So, my mother's dream marriage was not all she had hoped, but she hung in there. And she utilized her own unique skills to hold her ground. I had no understanding of her words. She poured a small glass of white wine watered down for me. "To calm me down." And she attempted to explain the way of things now. I could not understand her. How could I, a slightly buzzed ten year old make sense of anything in my parent's world? It seemed they were always imparted adult things on us which we could could not decipher the meaning of. This little snippet is indicative of discussions with my mother. She had no boundaries. She would say the most bizarre, inappropriate things to justify her position, to exact her will. I think she believed what she said; every crazy word of it. This was the life we lived, my father visiting my room. My mother taking my brother and leaving me alone with him. It was a grueling existence, and then it got worse. I had never seen my parents argue, never a hint of a problem. My father's word was law, his whims, our reality. He a military man. A soldier. He ran a tight ship with a hard handed command. We were in Germany, living on base, when something between my parents finally fractured. Our father moved out. Unlike that first abandonment years before, this time it was wonderful. My brother and I had the best Summer of our young lives. We laughed and played. We were kids without fear. I slept through the night. We felt....FREE. Unfortunately, my mother wasn't having such a good time. She seemed to be livid.
Her husband had a girlfriend. While she would put up with his dalliances at home, in choosing another woman, he had gone too far. There was talk of divorce. We were to be sent back to the states. I was filled with joy. For the first time I saw my way out. But of course, we had all under estimated my mother. She had a plan. First, she called the woman in question. A family friend with young daughters of her own. Who had come to holiday dinners my mother had labored over. My mother threw everything at her. His violence, his temper and of course his fondness for young girls. If she was going to go down, it was going to be fighting. She put me on the phone and screamed "TELL HER! TELL HER WHAT YOUR FATHER DOES!" I don't remember what I said, I just remember that the woman hung up the phone. This was the beginning of the war of wills between my parents. We never saw him or talked to him during that time. He wasn't missed. My brother and I talked endlessly of going back home, of seeing our siblings, of visiting our grandparents, going back to a school we both loved. We were living in our own halcyon days. Carefree and light but oh, so fragile.
Of course, my mother wasn't done, not by a long shot. She took us to dinner one night and then sent my brother to the neighbor's. Out came the wine "to calm me" she said as she poured. And then she laid out her plans. She explained we had to help my father, we were a family. She spent what seems like...hours, coaching me on what I was to say....she had made arrangements. The next day I was to go to the doctors. I was to talk to them; to tell them things she told me. Just the way she told me to. Not the truth...a watered down version of being fondled, only once or twice...nothing too serious.... Over and over she made me practice. Quizzed me and praised me for getting it right. This was honestly the most attention my mother had given me in my life and I wanted to get it right. And, I was scared OUT OF MY MIND. I didn't want to talk to strangers. I didn't want to say what happened. I didn't want to have to try to remember lies. I can still, now relive so much of that appointment, the lady who checked me in asked if my tummy was okay. That was the rouse to get me past the front desk. I wanted to tell her my stomach didn't hurt. I wanted to go home, but instead I followed another woman into an exam room. She gave me a gown, a cloth one. Not those blue paper ones that they use now. I was cold and I didn't want to take off my under ware. My mother said I had to. Then the doctor came in. He had dark hair and eyes. He was very matter of fact, distant. He said we were going to do an exam and then we would talk. The same nurse who gave me the gown helped me up on the table, she put my feet in the stirrups, and told me to scoot down while she held my hand. I closed my eyes. I remember hoping for death. After he was done he told me to put my clothes back on and he would talk to me. He stood on the other side of the curtain while I did as I was told. He said I was lucky. That I was still a virgin. That the "activity", that is what he called it "activity", was annal. I didn't know what a virgin was or what annal meant. But I knew I didn't feel lucky. The questions seemed to go on forever. The same ones over and over. I knew I was being tested. That I had to get it right. I was good at remembering things, learning to do as I was told. I told myself silently that I could do it, and I did. I got it all right. "No, my father did not hit me." "No he never threatened me." "Yes, it was only once or twice." "It happened when he was worried about being promoted." I had it by rote. In the end the doctor sat me down across from him with our knees almost touching and told me it was going to be alright. He said I was safe. That it was never going to happen again and then he put his hand on my knee. I didn't move. I stayed still. I wanted him not to touch me, but I wanted to believe him more. And that was when I tripped up. Where I got it wrong....I believed him. I really, really believed him.