Rose

Just the sound of that name brings back memories that I want to forget. I don’t like the flower because of her. I don’t like the smell or anything that can be remotely associated with that name. Rose has forever ruined me and my ability to ever trust or feel like normal people do.

The first time I met Rose she was sweet and friendly and seemed as if she cared about me. She treated my dad well and for the first year that I lived with them, things were great. It wasn’t until we moved into the big house that Rose flipped a switch and became something out of a movie. If you have ever seen the movie Mother Dearest, you can understand what Rose was like.

When I was 11, I got surgery on my left eye for a condition I was born with that caused me to look cross-eyed. The surgery went well but I was over-anesthetized so I had horrible nausea and vomiting afterward. It took a couple of hours for me to even get released from the hospital after the outpatient surgery because I couldn’t hold anything down. Once I was released, we drove home and I slept in the back seat of the car. When we got home, I felt the urge to vomit again and rant to the bathroom. I threw up for a few minutes and when I stood up, my eye was bleeding. Rose came into the bathroom and began to yell at me for throwing up and making my eye bleed. How was I supposed to prevent this? How could I be in trouble for vomiting? Yes the bleeding eye was scary but what could have I done? Little did I know, this wouldn’t be the worst of her temper.

At first, it started with little things like her forcing me to eat vegetables that disgusted me and made me gag and vomit. She would make beets with dinner and I actually tried them and hated them but she would not listen and forced me to eat them anyway. Now, I have kids so I understand that you want your kids to eat their vegetables and you give them the whole spiel about not getting up from the table until they’re done. But, when you see your child physically gag every time they take a bite of that vegetable, it’s safe to assume that maybe that vegetable isn’t for them. Rose didn’t see it that way. I was forced to sit at the counter and eat every last beet until my plate was clean. Every time I would gag she would tell me that if I threw them up, she would make me a fresh bowl of them.

Anytime I would get into trouble for not doing a chore or some other random thing that normal kids get in trouble for, she would tell my dad. Dad and I were very close and he must have thought she was overreacting because he would take me into my room and have a talk with me and then smack his hands together and tell me to pretend like I got a spanking. It was actually kind of comical and I think she knew he was doing it because it showed on her face.

As far as chores go, I had a list for each day of the week. I had to check them off as I completed them and she would go check to see it was done right. No big deal. This is standard parenting and I don’t fault her for that. However, my chores turned into something out of the Cinderella movie. At first, it was scooping the litter box and dishes or something like that. After a bit, it became: polishing the marble tub twice a week, picking up dog shit out of the yard daily, sweep and mop the entire house, clean windows, vacuum every room daily, clean all 3 bathrooms daily, plus the other mundane chores kids get. I wasn’t home schooled so when I got home, I had to start chores and do homework before dinner. I literally spent each day doing nothing but chores and schoolwork. When I was done eating, I had to take a shower and get ready for bed.

Kind of sounds like I’m whining about chores. I made lists for my kids and Cynthia made lists for me when I was a teenager so what made Rose so bad? The enforcement.

If I didn’t complete a chore, I was spanked. No big deal right? Yes. Big deal. Rose had a temper like my dad’s but nobody knew it. Didn’t complete a chore? Get the belt. Lie about anything? Get the belt.

Still seems like whining, right?

Imagine an 11 year old girl who already has issues trusting and being comfortable around others because she was molested, beaten, abandoned repeatedly, exposed to addiction and drug sales and addicts/prostitution, and grown up in filth. This little girl would be fearful of ruining a good life. She would be fearful of getting in trouble. She would be fearful of losing her stable home. She would want to please those around her.

Now add in a woman, 5 foot 9 inches tall, large build, angry, demanding, and manipulative. This woman also has the little girl’s father wrapped around her finger and has him thinking she is the greatest mother around. She pretends to be sweet and loving when he is there but turns into a hateful and vindictive person when he’s out of town. Give that woman a belt, a temper, and a reason to hate the little girl (she is taking attention and love from the husband and coming between their marriage, in her eyes) and you have someone who would do anything to punish that little girl.

Rose didn’t just spank me with the belt. She beat me. She would force me to pull down my pants and underwear to bare my butt to her. Then she would make me bend over the bed and put my hands in front of me. I would scream and cry and beg her not to hit me but it would only piss her off more. That belt would hit so hard that it would wrap around and hit the side and front of my legs. She didn’t care if she hit my butt or my legs or my back. She just whipped it around and listened for the crack.

One time she hit me so many times and so hard that I had bruises up and down one of my legs. I didn’t tell her. I didn’t show her. But I know she saw them when I was wearing shorts. I know she knew that she had gone too far but she showed no remorse. Didn’t treat me any differently.

Rose loved to shop so when she went on all-day shopping trips to the mall with “the girls”, she’d take me to my friend, Trina’s, house. Trina’s mom was church friends with Rose but I am not sure they were super close. Anyway, a day or two after the bad belt beating, I was dropped off at Trina’s while Rose went shopping and had lunch with her friends. Trina was a girly girl. She was beautiful and had all the guys wanting to date her. She was also a very good, sweet, girl and a good friend. Even though we weren’t into the same things, she was still my friend and cared about me. So when she wanted to lay out in the sun in our bikinis and I refused, she was very curious why. I was usually up for laying out and being a little girly with her but this time I didn’t want her to see the bruises. She kept pushing and I finally showed her. I told her what happened and she seemed sad for me but left it alone. We hung out the rest of the day without me ever having to bare the bruises. I am grateful for that.

Rose picked me up later that day and we went home. The next day, however, I realized that Trina’s concern for me was going to end very badly for me. She had told her mom about the bruises who then proceeded to call Rose. I don’t know what she said to Rose but Rose definitely wasn’t happy about it and took it out on me. This is how I knew Rose knew about the bruises. She backed me against the wall next to her bedroom door and started asking me if I had told them about Rose’s belt episode. I cried and cried and was so scared to get beaten again. She told me that I better never tell anyone else about it again. She grabbed me by my hair on both sides of my head and started slamming my head against the wall while screaming at me hysterically. My head hurt so bad and I was screaming back at her that I wouldn’t tell anyone. She finally stopped and sent me to my room. The next time she went on her lunch and shopping trip, things went a lot differently.

Rose woke me up and made me do my chores. She made me some soup and had me drink water and eat until I was full. She then told me to go to the bathroom and make sure I didn’t have to go anymore. She told me to go to my room and then came to the doorway and stood over me while I stood in the back of my room, scared of what was about to happen. She told me that I was to remain in my room until she came back and that she would be gone all day. She held up a piece of tape and said she would be putting it on the outside of my door, taping the door to the frame, and that she would know if I came out of the room because the tape would not be secured. This small piece of scotch tape was going to be the thing that kept me locked in my room for the next several hours. She closed the door, made some scratching noises at the top of the door and then a few minutes later, left the house. At first, I was okay with the situation. She wasn’t home and I could just relax for a change. But after a while, I began to get some weird form of anxiety. I started crying and shaking and screaming for my dad to come home and that I wanted to come out now. As a kid, your concept of time is skewed. You don’t know if its been an hour or three but you know it feels like forever. I can tell you that when Rose left, it was morning time, maybe 9am or so. When she got home, it was almost dark.

The whole time I was in my room, I was scared, alone, and thought something bad was going to happen. Every single noise I heard added a little more terror to the situation. Finally, though, I laid on my bed and cried myself to sleep. When I woke up, it was to ice cold water hitting me in the face. Rose had come home to me sleeping and was obviously pissed that I hadn’t left the room or that I wasn’t somehow waiting anxiously for her return. Whatever the reason, I was allowed to come out, go pee, eat, shower, and go to bed.

The days with Rose were long and I was always on edge. Dad was gone for entire weeks at a time and only home for a couple of days before he’d leave again. This left me with Rose to be repeatedly abused, mentally and emotionally. The only way I knew how to make her happy was to pamper her by giving her pedicures. She loved to have her toenails cut and painted and her dry-ass heels done and smoothed out. So, that’s what I did to keep her mood in check. But you can only do so many pedicures in a month. One good day every week or two isn’t enough.

Then she got pregnant. Dad was happy he was going to have another child. He really did want to be a good dad. Rose got worse for me though. I don’t know if it was the pregnancy or the fact that she was having her own child and I was still there to take away some of the attention Dad would be giving to her child and her. I continued to give pedicures and try to stay out of her line of sight but it seemed like she enjoyed her little bouts of torture.

She had a friend named Tiffany that would come over a lot. Tiffany was young. She was like 18 years old and I think she did Rose’s hair or something and that’s how they met. Anyway, Tiffany would come over and babysit me sometimes. Tiffany must have been told some pretty shitty things about me because she had the same attitude toward me that Rose had. She would pretend to be nice sometimes to get information but then would run and tell Rose things that I didn’t say or do to get me in trouble.

One time Tiffany told Rose that I had smarted off to her. I don’t know for sure what she considers being a smart mouth but I was too scared of a kid to smart off to anyone. But, she says I did and I say I didn’t… who knows. Anyway, Tiffany went to Rose and told her that I had done this thing and Rose was pissed. She asked me about it and I, of course, denied it because I didn’t. Now, she is mad because I smarted off and lied about it. Her punishment? Soap.

I know some or most of you have heard of parents “washing” their kids mouths out with soap. They either have them lick it or hold it in their mouth or something to that effect. Rose took it to the next level and then barreled through that level to the next and the next. I was instructed to go to the bathroom and get a bar of soap. We used Dove soap. I remember the smell and the taste of it well. The little indentions in the bar where the word is carved.

I was told that I should stand in front of her while she reclined in her chair and take a bite of the bar. I did so after pleading with her to not make me do it. After unsuccessful pleading, I took the bite. She then tells me to start chewing. I’m slobbering and snotting all over the place while I cry and chew this chunk of soap. After chewing for about 10 seconds, she tells me to swallow it. That’s when it happened. As soon as it hit the back of my throat, my body rejected it and I started gagging and began to vomit in my mouth. That’s when Rose sits up in her chair and tells me that if I throw up on her new carpet, she will kill me. Not the off-the-cuff “I’m gonna kill you” for making a mess but a literal threat to kill me if I throw up on her carpet. I ran to the bathroom and couldn’t hold it in anymore. It came out like something out of the exorcist. I didn’t even have time to open the toilet lid so I just let it go in the bathtub.

Rose comes in after me and then starts yelling at me for not throwing up in the toilet instead of the tub. She tells me to get it cleaned up and go to my room. I didn’t get a drink of water. I didn’t get any relief from the taste of Dove and vomit. I was sent to my room and stayed there for the rest of the night. Until she went to bed that is. Then I snuck out and got some water out of the sink across from my room. I made sure to be super quiet and then went back to my room.

Dove soap is like cockroaches to me. Do you remember the anxiety I get from roaches? This is what Dove soap does to me. I hate the smell. I won’t buy anything that Dove makes. Nothing. I can still taste it when I think of that day.

Things didn’t get better after that. I managed to get by, day to day, by pampering her and doing every chore to perfection. Then one day, my dad finally saw Rose’s temper. I don’t remember what I said or did to set her off or if it was the fact that Dad came home happy to see me but whatever it was, she lost it. She started chasing me around the house, screaming at the top of her lungs, “I’ll kill that bitch!”. Dad finally witnessed it. Finally he saw what was happening. He stood between us, protecting me from her. She wouldn’t dare touch me in front of him with him standing there between us. He would have lost control I think.

That episode created conflict in my dad’s world that he wasn’t prepared for at all. I can only imagine what went through his head knowing it was risky to go back out of town, leaving me with her, alone. So, he took me with him. It was supposed to be a couple of weeks, I think, at a hotel. I’d stay in the room while he was at work and watch TV and swim in the pool when he got home. We were hours away from Rose and I’d be safe. I thought.

It was not even a whole day that I was out of town with Dad. We got settled in our room; he bought me a bathing suit to wear when he got back from work. He left and I was instructed to stay in the room and not leave unless it was emergency and that I should only go down to the front desk where Dad had left his contact info.

I was sitting there watching cartoons, like kids do, when the phone rang in the room. I answered it because who else would be calling except my daddy? It was her.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Watching TV.” I said with a shaky voice because I was terrified to hear her voice on the other end of the line.

“You’re grounded. You’re not supposed to be watching TV. I’m coming to get you.” she declared and then hung up.

I was left holding the phone, scared shitless. What do I do? She’s going to come here and pick me up while Dad is at work and he won’t know she did it until its too late. She could do so much in the time it would take for him to reach our house after getting home and realizing I wasn’t there.

I panicked and ran around the hotel room frantically trying to figure out how to get ahold of my dad. There weren’t cellphones being used by everyone then so how was I supposed to get him to come save me?

I decided to run down to the front desk and see if they could help me but I didn’t have a key to the room because I wasn’t supposed to leave the room unless Dad was there. I grabbed a pair of my dad’s sized 13 shoes and shoved them in the doorway to prop the door open and ran downstairs. I was shaking and my heart was beating out of my chest.

When I got to the front desk, they could see the fear on my face and the tears welling up in my eyes. I started rambling on about how I needed to get my dad and that I was scared because my stepmom was coming to get me and they had to help me get my dad. They instantly started searching for contact information for him and eventually got him on the phone. They explained what I was telling them which probably seemed pretty silly to them and him at the time but I didn’t care. I knew her. I knew what she could do to me. I knew she had it in her to even kill me if she got mad enough.

I was told to go back to the room and wait for my dad and I did. I sat at the end of the bed, scared and shaking while I waited to see who was going to show up first: Rose or Dad. Thankfully, when the door opened it was my dad and I was, again, scared because I had made him leave work to come back to the hotel because I didn’t want to go home with Rose. Imagine the thoughts going through his head when he was driving back to the hotel. How ridiculous it must have sounded to him but, he did it anyway. I thank him for that.

That evening, he spent some time on the phone with Rose arguing about what she had done. She had never even left the house to come to the hotel and had said what she did just to scare me. It worked. Dad was not happy and they fought about it for a while. He seemed annoyed with me but I don’t think he was actually upset with my fear and reaction as he was at how it had gotten to that point.

Once Dad and I got home from his business trip, things were different. It wasn’t long before I was told I would be going away to a children’s home. Rose told me it was because I was a bad kid and didn’t do what I was told and lied about everything. Dad never really told me why. Looking back on it now, I think he did it because he didn’t know what else to do and couldn’t realistically take me with him every time he went out of town and he couldn’t trust that there wouldn’t be issues while he was gone. It was easier for him to just put me out of sight and mind.

The children’s home was a very religious place and I was there with kids who’s parents had abandoned them, literally, and those who had been removed from their homes due to drugs, violence, and abuse. Some had lived on the streets and others didn’t know who their parents were because they had been there since they were babies. This wasn’t a home for kids who had a father with money and a nice home life.

I stayed at this children’s home for almost a year and a half, seeing my dad only once a month. In that time, Rose was pregnant again with my little brother Christopher. Dad would bring me home for my visitation weekends and I would be the best kid I could be because I was scared of Rose and because I wanted to get out of the children’s home.

I wasn’t allowed to talk to boys, look at boys, wear makeup, wear pantyhose, no jeans or shorts, no hairspray in your hair, no television, and had to go to church and bible study more than five times a week. We got paddled if we disobeyed a rule. All of our clothes and food were donated by churches and other groups. We sang in a children’s choir in churches all over the state and went on a tour bus to do so. We stayed with families from the churches we performed at with complete strangers. Some were nice but others were not as Christian as they appeared. This would be where I was molested for the umpteenth time. By a complete stranger.

Toward the end of the time at the children’s home, Dad started showing up alone for visitations and would bring me jeans and shorts to wear. He would play “sinner music” like Funky Cold Medina by Tone Loc or songs by The Beastie Boys. We had fun.

This is when I found out he had left Rose and was dating someone. Cynthia. I had yet to meet Cynthia and I wasn’t sure I wanted to meet her. I was still struggling with all of the things Rose had put me through, including convincing my dad to put me away. Could another stepmom be in my future? I wasn’t ready for that. But, Dad ended up introducing me to her one day at the mall where he took me to shop for clothes from Esprit after getting me a makeover at the Estee Lauder and Clinique counters. Cynthia was nice. But I was leery of her. Having Rose out of my life was an enormous burden lifted though.

Shortly after the makeover visit, Cynthia and Dad had spoken about my stint in the children’s home and decided it was time to pull me out. This had to be one of the happiest days of my life.

Fuck you, Rose! I’m out of this place and Dad has left your ass for someone else. How’s that feel? No more hitting me. No more mental and emotional abuse. No more threats.

Rose continued to be a presence in Dad’s life because of my brothers and she tortured him for leaving him by using the boys against him. She got so much alimony support and child support from him with the divorce that my dad became bitter and angry toward women in general. She threatened to keep his sons from him to get him to do what she wanted. He was always mad or crying about her using those kids to manipulate and control him. She said and did things to that man that scarred him and ruined his opinion of women forever.

Years later, when I was grown with my own kids, I reached out to get in touch with my brothers. I knew I had to go through Rose. Speaking to her, being civil to her, just to get the privilege of talking to and being in contact with my brothers was a burden I was not prepared for at all. Our first conversation, Rose and I, was one of her apologizing to me for all those years ago. I told her I forgave her but I would never forget what she had done to me. I didn’t really forgive her but I had to tell her something so I could talk to my brothers. According to Rose, I wrote her a letter that told her about me joining the military and leaving my kids behind. She used this letter that I don’t even remember writing to her to make my brothers believe that I had abandoned my kids and family. She told them that I was money-hungry and wanted their inheritance. See, when my dad died, he and I had just reconciled after me leaving him to marry my first husband. I was only 16 so my dad was hurt and didn’t talk to me for a few years. When he died, we had been working on our relationship for several months and had finally gotten to a point where we were happy. He even had a name picked out for my baby that I was pregnant with when he passed.

According to his lawyers, Cynthia, and his secretary, he had updated his will and insurance information to add me back into everything but he had not finalized it yet so when he died, I got nothing. Now, I didn’t want anything but my dad back but the fact that his firstborn was left out of everything did hurt. My brothers got over $100k and Cynthia got much, much, much more. So, yeah, I was upset. But I never asked Rose or my brothers for money and I never would. The fact that she manipulated them into believing this was the person I was proved she would never change.

To this day, my brothers are estranged. I have spoken to Christopher once or twice but Matthew will not speak to me and has basically blamed me for everything that happened. He has been cruel and hurtful with words toward me when he never even got to know anything about me but what his mother has told him.

Rose is a vindictive, cruel, abusive, manipulative, and evil person. The day she is gone from this earth will be a day to celebrate. I will never forgive her for what she has done to me, my dad, my relationship with my brothers, or the scars she has left me with over all these years. I refuse to ever believe she can or will change and I hope she lives to a ripe old age in utter unhappiness. I hope Karma treats her the same way she has treated everyone else.

Happy New Year???

As I sit here writing this, music blaring in my house to drown out the sounds of the fireworks of normal humans who celebrate holidays with cracks, pops, and booms, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to enjoy holidays like this again.

It has been over 17 years since I deployed to Iraq. It’s been 16 years that I’ve been home from war. When will I be normal again? When will I be able to hear the sounds of others celebrating the holidays like this and not lose myself in memories and tears? When will sounds of harmless fireworks stop reminding me of gunshots and artillery? When will I stop picturing death and destruction every time I hear these sounds?

I fear it will never come…that day.

To all those who celebrate this way, enjoy yourselves but please remember there are people like me who are terrified to turn down the music until its over.

Happy New Year everyone!

Dad

Alright, so let me make sure its clear that Dad wasn’t perfect. He made a lot of mistakes. A lot. But…his mistakes were on a different spectrum. He pulled himself out of the hole that he was born into and made something of himself. His only downfall was that he let his mental illness take control of his emotions and cloud his ability to have relationships.

In “The Beginning”, I wrote about my dad beating me for writing on the wall and flipping the couch over with my mom still on it. That is the first memory I have of him and its the last one I have of him for a few years. It wasn’t until later on, maybe when I was like 5 or 6 years old that I remember him again. It was a great memory that hurts so bad to think about because its a short encounter with him that would be the last for a long time.

I was asleep at my Mamaw’s trailer in a shitty, white trash trailer park . My mom was not around or hadn’t come back for me that previous night so I was asleep on the couch. My cousin, Larry, was there and my Mamaw. **Larry and I grew up together like brother and sister because his mom left him at Mamaw’s a lot too. He basically lived with her. ** Anyway, I was sleeping and heard a knock on the door. I got up and answered the door. Yeah, I know…why is a 5 year old answering the door in a bad part of town but give me a break, I was five. Standing in the doorway, in the dark, at the top of the steps, is a large man with black hair and a big green duffel bag slung over his shoulder. I’m staring at him and he smiles and says he’s my dad and asks if my mom is there. Of course the answer is no so he asks to come in and sit with me. I’m just happy to meet my dad at this point so I, of course, let him in (I know, I know. Don’t say it). So, here is little ole me and this huge man sitting in my filthy trailer, me in my nightgown and him wearing his Marine green uniform, before the sun even comes up. His duffel is sitting on the floor in front of the small table and I’m sitting across from him. He asks if I want to eat breakfast together. I had to tell him we didn’t have anything to eat so he gets my shoes and we walk together to the corner store and grab one of those small boxes of cereal, ya know the ones that are supposed to be a single serving, and some milk. We walk back to the trailer, me still in my nightgown, mind you, and sit at the table eating cereal. I don’t remember the conversation or if there even was conversation. I remember him smiling at me a lot. I also remember him sitting on the couch with me watching cartoons after I was done eating. Not long after the sun came up, maybe an hour or so, he told me he had to go and hugged me and said he loved me. He left that tiny trailer that morning and I didn’t see him again until I was in the 4th or 5th grade. Not that I remember, anyway.

Dad grew up with an abusive father and an alcoholic mother. His dad sexually abused him and my uncle and beat the shit out of them every chance he got. When my dad was in high school, he had grown out his hair and dropped out. Apparently, from how Dad told it, my grandfather beat him like he was a grown man and told him to cut his hair and get back in school. Dad said that was the only good thing that man ever did for him. So Dad finished high school and started dating my mom. Dad was only two years older than her so she was only 16 when they started dating.

One day my dad went to visit her at her house. There was a guy standing outside of their house screaming and hollering for my mom’s cousin Henrietta to come outside. The guy was drunk, according to everyone who was there and told the story. My dad walks up and asks the guy to go calm down and come back when he’s not so heated. The guy tells Dad to fuck off and mind his own business. Dad said he obliged and left. He said he went somewhere and had a beer and came back with the hopes of seeing my mom. The guy was still there acting a fool. My dad walked up to him and asked him, again, to go cool off and come back later. This is where the guy loses his shit and hits my dad. He says he told Dad to mind his own business and starts to fight with Dad. Now, I don’t know how big this guy was but he had to be pretty ballsy to mess with my dad because Dad was six-foot-three-inches and not slight of build at all. Anyway, Dad said he lost his mind at this point and went into a blinding rage. He grabbed the guy by the sides of his head and threw him down to the ground. I guess, according to everyone there, Dad ripped the guys ear off when he did this. Dad said he blacked out and doesn’t remember anything except people screaming at him that the guy had a gun. He remembered feeling the guy trying to get something out of his pocket or pants and so Dad just continued to sit on the guy and punch him until he stopped moving. Mom says the guy had a gun in his pants and would have killed Dad if he had stopped long enough to let the guy get the gun.

The man ended up in a coma for a week and then died! My dad’s rage killed a man. How he didn’t go to prison, I don’t know. I guess because it was self-defense but wow, I was shook when they told me this story. According to Dad, the guy had like 5 brothers that all wanted to kill him so he joined the Marines and left. He said when he got out of the Marines he was ready to take on all 5 of them.

I tell both of these stories to tell you the two sides of Dad. On one hand, he was a gentle, loving man with a kind heart that would do anything for his family. On the other hand, he had a temper that couldn’t be matched by anyone and could lose control over the smallest little thing. When you live with someone like this, you want to be around them but you are always worried that you will say or do something to set them off. It’s a hard way to live, in constant fear of pissing off the person you love the most.

When I went to live with my dad, it was unbelievably wonderful. He had a nice car, owned his own home, went to work every day and came home to a meal prepared by a loving wife. I went to a school where I wasn’t picked on for my clothes anymore. Not that I didn’t get picked on but it wasn’t for the money or lack thereof. Dad would take us on trips to Bush Gardens or Sea World. He signed me up for ballet and tap dancing. I had a Barbie Dream Home in my room and lots of Barbie dolls. He took me clothes shopping multiple times in a year and gave me toys for my birthday and Christmas instead of using those days to give me the clothes I already needed. Rose and I had makeup parties and I’d model my new clothes for Dad as he sat in the living room telling me to go try on the next outfit. He had to see every single one. He cared about me and my happiness. I was the happiest little girl on the planet.

We upgraded our house not long after I moved to Dad’s. He bought a nice house and then added onto it. By the time he was done, it was a 3000 square foot, single story, home with a recreation room, a guest bath with a marble jacuzzi tub, and a huge back yard. This is the house where my life changed, yet again, and everything good that was just within my grasp was snatched away and replaced with hatred and torture.

Rose, I’ve told you, deserves her own posts so I won’t go too much into it other than to tell you this woman was physically, mentally, emotionally, and torturously abusive to me. She beat me, kept me in fear for my life, and always used my fear of her to get me to pamper her like she was a queen. My dad didn’t know this was going on because he was always out of town with work. See, when you get promoted and work your way up the food chain like Dad had, you end up spending a lot of time away from home to nurture the business. Looking back, I honestly think Dad stayed away so much, in part, because Rose and he were having marital issues to include her sleeping with our pastor. But that’s another story.

Eventually, though, Rose couldn’t hide the abuse from Dad and it came roaring out of her while he was home one day. She started screaming and chasing me around the house, telling Dad that she would “kill that bitch”. That’s when Dad decided to pack a bag for me and take me with him on the road. I went to a hotel with him and he went to work all day and I stayed in the hotel and watched tv and went swimming in the pool. Until Rose called me on the phone and made me believe she was coming to get me because I was supposed to be grounded.

I got so scared that she was coming there that I threw my Dad’s shoes in front of the door and took off running to the front desk, begging them to call my daddy because I was scared that my step-mom was coming to get me. I cried and cried and must have looked really silly being so upset about my step-mom coming to get me from the hotel. But, eventually, they reached Dad and he came back to the room and called Rose, who hadn’t even left the house and was just trying to scare me, successfully. They got into an argument and the rest of the trip was cut short.

Maybe just a few months later, Rose convinced my dad to put me in a Christian children’s home. This wasn’t a place for kids with loving parents; this was abandoned kids, kids who grew up with people like my mom. I wasn’t supposed to be one of those kids anymore. Yet, there I was, in a group home with kids who needed to be indoctrinated into Christianity as if they were the sinners, not the parents who had abandoned them or abused them or left them to rot in a home.

The children’s home isn’t something I really want to go into in this post but know that it was not horrible, per se. They were very strict with their religion and rules surrounding it. Everything they had, food – clothes – books – furniture – were all donated by the community or the churches they sang at when the children’s choir traveled. The important part of it is that Rose convinced Dad that I needed to be there and he left me there because of her. He let his desire to make her happy override his good judgement. That’s my opinion but, I don’t know the real reason behind it. Maybe he just wanted to avoid the conflict that was happening and skirting me off to a children’s home was the safest place for me to be and allowed it to make his marriage bearable.

Regardless of the reason, the visits with him and Rose were only once a month and Dad was definitely more happy about them than she was. He would pick me up and bring me jeans to wear or shorts, depending on the season, and she would complain that he was breaking their rules and setting a bad example. Dad didn’t care and I was happy for it.

After more than a year, I started seeing Dad change. He was… jolly, for lack of a better word. Then I found out he and Rose had split up and he had a girlfriend. He took me to meet her one day and we spent the day shopping at the mall for clothes that I could actually wear at the home. Then a few months later he picked me up and asked me if I wanted to go home. I thought he was talking about a visit but he was talking about forever. I was so happy that I bolted out of the truck and ran up to the room I shared with six other girls and started throwing my stuff together frantically. The staff were trying to stop me and I just kept telling them my dad was taking me home. They pleaded with him and told him that he was making a mistake (they were losing the money he was paying them every month, after all). I got my shit in the truck and we drove off with my Dad telling them to fuck off, if I recall correctly.

Fast forward to the apartment and my soon-to-be step-mom, Cynthia.

Dad was so happy with Cynthia. She made him feel good about himself. He didn’t have that with Rose. Rose still caused problems because she had my brothers and used them against Dad at every opportunity. But, Dad and Cynthia were silly in love and didn’t let her come between them…much.

I rebelled a bit after being locked up in a children’s home for over a year so I got into some trouble. I started smoking and hanging out with the headbangers in my school. Then I started running away. I think it was a total of 3 times that I ran away from home. Not because I was being abused or mistreated in any particular way. I was just unhappy and I think I was very jealous that Dad was so happy with Cynthia and didn’t have the same affection for me that he used to when he was with Rose. He used to spend time with me and hang out but when Cynthia was around, I didn’t exist. Plus, I was always in trouble for something stupid. Lying about using the phone or not getting a good grade in Algebra. One time they even drug tested me because I had lost weight because I refused to come out of my room long enough to get into trouble. It was easier to just hibernate in my room and be safe than to come out and say or do the wrong thing. So I didn’t eat and didn’t visit. I just stayed in my room and listened to music. Which ended with me losing 20 pounds. Go figure.

There were a couple of incidents where Dad lost his temper with me and hit me over the head with the cordless phone or backed me into my room and pummeled me with my pillows (instead of his fists) but, for the most part, I was just grounded, all….the….time. Typical teenage life.

Anyway, I went to visit Mom one Spring break (I wrote about it in my “Mom” post) and decided to move back to Orlando and live with my mom. That didn’t go over well with Dad but I was a teenager and I didn’t care about anyone but myself then.

I left Dad to go live with my mom who wasn’t around so I stayed with Rick and my brothers. Dad didn’t talk to me much. He was pretty hurt, I guess. I would have been too. Wasn’t until Rick called my dad because I was sneaking out of the house and going to see my boyfriend who was 23 years old. Dad came to Orlando and tried to scoop me up and take me home but I proclaimed my love for my boyfriend and told the cops, who had been called to help force me to go home, that I was pregnant. Dad changed right then. He promised to take me home and let me go to school and take care of me and the baby. So I did.

Dad let my boyfriend visit me and sent me to a high school for pregnant girls. There was a daycare and everything for those who had already delivered their babies. The only negative I can point out is that Cynthia and Dad tried to get me to give the baby up for adoption…to them. I could never have done that because I would see MY child call someone else Mommy and Daddy for the rest of their lives. So I told them no and I think Cynthia was hurt but I just couldn’t do it.

About five months into my pregnancy, I told them I wanted to get married. Dad was pissed, again, signed the papers, and dropped me off at my shitty new apartment and never spoke to me again for almost three years.

When my oldest child was three, I got in touch with my dad and we reconciled. I spent a couple of holidays at his house and my oldest got to meet him.

But, it didn’t last long. I got that call that killed a part of me forever. My dad had committed suicide. He had shot himself in the chest and died at work. The man who had rescued me from a horrendous future and done everything in his power to make sure I turned out different than my mom and his parents had ended his own life.

He was such a contagiously happy person that I was shocked that he had been so low as to kill himself. Where did this come from? Why hadn’t anyone ever told me? He had attempted suicide before and I didn’t even know. Apparently he was so unhappy that he was caught crying in his truck just two weeks before his death, holding a gun in his lap. He had called me two weeks before his death and apologized for being a bad father to which I vehemently argued he was not.

What could I have done had I known? Probably nothing but it hurts to think that I could have tried. He had been seeing a mental health provider that had told him he had a long road to recovery and I guess he wasn’t prepared to do it. All the shit he had gone through and the low self-esteem he had for himself just wouldn’t allow him to be truly happy.

I tell my family all the time how much they would have loved him. His boisterous laughter. His super smile. The way he’d call me a creep when I said something smart to him. Frying up steaks on Sunday mornings for breakfast. Modeling clothes for him just because he wanted to see how good they looked on me. Riding around singing Funky Cold Medina in his truck.

I miss him. I miss him so fucking much it hurts like he just died yesterday and its been 23 years.

Don’t let your thoughts and emotions do you in like they did to my dad. The devastation you leave behind is everlasting and you’ll never know how much you were truly loved and missed because you’ll be gone.

Mom

In my last post, I mentioned my parents and their failures. If you are a parent, you’ll agree that we all have failures and regrets. There’s a difference between “wow, I shouldn’t have given her such a strict curfew when she was growing up” and “I shouldn’t have dealt drugs and left my kids alone for days at a time so I could go fuck random men and smoke crack” kind of regrets. The latter is my mother.

After my dad and mom got divorced when I was young, my mom was with my step-dad. Rick was a great guy in a fucked up kind of way. He did drugs early on, was an alcoholic, and was not much of a fatherly love kind of guy but he loved me and my mom and provided for us with the skills he had. He was a construction worker…a damned good one. This man could build, literally, anything you ask him to build. He knew his shit and nobody could tell him anything about construction that he didn’t already have mastered. At home, though, he was drunk, on whatever drugs he did back then, and selling weed right out of the front door of our house.

Mom was not a bad person back then. She was a stay-at-home mom most of the time and took me swimming at the lake or to the park all the time. We laid out in the sun together in my little kiddie pool and she made me oatmeal for breakfast every morning. When my first brother was born that all changed. I don’t know what triggered it all. Was it Rick coming home drunk all the time or my dad showing back up in my life wanting visitation?

Whatever it was, mom changed from the loving person who was always there for her kids to this selfish woman who would walk out of the house in the middle of the night and disappear for days at a time. She would take me to my grandmother’s house, a shithole infested with rats, roaches, and drug addicts that were my uncles and aunts. Mom would drop me off there and tell me she’d be back later and later would come but she didn’t.

Mamaw’s house was something out of a bad dream. There’s poor people who live clean and just don’t have the money to afford a better place to live and then there’s my family. Disgusting houses with bugs and mice and rats and dirt everywhere. Mamaw was afraid to take a bath because she might fall so she stunk and had nasty feet and hair. My aunts and uncles mooched off of Mamaw’s welfare, stole her Valium and drank her beer. She was a chain-smoker so every ashtray in the house was full of cigarettes that she’d scrounge through when the money was gone to put together a whole cigarette.

When I had to spend the night, I slept on the couch most of the time which is where most of the bugs were. I would wake up in the middle of the night with cockroaches crawling on my hands and feet and face. I couldn’t put my feet on the floor without throwing something down first or I’d step on roaches. Nothing in the kitchen was edible because it was full of roaches and had chew marks from the mice. There was never any toilet paper so there was always a dirty sock or some random rag on the floor to wipe with. That’s not something a small child should have to get used to but I did.

This is where my fear of cockroaches comes from, for sure. I am terrified of them to this day. Just the other day, there was a huge roach at my work and I couldn’t even get close enough to kill it so I had to call one of my associates over to do it while they looked at me like I was silly. I can never express how horrified I am of cockroaches to anyone. They always ask me how I was in the military and deployed to Iraq during a war but afraid of roaches. Its embarrassing.

Mamaw and family didn’t stay in one house for too long. They always moved from one shitty house to another. And the time we spent there increased over the years. Mom kept leaving me there while she went to work at the topless bar or went out with her “sugar daddy” that she was dating while she was separated from my step-dad. Spending time at Mamaw’s was so regular that I actually went to school in the school district in her home area at one point. I was picked on relentlessly with my thrift store and Salvation Army clothes and used shoes. I wasn’t a dirty kid but I didn’t have nice clothes or a nice house.

When Mom was at home with my step-dad, things were better. I had nicer things and I went to better schools. I had friends and my own room without the nastiness of roaches and addicts. But, Mom couldn’t ever stay in one place for too long so Mamaw’s was always an inevitability. One that brought with it the likelihood of encounters with my Uncle Mikey. But I’m not gonna talk about him right now. He’s not worth the spit I launch into the sink when I brush my teeth.

So, at some point, Mom gave up on trying to be a decent human being. She started leaving me at home, my home, with my little brothers who were 2 years and 7 months old. My step-dad had to work so I, at age 11, was left alone with a toddler and infant. Three days went by this time with no Mom and my step-dad at work all day long, from dawn until after dark.

By this time, my dad was back in my life. He had been an absentee father for the first 10 years or so. There’s no general consensus as to why this was but when he finally started coming around, he was married to my first step-mom, Rose. Rose is several blog posts of my life, all by herself, but at this time, she was actually really nice. So, Dad gets me for weekends, twice a month, and six weeks each summer. It didn’t take long before my visits with Dad in his nice house, with all the toys and clothes I could ever want, and a loving and strong relationship became the light of my life. Dad would ask questions about my home life with Mom and my step-dad and, unbeknownst to me, he would document and use this to build his case for custody.

Mom and my step-dad smoking and selling marijuana, Mom disappearing for days at a time, dirty house, lack of proper nutrition, poor role models, and leaving me at Mamaw’s house for, sometimes, days at a time. This would all become his ammunition to involve Health and Human Services. When they would come out to the house on reports of drugs in the home, they would ask me questions and I would tell the truth. Afterward, Mom would ask me what we talked about and then yell at me for telling the truth. I would argue that I’m not supposed to lie and she would claim a white lie is okay. Within a year, Dad was asking me to move in with him and telling Mom that she didn’t have a choice, despite her efforts to fight him and tell me I couldn’t live with him. Eventually, I caved to my desire to live in a nice home with a loving family and left my mom to live with my dad.

When I told Mom that I would be moving to live with my dad, she left the house and disappeared for two days. When my step-dad found her, she was passed out in the cab of his pickup truck with slices on her wrists. They were shallow cuts and not a real attempt to commit suicide but it was still her cry for help or pity. Whichever it was, I was too young to understand it or care. I knew that she was angry with me and it made me want to leave even more. She told me that she had tried to kill herself and that it was my fault because I was leaving her. She blamed me for her depression and tried to make me feel guilty for wanting a better life. I wasn’t even allowed to bring my dog with me, regardless of who decided it was a thing, I had to leave my sweet boy with Mom and my step-dad. That dog was later put down by my step-dad because he was left on a chain at my step-dad’s sister’s house and he chewed up the seats on their boat. But I digress.

I left Mom and went to a better life and she used that as an excuse to dive head first into drugs. She got so far into the drugs that she started taking my little brothers to crack-houses with her and leaving one of them under a dresser, wrapped in a t-shirt for a diaper, while she got high in another room. My step-dad had to track her down and take the boys back over and over until she finally just left all three of them for a life on the streets.

When my visitation with Mom would come around that first summer, I dreaded it deeply. I knew it wasn’t going to be a summer of fun or anything remotely enjoyable. When I got there, I was thrown into nights of riding around in the truck while she went to get drugs or get her sisters so they could all get high. One night, she made me ride with her to a hotel where she met a man she didn’t know, who was nicely dressed, and went into his room for a very long time. She made me sit in the back of the truck, covered by an old camper shell, and wait for her. I waited, in the dark, alone and scared, in the parking lot of some hotel in the middle of nowhere (it was a newly developed area near Disney that wasn’t yet built up with hotels other than the one we were at). I would get scared and climb out of the camper top hatch and run up to the door of the hotel where she was and knock on the door. I would get yelled at and told to return to the truck and wait for her. Then, something happened that made it unbearable to wait any longer; a cockroach was in the back of the truck with me. I had learned that life could be cockroach free and that they aren’t supposed to be in your home or around your food. I had gotten used to being free from the fear of them crawling on my while I slept. I was terrified of them at this point so the 1.5-2 inch cockroach strolling around the floor of the bed of the truck with me in the dark was the last straw. I jumped out of the back, ran to the door, screaming and crying while I pounded on the door and peaked through the crack in the curtains. She finally came to the door and after telling her about the roach and showing her that I was not giving up on my mission to get out of this place, she cut the visit short and came out of the room less than a few minutes later.

After that, I couldn’t wait to go back home. I hated visiting this woman. She was selfish and did weird things that I didn’t understand or like. When I got back to Dad’s, I had to strip in the garage and we burned my clothes I was wearing and washed the rest, on the spot, in the hottest water. I was taken straight to the bathroom where I was coated with lice treatment from head to toe. The lice was so bad that my entire body was covered in bites and living bugs. When my step-mom was combing my hair, which was very long at the time, she was pulling out lice bugs the size of rice. The eggs, or nits, were so large in number that you could pile them up on the paper towel. The entire house was cleaned and bleached and I was never allowed to visit her again for the summer. I was happy about that.

It wasn’t until I was about 13 or 14 that I would hear and see how bad it really was with her. She was arrested numerous times for prostitution and drugs. At 16, I went to visit her for two weeks and when I arrived, I was notified that she was in jail for prostitution. I used the $200 my dad had given me to spend while I was there to bail her out. I didn’t see her the entire time I was visiting. She never thanked me or came to see me. I did get a copy of the police report, though, as the one who bailed her out, so I got a glimpse of her life. For less than $30, a man could have sex with my mom. For $15, she would give him a blowjob. For $5, she would jerk him off. Are you for real?

To this day, Mom is still struggling with crack and prostitution. Except now, I believe she’s realizing her age is preventing her from making money. She has missing teeth, one earlobe is ripped so the earring hole is the size of a thumb, and she has a pot-belly. She claims she’s trying to stay clean but she always finds a reason to go back to drugs. Whenever she calls, I know its because she wants money for this or that. She will pretend to care about what’s going on in my life but the conversation always leads to her monetary problems and me offering or saying yes to helping her out. After the money is on its way, I might hear from her one or two more times until she disappears again.

Every time I’ve tried to talk to her about drugs, she blames me for her fall. She has always blamed me. I took it at first but not anymore. Fuck her. I’m waiting for the call that she’s been killed or died. Its inevitable. It sounds harsh to say it but I’m not gonna lie and say I want to make it right. I don’t. She’s selfish, has never cared about anyone but herself and her drugs, and has left her family behind for a life of being raped by dealers and Johns and spreading her legs for a rock. So fuck her. Fuck her. Fuck her.

The Beginning?

I often wonder where to start when I think about writing. Do you start when you were a child or do you start with the most recent trauma? For some of us, life has been full of heartache and trauma. After so many bad things happen to one person, it gets harder and harder to pinpoint the root of anxiety or depression or PTSD. You can accuse this person or this event of being the culprit but how do you really know?

I have been through so many shitty things in my life that its hard for me to tell the difference between what actually caused and what just triggers my mental illnesses. I know my PTSD and the root of that particular beast but what about the others?

To be able to figure that out, I guess I have to start at the beginning. The very beginning…the first memory I can remember. Its actually two memories that have become tangled into the same time-frame but because I was so young I don’t think I was able to attach the concept of time yet.

So, lets just say it was somewhere around 3 years old. I remember running around the yard in my daddy’s work boots. They were really big and came up really high on my legs and I had to walk funny to be able to move around. I remember my mom and dad laughing at me. That’s it. A few moments in time full of laughter and fun before the first bad memory creeps in to take over.

Let me preface this with the fact that my parents weren’t bad people. They were both young at only 20 and 18 when I was born and victims of their own shitty parents and circumstances. So, I tend to give them a little bit of wiggle room for error when I look at how they grew up and the kind of people that raised them. But this isn’t about their childhoods or them as parents, in particular, so lets move on.

Back to the first shit memory.

I was young. Young enough to still be writing on the walls with crayons. Maybe like 3 or 4 years old. My mom was home and watching t.v. on the couch while I played in my room. My doorway faced the hall which ended in the living room at the back of the couch. My dad had just gotten home from work. He was wearing a dirty white t-shirt and jeans with his work boots. He had a lunch box in his hand when he passed the hallway to go to the kitchen. He went into the kitchen and started griping at my mom for not cleaning. He asked her about some money he had left her to do laundry or something and she told him she bought beer with it. I don’t remember the exact words but I know they were arguing and yelling at each other. My mom was still laying on the couch while they argued until my dad walked to the back of the couch and flipped it over with her on it.

This whole time, I am standing in my doorway watching and listening to what’s going on and writing on the wall with my crayons. I’m not sure why I was just standing in the doorway writing on the wall but that’s what I remember and that’s what gave me the target on my back. My dad was angry and in a rage because mom hadn’t taken care of the house while he was at work all day. He looked down the hall for a second and saw me standing there. He noticed what I was doing and charged down the hallway like a bull to a red cape. I don’t remember him grabbing me, I just remember being ‘spanked’ while being held down on the bed. I remember my mom screaming for him to stop and grabbing him and him pushing her back. I don’t remember if I cried or screamed. I don’t remember anything except him spanking me and my mom freaking out and trying to stop him.

That’s my earliest memory other than the boots in the backyard.

My dad was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 1996 and committed suicide in 1997. He was abused physically, mentally, and sexually throughout his childhood by his father. He attempted suicide two years prior to his death. He struggled with anger, depression, and self-loathing and esteem issues his whole life.

His uncontrollable emotions were a symptom of his mental illness, untreated, and led to many episodes that he regretted and probably contributed to the guilt and shame he felt that led to his eventual death.

Feb 21, 1958 – April 3, 1997

I wish I had more memories like that of the boots in the yard. Most of my memories are of some fucked up event or person. Like my dreams, nothing good ever happens in my memories.

Picking it back up

I said I was going to Start writing again and I figured now was a good time. Someone told me they thought it would be interesting to read about the things I talk about on here and it made me want to get back into it. So…… here we go.

Stay tuned for all new posts. I’m excited to put words onto paper, so to speak, again. Thanks to all who have stuck around while I was on my little break ….for 2 years.

Been a long time….

It’s been a good minute since I’ve written on here so bare with me while I fumble through it and try to make sense of the platform, the thoughts, and how to put them down on here without some sneaky bastard from work finding this and telling someone about it.

The last year and some change has been a roller coaster. I love my job and have excelled at it in spite of my mental illness or the outside factors that are pushing me to fail. My family has changed tremendously in ways that I will have to get into in another post. Each change has brought with it, good and bad. Changes are still coming to this dysfunctional little family and they are scary and exciting at the same time.

For me, I’m still the same except now I have some sort of ambition to get out of the house and do something with myself. I am borderline obsessed with work to the point of being a little….scratch that….very annoying about it. I think, dream, and live work. Work, work, work. Now my entire family works for the same company so I’m surrounded by it.

I just passed the last of three very sad and traumatic anniversaries that come each year within a two week period and attempt to pull me down into some deep dark hole. I made it, again. Yay me!

This virus shit is putting a strain on everyone’s lives lately and its not looking to let up any time soon so I guess that’s another stressor to add to the mix. But, we take what we are thrown and we run with it, right?

Anyway, I just wanted to let all of my 2 readers that I am still alive and am considering posting again. If you still subscribe, thank you!

Take care of yourselves and your health!

AVC

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: