My Stepdad Changed My Mom“Hey, we brought snacks. This is Rebecca, remember her from middle school?”
My friends were in the doorway. Of course I remember Rebecca. We were in 7th grade together when I lived in my old town. I had just changed schools to get away from the bullying I was subjected to on the other. I remember it like it is still going on; the year I went to Class 7D; the hardest year of my childhood. I lived in a home with a stepfather who abused, ridiculed and deprived me of everything, be it food or love, a spoiled baby brother who screamed and screamed and a mom who was so distant; the only thing I met there was a wall of cold. I can’t recall her smiling at me or calling me “sweetie” once through my entire teens. If she smiled at me at all, it was mean, sarcastic smirk. She just yelled, gave me filthy chores and took my stepdad’s side. She found out that if she treated me badly, my stepdad would give her some authority in return. She hasn't been the same since.
Every day consisted of a home where I was a third wheel and unwelcome, unbearable, hard tasks on the farm, a school I was bullied at, and people that I couldn’t trust. My stepfather was very controlling. He could ask me to count the number of Cheerios before and after I ate and had padlocks on all the cupboards. It was an endless winter, the whole thing. I hated my parents, I hated my brothers, I hated school, I hated life, but most of all I hated being a kid. I created an inner world, strong, but not strong enough as I needed to draw and write it down to sustain it. My stepdad didn’t approve of this. “I won’t have this ****! Only retards draw! You’re gonna be a (doctor, lawyer, engineer etc.) and that’s that you nitwit!”
if he caught me drawing or found one of the drawings, he would slap me or kick me or pull my hair and tear my “works” into pieces. He drew a special sadistic pleasure of doing this. He was a very sick man. Trust me; the only reason why I haven’t tracked him down and strangled him with his own colon is simply that he’s not worth it. Getting spanked or hit is never as painful as humiliating. The most humiliating thing my stepdad did was to walk behind me in kick me or shove me in the butt every time he though I walked to slow. I could hear the smile in his voice when he talked to me, while doing this.
I remember Rebecca having her own assistant; Evelyn, because Rebecca was in a wheelchair. Evelyn was the kindest woman I had ever met and I was so jealous of Rebecca. Rebecca always had a small court around her. She was paralyzed waist-down in an accident when she was four. I pitied her greatly for this, of course, but that didn’t keep me from having a child’s attitude. I was jealous of her. She had everything I could only dare to dream of. She had an endless line of friends, a loving family who did everything and gave her everything she could possibly want, expensive clothes, expensive things, her own dog, self-confidence and access everywhere. I also remember her having mainly Diddl school supplies; status symbols when I went to school. She was also very pretty; like a fairy or an anime girl. She was petite and dark-haired with big doe eyes, and I hated her for it. I had already for years experienced how unfair life was, and suddenly I didn’t pity her anymore. I felt that the world had been unfair to her, but that the world or God or whoever paid her back a thousand times. “Fate” as I saw it had only been unfair to her once, and to me it was tearing me up inside and outside little by little every day.
I have no idea why Rebecca was popular. She was a mean, spoiled, pampered brat. Her being paralyzed didn’t keep her from being a little monster. But I did become obsessed with her anyway. This is my most well-kept secret. No one in the entire world knows about it. I didn’t even write about in my journals. But when visiting my alcoholic father I drew wheelchairs, I drew myself in wheelchairs and I drew Rebecca. It was nothing bad; but always her without her friends. I still have some of these drawings. Sometimes in gym periods I would say I needed the bathroom just to go examine her wheelchair. I know it sounds completely crazy, and I realize that it was complete mania.
That year, shortly after my 11th birthday, the school nurse was concerned that I was losing weight. I was underweight for my height, but I didn’t see this. My stepdad had a habit of calling me fat, ugly, stupid, clumsy and a range of specie names for large animals when mom didn’t see it. She did the same and had no ob
If I had pressed charges against them… well, they wouldn’t be allowed around children again. At school the teachers always told me I was too scantily dressed. This was because my stepdad didn’t approve of tees under the sweater, scarves or caps, because that “would cost extra”. I always had a cough or a cold, and an easy target for bullies. I have seen pictures of myself from eighth grade, and it’s not pretty. Bony hands, thin face, arms, pale skin, sad, scared eyes even though I smile. But when I saw myself in the mirror I saw only flab, flab, and flab all over. I thought I was the fattest, ugliest and meanest person in the world and that I deserved being punished like this. I also felt like a loser because I was always hungry and resorted to shoplifting and food theft. I could never concentrate and I was rude to the teachers. I don’t have the “good girl” gene; I’m different fabric, so I bit back where I could.
My baby brother is only my half-brother, he’s my stepfather’s. He was the jewel of my parents’ lives and was treated very differently. My mom owned a small business and we had enough money, but my stepfather still denied mom buying me new clothes. I didn’t even have my own room until spring that year, because I needed to be “available”, as my stepdad put it. I slept in the living room, and one night I remember having a nightmare and wetting the couch. I’m not gonna say what happened next morning. But I got my own room in the spring; I just wasn’t allowed any personal items, posters or books. My stepdad had check-ups two times a day and if there was one thing that didn’t belong there he either put it in the fireplace or crushed it under his feet. Years of abuse and neglect has made me a recluse today. I was bitten in the upper arm by a horse when I was nine, and my stepdad “wouldn’t pay any hospital bills” and so my arm went injured. It still aches today. They didn’t even comfort me when I cried. I had my shoulder separated when I was thirteen and had the arm corrected with a cast and wrapped in a brace. Mom joked about how I was gonna smell. My stepdad also told me I smelled disgusting, yet he was too cheap to let me shower every day. I only got to change my clothes twice a week, and I was responsible of keeping my underwear clean, because I was only allowed one pair a week. I learned to put tissues down there to keep them from becoming dirty. Child welfare had already been in the picture when I went to the first school; probably the reason why mom let me move to Rebecca’s school in the first place. The morning first day of new school my stepfather threatened to kill me if I “spread any stories”. My mom cried theatrically, and said that if CW took me seriously they’d take my baby brother “and then she would have no reason to live”.
My brother is one thing too. That kid ran around, broke things and caused mayhem everywhere. If he, for example, tripped and hurt himself and started crying, I was screwed, because my stepdad would think I had hurt him and give me a punch or kick me. He tried to manipulate my mom into thinking I was cruel to their kid. My stepdad totally thought I was cruel to his son, but that didn’t keep him from putting him on me when he didn’t feel like being a parent anymore. He even kept me home from school on days he and mom were on business because it was ‘cheaper than a nanny’.
I told my dad about the abuse, but he was an alcoholic. He didn’t give a ****. I started getting problems. 2000 was the year I started cutting myself, I stabbed myself with sharp pencils and nails, I banged my head against the wall when no one saw me and I had to leave the classroom sometimes to go behind the building to cry. I cried sometimes and I couldn’t stop. T could go on for hours at the time. If I cried when my parents saw it they would mock me and call me weak. I was beaten if I ever showed anger, so no wonder why I sometimes freaked out like that.
I have been to therapy for the problems mean my childhood has caused me, but I can’t make it work because I don’t trust people. Therapy is also too shifty for me. It’s the one theory as to what my problem is after another, either that or someone yawning and looking at their watches. After living with my parents in a small barren room I now as an adult fill my apartment with cozy things. There are so many books, drawings, happy colorful things, cushions, blankets, knickknacks, movies, flowers, pictures, hobby items, candles… next month I’m starting a new wall decoration. I’m making a Tetris-themed wall decoration in wooden plaques that I sandpaper and paint myself. The Regime is out of my life for good. I need color on everything to block out the memory of my stepdad calling me a fat slob, saying my bloodline was dirty and that without him I was nothing.
I had friends and a boyfriend even. But things were different back then. People hid away to cry, didn’t talk about their feelings. The reason why I’m telling you these things is that Rebecca was in my apartment today. I had forgotten that she was on the softball team. Her father was one of the coaches and even though the team lost big time, he bought her in. My two best friends in school that year and still, Michelle and Linda has her as friend, but she never spoke to me, unless it was something mean. Today, Rebecca is an emo kid. It’s so pathetic it’s to die from. Dressed in her Hot Topic clothes and Converse’s, she was here, as spoilt and selfish as she has always been; the delicate little thing. She was only here today because Michelle and Linda were driving her home, and she didn’t even look me in the eye. I doubt that she even remembered my name before she saw my face. I’m not still jealous of her, for God’s sakes. It ended when CW finally moved me away from home. But the reminder there of a disturbing side of me was there when she was at my table drinking my tea and eating my cinnamon buns. I have no sympathy for Rebecca. Why should I? Should she ever have a rainy day she has her endless array of friends and her loving family to hide behind. Yes, she has a handicap. I also have a handicap. My handicap includes depressions, self-harm, eating disorders, anxiety and mania. So if I ever hear anyone saying that I’m selfish, I’m gonna pound their teeth out.
In March after Christmas word got out to my stepdad that I didn’t pay attention in class and that I was always tired and unfocused. The second I came home that day he took a fistful of my hair and my right ear in a very painful grasp and banged my head against the wall calling me things. Then he took a spatula from the kitchen and beat me in the head with it before kicking me in the stomach and pushing me onto the floor. “Stupid ****! You worthless piece of filth!” I did my best not to scream. When he calmed down he talked about how I was gonna fail at everything in my life and that I would never amount to anything because I was such a mongoloid. He kept me home for two weeks after that because I had tell-tale bruises. I basically had a footprint in my stomach. It was the worst time of my life. He was careful only to slap me after this. I can’t shake the look in his eyes when he hurt me. I can’t explain it.
I had extended family that knew what was going on, but they didn’t say anything. My town is, as I’ve told before, inhabited mainly by rich Pentecostals. There’s a culture of denial here, and even though they’re against beating up kids, they’re also against breaking anything that can be perceived as a taboo. And it has destroyed me. I don’t feel happy or sad, I don’t feel pain and I actually don’t understand it when people mean something nice. I avoid people instinctively and can’t trust anyone. I think sex and love is disgusting. Every time I try to sleep with a guy I get stiff and frightened and feel hideous. When it’s over I grab my clothes and leave. I had depressions as a child but I didn’t have words for it and since it was invisible on the outside I thought nothing could be done. Maybe that’s why I hated and admired Rebecca; maybe she was the very symbol of unattainable. The obsession peaked at the end of the school year when I found the room where she made her daily exercises. She had all her stuff in there. The crutches, her back brace mats and exercise balls. There were bubble gum stickers all over that colorful brace and I peeled one of them off. Yes, I stole things from her and it really scares me to think about, what the hell was going on? I stole her pens, one of her drawings and that sticker.
I have no idea why, but the only thing I can compare it to is frustration.
I was removed from the house by CW, but it took four more years before they finally realized the danger I was in. I don’t speak to my mom today, even though I did move back to the Cabrini-Green of this hellhole country. Today I still have much emotional weight. My slate says alcoholism, suicide attempts, depression, and mania. A child that experiences violence and not being loved can do the strangest things; I have read that. So I guess that maybe my love/hate for Rebecca was that little outlet. But I’m very curious what other people have to say. I like to think about my bad memories as experiences I can learn from. The truth is that they scare me. I still want to be worth saving, like Rebecca. Isn’t it pathetic?