The old man with the cane was out guarding the bank ATM again this morning while the younger, more fit man was unloading the machine. It looks like Old Guy has gained some weight since last time I saw him; his bullet-proof vest now looks more like a bullet-proof halter top, and I imagine that it would be even easier to overpower him and run for it now. These are the things I think about when I am walking back to work from getting the mail. Today, despite my lack of criminal tendencies, I thought it would be easy to take it and run, only this time taking all four kids with me. Just disappearing.
My dreams have been strange and unsettling the last few nights, my sleep broken up into little fragments. I keep hearing things that bring me bolt upright out of sleep only to find that they are normal nighttime noises, the sounds of the dogs’ clicking toenails on the hardwood floors, or one of the kids turning over in their sleep. I know well where this comes from-the impending pre-trial hearing, less than a month away, and the trial shortly after. I have talked to Hannah about it, which in turn has caused HER to have more restless nights, and even though we both know that fear and worry help nothing, it is hard to tell our subconscious minds that. We move along with life-Hannah started back to school again today-and in the waking hours tell ourselves that everything will be fine, but when the dark comes, it seems less easy to believe.
There are so many of us. So, so many. I get these emails that literally break my heart; people say, “Oh my God, you are ME. This is what happened to me!” or “A friend of mine’s daughter went through this…” or “My child had this happen…” and God help me, it makes me cry every single time. I am so filled up with emotions I can’t name; what a blessing and a comfort it is to me, and to Hannah, to get these emails, because we are not alone and have concrete proof of this daily, yet what a fucking mess that any of us ever had to live through such abuse and pain. I don’t get it; I didn’t when I was a child, and I get it even less now that I have children of my own. I have been angry; God, I have been so furious with my kids that I could hurt them-but I don’t. There is enough sanity in me that I know if I touch them when I am angry, I WILL hurt them, so I take a breather and allow myself to calm down before I attempt any sort of discipline. And God knows I am not the sanest person in the world, so if I can stop myself from crossing that line, why can’t so many others?
I have been reading a book that my good friend Janet gave me, and it is really quite earth-shattering. The basic premise of the book is about how even though we might know intellectually the things done to us in abusive households, we HAVE to fully face them, feel the emotions, and grieve. GET angry; feel rage and hopelessness and despair. Confront our parents (though for the majority of us survivors, confrontation is not an option, so the books advocates an inner dialogue, a journal, some way to get the rage out in a safe and appropriate venue), feel the pain, and then at some point we can learn to make peace. The odd thing is that I thought I HAD; I thought that I could see pretty clearly just how things were, and that it wasn’t right nor fair, but that hey, I don’t have to be ruled by it anymore. With the events of the last months, I realize that yeah, I know all this, but I have never allowed myself to be truly angry at my mom. I have been all about the whole “I feel bad for her because she was probably scared to face the thought of raising four kids on her own, so didn’t leave….” or “She was terribly abused as a child so didn’t know any different…” and all the while, all I have been doing is making excuses. You see, I was and AM afraid of raising four kids on m own, yet here I am, just getting up in the mornings and doing it. So poof, there goes THAT justification. There again, I was terribly abused, sexually, physically, emotionally, and every other “ally” there is, and yet I don’t have to do the same to MY kids, so poof, there goes yet another justification. Janet keep telling me, “Honey, you are right where you need to be. It is okay; you have to do this if you are ever going to be free.” And she means with Hannah, of course, but also in the deeper sense of my inner, truest self.
Free. I don’t even know what that means. I am almost 37 years old and I still labor under the false impression that someday, my mom is going to love me and be proud of me, if I just work hard enough. Someday, my dad is going to hobble toward me, broken and lonely, and beg for forgiveness for essentially abandoning me, and bestow upon me all of the love and protection that I so badly needed. And you know what? It just isn’t going to happen. It really, really sucks ass that I am finally realizing that no matter what shallow words my mom might say, nothing can and will justify my treatment-by her or any one of the men she brought into my life. That I am realizing that she never really did love me, OR my sisters; were we a means to an end? Maybe, but what end would that be? I have no idea. I am beginning to realize that even though my mom was a formidable opponent, if my dad had truly loved us in the way a father should love his children, he would have removed us from the situation. He had his own agenda, and it certainly didn’t include us. Oh, yeah. Anger. Grief. All of those lovely, lovely emotions are what I am SUPPOSED to be feeling right now, so they say, but I don’t like them one bit. I am smart and savvy and been around the block a time or two, but there is a huge difference between KNOWING and FEELING. No wonder I was a drunk for so many years.
But I am not alone. Hannah is not alone. None of the wonderful, beautiful, and strong women with whom I have been in contact are alone. We are collectively raising our kids to be free, and loved, and cherished, and that helps. It helps to know that no matter how angry I get and need to vent and scream, there will be women who understand, who are nodding their heads as they read saying, “Oh, yeah, I get that.” Knowing that? It is a comfort, and I am grateful. Keep the emails and the stories coming, for me, for Hannah, for yourselves.
****I am leaving the donate button up for Amber and Thayne the rest of this week, just a small extension. While some of my readers have been more than generous, we are still short of my original goal by about $200. If any of you can spare $10.00, please do-it is for a good cause.*****