|....from the ashes.|
My story, is not a very happy one but maybe one day, there will be a happy ending to it all. I know that I am
the one that will have to make that happy ending a possibility. Maybe telling my story, here, as close to the whole world as I have courage enough to tell, will help me to put this all behind me, and move forward. All of the pain, sadness, loneliness and guilt are still there, but like the Phoenix, I can find it within me to set fire to it all and rise from the ashes, a new me.
My story begins at birth. I don't know much about it, I have no baby pictures. My mother and father were married when I was born, but, unlike most mothers who's only want is to protect and nurture their newborns, mine did not. When I was 3 days old, she left me in a stroller, in a ballpark, and notified my father where I was. I have never heard from her and I don't even know what she looked like. It wasn't until much later that I began to realize why she left and I have no resentment towards her. She was lucky, she got away.
I was with my father for the first 2 years of my life, of which I have no clue as to where we were or how I was taken care of. He married my step mother when I was 2...she was 18 years old and fresh out of nursing school.
My childhood is a blur in my mind, I have only a handful of memories before the age of 12 and those are not pleasant. Maybe something inside of me is protecting me from something more horrible than those I do remember. My father was an abusive man with a terrible temper. It was like living in hell with the devil. He ruled us all by creating in us a fear so big, it went with us everywhere. I have 2 younger step sisters and I cant really recall if he was abusive physically to us as small children but we still feared him and his temper. He abused my stepmother relentlessly. As a nurse, she made good money, even in the late 60's. She was forced to hand over everything that she made, to my father. He would allow her enough for 1 cup of coffee and a donut each day.
The nights that I do remember as a child, are filled with the sound of breaking glass and a fist on a human body. We never had a lot of nice things, most of it was broken or thrown in the night. The glass in our front doors had to be repeatedly replaced. I remember silently crying into my pillow at night waiting for the nightmare to turn silent. Only then would I sneak out of my room to find my mother laying, bruised and bloody, on the floor with glass around her. There were many times I thought she was dead. It wasn't until later , in my own marriage, that I knew she was silent , to keep him away or to appease him somehow.
Our lives continued in this way, he would leave us at times, once on Christmas Eve, saying it was for good, but my stepmother would always take him back, all he had to do was cry and say he was sorry. My stepmother had a nervous breakdown from the stress of living this way and the knowledge that my father had a number of girlfriends that he would visit frequently. Another memory I have is that one night, my mother woke us girls up and piled us all into the stationwagon, in our pajamas and still half asleep. My mother herself was still in her curlers and nightgown. We drove to the house of a woman my father was with and I can still see my mother, dressed as she was, crying and yelling, in the front yard of this womans house, while she and my father stood on her porch , watching.
My mother began taking extra shifts at the hospital she worked at, just to be away from him, but leaving us girls to fend for ourselves and take the brunt of his anger. We never had any of our friends over to visit so as not to risk an episode and to have them see what we had to live with. Then, at the age of 12, he began coming into my room at night, saying that he was lonely, needed companionship, since my mother was rarely home. He began rubbing my back while he talked and later under my clothes while I laid there, silent, afraid to move or speak. He began coming in with his own clothes off, and making me take mine off. It was always very late when he came in and my sisters were already asleep. I never knew when he would come in, I would lay there every night, so afraid he would come, I slept very little. He started to have me come to the room that he and my mother shared, I remember all of this, and what happened there, and how horrible it was. I've tried all my life to erase those nights from my mind but like nightmares, they always come back. I've hated myself and felt so much shame for so long that I never stopped it, or went to anyone for help. Many times he would make me promise not to tell anyone because they would not understand, and he would leave money on my bedside table, and I would take it. I don't remember when it stopped, maybe once I started my period because he was afraid I would get pregnant. This is only my theory.
At 16, I left home, I was in my senior year of highschool. I got a full time job at McDonald's, working until 11:00 each night, going to school during the day. I shared a small apartment with a classmate on the 3rd floor of a rundown apartment building. My mother finally divorced my father shortly after I left and moved to a new house.
My father died suddenly about 12 years ago at the age of 58. I remember my sister calling me crying, to tell me the news. I stood there with the phone in my hands, thinking, "Good, I just don't care" After leaving home, I'd not had any contact with him whatsoever and I never wanted to expose my children to his evilness. My husband at the time, forced me to travel to my hometown to attend the funeral. Another memory I wish I could forget. Everyone was so sad. So many people came to pay their respects and exclaim what a loss it was, how we must be devastated and how great a man he was. People I never knew would come and press pills into my hand to use if the grief got to be too much. All along, I wanted to laugh, in all of their faces, and to let them know just how GREAT this man had been. I kept silent, because it had been our secret, I had promised. Even in my hate, I kept my promise.
At 18, I joined the US Navy, to do something important with my life. My mother had met a policeman during this time and they had married. She seemed very happy when I talked to her. I went into Aviation while in the service and went to school to become maintenance aircrew in the helicopter field. Once I was out of school, I had a period of 30 days leave before reporting to my first duty station in Rota, Spain. I went to stay at my mothers house for this time to be with family and maybe get a little closer to them. I didn't know much about my new stepfather other than that he was also divorced and had 3 girls of his own. One morning, while my mother was at work, I came out of my room for the bathroom in my pajamas and he was standing there. As I passed him, he reached and touched me, touched my breast. I was stunned and horrified. I couldnt find the words to speak. I felt so disgusted and dirty.
He immediatly apologised and asked me not to tall my mother as it would kill her. He had said I was so beautiful and he didnt know what had come over him.
I left the next day and went to my duty station early. We never spoke of the incident and I never got close to him as a father or anything. Once again, I kept a promise, and never told anyone.
As of now, I have had no contact with anyone in my family for the last 9 years. No one wants to speak of what happened to us, its ignored. I never knew any of my fathers family so I never knew any of my biological family at all.
The only picture that I have of my father is the picture of his grave that my sister sent me.
After returning to the states once my time in Spain was up, I was sent to California. There, I met my husband. He was actually my supervisor. We never really paid much attention to each other for quite a few months. I was invited to a party by his roommate and it was there we started talking. He had gotten custody of his 2 month old daughter after an affair with a married woman who did not want to keep her. Things happened very quickly for us, he took control of the relationship from day one. I dont know, I guess maybe the fact that he was raising a baby alone, and actually seemed to care about me, kept me from seeing all of the signs of his controlling nature. We never actually dated. He had the baby so I would go to his house each night. I was sharing a house at the time with my best friend who happened to be a lesbian. He hated this and wanted me out of there. We decided, or rather he decided that we would take the empty apartment across the street where he lived. It took us only 2 weeks to do this and the day we moved in, he had us both call in sick at work and we drove to Virginia to get married. We had the baby, Angela, with us. We were married exactly 2 and a half weeks after our first get together at that party. It also happened to be April 1st, our wedding day.
Things went ok for a while, he controlled everything, even had me get pregnant as soon as we were married. This was the first man I had ever been with ,not counting my father, and I thought it might take a while to get pregnant but I was, after only 2 months of marriage. His control got even tighter once we found out, what I ate, what I wore, where I went. I was still in the Navy at the time and had to take a leave of absence while being pregnant because as a Diabetic, I was a high risk. I had no friends, my best friend, that I had lived with, I was no longer allowed to socialize with. He hated homosexuals. She was a very important part of my life and I lost her forever because of his fear. I lived with this control and never complained, I thought this was how marriage was supposed to be. I didnt know any better. It wasnt till a year after I had the baby, Jessica, that I realized that it was fear I felt for this man, and not love. But there was nothing I could do about it. After returning to work, I was sent to Iceland for a 6 month detachment. He tried everything in his power to prevent this but even he couldn't over ride government orders. He told me it was my fault, because I couldn't stop it, what kind of mother was I to leave her young children behind and run off to another country. He said I was abandoning them. I was miserable in Iceland, although it is a lovely place and someday maybe I will return under better circumstances, being away from my babies was agonizing.
When I returned, I was allowed to take an Honorable Discharge due to being away from my family for so long. It was supposed to have been my choice but it was made for me. Hi control over me got even worse, as well as his tempers for any slight mistake I might make. I was home alone with the kids during the day and expected to have a spotless home and dinner made when he came home from work. He complained about anything and everything, the towels not hanging right, water in an empty sink, his t shirts had to be folded perfect military style...I still fold mine this way now. He complained about my cooking, it was inedible, disgusting. I was stupid, fat, an unfit mother. You name it, I was it. I tried everything in my power to make him happy or at least enable him to tolerate me and my unworthiness. One night, I was boiling eggs, to make a salad, he was standing over me complaining that I was letting them boil too long. I made the mistake of saying that they had only been boiling for 4 minutes. He took the pot from the stove, threw it into the sink, and forced the flat of my right hand onto the still red burner. You can't imagine the pain, but I couldn't cry, he never allowed me to feel sorry for myself and to shed tears when he hurt me...it only made him angrier. I had scars from the burn for years after that, they're very light and almost invisible now but I can FEEL them when I rub my fingers together. There are other scars however, that will be with me for life. Physical abuse became regular for me after that and I worked very hard to do EVERYTHING according to instructions. I am ashamed to admit this , but he even forced me to allow video taping of us in bed together and sometimes me alone. I want to erase this part, but I think its somehow important.
I was constantly being reminded how low I was as a human being, how no one else would ever be able to put up with me. Once, after a particularly angry outburst, he took a razor blade and gave it to me, saying that I needed to end it all, and leave them in peace. I remember being so confused and I was crying, and then I thought, maybe he's right, if nothing else, I will be free, even if dead and I could disappoint no one else. I couldnt actually do it, I was too scared. He took the razor blade and tried to do it for me. He actually cut me on the wrist twice before my survival instinct took over and I got away. I bled a lot, but it wasnt life threatening. These scars I still carry.
I became pregnant with our third child at this time and I thanked god that it was a boy. If it had been another girl, I have no doubt that he would have blamed it on me. The abuse continued and I became numb to it. I knew when to shut up when he hit me to make him stop. Just like my step mother.
We went to an outdoor party once, I must have done something horrible because he dragged me and the kids to the car and drove home. I could tell that he was livid and beyond control and I had no idea what would happen once we got home. I took the kids in quickly and settled them down and went outside where I knew he was waiting for me. Oh, I was in trouble then. I had been laughing to loud, flirting too much, acting like a whore. I tried to deny all of it, I was right beside him during the whole party. There was an empty fish tank, sitting on the ground beside the steps where I was sitting. He kicked it hard, shattering it. He stood, silent, staring at it....then all of a sudden he reached down and grabbed a large piece of broken glass and came towards me. It happened very fast and I scooted back on my back to get away from him but he had already hit his target. He sliced my foot from the front to the back, around my ankle, deeply. Blood was spurting everywhere and it only took a few minutes for me to go into shock. He knew this was serious and he called 911 and told the ambulance people that I had stood on the empty fishtank and it had broken. I knew better than to tell the truth. The cut had severed the tendons and nerves in the whole side of my ankle and I had stitches, inside and out, 150 total. Those scars are also still very visible and I have never regained feeling in my toes on my left foot.
He kind of backed off from any physical abuse for a while shortly after that. I think he had scared himself with how far he had gone that time. About 2 years after Leslie was born, I became pregnant again. This time it wasnt in his plans and I took the blame for it. I had done it on purpose, now I would get gross and fat again, I would be a boring old housewife forever, he said. I lived with this daily until I was about 6 months pregnant. Once again, I was boiling water, for spaghetti, he was right behind me, yelling about my incompetency and then about the pregnancy. He was becoming angrier and angrier, I remember his face being a very dark red and his eyes looked so evil. Instinctively, I knew I needed to get as far away from him as I could, and fast. He was faster. As I was backing away, he grabbed the pot of water, and dumped the entire pot on the front of me. On my stomach. I dont remember actually feeling any pain for a while, but a bright whiteness was in my head. I must have fainted because I woke up , once again, in an ambulance. THATS when the pain was there! It took my breath away and I couldnt even focus on where I was. He was in the ambulance with me, I could hear him crying, telling them to save me and the baby. What a horrible accident. I remember being so confused, wondering, how can he say this?
I had 2nd and 3rd degree burns on my stomach. The baby didnt make it, it was a boy. I was induced and had to go thru a normal labor to give birth to the dead baby. My stomach is so horribly scarred, that it disgusts even me to look at them much less subject anyone else to the sight of them.
One of the doctors at the hospital, for some reason, had a suspicion that something wasn't right. When my husband was away taking care of the kids, he came to me and was so nice, that I told him what had happened. Even then, I tried to protect my husband, saying I had provoked his anger. The doctor said that it was out of my hands and that he was notifying the police. My husband wasnt allowed back into the hospital. There was a restraining order taken out against him and he was forced, under police escort, to move out of our house. When I returned home from the hospital, his sister had come to help him take care of the kids and they had found an apartment and took the kids with them. He called to tell me that he was keeping them and that no lawyer would give them to me. What he didn't know, was that there were charges against him for assault and battery, we went to court but I didnt press charges, at the time, spouses had one chance to not press charges against the offending spouse. The judge asked if I wanted the restraining order to stand and if I wanted a divorce. I looked him right in the eyes and said yes. My husband was allowed to speak and he told the judge that I had no job and would not be able to take care of the kids. The judge allowed me temporary custody, alimony and child support with the stipulation that I would get a job within the next month. I did get a job, as a seamstress, in a dry cleaners that allowed me to work from home with only a couple of hours in the shop fo fitting clients. It wasnt the best money in the world, but it got us thru, and we were free. The first night after court, I slept on the floor, on a pile of towels that I had purposely thrown on the floor.
This is a long first entry, and it has been extremely hard for me to write, it will be harder for me to hit that submit button and open myself up to anyone who may come across this.
There is much more to the story. The last 8 years in fact. I will complete this tomorrow but now I need to be away from this.
You build a pyre and set yourself ablaze for
the sake of self
Red bird of fire you come forth
through your ashes
A new bird shedding the old self which no
longer is needful
You embrace your new strength
And fly to the heights of the sky
to the city of the sun
And give the ashes unto the alter of the sun
god for your immortality
Embrace yourself for you are
a child of the sun
And will live eternal
Through birth death and renewal
The spirit never dies