Part 2 - Death and a Child
Social services were called multiple times by members of the church my parents attended. It’s hard to spot a wolf in sheep’s clothing as the saying goes. On paper, my parents were the epitome of what children should want and need in parents. They were owners of two successful businesses, my father was a retired college professor, known well in the community and by the board of education. During this era, we resided in their first house, a spacious six-bedroom multi-level structure. It would later become unlivable due to their hoarding tendencies, and they would purchase a second house that awaited the same fate. It was not often an individual had the pleasure of meeting my mother’s darker side. She is a pleasant person upon meeting and in brief interactions. She has a bright smile, seemingly genuine laugh, and an intelligent persona. I was not surprised when I learned she had evaded social services on multiple occasions in my early years. Though members continued to call and eventually action was needed. I am unaware if there was an actual case being established, or if the fear of their glass house shattering was enough to warrant their decision. In either case, they purchased a trailer a state line over from where they lived. We were sent there when I was between 4-5, and remained until I was 7.
My mother’s ex sister-in-law had come to live with my parents. She carried the same genetic anomaly that my half siblings all inherited. I am unsure if she was legally disabled due to her medical condition. I know she was a fully grown adult when she moved in, late twenties would be my educated guess, and they adopted her. I find no logical understanding for such an adoption unless they were able to draw a social security check, which would make her legally disabled. This is only speculation, not fact. While residing in my hometown, she would run their local health food store. They treated her condition with vitamins and supplements, she did not receive any medical treatment that I remember. With social services snooping around regularly, my parents moved us all to the trailer with her as our guardian. It didn’t hold heat or air well, which is to be expected of an older trailer. We were only allowed to bathe once a week and were often without hot water. I remember the sink would leak frequently, a member of the church branch in that area came and worked on it for us. The yard was always overgrown and uncared for. We had a washer but would hang our laundry on an outside line to dry. We were left without a vehicle, I believe my adopted sister could not drive, though I’m not certain. The trailer was far from town, there was a little convenient store down the road from us, a mile or so would be a guess, though accounting for small legs and their feel of distance, it could have been a half mile, it’s hard to say for certain. My parents left her with groceries and a little money, not enough to get by for their extended periods of absence. She wasn’t well enough to handle the walks, so we did it. I was five, my older brother six. In the beginning we had our three older half siblings, though it wasn’t long after our move to Tennessee they were banished by our mother.
My adopted sister was cruel. She would smack us in the face often, spanked us with her hand and objects such as fly swatters and flip flops. She would lock us outdoors during cold winter nights as punishment without coats. I remember one night vividly, I thought she’d leave us all night, once allowed back inside it seemed a long while before I felt warm again. She refused us food as punishment, she had a particular distaste for me. I believe, as I do with my mother, she preferred boys, merely speculation, not known fact. Our offenses were many, and as small as picking our nose. Our chores and expectations also many despite our young age. My older brother and I would prepare meals, clean, do dishes, and even change our little brother. She would tell us to get up for school one time each morning, if we failed to do so immediately, she poured ice water on us, I received this many time. She loved babies, just not children. My younger brother did not receive the treatment my older brother and I did. She loved him, he didn’t have rules, expectations, or punishments. I’ll be honest in saying I was unkind to him for this. Something I feel immense regret for to this day. I felt jealousy, resentment, and was annoyed by him frequently. He was only a baby. There is a year and a half between myself, my older and younger brother. Between my younger and baby brother there is a larger gap. The baby never resided with us in the trailer. We were only there for a few years, though years to an unloved child, can seem an eternity.
My parents were supposed to visit every other weekend; however, it was often months that passed before they would come. As children do, we eagerly awaited their visitation, to find disappointment in a call they were unable to make it. As weeks flowed into months changing seasons grew familiar with their visits, and we grew accustomed to their absence. Despite the short duration of their time with us upon a visit, I still hold memories in the trailer of my father hitting my older brother with a belt, though he ceased to break skin after we left the first house. He crossed the line of discipline and abuse despite this, as he would not only use belts but cords, and always inflicted his strikes on bare skin.
It was about mid year second grade. I remember it was cold outside, a sunny day with barren trees. I felt sick that morning, and asked my sister to stay home from school. She was strange, weak, not herself. She merely nodded, awoke my brothers, got them on the bus, and went back to bed. I listened to her groan all day in pain, an unfamiliar noise at the time that has become familiar through years of embedded memory. I checked on her periodically, and in speaking only received head movement responses. My brothers walked through the door late afternoon from the bus. My little brother went into her bedroom and asked for a “nana”, she groaned and he shook her and repeated the question multiple times. She slowly released a barely audible, raspy yes. I followed my brother into the kitchen and shortly after was jarred by a thud in her bedroom. My brothers and I ran to her room and found her wedged between the bed and the far wall on the floor. Her skin was pale with purple splotches and she was no longer groaning. I can still see her frail body crumpled and the discoloration of her skin today, a branded image that haunts me. My older brother and I tried to wake her, panic coursing through my tiny body, as I listened to the fear woven between my little brothers’ sobs. We were unable to wake her and despite the two of us trying, and her skeleton thin frame, we could not get her back onto the bed. At merely 8, 7, and 5, we were forced to grasp the reality and gravity of death. Acknowledge our predicament of being alone with a deceased body, and rationalize what to do next.
We had been groomed to believe people wanted to take us away, and in such an event, were terrorized about living separated from each other with strangers. We understood this to be the reality of our placement in Tennessee. The idea of being ripped away from your parents and siblings as a child is traumatizing. Whether the child is being abused or not, unfamiliarity is undesirable to most individuals young or old. There are too many unknowns for the mind to fear. A seven-year-old cannot reason that loving parents in fear of losing their children, would not place them an hour drive away, and only visit a few times a year. She could not know when she was cold and hungry, they were warm and full. When bullies made fun of her brother’s worn clothes, their parents were wearing new clothing. While her baths were few and sometimes cold, her parents were showering regularly with hot water.
My older brother called our parents who did not come immediately. We were left alone with our deceased sister for hours.
Do these experiences negatively impact me today? Do I hate these people? Dwell on these memories? Suffer from debilitating depression and anxiety?
Eh 🤔… 🥃🍫🍨🍔🍟🍻🍩🍪🧁🍹… 🤷♀️🤫😜
For the most part no. I do have anxiety, though I’m able to control it without medication. Of course, to be fair, that is being a bit of a recluse. Avoiding going crowded places to include strategically scheduling appointments on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s.
Overall I am an upbeat and happy person. I have a vast sense of humor, and my home life is filled with daily laughter. It helps I picked a mate on his ability to make jokes, he’s hilarious just so you know. He does not have a, “Nubbin” as the source of his power, though he surely has something he draws from. (Friends reference. If you didn’t get it, we could never be close 😂 Just kidding) He passed this genetic anomaly onto our oldest daughter.
My father was brutalized by his grandmother. Whipped to blood as he did with my brothers. It psychologically unhinged him in ways I will not fully disclose, though know there were things he did, that were the actions of an abused child emerging from a grown man. He needed mental help. I am not defending nor am I excusing his actions. I am merely stating sometimes a monster is made. He abused children in the same manner he was abused and NONE of them, became physically abusive. Which confirms the reality, it is a choice. He passed away when I was 16. I do not hate him. I forgive him for the things he did to my siblings, and didn’t do in my case. Hate is a heavy burden to bear, it rots you inside, and the person you hate suffers none of the deterioration.
No my friends, the purpose of telling my story is not to bring shame to people. It is not to air my dirty laundry, a cry for sympathy, or to stir feelings of anger. It is actually quite the opposite. I wrote my second book per request. I published it, per a moment of connection and healing with a person. Just one. Since that moment, I have shared many, though it only took one for me to feel relieved in my decision to write. I’m writing the details that I spared my readers in my book, to reach more people. To be an advocate to others struggling with the weight of their lives, to encourage them that it is possible to not carry it everyday.
I know my words bounce off these pages with a bitterness each time I reference my mother. Though that is not due to hate, but rather a reaction to venom infused words that are necessary in recounting these memories. The truth is, I do not feel anything for my mother. No hate, no anger, no compassion or goodwill, possibly not even forgiveness on certain levels. She has not entered my regular thoughts in years, during moments I wasn’t writing my second book, or this blog. She has no hold or affect over my life any longer.
I felt for years forgiveness meant I had to keep her in my life. I tried long after she no longer needed me to run her business and grocery shop. Though with every visit and encounter, I left feeling regretful and guilty for negative thoughts and feelings toward her. Merely seeing and speaking to her, caused me distress, which caused me more struggle in fearing my own judgment for my inability to forgive and forget upon seeing her face. Even after her children were all grown and gone, she continued to use them to her advantage and mistreat them in certain ways, which always filled me with a bubbling anger that I could not easily process. I’m not an angry person. The day I wrote my final letter of goodbye to her, was a liberating moment. My anger subsided and she ceased to enter my thoughts anymore. I told my children my biological parents were deceased. A lie I had to atone for, when I wrote my second book. Lying is the greatest offense in my house, my son was once grounded for almost a year for lying. No matter what you have done I tell them, do not lie to me, because that breaks trust. If I cannot trust you, there is no relationship, merely strangers residing in a house together. Consequences of actions are never as harsh, as when a lie has been told. Now, you can imagine how well that went down when I explained to them I’ve lied their whole lives about my mother being deceased. It was a poor choice on my end, a hypocritical decision, and no amount of explanation that she is “Dead to me” excuses my actions.
My mother was not the product of a neglectful or severely abusive home. She had well-educated college professors for parents, they were financially sound, and I’ve been told her father was very loving and spoiled her. Her mother was a harsh disciplinarian, and unaffectionate woman to her two children, which obviously affected her. However, she was never the victim of vicious physical abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
What I survived in my life because of her, I can forgive, but I cannot forget. What my siblings suffered due to her choices and actions, I am unable to at this time. I personally find it easier to forgive a person for a trespass against me, I hold a harsher judgement for abuse on others, due to my empathic nature. My heart cries for justice, retribution, and acknowledgment. I do not wish her ill or well in this life. I simply hope our paths never cross again. We are not made for coexistence. I believe she is mentally ill, whether that is an underlining diagnosis of a sociopath, or something else. Her lack of empathy, reclusive tendency to stay in her room and sleep for the majority of my life, and lack of conscience, are clearly the product of a diagnosable mental instability. It’s morally challenging to hate a true crazy person.
I have learned in my long journey, keeping a person in your life who causes you distress is not a necessary component to personal growth. In any form, atonement, morality, or forgiveness. There are toxic people in this world, who cannot influence your life for the betterment. I have found a peace in my heart with God, for cutting ties with such people.
I was legally bound to obtain consent from all the people I wrote about in my second book. When I received my biological mothers consent, she wrote me a letter. It was beautifully written, she is a well-versed woman. She expressed her sympathy for things she was aware that I suffered, and for, “Whatever” else I felt I had suffered. My oldest daughter read her letter, and looked at me in bewilderment. She remarked, “She sounds so sweet?” I explained to my baby that kind words can be dripping with venom, and it is something only experience will teach you in this life.
Coming soon, Part 3 – Molestation & Promiscuity