Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mommy's little helper

  Please be aware this blog may contain triggers

 My mother didn't have an easy beginning. Her parents came out of the Depression and it never left them. She was the oldest of six children. Born to a woman who didn't seem to put much stock in  children and was a stern disciplinarian. She was often left to care for her siblings, which, as a result. When my mother was too young she became pregnant with my oldest sister.  This was in another time. Where her growing form was seen as an embarrassment. Not only to her parents, but to her sisters and brothers as well. I think it was her bid to escape...to be free of a harsh household that was suffocating to a budding teenager trying to find herself. I think she just wanted to breathe. It was a feeble attempt and an utter failure. She had three children by the time she was twenty. Her first marriage was short lived and she soon enough was right back to her parent's. No more free then when she left, but surely more broken.

  How she met my father, I don't know, but meet they did and soon they were a couple. Her dreams were answered. Here was a man who loved HER, who didn't mind that she had three children, in a time when such things were considered a stigma. Surely, this was the answer to her prayers. And I think, for a while it was. I don't know when she found out. I have no idea when her carefully constructed fantasy came crashing down. But I do know what she choose to do with the little shards that were left. She did nothing. She stood in the middle of the devastation of her children and closed her eyes.  I know other family members told her, at least two,  and still my mother stood her ground. Surrounded in rubble, she did not blink.

   I was born in the summer, two years after my parents were married. I have no early memories of my mother.  My sisters raised me and my younger brother, who came a year after me. My mother, like her mother before her, wasn't overly found of children. No matter what she has done and more likely not done, in this she has remained constant. It seemed to me as if her children represent the shackles she was burdened by and she resented us. My father was a sometime playmate. He would tickle me and tease, but you had to be careful. you never knew what his mood would bring. His violence was a mainstay in our home. They both had tempers, he would hit, she would yell and sometimes throw things in our general direction. I was often perplexed and constantly on guard. I learned to read, write and count by the time I was four. My father had a very special method and while I can't see any preschool adopting it. It worked wonders. He'd stand me in front of him and go through my numbers and letters and every time I got it right, he would move to the next one; very time I got one wrong, I would get hit. It was simple, just don't get it wrong. Children are eager learners and have a natural desire to please. I learned fast.

  When my sisters and brother left us, that's how I still think of it,  an abandonment. My brother and I were devastated. They packed their things and headed for the coast. With no warning, no explanation and we who had been five in the morning, were two by night. At four and five years of age, we couldn't possibly understand. It was like a death. I only saw them three or four more times in my childhood. We never had that bond that's shared when you lived in a war zone, trying to stay clear of the land minds. My brother and I were alone, and we felt it. I was now responsible for both of us. If my brother did something wrong, lord why was he ALWAYS doing SOMETHING wrong? I got the punishment, for letting it happen. I was mourning the lose of my family and trying to be what was expected, as much as a five year old can. Feeling pretty sad, really. But I had yet to learn the rules, the truth, the agreement between my Parents.  My father started visiting my room. At first it was fondling that left me full of fear and shame. Later, it would be worse. Shortly after the loss of my siblings, my mother started questioning me. This was odd in the very fact that she was speaking to me. Unless it was to give a command or to express her displeasure with the fact that we were still there...in her home, she ignored us. She really just wanted us to disappear and made it quite clear that our still existing was a disappointment.

  But talk to me she did, in private and with an urgency she would repeat for years to come. Did my father touch me? Did he ask me to do things...I was so frightened stuck between those two titans that ruled my world. I didn't tell, not yet. When she found my panties hidden and stained with her husband's mark, she asked again. I said nothing and she turned away. Things went on in this new arrangement which we three shared for years. For an eternity, for a childhood.

  When I was ten I broke down. I couldn't hold those secrets and pain in any more. I told. I told her everything. She said she would handle it. She told me about others and that it had happened before. That she had known it was going on, that I had lied to her. She said it in an accusatory way, like I had been stealing from her. That's exactly how my mother would come to treat me, as a rival, a thief. She held me responsible for what what happened between my father and myself and that was how it was to stay. I think she loved us, as much as she could. She just loved him more.

   No matter what the game you play to try to survive, it is important to know the rules. Just like with numbers and letters, I learned fast and played by the rules.

2 comments:

  1. This is devastating. I have no idea how you survived this! You are strong and brave!

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  2. The older siblings were your cushion, they left by force and it left you exposed. I feel bad what your sisters went through before they left.

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