At the age of 3, my father began sexually molesting me.
At the age of 5, the sexual abuse was replaced by physical abuse from my father and my mother.
At the age of 9, both my mother and father went to rehab for alcoholism.
At the age of 10, I finally knew what it was like to have a home after living in over 200 houses, more than 100 cities, fifteen states, and two countries.
At the age of 14, I was raped by a classmate my freshman year of high school.
At the age of 15, I started working two full-time jobs and single-handedly supporting my family because my parents flat-out refused to work.
At the age of 16, my parents decided to start drinking again. I took on a third job to support their alcoholism.
At the age of 18 I graduated high school at nearly the top of my class.
After my first year of college, I was told that I was not allowed to continue even though I had scholarships because “I wasn’t raised to think I was better than anyone else.”
At the age of 21, I was raped again … by the man who had betrayed me seven years before. My parents told me I deserved it, and was lucky that a man had paid that much attention to me since I was worth nothing. I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
My birth certificate says that I was born on April 2nd, 1987 at 1:25 p.m.
I was born on March 30th, 2009 at roughly 9:45 p.m. when, at nearly 22 years old, I decided I had been through enough.
I am the adult daughter of two alcoholics who have been diagnosed by multiple mental health professionals as suffering from a variety of mental disorders.
My father suffers from Bipolar Disorder and severe Anxiety. My mother is a Paranoid Schizophrenic. Neither one has any sense of reality beyond their immediate perception of the world, and both are Compulsive Liars.
The man who raped me intimidated and frightened me into a silence I would not break for almost ten years. When I ran into him again, he introduced me to his wife and child as if we were old high school friends.
He contacted me after getting my information through old mutual friends and asked if we could meet to reconcile and so that he could apologize for what he had done. He never had any intention of doing so and in my own foolishness, I met with him and he forced me into the back of a car and raped me … again.
My parents told me I had to be lying, and that if I had been raped then I should consider myself lucky because that was more than I deserved from anyone. When I insisted that I was not lying and needed their help, my father smacked me across the face and broke a chair over my back.
I was almost twenty-two years old at the time and the only thing I remember after that was my youngest sister’s face. She was staring in horror and fear trying to figure out what to do.
I was the only one who stood up to the two of them. I defended everyone. I fought everyone’s battles and kept everyone safe. The thoughts in her mind were clear on her face: Who was supposed to protect me? How could they help me?
I had stayed for years thinking that I was protecting them. In that moment, I realized that if I showed them that all you could do was take the abuse and not actually do anything about it … then one day my little sister was going to be in my position … and no one would be around to help her either.
I didn’t have anywhere to go. I had nowhere to stay that night. I called up a friend and grabbed a ride, and crashed on a couch while struggling to find somewhere to live.
I went through months of endless torture and doubt while going through the trail that put my rapist in jail for what will be a very long time. I changed my address, my phone number, and all of my information so that I could cut ties with the life I didn’t deserve and start living a life that was not filled with fear, or doubt, or regret, or abuse.
Today, I am 23 years old.
I have a home of my own for the very first time.
I have sought counseling for the traumas I have been through in my life.
I have struggled with body image, self-esteem, guilt, and an intense lack of trust in people I care about.
I have cut all ties with my family, stopped supporting them financially, and moved on to start a life of my own.
I have found love in a man who is the best thing to ever happen to me. A man who would never raise a hand to me, who loves me in spite of my demons, and who has already supported and seen me at my absolute worst.
I have found peace.
I am not sharing my story to shock, horrify, or scare people. I am not sharing my story seeking sympathy although it is graciously received.
I am sharing my story because somewhere out there is a man, woman, or child who has faced demons that linger in shadows all around them. They may not feel that they are able to overcome them and they are utterly alone.
I am telling you my story to tell you this:
You are not alone. Ever.
No one is ever alone. There were moments when I wanted to give up and give in. Just tune out and wait for the worst to come so that nothing else as bad could happen. I figured there was nothing that could help or save me. I have been there.
I made it out and I am waiting for you with open arms on the other side. There’s plenty of room here.
I am not a “blogger,” even though I have a blog. I am not good at writing.
I have tried. I have written as catharsis. Anything I write eventually ends up used against me. I even used to write poems long ago, but what I got in return for pouring out my heart effectively put a stop to that.
I don’t know where to begin or how to form a coherent compilation of a jumbled life. There is much I will leave unsaid.
I didn’t know where I began and my mother stopped.
I am a child of a mentally ill parent. The woman who gave birth to me, whom I am supposed to call Mother, has schizophrenia. I am sure there are many other diagnosis that could be added to that, but we will keep it simple. As if there is such a thing as simple with schizophrenia.
I could write endlessly about the trauma, dysfunction, neglect, and abuse of my childhood.
The shame. The guilt. The fear. The secrecy. Being judged from HER illness.” Crazy by association.” As a result, I think I have been depressed and angry my entire life. I never was able to have a “childhood”. The early years are a blurry nightmare. Memories that are locked away by choice and repression. Sometimes I feel like I am made up of nothing but scar tissue. Who am I? Will I be judged based on her illness forever? How long will I carry her baggage as well as my own?
By some miracle I was given a reprieve. When I was 5 I went to live with an Aunt and Uncle and their two sons. God only knows what they thought of the feral child they received. Merging into a “normal” household was difficult. For all of us, I’m sure. I was a child who fended for herself and had to adjust to a new way of life. At some point I started to call my Aunt & Uncle, Mom & Dad. My cousins were like brothers. Although I was still reserved and doubtful about the security of love, I loved them.
But then like a piece of property, like a borrowed casserole dish, my “owner” demanded around the time I was 10, that I be returned. Returned to hell. I remember having an early birthday party with my friends before I left. I didn’t understand. Why would they send me back? What did I do wrong? Why was I being punished? Part of me still doesn’t understand. Even as an adult who has actually been given some of the information that as a child I was not privy to. Only those that were adults at the time will ever truly know the whys of it all.
I became the caretaker. I felt thrown away. Invisible. Damaged. Unwanted. Unlovable. Once again fending for myself in every way. Any time I made my NEEDS known, I was told I was selfish. Like dinner. How dare I expect dinner. Or school clothes, or to have my laundry done. Or or or… infinity. Any time I tried to speak up to ask questions of my family or tell someone that something wasn’t right or even to break free of the twilight zone I lived in, I was brushed aside and told “we’ll speak with your mother”. Yeah great idea. I was screaming. No one heard me. No one saw me. Or they chose not to. Selective blindness. She was the adult. I was just the child who acted out.
Unheard. Screaming inside. Unheard. Seriously!?!? How could family simply go on living their lives like mine was disposable?
Not ONE person in my family could admit to the secret that was my mother. So I became the problem child. It wasn’t her it was me. It wasn’t HER sick twisted warped behavior, it was somehow MINE. It wasn’t because I didn’t have a functioning parent or that I was subjected to abuse and exposed to things no child should be exposed to. It wasn’t because I was expected to be her caretaker, therapist, mental and physical punching bag and be sucked into her warped reality. No couldn’t possibly be that! According to them, I was a “bad” kid. I was wrong. It was ME. I had problems. I was the cause of the problems. All of the dysfunction was MY fault.
I grew up thinking there was something wrong with me. It has affected every aspect of my life. When I was a teenager, I finally found out what was wrong with her. Not because I was told, but because I wrote down the names and doses of all her medications and a person in my life was able to tell me what they were for. Needless to say confrontations were served all around. I stopped staying at “home” when I was 16, spending as little time there as possible. Still being labeled the problem child, I moved out completely at 17.
I have gotten therapy ad nauseam. I asked that I be given every psychological test known to man to see was I anything like her. Would I turn out like her? Was there something wrong with me? Despite my many flaws and admitted quirks and dysfunctions, I AM SANE.
So I still may not always know who I am, but I AM NOT HER. Nor will I ever be. I am bitter. And yes I am damaged. But I am ME. Whoever that is.
And for all the people telling me I have to forgive. For the so called family who abandoned me and still to this day judge me, shun me, and blame me, instead of facing the reality of HER illness, I give you a ginormous mushroom print. FUCK YOU.
I am me. Someone you do not know.
I wish I could write like our favorite Aunt Becky, but I can’t. My words will be misspelled, my commas will be out of place, and there will definitely be run on sentences, but I swear like a trucker so somehow I think I will fit right in.
So back story: BAD shit happened to me when I was a kid.
You know, my dad was an alcoholic, show me on the doll where the bad man touched you, which I never told my parents. My sister got pregnant when she was 14 and eventually my Mom could no longer deal with it all so I had to pick up the slack. That kind of bad shit.
There were days when I didn’t know if I would make it. Days that I wasn’t able to deal. I would burn myself or punch a wall just to feel… something. I made it through bruised but not broken.
I just wish I could tell the young girl that dealt with all of that what I know now.
I’ve been talking to a young friend who is going through so much in her life right now. She reminds me so much of my younger self. She, like me, puts up a strong front, but just beneath the surface you can see the hurt and self-doubt. When asked we will both say we are “fine.”
Every time she says it to me, my heart cracks just a little. See I know that when she says, “I’m fine” what she really means is “This hurts like hell! My heart is breaking. Somebody please just take away the pain.” I just want to give her hug and tell her it will all be okay. I won’t, mind you, because that would make me seem weak or soft or whatever my fucked-up mind thinks.
Still, through talking to her, I’ve been thinking, what would I tell my younger self?
So I wrote myself a letter today. Maybe it will help her or some other young girl who needs to know it WILL BE OK.
I know it’s hard right now, but experience brings knowledge, adversity brings strength. None of that makes a damn bit of difference when you’re hurting but faith, faith gives you hope. The hope that there is something greater out there brings a small amount of peace even in the darkest times.
When you find love, it calms. Love doesn’t hurt; it heals, it comforts, it expands. Love gives. It should not take away.
If life seems to be spiraling out of control, find solace in the small things. Family, friends, music, words. These are your armor against all that will stand against you.
Remember that the lessons learned from the mistakes we make and the paths we choose make us who we are. Never regret them. To do so would mean you doubt yourself. Nothing and no one should make you doubt your worth.
Though it’s sometimes easier to forgive others than yourself, YOU ARE ONLY HUMAN.
Be as kind and love yourself as much as you do those others.
Stand tall without being cocky and be proud of who you become.
I know I am.
PS. If none of that shit works there is always vodka.
I’m a 16 year old girl and I had to grow up fast. I never really got to enjoy my childhood, at times I don’t mind because I like feeling as though I’m capable to do things on my own, but sometimes I feel as thought I should’ve been able to live a normal teenage life. My father was in the picture but he was never mentally or emotionally there for me.
My mom had to take the role of both mother and father, but that made me feel like I had to be more responsible, like I had the responsibility of being a parent which I didn’t like. I started working once I turned 15 and I’ve worked ever since.
As soon as I got my first job my mom stopped helping me with anything and always asked me for money. I felt like I was the parent and she was the daughter. It really gets hard sometimes cause I feel as though she’s never played the role of being a mom. She kept a roof over my head and food in my stomach, but emotionally she was never there. I never got an “I love you” unless she did something really horrible towards me and felt guilty. I’ve never heard how was your day, how are your grades, how was school, would you like to talk about anything…none of these normal questions parents ask their kids. And it really hurts, I have just always wished I had an actual mom I could look up to.
Growing up, my family dynamic was so different from anyone I’ve ever known. My father was born a footling breach with the cord wrapped around his neck. He ended up with brain damage due to the lack of oxygen to his brain and was later diagnosed with schizophrenia. My mother is developmentally delayed and was also later diagnosed with schizophrenia.
My parents met through my mother’s brother, my Uncle Bob, who was also developmentally delayed. Uncle Bob and my dad went to special education school together and became friends. Bob introduced my dad to his little sister, my mom. They met, fell in love, got married and then I came along.
Neither one was really capable of living on their own, much less together, and now a baby, me. By six weeks old I was malnourished and dehydrated – I almost died. My maternal grandmother took me away from my parents and brought me to the doctor. From then on, she did her best to raise me. It wasn’t long before my parents divorced and my mom moved back home with us. My father moved back home to his parents, too.
We had grandmother, my mother, Uncle Bob, and my grandfather, the child-molester, all under one roof. My grandfather molested my mother and had a reputation for other little girls in the neighborhood. I believe he started molesting me when I was less than a year old. I don’t understand why nothing was done legally but my grandmother said they just overlooked him.
I believe that he had intercourse with me around age four. My mom and grandmother noticed that I had like a nervous breakdown and screamed when anyone came near me for over a week. They had to keep me in my baby bed and just bring me food like a animal! I believe with all my heart he raped me but no one took me to the hospital or doctor because he might have gone to jail for it. My grandmother had no education and relied on my grandfather to support her and the rest of the family. I’m not making any excuses; I think she just didn’t know what to do.
I had so many problems with my private areas when I was a little girl and nothing was done. I still don’t understand why. I even had to have surgery on my vagina when I was five – it’s like everyone was wearing blinders. Baffling. My grandfather died when I was seven, so the molestation ended
By ten, I realized I was already more advanced than my parents. I taught my dad his ABC’s using flashcards when I was eight. He never learned to read and neither did my Uncle Bob. My mother can read but has absolutely no common sense, so I swear my dad was more intelligent. At fourteen, I had to quit school to take care of my family. By then my grandmother’s health was failing, times were changing, and they didn’t understand how to make appointments, pay bills, stuff like that because things became automated.
I became very angry that I had no childhood so I rebelled – big time. I ran the streets and ended up getting raped. by a friend’s father. He actually plead guilty to it and severed a year and a half in prison. I still feel like that was my fault because I flirted with him.
That’s the only way I knew to act around a man.
My mom is a religious fanatic so I grew up in church and attended a private “Christian” school. My dad’s mother paid for it but not for the reasons that you might think. Embarrassingly, it was to keep me from going to school with black people – terrible.
The school was crazy too; I just couldn’t escape craziness! At one point we had a so-called Evangelist visit and for two weeks we were made to listen to what was supposed to be real exorcisms and learn all about demon possession. It was horrible! I am forty years old and I still have issues with it.
After I quit, I ran the streets, acting like I was 21. At 14, I met a 19 year old man and moved in with him. I was living like a married woman at age 14. My grandmother was actually happy that I had settled down; now she always knew where I was. Unfortunately he was very obsessed with me and abusive. At first, I enjoyed the attention and punishment; I put up with it for two years.
Ironically – and I know this will be hard to believe but I swear it’s true – BOTH of my parents had nervous breakdowns and were diagnosed with schizophrenia within the same year! My mom thought she was possessed by a demon and talked to God while my dad thought he could talk to the devil.
They were both in and out of different mental hospitals all the time. My mom would speak in tongues and run outside into the street, it would take six police officers and EMTs to restrain her. My dad would try to kill himself, he took 120 over-the-counter sleeping pills and was in the cardiac intensive care unit before going to the mental hospital.
At 17, I met my ex-husband and became pregnant with twins. I lost one of them during my pregnancy but delivered my now 22 year old daughter. He gave me my first black eye while I was pregnant with her. We had three more children together, three sons. My oldest son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and my middle son has autism.
Dealing with all my family issues with my sons delays was more than I could handle. On top of everything, my ex-husband was abusive. Along with several “minor beatings,” at one point I had a fractured elbow and a nose broken so severely, he split my nose almost in half.
In 2006, my Uncle Bob, who had been like a father to me was killed in a accident. It was more than I could take. I started abusing pain pills – big time. Two years later, my grandmother passed away and added drinking to the mix. A lot of drinking.
I left my ex-husband and met a girl I fell in love with; we were both idiots and addicts at first. Man, do I have stories! Four years into our relationship, I lost my kids. I gave up on life. Around the same time, my girlfriend and I briefly separated. When we were separated, she slept with her ex boyfriend, got pregnant, then we got back together.
I’d like to say we sobered up right away but that would be a lie. The baby was almost two before my girlfriend got help. Eventually I followed. Today, I split my time between my ex-husband’s house and my children. She lives with her boyfriend and her daughter. We are very close. Turns out, I really like my ex-husband now that we’re not married and he’s not abusing me.
I just wish I had someone to talk to that can relate to even half of my crazy upbringing. Someone who can relate to me. I don’t know anyone with both parents like mine or a life like mine. It’s a crazy life, but that’s all I know.
Thank you for listening, The Band.
A childhood steeped in hatred and abuse can threaten to break us.
And yet, we go on:
I was six months old when I was beaten the first time.
This beating required an Emergency Room visit. When you are beaten from such a young age, you learn that your body has no boundaries, you are not entitled to safety.
I was molested before six years old, my mother witnessed this at bath times…and did nothing. I was raped from six to eight years of age. Mom reminds me, regularly, that she was a victim, too. Therefore, I do not have permission to blame her for these things.
Back then, violence was a multiple days a week occurrence. Dad was quiet most of the time. And then, without rhyme or reason that I could detect (and I tried to identify the cause, to stop it), BLAM! Heaven forbid we did a normal kid thing that was bad.
Nighttime was parent fighting time. From my bed, I could hear the screaming, Mom crying. I could hear bodies tumbling and grunting, from him reaching for her and hitting her. He would rape her. He would break furniture on her.
By the time I was six until I was eight, he stayed in the guest room on a frequent basis. EVERY night he was in that room, I was too. I got to hear graphic details of Vietnam, before the touching and raping.
When Dad moved into his own home, this decreased to weekends.
But then Mom started. She was depressed and suicidal. She couldn’t handle our noise, our needs, or even us asking for permission to do things. She would strike out, smack us with books, knock our knees with her foot, pushing us away in frustration.
When our bodies were dirty, she would bathe us. She washed my vagina so hard, her nails or the edge of the washcloth would leave slices in my labia. She would pinch between my toes, hard enough to hurt. We had to “get the dirt out.”
Dad ran off when I was eight. Counselors had identified that I was suicidal; what he had done to me. He was confronted and fled to avoid prosecution.
By the time I was nine, Mom had started studying the Holocaust. We were made to watch documentaries with gruesome footage of violence. We had to see pictures of the piles of dead bodies.
We went to museums to meet Holocaust survivors, to hear their stories. The same graphic documentary pictures were always hanging on of the walls.
There were never other children to find, to play. We had to stay by Mom’s side, to witness these things.
We were not permitted anger, or to be sad. No tears, no screaming. We could smile. Or, we could be quiet.
When encouraged, we could explore mud puddles or play on the beach and laugh and giggle with Mom. There were the good times.
We’d always been very poor – with Dad around we were poor, but always had food. After he left, we’d have times of hunger. No food, or too little. I would dish out more to my sister first. Then Mom. Sometimes, I would sacrifice my food so that they could get more. I had become the family cook by the time I was nine. I cleaned. I helped with my sister’s homework. I helped with Mom’s college homework. I was an A-student on my own studies.
Mom used a wooden spoon to spank us. She hit so hard, she would crack handles. We had bruises and welts in the perfect shape of a spoon head on our bottoms and thighs. Sitting in a wooden chair at school was uncomfortable.
When she smacked our heads with her open hand, she would hit our ears. The ringing would startle me.
Her verbal abuse was astounding, sharp and biting. She told me that I was so annoying that it drove her to drink. (Subtext: Daddy was an alcoholic because of you, and I drink because of you too.)
All of these things struggled to silence me, shame me, and remove my human dignity. All of these things demonstrated that I had no rights.
And yet, I persist.