I am a married, mother-of-a-5 year old, full-time employed, forty-year old woman. Life is good now... but it hasn’t always been. At the risk of being labeled with “multiple personality disorder” I have three blogs under three different names. I’m also on several social networking sites. I guess you could say I like to write.
I am also an Adult Child Of an Alcoholic (ACOA).
I went to my first Al-Anon meeting when I was eighteen years old, a freshman in college, after my mother had finally left a physical mark on me. I didn’t start going to meetings regularly until my mother was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and I thought she was going to die. She didn’t die, but I learned to detach. I learned to live. I've stopped going to meetings now but I still use the coping skills I learned. I've lived in the F.O.G: Fear, Obligation, and Guilt all my life. Although I feel like I have moved on, I will never truly be free.
This point was brought home last week.
Last week I was surfing Facebook - a friend’s list had a name I knew. That list had another... and within a few clicks I'd found not only the name of a former high school classmate but also the name of her biological sister. Her biological sister had been MY foster sister for four years. Her half-brother had been my half-brother too during those years. I couldn’t believe what I'd stumbled upon, and I wasn’t sure it was real. Names change over time and Facebook is a pretty big place. Nonetheless, I sent out messages and friend requests.
My former foster sister responded very quickly - she was glad to hear from me. Before I knew it, we were talking about old times. My mother beat this girl. For four years, my mother beat this girl who was only four when she came to live with us. When she was eight, my mother finally left a mark someone at school saw. So, the social workers came and she was gone. I saw her once a year later but I couldn’t talk to her... then I never saw her again. I was ten when she left my home. I’m forty now.
For three days I cried after finding this woman on Facebook - not a reaction I expected. I thought it was PTSD and I was pretty scared. I know now that I am pulling out of it - I'll be okay.
In the past week we've talked back and forth, talked about how my mother is a monster. I had to let this woman know the guilt I carry; to tell her that she was not alone. My mother has abused many: my foster sister and her brother were lucky to get out. The baby who my mother and step-father were in the process of adopting was not so lucky. In spite of the child abuse charges, the adoption went through. My adopted brother is 31 years old now - he's suffered his own demons; demons I can't understand.
I, however, am still in contact with that monster who gave birth to me. I am the only biological child and was always treated as the oldest. I am grateful that many miles separate us, that I have a supportive network, and the tools I learned from Al-Anon.
Re-experiencing the past was a shocker. Hearing my sister’s stories, learning of some of the abuse that I hadn't known about was hard. Reliving my own memories is scary.
I went to the doctor’s office on Friday because my asthma is bothering me. They were “updating their forms” and on the new one was a question: “have you ever been abused?” For the past eight years I have lied through that question because it was in my past. On Friday though I had to speak my truth, and in the examining room with my doctor, I broke down and cried.
My foster sister has learned to speak up, to expect to be believed; always stand up for herself and always say her truth. She is right. I will not defend my mother. Staying quiet is not the answer.
We need to speak our truth. When we share it with each other, we discover we are not alone.