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 ran 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 her 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.

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