Thursday, October 6, 2011

"She was my mother once..."

My earliest memories are of trying to placate my mother. By the time I
was four, I was able to predict her mood swings with great accuracy,
and to this day if I can't predict someone's actions within minutes of
meeting them I am deeply afraid of them. My parents divorced when I
was five. My mother almost didn't fight for custody, but her family
told her to, so for years she lied to and manipulated everyone she
could. She would make up very convincing stories and truly believe
they had happened. She even convinced the guardian ad litem that she
was the best parent. Finally my dad won custody when it turned out
she'd been lying to her lawyer about a lot of things. I am grateful
for that every day. It was still very, very unusual for the father to
get custody - it still is, which is shameful. If I'd been given to her
I doubt I would be alive now.

During the divorce she tried to convince me and my brother that our
dad was evil. She would tell us that there was a black hole in his
living room that would eat us up, or that monsters lived under the
beds in his apartment. I just wanted to make everyone happy so that no
one would be angry at me. I tried to hate my dad for her, but when I
couldn't, I finally went to her and apologized for still loving him. I
only realized how horrible that is very recently. It just seemed like
a normal and natural thing to do at the time. Her words worked on my
brother, and he learned to hate Dad.

She moved out of state after the divorce, and we would visit her every
summer. She would dress me up and use me to impress her friends with
how cute and polite I was. I was the golden child who could do no
wrong. When I was 11 she moved back and wanted to see us more. I was
miserable. She hadn't changed at all, she just wanted to use me for
social status and labor. I decided to stop visiting her when I was 12.
She never asked for me when she kept picking up my brother for his

I went to court when I was 16 to remove her parental rights. She
didn't fight it, but she did send me a bunch of baby pictures. She had
taken all of them in the divorce. I was grateful - she was trying to
manipulate me, but those pictures were a precious gift. The court
removed her parental rights when I was 17. I was terrified in that
court room, making my case to the judge alongside my dad and attorney.
I was terrified that I'd see her, that she'd show up and charm and lie
her way out of it. I could barely walk out I was shaking so hard.

This year, I'm 25. My mother just died of cancer. I've had to comfort
my brother as best I can. I still don't know how I feel about it - her
boyfriend kept sending messages urging me to reconcile with her, but I
think that I have. I don't hate her anymore. I'm not angry with her
for all the damage she did to me. I'm not glad she's dead. It's just a
thing that is true: she was my mother once, and she was a terrible
person, and now she's dead.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Children are supposed to be loved and protected..."

My father was a molester. My very earliest memory is of being raped. I was probably only two years old. When I was 5 he put a gun to my head and said that if I ever told anyone he would kill my grandparents and make me watch. He knew that they were my favorite people in the whole world, so that's why he said that. He knew it would keep my mouth shut.

When I was ten years old my periods started. I was terrified that I would wind up pregnant. I remember there being a news story about a 10 year old having a baby after being raped. It was really big news at the time, so I was scared out of my mind.

I had made a really good friend at school. We moved a lot, so I never really had friends before, but this girl was different. Sarah was so kind and warm and genuine. I was actually allowed to go to a sleepover at her house. I had never been allowed to do that before. Life in her house was so different than anything I had ever known. When they took me home her dad seemed agitated and nervous. I thought he didn't like me and couldn't wait to get rid of me. It turns out he had a bad feeling and didn't want to let me out of their car. He told Sarah that he felt like something bad was going to happen to me. Of course I didn't know that until this Spring, twenty years after the fact.

I finally worked up the courage to tell Sarah my big secret. She convinced me to tell our teacher. So we got excused from gym class to go talk to the teacher. She stood right there holding my hand for support. Then all Hell broke loose. They made me tell the story to the principal and a social worker and a police officer. THEN they sent me home on the school bus! They had called me mom to prepare her and called my dad at work to tell him to bring us to the police station.

My mom immediately started blaming me. It was all my fault. She told the cops and social worker that I asked for it. I pranced around in little nighties and panties. Well, she was the one who bought my clothes, I wore what she gave me. They whisked me away to a foster home that night. I was there for six months until he was in prison.

After that it took years to trust my mother again. I still don't completely trust her. She only talks to me when she wants something. She always babied my brother, but treated me like dirt. It used to hurt a lot, but I'm over it now.

My grandma, the one he threatened to kill, is his mother. We were always close, the only time I was safe was when I was at her house. She and my Pappy were wonderful. Pappy passed away when I was 15. Grandma is still alive and kicking though. Somehow she has convinced herself that it was all just a "misunderstanding." She keeps trying to get me to visit her when he's there. She's even lied about his being there. Now that I have a daughter she tries even harder. I sent her pictures of the baby and specifically told her not to give him any. She sent them all to him and then asked me for more. I was very upset about that. I'm sure it's because she doesn't want to believe that she raised a monster. But this is my child and he will NEVER see her.

I don't regret this choice at all. Children are supposed to be loved and protected, not abused.