuse teaches us is that if left buried it can not only make you  miserably unhappy….it could also cause you to abuse someone as well….

I know that last part is very hard to hear but the statistics prove the fact and when I found out that I was going to have a baby….I was terrified that I might one day hurt him…The counselor I met with at a free clinic was so kind and wonderful…She let me know that just by the fact that I had come there and was concerned about what kind of mother I would be that I had taken a first step to prevent it.  

I didn’t require years of therapy but it was awhile before I came to my present understanding about myself and the world I occupy…My best advice to you..I stated in my last writing….Don’t let the bastards win !!!! You are a special individual who went through a most terrible ordeal but you can find a place within you to put it…out of sight and out of reach of your happiness…

Don’t be afraid anymore…come out from the shadows and let others help…There’s no such thing as ” It was a long time ago”. You do deserve to laugh…smile and enjoy life.

Thank-you doesn’t seem like enough to say to you,all…you have helped me to remember all those special people who helped me when I needed it. You’ve reminded me that it never ends…this battle against the evil ones who hurt our children. So many suffer everyday…We must not let them slip away from us…

Seek out any local agencies in your area…if you want to volunteer your time or have come to that moment where you are ready to share your truths with someone. There are non-profits….churches…hospitals that offer help…don’t be afraid..you have already survived  now it’s time to live and be a part. I have been contacted by several awesome online groups that are working to raise awareness and help our children and their families… One such group to follow or join Childhelp… they are striving to make gains in protecting children & families from child abuse: http://bit.ly/cMj5tr

                                         Be safe….Be well, my dear sweet friends.

“It Was My Secret To Tell”

When I started writing again, the first thing I noticed was that I have way too much stuff in my head that I could write about…Such a quandary not knowing what would be of any relevance to any one other than my near and dear ones…Than a follower on Twitter asked me a question which I did try to answer but 140 characters is sometimes torture for a long winded broad like me. A few days later , a similar question was put to me…both based on a tweet that I try to re-tweet at least once a day when I can…

As a victim who survived I urge you to please help #StopChildAbuse ~Report It ! Donate a tweet a day. http://JustCoz.org/helpspreadthis

Maybe it’s because of what’s been in the news lately…maybe it’s just because it is the whole world’s dirty little secret that a lot of the children on this planet live in fear…but I did open the door when I put it out there that I was not only a victim but also one who survived… The question was posed again and I promised to try and answer it.

I have started and stopped….deleted and re-assessed this piece over 30 times so far. The mere fact that I have had such difficulty putting into print something that I have lived with my entire conscious life fills me with such a sense of uncomfortable confusion as it is a subject I have spoken on….counseled on…for the most part had thought it had become no more than a teaching tool for me now….and yet…over 30 times ?

Granted it was a secret that started when I was only 5 years old …and other than one very sweet and caring family doctor… it stayed buried deep within me until I reached my 26th year of life… it was also something that I had thought I faced and dealt with a long time ago but apparently scars that may appear to be healed… are still a bit sensitive to the touch…

I was born into a somewhat lower middle-class family. We never went without the necessities but my father worked two jobs….sometimes three to provide for us. Our house was small and always filled to over-capacity as my father took in stray or stranded children the way some people take in cats…There was even a while there when I couldn’t tell who was or wasn’t one of my siblings. The school year was like an exercise in military efficiency (my father had been a drill sergeant in the Army)…we all had our schedules and amazingly it left my mother with, in her words, just enough “alone” time to keep the house and everything else in order…I know now though how hard it was on her…at one time she had three of us under five…(funny how it sometimes takes becoming a parent to appreciate one)

It’s my understanding that it was in the summer time…when school was out and there weren’t enough activities to keep us all busy…a choice was made that there would be summer camp when we could afford it or  they would pass us out for visiting trips to relatives… for what was really only a few weeks during those hot months…and that would  help my mother keep her sanity and even allow for some much needed romantic moments for her and my Dad…I know all this now but back then …well, not so much…

My Grandparents lived on a farm and for city kids, it was fun for the first few days after that it would kind of lose it’s charm…and while the older kids could do chores and stuff …my grandmother didn’t seem to have time or patience with 5 year old “too fidgety” me…I remember sitting in a big rocking chair on the porch doing nothing…being asked to be quiet was something I remember hearing a lot as a kid.

An Aunt and Uncle came for a visit and offered to take me off her hands for awhile…It was confusing in my young eyes to keep getting passed off, especially when my Uncle sat me on his lap and whispered in my ear as he wrapped his arms around me…”nobody wants you but me”… I remember it clear because it was his mantra…he repeated over and over to me whenever he could…always softly…always whispering so no one else could hear…He would add things like “I don’t understand why your mommy says you’re a bad little girl. I think you’re a good girl”…”They said we could keep you but if you’re good I’ll let you go home.”

 For the next few weeks I stayed with them…even though they had other children, I ended up being alone with my Uncle a lot….His hands….his fingers….the fowl odor of his breath…burned forever in my mind…not just from that brief two weeks but for the countless weeks and years that occurred after it…I will not describe anymore of the details as they are something that I do not desire to see in print…for four years he had his way with me…each summer visit made longer than the last…telling me how my mother really didn’t like me…how my father was too busy to be bothered with me but that uncle loved me and that as long as I did what he said and was good…he would make sure that my family didn’t give me away…He had good fuel for this as I did have a foster brother and had been told that his other family hadn’t loved him enough and that’s why he was going to live with us. How cunning these kind of perpetrators are…and how once violated… how openly vulnerable an innocent child is…

My time with my family became so unreal to me….I was the “perfect” child….did all my chores…never fussed…teachers actually sent home notes telling my parents I was too quiet but my grades were exceptional….I was most often found in a corner reading a book ( stories that could take me places and let me pretend that all was right with the world).I sometimes felt like I was only watching my family and not really a part any longer.I would cry about only one thing….not wanting to go away when the summer month of July came around but I was soon to realize that I wasn’t safe at home anymore either…

It was as if there was an invisible label on my back saying “Easy Target“…because two years into the summer “visits” with my Uncle…a so-called family friend began spending evenings at our house and offering to tuck us in at bedtime…spending more time with me than any others…he always acted as if I needed to be comforted or loved….as if I wasn’t…I’ll never know if he had somehow talked to my uncle or if people like this have some kind of radar but it sadly became a part of what I expected and my silence was necessary so that I wouldn’t be sent away for being bad.

Still not quite sure how two different perverts in two different cities managed to molest the same little girl but they did…The stopping point came when I was nine years old…( I did go through a period where I thought a higher power had intervened in a most strange way)…a cold turned into strep throat and went untreated which led to Rheumatic Fever…I was in a coma for weeks and than stuck in a bed for almost six months…All the attention that I got quickly buried the brainwashing notion that my father and mother didn’t love me or want me around.

The family friend stopped coming around…and my uncle…well…I had to put up with him awhile longer…but his tactics changed as I guess he knew his mantra wouldn’t work on me anymore…He told me that if my father were to find out what had happened between us that my father would kill my uncle and than go to prison for the rest of his life.He told me that my father would never be able to look at me again because I had done such bad things…Oh, how evil is the mind of an adult with such power over a child…I was only 10 at this time and still very much in this man’s control. He no longer even tried to touch me but he had a stare that at holidays and family events  usually sent me looking for a place to hide…I became the quiet non-social one…I became an outsider looking in with my family…but I kept the secret…

There was a part of me that resented my mother for not knowing what had happened to me…Our relationship spent years strained and distant…My father could do no wrong in my eyes…I somehow felt I was protecting him by keeping the secret…I was closer to him than any of the other children…He confided in me…trusted me…there came a time when I knew I had to tell him…but kept putting it off..there would be time later…He died suddenly of a massive heart attack at the young age of 53… a piece of my heart breaks every time I realize that I betrayed him by not believing that he would love me no matter what.

A year later, I got up the courage to tell my mother…the look of pain in her eyes was almost more than I could bear…I had stayed away from family functions for over ten years by then and kept out of the family dramas…My uncle had been caught sexually abusing his own granddaughters and I know she didn’t mean to do it but my mother put a guilt trip on me of epic proportions making me feel that if I had told on him when I was a child… none of the others would of had to suffer…which also brought back memories of the family friend and put the thoughts of what other young lives had been hurt at his hand in my head.

This is where a lot of victims who like me, face a cross road…we can’t go back and change one damn thing about what had happened to us…and speaking up years after the fact bring a lot of mean, hateful things hurling towards us from those who don’t want to believe that anything you say is true…I did speak up…My aunt and her half of the family have pretty much let me know how much they hate me…The ex-family friend…was going through an ugly divorce…all I did was show up in court one day…I sat quietly in the back…He took one look at me and started to cry…in open court he told a judge that he was a bad man and that he no longer would fight for the custody of his kids…( one of which it turned out he was abusing)…

I call myself a survivor because I went on to volunteer at phone banks set up for abused children . I’ve worked with counselors to help victims know that they were not alone … that it was ok to report it….talk about it…hell, scream it from the roof tops if it’s helps…Silently suffering only helps the abusers… I might of had a problem writing about this but once I found it, my voice refused to stay silent. It is what it is and I have tried to use it for the better…

As soon as I knew that they could really understand me…I taught my sons that it was important to always talk to me about what was happening with them in regards to any interaction they might have with other adults. I might have been a bit over-protective of them when they were younger because of my past but I keep reminding them everyday that there isn’t anything they can’t tell me.. I refuse to feel sorry for myself…I refuse to let the past dictate whether I can live, love or laugh…I love life…I love people…I would not be me if I couldn’t keep an open heart and mind…I  have an unquenchable thirst for helping people…To do or be any other way than who you want to be… is to let the bastards continue to molesting your mind and even your very soul…

This was hard to write but I will have to admit that I am glad I did it…I hope that sharing it with you will turn out to be a good thing as well…

Now do me a favor…Give someone you love a hug and let them know you’re there if they need you 🙂