How did I get left alone with a mother who was so mired in depression and co-dependency that she was often unable to parent me? Why did no one speak up for me? By the time I was 14 I had been molested or assaulted by three different people. Why did no one insist that I receive therapy for all the traumas I endured?
I have few memories from my childhood, and of the ones I do have the majority of them are bad. Large chunks of time are missing, was it just a way of self-preservation? To block the pain, to pretend things were okay? I don't know; I wish I did. I wish I had more happy memories, more clear cut images of an actual childhood.
I remember watching my mother's second husband try to kill her. I remember she and I leaving in the middle of the night to escape and run to her sister's house. I remember sleeping with a knife under my pillow "just in case." I remember the cops knocking on the door "Is everything okay, ma'am?" I remember saving up enough money to buy a greyhound ticket to run away, but never leaving because my mother told me she would kill herself if I left. I remember my mother driving across the Bear Mountain Bridge and saying that she wished she could just drive off the bridge and end it all.
Why didn't anyone protect me? Why didn't anyone step in and speak up for me? Somehow I survived. I was lucky, I had a few safe people who did their best to love me and encourage me. But none who put an end to the madness.
Things got better when my mother finally decided that she had had enough of her second husband and moved us far enough away that I could breathe. But our clashes continued; so when I graduated high school I left and never went back. While in university I put myself into therapy and continued the process through the better part of my (very) tumultuous twenties and thirties. Still I struggled.
Meeting my husband was a turning point for me. He has been such a source of comfort for me, he's my anchor and my lighthouse. In his own unique way he's been a role model for me. And along the way little lights were being lit. Pieces were clicking into place and now I stand in a place of strength and peace - mostly.
It's been a long road to get to where I am now. I've been working hard, reading, meditating, being mindful. But in order to fully heal I know I need to put the past behind me. I need to walk away from it, once and for all, but the questions haunt me. The 3am brain train still shows up. I still have night terrors. I still have trust issues. My hope is that by finally purging this onto the page I can let go. I know I'll never get the answers I want, there are no answers to be had. I need the war in my head to be over. I am not that damaged little girl anymore. I am approaching 50 and I am determined to be free, to be loved and loving and to soar.
Just last week a letter from my father showed up in the mail. He was writing to apologize for leaving me when I was a child and to let me know how much he has always loved me. It was buoying for my soul and just what the little girl in me needed to hear. I have never doubted his love for me and I'm sure he did the best he could, but the same can be said of my mother. It was a fitting denouement to a period of introspection I am determined to put behind me.
|Me, age two|