A New Hope, A New Life

When I was five, myself and my two siblings were taken from my mother due to a suicide attempt. We were taken to a group home, which I only have vague memories of. Eventually, my brother and I were adopted. My sister went back to our biological mother, for reasons I'm still unclear about.

One night, I had gotten into some red-hot candy without permission. For some reason, my adoptive mother felt it was a necessary punishment to force me to eat the whole bag. So I did, and ate them so fast  I threw up. She made me eat my own vomit. This is my first memory of abusive behavior from my mother, and there would be a lot more to come.

One day, my mother put an ice cube in my hand and told me this was my heart. I was 8 years old.

Another time (around the same age) I took a drink from a small bottle of peppermint schnapps. I had no idea it was alcoholic, all I knew was that it smelled good and I wanted to know how it tasted. When my mother seen what I had done, she made me drink the whole bottle. Since I was only 8 or 9, it made me woozy. My mother then proceeded to call me a drunk and sent me to bed.

Sometimes when I  did something wrong, my mother would not let me eat, take a shower, or even sleep in my own bed for about two or three days. I still cannot remember the reasons for her doing this but it was most likely something very petty.

Once, my mother gave me a black eye and told me to lie about how I got it.

She also believed in the "soap-in-mouth" whenever we told a lie, however, this made me very sick to where I would throw up. Of course, this only made her angry and she would blame me for not being able to stop it. As if I could!

When I was twelve, we moved from California to Montana. The first house we moved into was in the country with about twelve acres of land. By this time I had developed trichotillomania, an impulsive disorder where I would pull out my eyelashes. My mother did not understand it and she did nothing to help either. The physical abuse continued, where she would drag me by my hair, slap me around or hit me in the gut that would take my breath away.

The summer before I started junior high, we moved into town. Up till this point, my father wasn't necessarily an involved parent in my life. However, that and my life would change forever. He began molesting me, pretty much doing everything except actual intercourse. He justified his actions to me by saying he was "helping" me learn to be with a man. The only person I told was my brother, the only person I trusted. Both of us would keep this a secret for almost 10 years.

By this time, the emotional and verbal abuse from my mother was getting worse. I was constantly being told I had no common sense, that I didn't act "normal" and there was something wrong with my brain. My mother began getting obsessed with my weight and would actually watch how many times I chewed food and yell at me if I was eating too fast. Maybe this would have made some sense if I was choking on my food or getting sick afterwards but all she was doing was controlling every aspect of my life. When we were younger, we were well-behaved in public. This was out of fear, not out of being taught to do so. Whenever my brother or I would act silly or have any fun, my mother would snap at us to knock it off. Anytime we showed anger or sadness, we got yelled at. I learned to hide all my feelings and show nothing on my face just so she would leave me alone. Of course, then I would get yelled at for looking "blank" all the time. I could walk by innocently and she would start in on me for having the "wrong" expression on my face. As a result, I spent a lot of time in my room. Then I would get yelled at for being "antisocial". I couldn't wear the clothes I wanted. If I wore black too many days in a row, I would get yelled at. I couldn't have my hair the way I wanted. My mom liked me having short hair, which I despised because it did not flatter my facial shape.  When it grew longer, it had to be up at all times.  I could never wear it loose, like all the other girls in school. I  couldn't listen to the music I wanted. My mother didn't want us listening to certain bands, which may seem like a reasonable thing to do except she judged music by the song titles. As a result  I was banned from listening to perfectly harmless music.   My brother and I resorted to shoplifting to hear what we really liked. Eventually I got caught and the good thing is that I never shoplifted again.

Holidays and birthdays were a stressful time. My mother flipped out if we forgot a birthday or didn't act excited enough during the holidays. One year, I had forgotten it was Grandparent's Day and my mother went on a rant about how I was selfish and didn't care about anyone but myself. I had heard this so often that it became as routine as hearing that I had no common sense or that I wasn't normal. I simply learned to tune out her screeching voice.

Growing up, I was extremely close to my brother and my mother was jealous of this because we were not that way with her. She critcized us (mostly me) for being together all the time. She hated it when we would have private discussions, yelling at us to stop "whispering". Not that we talked about anything bad, we talked about normal kid things. I think we did that because we didn't want her to hear and butt in with her criticism.

I am naturally a quiet person and this was something I got criticized for the most. My mother would get angry for not "tallking" to her and she seemed oblivious to the fact that her behavior was the reason for it.  Instead, she often played "psychcologist" and would attempt to analyze why I acted the way I did. Quite often, she was so wrong and these discussions would go on in endless circles as she drilled me with questions with why I did this or why I don't do that. I would get so tired of it that I would simply say nothing. Then we would basically have a staring contest until she would send me away to my room where I would wish that I would just be left alone, or even better, be allowed to be myself. Neither of my parents really knew me yet they thought they did. It was so maddening and I yearned for the day when I could live on my own and be the person I wanted to be.

I hope this isn't too long but I do want to share one thing: not all my childhood memories are bad, in fact, the best ones are of when we would go on trips to visit my grandparents or my aunts and uncles. We would go on vacations and visit San Francisco, one of my favorite cities. I guess the fact that the good memories are of being somewhere other than home speaks volumes of how my home was for me.

I did finally tell my mother about the molestation, but of course she didn't believe me. She thought that I was brainwashed by the military (I was in the Marines after high school) so they would have a reason to discharge me. I was suicidal at this point and I have ugly scars on my wrists from a botched attempt. I was angry, so very angry! This anger would consume me for years and my once calm temper would flare up in sudden bursts as I began lashing out at people I loved. Yes, I would become violent at times and I despised myself for it.

When I was about 26, I wrote my mother a letter telling her what I really thought of her as a parent. To this day, I don't know how she reacted to it but I had finally released what I had kept inside for so long. I began to heal from the abuse I endured and I was surprised to discover that I forgave them both. At last, I felt the freedom I had longed for all this time. Though I barely heard from my parents after the letter, even that would change when I gave birth to my son in 2005. Suddenly, my mother and I were closer than we had been in over 20 years! She even admitted that she overreacted to things when we were kids. This admission meant a lot to me, as I never once heard an apology from her before.

I hope someone reading this story will be inspired to reconnect with their parents and forgive their wrongs in the past. It is possible to heal from abuse, to no longer let it consume your thoughts night after night. It happened to me, it can happen to you too. Don't ever give up, your day of freedom may just well be tomorrow.

DSmama DSmama
31-35, F
1 Response Mar 3, 2010

YAY!! YAY!! Thank you for sharing! Hugs, LW