True Heartbreak

It feels as though my heart is truly broken.  Like all those things people have said in the saddest of love songs – a heart can break. I’m not speaking of a  romantic heartbreak, too be honest I have been blessed in that way.  It’s a deeper heartbreak.  A much darker kind of break stemming from years of abuse and neglect. From the dozens of times that my belongings and self were left at the end of a driveway for someone else to have me.  From the age of six months I was being tossed about as though I were trash on consignment.   Nothing broke my heart more than losing my mom; my foster mom Ang that I lived with since the age of 12 years.  Not even the “loss” of my biological mother did the damage that was done when Ang walked out of my life. 

You see, I had to walk out on my biological mother’s life for the sake of my mine and my family’s safety.  My real mother, Carla, she is not a good person.  Honestly, she terrifies me to my core even today.  Ultimately, I didn’t want my children to ever meet the real her.  I would never trust her with my children, so how could it work? It’s a choice I will never regret making, but I do still struggle with missing the idea of having a relationship with my real mother.  I miss the fantasy of it – because it was never real. My mother always has an underlying disgust for me.  She has hated me since I was in her womb, she has told me that herself.

Technically I lost my mom the moment I came into this world. I have just been fighting to be whatever it was that she needed me to be as to attain her love.  Someone that would be worthy of protecting.   This just never happened.  Until I met Ang.  This little brown lady with a heart of gold – well she saved my life.  She always said that it was me that saved my life, I was the one that made the choice to stop the cycle.  She said I did the work – I have fought for my own life.  Ang is the one that tought me about my resilience.  She is right that I was never given a silver spoon throughout my childhood – but I could never, ever have done it though without finding shelter from my storm.  Ang gave me shelter.  She gave me peace.  She NEVER hit me.  And she NEVER sexually exploited me.  Really, that’s all I needed.  Actually, she also gave me love.  Ang made me feel safe.  She allowed me to have a voice.  She believed in me – and eventually got me to believe in me too.

She promised me year after year that she wasn’t ever leaving me.  That I would always be her daughter, nothing could change that.  It took me till I was in late teens to completely let my guard down and believe her.  I thought out of everyone in my life that the earth would have to swallow us whole in order for her to stop being my mom.  But, I was wrong.  It’s been almost three years now that she is pretty much out of my life, yet the ache in my heart is as raw and heavy as the first realization of what was happening.  I was losing my mom.  I have lost my mom.  Sometimes, when she see’s me on the street she doesn’t even recognize me.  She will refer to me as her old foster kid.  Not her daughter as she ALWAYS did in all situations.  We used to talk every day, especially each evening before bed.  Now we can go months witSometimes I Wonderhout speaking to each other.   The worst heart break for me is the fact that she didn’t just walk away from me…but also my three beautiful children that loved her dearly.  She would be their first heart break as well.

I always thought nothing can make me from living with my full heart; may it be crumbling – I can always rebuild.  Now I am coming to the realization that I may have been wrong…and that breaks it just a little bit more.  Now what’s left? How do I find the key to living the life I always dreamed of? I was dreaming of it in the middle of a tragic storm that practically swallowed me whole, leaving me exposed like a raw wound in the salty sea.  

But I fought.  The only way I knew. I dreamed of what could be.  Sometimes I wasn’t sure that there would be a future longer than hours – but I dreamed there would be.  That I would find whatever strength I needed to get me through each traumatic moment to the next.  I just believed.  I knew from very young the only way I could survive was to find faith in something.  Even if it looks impossible- believe that you can survive anything, one moment at a time.  I’ve always said – and I used to believe it wholeheartedly; NO DREAM IS TOO BIG! I just had to keep believing in the good -even when it would take nearly all the courage and strength my little body could take.  And, I never relied on just one thing or most definitely never just one person. 

Growing up the only constant I could count on was knowing that peangine and I 2ople leave.  Everybody leaves… I did receive a reprieve from that belief being with Ang for over 14 years, but just as I was no longer waiting for my bags to be on the edge of the driveway it happened again.  I have to believe that I have some ownership in the fact that I have lost the love of two mothers in my lifetime.  In the past year I was in a fight with what I thought was a very close friend at the time.  One of the last things she said to me before the end of our friendship has really stuck with me.  I hate too admit that I let it take up so much space in my heart – but I think what she said to me had a lot of validity… She said “Don’t you get it Carrie? Both your mothers didn’t even want you – doesn’t that tell you something?” 

Growing up various people in my life have explained all the heartache and trauma that I went through as simple anomalies.  It wasn’t normal what I had endured, in fact most say my story of survival is rare. It’s unbelievable, and it couldn’t possibly happen more than once, especially not to one person. Right?  People tell me over and over again that all that heartbreak is in the past.  That I should let it all go, move on.  But, the heart breaks that I suffered as a young child – well those weren’t just anomalies like I thought.  I kind of think I must have really fucked up in a past life – and that all this is for punishment.  I’m supposed to learn something from all this, I’m supposed to become a better human being.  I don’t know that the heartache will ever go away. I’m beginning to believe that pain is going to be my cross to bare for years and years too come, if not forever. 

 

FEAR – Living With It Each Day

There are many unfortunate, sad and difficult consequences left for a victim for the rest of their lives after a traumatic event.  I know from my experience I was able to find moments of peace…though far and few in between – with little time to work through the trauma that my parents had started exposing me to as early as when I was still in the womb. I was forced to face a string of various types of abuse ranging from but not limiting it to;  physical, sexual, spiritual, neglect – and the perpetrators were the hands of the people with a duty to keep me safe, protect me – someone that I was supposed to trust.   I can not remember a time in my life  that I was NOT afraid, or  time that I felt totally and completely safe. That reality is heartbreaking .

I have to imagine that even from the womb I have had a fairly intense level of fear running through my little body…afraid of the unforeseen strikes coming my way.  Sometimes it was the things my parents would yell at me that could leave bigger bruises than a whole day of whips, strikes, and blows to my body.  Those words have left invisible catastrophic scarring.   My mother told me stories of when she was pregnant with me and my father would beat her belly with his belt – buckle end hitting her baby bump.  Shit, I probably didn’t know what I was more afraid of; staying in there – or coming out!

My mother also shared her opinions of what she thought of me from the moment I was born often throughout my childhood. “You were ugly honestly, and we really didn’t want you, your father really didn’t want you…he hated girls.”  I would always ask her why he hated girls, what was it that made us so horrible in his eyes.  Why did he think we were such bad girls?  She would never have an answer for me.  She was usually quite flippant about it, acting as though she was just caught off guard for a moment… My mom was the queen of manipulation.  “Oh, I don’t know… who knows Carrie.”  My mom did know why my father hated girls and women in general. She would rather we believed he was just evil, and a sick man.  However eventually truth seeps out of the cracks.   So, years later as an adult I wanted to learn more about my fathers upbringing and the more I did learn – it was very easy to understand where his anger was coming from.  You see, my father lived in fear for his entire life as well.  It was all he knew.  Soon it was all our whole family knew.

I can’t imagine that even to this day, that either my mother, brother or sister feel safe.  I don’t.  The terrorizing anxiety and fear that lives inside me is the worst symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) I face every single day.  It is not unusual for me to afraid in my own home, car or work place.  I am most afraid of course when I am alone.  I hate closed windows, drawn curtains, dark rooms, and hedges that cover a home.  It reminds me of things my parents made sure existed in our lives. They made sure we were afraid of them, always.  There was ALWAYS a consequence, there was no room for error or stupidity as he called it on our parts. And most importantly, it was stressed that we needed to keep our family matters private at all times – my Mom or Dad would say “So Carrie, that means you shut your fucking big mouth!  You understand me?”  We were never to talk about what happened behind our doors.

So my dad would try to seal the sounds of screams in with those little tricks…and now I can’t have the windows closed, or drapes drawn…and don’t even think of having a large tree or hedges surrounding our home!  Most of my husbands family think I am crazy to have everything always wide open – where everyone can see me.  “That’s the point.” I would say.  Exactly.  I am always trying to be sure it’s at least possible to have someone see me if I was being hurt – and this time save me.

I think about this scenario practically daily really.  I feel better in numbers.  I like crowds, I like downtown… I don’t like being in my home alone.  I am almost always incredibly scared, and I know realistically I am more than safe.  But, I don’t believe that. I know better.  I know better than to ever think I am safe.  I know not to start feeling sure I won’t ever have to face unspeakable hurt again.  Too me, that is just baiting the devil to come show off one more time with me.  I am so afraid I will not have the resilience and strength to live through another attack again.  And now, that I have been blessed with three beautiful, innocent children that fear has only been escalated too massive proportions.

The very thought of my kids having to live like I did makes me feel sick to my stomach.  I never really thought of it this way before the kids, for some reason I was able to compartmentalize the stories from the actual realization of how horrible it really was for us young children.  Now I can see for myself how innocent, tiny and helpless we really were.  As a child I really felt like I was at fault – I had obviously been so out of control, so ungrateful, spoiled… I felt that I had pushed them into hitting me, hurting me…  Most of my abusers had me sure that it was my fault that they were sexually attracted to me. That even as young as six – I was just slutty.  I was the one that brought the bad, dirty and wrong doings from these individuals.  There was something in me bringing out the evil in them, causing them to hurt me.

There was a court hearing once that involved one of my foster fathers; Wayne Haydamack where he was being charged with historical sexual abuse.  One of his arguments about why Wayne may have been sexually inappropriate with me – IF – he did – it was simply because I was teasing him, flirting, and seducing him into it.  He was a victim of my seductive ways.  This makes me fucking sick each and every time I think about it. Even if I was displaying sexual behaviors towards him – that is NEVER ok or normal. I have too feel sick when I think of how I was so comfortable being taken advantage of that young.  I remember too that although I found it terrifying each and every time – I also found it too be a normal part of my life, like one of my duties of growing up.  I remember how awful it made me feel too, how dirty I thought I was, and how incredibly afraid I really was.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t have flashbacks or get triggered by a smell or sound that takes me right back into those moments that still cause me to be afraid.  I don’t have many memories of restful sleeps, or being able to close my eyes and feel  my body completely relax…and just letting go … Usually I am trying to shut my brain down from all the scared thoughts I am having; can anyone get in? Are my kids safe? What if someone tried to take them?  I find myself sometimes going through the entire scenario, getting myself all worked up thinking of the worst things possible – I fight hard to leave those thoughts and fall asleep.  I think of when I was a young child, how strangers would come into my bedrooms while I  was asleep and hurt me. Ripping me from my dreams – leaving me in a nightmare for the rest of my life.

Each and every abuser that took liberty with my body in unspeakable and disgusting ways; ultimately took a piece of my innocence with them when they finished. They all had a part in making me be so afraid and unsure of myself and my worth.  They all hurt me in different degrees – but still leaving me with a lifetime of fear, anxiety, and an ongoing battle with self-loathing and self-worth.  No matter how many times I can tell myself that it was not my fault – some shit has a hard time sticking. The fact that I felt responsible and dirty for being apart of it is something my abusers were counting on.  They groomed me, some more than others.

I have to believe a huge source of my fear comes from the fact that I have dozens of my abusers out there, free to roam the world, free to hurt again.  I am afraid of running into any of them.  I am very afraid of my immediate family; especially my mother and brother.  I have seen their form of evil and I am sure I have not seen the last of it.  My brother grew up to be a convicted rapist and murderer.  My brother is free now – having served his time fully.  He is on the sex offender registry, but is not required to report to a parole officer.  On one the reports I received from the Prison staff before his release after serving ten years for the murder stated that he was at a high risk to reoffend. There was also a note in the report that my brother had made a statement of how much he hated me, and if he were to see me again he would slit my neck from ear to ear.  I am afraid of my brother. I have a very clear memory of my brothers eyes, they were always empty – scary.  He had the same smiling eyes when he was hurting me or an animal sometimes when we were younger.  My dad worked hard making him tough.  He inevitably made his son a killer and a man that like his father – had a special hate for women.

You know, I am mostly afraid this feeling is really never going to ease up.  I am so tired from being in that constant state of acute awareness to all the bad in the world.  I wish I didn’t know that it was real and that it always is lurking and waiting for it’s opportunity to take advantage and hurt me or someone I love.  I do though. I am really clear that the monsters that most people are afraid of look nothing like a monster at all.  They are blending into our communities, developing relationships with us – earning our trust so that we will let our guards down and forget to be afraid just long enough that they can hurt us again.  it s a terrifying reality that I worry, fear and at times unreasonably obsess over every day of my life.

People see me as tough.  They say that I am so strong and resilient, and that they believe I can survive anything.  And with each tragedy or trauma I have survived it seems they feel their points have been proven. I’m fine.  Its over, it’s all in the past.  They sometimes try to push me towards just forgetting everything – telling me that if I just let it all go I will be better.  I agree with one thing.  That “event of trauma” may be over – but that’s about all that makes any sense too me because there is no magical let it go button.  I don’t try to think about it each day – it is like someone slamming a pie in my face out of no where when the memories come.  more like a smack in the face. A lot of my wounds may have years of skin regrowth, scars have faded – years and years have passed – but my mind and or body can’t forget it sometimes.  I still have pain, physical and psychological… emotional pain.

I can still hear the hardwired messages of disgust, hatred, and disappointment that I heard throughout my childhood.  And, I am still fear the bad monsters will come back into my room one night and try taking another piece of my soul – testing my strength and ability to stay a good person.  So far – regardless of what has come against me – I am still here, working on it…but for now I live with fear every single day of my life only hoping something will ease up in my subconscious and let me be in that paralyzing reality less and less as time goes by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mommies Special Lessons

I think one of londley-childmy biggest problems is that I have so many memories but due to the PTSD I can’t remember things chronologically.  Things come to me in jumbles.  And, when they come to me I want to talk about it.  Honestly, sometimes I feel like I am remembering something for the first time – when really I have gone through this memory time and time before.  I know this because people around me will tell me that I have shared that story before, or my foster mother would tell calm me down sometimes after I have remembered something – something I believed I just remembered for the first time.  And the memory is so horrific that I relive the trauma over and over again.  An example of this is the burns on my arms.  Not crazy huge burns or nothing… but little circular scars on both of my forearms. 

I will find myself sitting on the toilet on any random day, I will be reaching for the toilet paper – it’s  like a flash that causes a visceral reaction from me.   My tummy hurts, instantly I could feel sharp pains in my back…  I can see an iron pressed up against my arms.  I hear the sound of the iron burning against my flesh. I smell the burning flesh…  Me pulling back, my mother pushing me forward; telling me to shut up.  “Shut your fucking mouth!” 

I was being punished.  About 3-4 hours before this moment my mom called me into my room.  “Where’s you barrettes?” she asked me. I knew something was up by the tone in her voice.  I could tell she was angry, but she was smiling.  That’s how I was sure this was going to be bad. 

“They are in my jewelry box.” I point to my small white box that I was re-tracing over and over in my mind putting them back in the box.  I was sure, I knew I did. 

“Show me Carrie” my mom crossed her arms and never took her eyes off of me. 

I opened the box – it was empty.  My body instantly began to shake. 

“Look at me.” She said.  Her voice was changing.  I could feel the smile had disappeared; I didn’t want to look up at her. 

“I said – Look at me Carrie!” her arms came apart. I backed up.  She laughs.  I look up.   I was expecting her to hit me in the face.  She didn’t. 

“Well I guess you better find them.  When was the last time you had them?”

“Yesterday, I was wearing them at school.” I replied with fear.  I tried to sound sure, because I was sure.  I knew I put them in my jewelry box just like my mother asked me to do when she gave them to me.  I only had one pair of barrettes – I always took care of them. 

“You better get your fucking ass out there fast and find them – don’t come back until you do!” My mom wasn’t holding back now.  When she was mad she would grit her teeth while she talked.   

I quickly walked out of the bedroom and out the door.  I started re-tracing my steps frantically.  I knew the longer I took, that meant the worse the beating.  I was going to get beat no matter if I found them or not.  And how was I going to find them anyways?  I remember that it was sunny as I looked on the ground, searching in the grass and the dirt gravel side of the road for my two white barrettes.  I went up and down the street time after time; I was gone for a couple of hours. 

I didn’t want to go back home without my barrettes.  I knew the consequence for not taking care of my things. I mean – even with my own hair.  My parents give me a beating if I didn’t comb/brush my hair before I leave my bedroom.  It should be the first thing I do – then I have to brush my teeth.  These rules have literally been beaten into me.  I know the rules, and I don’t dare break them for fear of the punishment.  My dad would usually start it with a joke. 

“Did you comb your hair this morning Carrie?” my dad would ask me.

“Yes…” I would reply – immediately knowing what was about to happen.  I am kicking myself inside for not doing a better job.  Don’t I know that he will inspect it? 

 “Which one?” he laughed as he asked.  My dad had this crazy laugh.  I wish you could hear it.  It was loud, and funny.  I have the same laugh now as an adult.

“All of them Dad” I replied. Hoping this was a day that he didn’t feel like being angry with me, hoping he would just continue laughing with me.

 “Get to your fucking room, pants off – lay and wait!” his tone was different from the funny dad.  He was angry.  My immediately began to shake.  I turned around and walked back down the hallway towards my bedroom.  I slowly began taking off my pants, then my underwear.  I knew dad always wanted us naked.  Easier access.  I think it mostly depended on what he was going to beat us with; his hands, belt, boots, wooden spoon, horse whip… the list goes on. 

 I remember lying on the bed, legs hanging over the edge, shaking.  I can’t give a play by play on the beating.  However, I can tell you he used his hands this time.  He put me over his knees and spanked my bum over and over again.  If I cried he hit harder.  If I fought the spanking he had tenancy to call my mom in the room to hold me down.  This was much worse.  So I would tense my bottom up as much as I could, squeeze my legs together – eyes closed tightly.  I remember after this beating I was in such pain on my backside and back thighs.  My dad told me to stay in my room until he told me different. 

 I would lie on my bed, on my back with my bum and legs up against the cold wall.  I would switch my spot to a cooler one every few minutes trying to ease the stinging from my backside. Sometimes I would sing to myself quietly or I would spend my time talking to god.  I would ask him to make my mom and dad not hate me so much.  I would beg him not to let my mom and dad get mad at me again today, at least. 

This day – looking for the mysterious missing barrettes I can remember praying all the while looking for my lost barrettes.  I know mom was going to be angry with me.  She scared me the most.  Mom always said how she couldn’t stand my fucking sniveling face – how the very look at it makes her want to puke.  How would I tell her I couldn’t find them? What was she going to do to me when I returned without the barrettes?

This is what I cachild-crunching-up-into-ball-in-fearn recall.  When I think back to that day… I came home terrified.  My mom was sitting at the kitchen table smoking and having her coffee.  She was smiling.  She told me to follow her back to my bedroom.  I figured she was going to make me lie on my bed and give me a spanking to remember.  But when we got into the room she just stood there looking at me, with an evil smirk. 

“Are you sure you didn’t lose them in here?” she asked

 *as I am writing this I am getting anxious.  In the past 30 minutes I have started getting a headache, and eaten a box of KD with tomatoes on it.  I’m what I call emotional eating… stuffing those feelings down as far as I can, then shit them out! It’s just interesting to catch myself doing it, calling myself on it – but still going through with it.  Now I feel sick, disappointed…

I don’t know how I responded to my mom.  All I remember is that she had asked me to check under my bed.  My room was really small, there was a dresser very close to my bed – the only way I could look under it was to crouch down and feel it out.  But when I looked under I didn’t see them.  I did see a couple irons under my bed.  Unusual.  Terrifying. My mother noticed my hesitation – it angered her. 

She pushed me down so that I was basically on my stomach – face down.  I can remember her pulling my left arm out and waving it back and forth under the bed.  There was searing hot pain with each jerking of my arm.  I cried out.  I remember my mom just kept asking me over and over if I could feel the barrettes. 

I couldn’t feel anything but intense pain.  My mom didn’t say anything about the irons to me; in fact she acted like nothing was happening to me. As though she was just assisting me in trying to find my barrettes.  Why was I screaming in pain?  Why was I irritating her? My mom always had a strong grip.  That day was no different.  She squeezed my arm – held it against the irons with force.  She smiled.

“Get up! Stop you sniveling… nothing happened.” My mom was standing now waiting for me to get up.  I didn’t know whether the punishment was over or just beginning.  The pain in my arm was incredible.  I didn’t want to show her how much, I knew that would make her angrier.  She would probably want to show me what “real pain” was.  If I ever acted like they were hurting me while they were hurting me – they would anger faster and more intensely.  I learned the skill of holding it back early.

My mom had one hand on her hip, the other was holding something.  She opened her hand and showed me my barrettes. 

“I hope this teaches you not to lose your things.” She stated flatly. 

She had them the whole time.  My mind was racing.  I had this sense of relief – but then this sense of overwhelming anger.  This was all a game to my mom.  She was smiling when she put them back into my jewelry box, and then walked out the room.

“Clean yourself up before you come out of your room.” She said.  My arm was red, skin was peeled back.  It hurt to touch.  I changed my shirt.  At the time I was wearing a t-shirt, but I knew what my mom meant by clean myself up.  She wanted me to hide any sign of the punishment.  Before going into the bathroom to try to cool it off I put on a long sleeved shirt.  I can remember how much it hurt, how sensitive it was to wear a shirt over.  I didn’t have band aids or medication to care for it.  I can remember just running cool water over it, and keeping it covered.  I also remember constantly be peeling the dead skin off and re-opening the wound.  This was one of my moms lessons. She had many. 

But I was brave…

I have often felt like people  regretted having me in their lives, eventually.  Like I ware on people.  I come with a shelf-life… 

Even my foster Mom of over 14 years quit … in the end .. She will today say I used too be her foster daughter, or i pushed my way in, or that I tried to adopt her, not her wanting or trying to adopt me. 

My birth mom always said how much she hated me, wishing that I had never been born .. and in my later years my father screaming angry at me on the phone telling me he how fucking pissed he is because he should have just snuffed me years ago.  

Only feeling brave with the safety I felt from being on the phone , I replied – ya, you blew that one didn’t ya! I hung up so angry and a sense of relief.  Ok he’s just acknowledged a memory I had of my father holding a gun to my head at the ravine next to our home in Heron Street.  

I have rushes of hot and searing cold go throughout my body.  I remember some of the feelings of that walk with my father who had just woken me out of bed practically dragging me down our stairs and out the door.  No jacket, no shoes.  I can remember it was late.. I had been asleep for at least an hour before he woke me up.  The sounds of mash … my mom was sitting on the couch watching mash when we were on our way out.  I don’t have as clear of a memory of the incident as my father does.  He filled in the blanks for me when I started to dream about it night after night, night terrors, crying – same repetitive scenario playing itself over and over while I am supposed to rest

My therapist at the time said why didn’t I just flat out ask what he thought of my memory/dream.  He was able to tell me a couple things about that evening I needed to hear.  First he said, he couldn’t forget how strong willed I was through the deal.  I have pains in my knees .. now I can remember the crispy leaves from fall taking form. I feel twinges of pain in my knees from the twigs digging.  I do remember that both my parents absolutely hated crying – no snivelling she would say, her face full of anger and disdain. 

First off , my dad acknowledged my memory rather than to deny as per usual in out family.  He let me know I wasn’t crazy.  Holy fuck, this actually did happen.  Oh my god.  

Secondly, my dad said that I just didn’t move an inch – while he used the tip of rifle to aggressively taunt me, poking my head.  He said I didn’t cry.   

Even with out all the hurtful, demeaning, words dripping from his mouth.. surely I was to believe he was really going to harm me.  He said I didn’t start crying till we were almost back home.  

I remember the smoky smell, and the sound of cheers on the TV.  My mom cranked her head to see us coming back up the stairs.  I never forgot what she said .. scared-to-get-close-to-anyone

“Oh, she still alive? Fuck, Blackie.”  

Sometimes I think about what made me so brave that night? And what did those sobs as coming home mean ? Was I relieved? Or was I terrified of what was going to happen next.  If he couldn’t shoot me, then will he just beat me some more.  I think I cried in terror. I know I cried often afraid that I wasn’t going to make it out alive. That night, I believe I cried out praying someone would hear my pleas.  But I was brave…

My First Memory

My earliest memory is of my sister.  At the time she would have been seven years and myself four years old.  I can remember standing in my parents home, it’s hallway outside their bedroom door. I was standing silently watching the horror taking place inside.

My sister was crying, my mother and father yelling at her. My mom is holding up a dust pan to my sister’s face, she keeps yelling at her to “eat it!” My father is saying some of the same, with every word instilling the fear of god into her. It was poo. My sister was being forced to eat her own poo.

I can remember weird details about this closet, and my parents room.  I remember the bed being in front of a large window covered with dark curtains – that were always closed to keep others from seeing what was happening.  I remember looking inside the closet and seeing my moms pair of mint green high heals on the floor next to a pee stain my sister had left from being in there too long.  I can remember the sounds…the musky smell.

My sister spent most of her time in my parents bedroom closet.  This had been her punishment for past couple of years. My mom and dad said it was because she was a bad girl, that she was a thief and and liar. If she shit herself while being in the closet – she would be forced to eat it. How dare she shit in my parents closet… this is what they would say to her. I can remember watching this, thinking how gross this was, how awful this was…my poor sister. Seeing my sister being held by the back of her head by our mother and my father shoving a dustpan full of my sisters own poo was my first memory.  I can remember that no matter what – she was always in trouble.  For some reason they just hated her so much.

My mom and dad beat her frequently, and for no reason that I can remember witnessing. When I was older I would be told that she was a “fucking liar, and a thief…and Dad just can’t stand either!”

When she was allowed to sleep in a bed, instead of my parents closet – she usually shared a bed with me. We only had one bed in our shared room.  And, in my parents eyes – she didn’t really have a room.  She didn’t deserve one.  Each morning she would wake up immediately she would stand in the corner  with her nose facing the wall, as directed by my father prior.  He didn’t even have to tell her any more.

But most times they would just take her out of the closet and start a beating.  My dad always made beatings like an interrogation. He would ask us over and over why we did what we did wrong, and he would never accept the answer – even if it was the truth. Sometimes, we genuinely did NOT know what we did wrong.

He would smack us, punch us or flick us in the neck with his fingers hard and ask us to try again. This was a game, a very painful and exhausting game to play with my father. I can remember coming up with lies just to be able to come up with something in the hopes that my father would accept the story and give my body a break. I would hope for him to find some humor or empathy in my efforts and imagination and that he mchild-abuseight somehow magically change his mind this time.  Not likely. And, never for my sister.

Each time we give an answer he would look us with this horrible, terrifying, angry look and he would say something like “how can you be so fucking dumb, you fucking little lying bitch!” He would then slap us, sucker punch – or my favorite, flick us in the neck – hard.

Once he went over this, if he hadn’t gotten too mad and started the beating already, my father would then send us to our rooms to get ready for the beating. He would tell us to undress and lay facing down on the bed and wait for him. I can remember waiting for hours sometimes, only once can I remember my dad changing his mind after the long wait. All the while, from the beginning to end my ass is shaking uncontrollably with fear and anxiety. I always wondered “how bad will be it be this time?”

 

 

 

I Can Hear The Screams…

child-crunching-up-into-ball-in-fearLike the main character from the movie “The Silence of the Lambs”, I feel like I can hear screams.  At first I will be sure there is someone hurting, scared or in desperate need.  I feel myself panic – and I start desperately looking for the victim.  Then I realize there is no one screaming. It’s just my own brain playing tricks on me.  I could swear though someone was screaming.  This is true even when with my children.
I often found myself telling people that when I met Anj – who would be my foster mom from age 12 onwards – that she was one of the adults in my life as a child that didn’t keep a tab, or expect say sexual favors for their kindness.  What I was saying was that Anj was a totally safe person to be around.  She never asked me to have sex with her – or talked inappropriately with me like many other adult figures/parental guardians did during my young years. I really didn’t expect any different , like I never imagined it would change.  Sure, some would be fair.  Not every foster parent is bad – I’m not trying to paint a brush that wide.  But my body would usually “know” if I was in a bad situation  within minutes of meeting one such person.  It’s a visceral reaction.  My stomach feels sick  I often find myself saying out loud, unfiltered – “that’s a bad fucking dude..” or “he fucks his kids for sure”.  Even when I end up being right about that, everyone always reacts with shock and denial.  They would say “NO way! He’s so normal.. Oh, but he has daughters – he wouldn’t do that”.
I always get boiling mad from the inside out when someone says that shit.  Normal? He has kids? So there for he is not capable of hurting someone??  What stupid ass logic is that?  Sometimes, while having to tell my story of a sexual assault incident you could actually see the look of “god smacked” on the faces of those listening.  “no way… that couldn’t happen.  That’s crazy.” Then, I – the victim finds myself in a de-moralling spiral trying to convince those that I am not a liar.  That, yes – even though it is horrible, what I am telling you is horrible, sick , and sad.  And, yes – I find myself sometimes questioning how it is that I survived.  How did I survive?  IF – if it was that bad – as bad as you say – well how is it possible that I am here today.  Often people say – wow, but you’re so normal. Or,but your adjusting quite well.  Just let that stuff be behind you, don’t dwell on the past.  It’s almost like because I was, no – I am so resilient – it seems to take away from what I went through.  People have actually said – it couldn’t have been that bad… look at you! We can only have clear compassion or empathy for those with wounds that are noticeable by sight.
Well what is “that bad”?  I have always got it that I DON’T have it the worst.  That there are many, many others that suffer worse fate than I did.  I would tell that to myself sometimes when I needed to find strength.  I would often say – hey look at those kids on tv, you know the ones with the flies on their faces, and swollen but empty bellies –holding sickness, sadness…  that was bad.  I would tell myself that all the time – and anyone else who would start making a pity party for me.  It wasn’t going to help me out of that world to ever think feeling sorry for myself was going to be my saviour.  Nope, not even close.  Yes, it sucked..  Yes it hurt, a lot.  But, it COULD always be worse.  I was blessed.  Too this day I have that conversation with myself.  Even on my darkest of days or nights – I would find myself telling me to stop feeling sorry for myself.  Help myself.  Get help. Keep talking,  someone, somewhere would eventually listen.  I just had to find the right time.

Sweeping, eating, brushing your hair; it will be ok one day…

It’s sometimes the most basic of moments in life where I’m trying to do something so simple like sweeping, brushing and or braiding my daughter’s hair that I am taken back to horrible memories from my past. At times I am so affected I find myself feeling sick to my stomach. I get hot, my face gets really hot. I used to avoid these opportunities to re-traumatize myself. Honestly, I used to not sweep. And I NEVER braided my own hair, so when it came time to try it on my daughter – well it took me a few years to not feel sick while I brushed her hair.
And food…well that’s something I am still trying to master. I used to eat so fast people would comment on it. That would embarrass me immensely. I can remember this one time when I was 11, I was living in a group home called “Morley House”, in Burnaby. I was standing in the kitchen stuffing something down my throat – and fast, when a male staff member called me out on it.
“Carrie, you don’t need to eat that fast, s l o w down!” he said.
I stopped cold in my tracks. Took a big embarrassing last gulp of what was in my mouth and left the room feeling ashamed. I really felt so icky about myself in that moment. And, to this day I can still vividly remember that feeling. I know I looked like a pig to them, but I was used to having to eat my food fast before it was taken away from me, or not having food at all.
At home with my parents I was not fed regular “human” food as my mom would call it. I remember being told to go downstairs and eat with the dogs – we kept their food down there. I remember it being a large brown bag of kibble. Dry… not the worst stuff I was forced to survive on though. Some of those things include; feces both human and dog, garbage, my own vomit.
I mean don’t get me wrong – I had food sometimes – either from my parents sometimes or when I was resourceful and got my own somehow. One time my Dad was about to mow the lawn. He was doing his walk around the yard looking for rocks and sticks to make sure not to wreck the mower. This time he found two potatoes half eaten, in two different spots in the yard. I was watching him go about the yard and started to feel the panic immediately. Panic for me was my bum shaking in fear and you get this sick horrible feeling all over your body that you can only explain as total fear and terror.
My dad was mad. I was scared. It was day light; the whole family was in the back yard doing chores. Not Teresa because she was already gone, it was me, my mom, dad and my brother. Sometimes I would let myself believe that it was going to be ok because either it was daylight like this day – or because there was people around, or because they promised never to hurt me again… But in reality none of that ever really mattered most times.
“Carrie, go get your puppy! And don’t fucking dawdle either!” He was standing at the back of the yard holding my two potatoes. He was shaking them angrily in his hands. He was smiling, but not in the happy smiles. When he was about to smack or punch or beat the shit out of us he would smile like he was saying “oh yeah, you want this eh? I’m going to enjoy this…”
We had just gotten a new puppy a few days earlier. I don’t remember his/her name but I remember that she was golden and beautiful. She had the best kisses and I loved her very much. I probably knew though by that point in my life that this dog would die like the others eventually but I loved them like crazy anyways. All of our pets I did. But I remember getting new pets, mostly cats and dogs, often. Usually because my father killed them or had us kill them. This was the only time I had ever been forced to do something so horrible to my animal.
I looked around at my mom and brother. They were no help.
“Go.” My mom said. She was actually angry.  This was my fault – she didn’t have to say anything, I already knew what she was thinking.  Probably that I had brought this on myself.
I knew what was happening. I knew I had no choice. My dad had this barrel in our back yard that he used to burn things in. Usually he burned my mom’s things when he was drunk or our toys when he was mad at us. But I witnessed him burning our animals before after he had killed them in his fits of rage. The fire was burning this day.
I remember holding the puppy in my arms, shaking and crying and saying over and over how sorry I was to it. I can recall telling him that it was going to be better. When I got back outside my mom was still standing there, my brother was standing by the carport and my dad was standing behind the barrel. He was watching me.
I was walking so slow, shaking and just apologizing to this poor animal.
My dad gave me some sort of lecture about stealing food from them, that they had warned me before. I can’t remember exact words – but at some point my father told me to put the dog in the fire. He was talking to me through gritted teeth, sweat on his face.
I started begging and saying how sorry I was, and how I promised not to ever steal food again. I begged for the puppy to be saved, for me to be saved from being a part of it. All the while whispering to the puppy how sorry I was and massaging his fur. I don’t know how long the exchange of pleads and tears went on for. I don’t even remember putting the puppy in. I remember the sound, and the smell. That puppy cried for what felt an eternity. My dad didn’t let me leave until it was quite. Nobody said a word for a long time.
I never stole a potato again I can assure you. I can’t remember ever stealing another ounce of food from my parents’ house again. That was the last home I ever lived with my parents as a child. Heron street was my last home full of bad, scary and damaging memories.