Sometimes I wonder what it is that makes anyone, male or female want to take their clothes off in front of others. I’ve given it some thought, but no way in hell would I do it. Now, if I were ten years younger and had a rockin’ body…? Well… Uh, No! At least I don’t think so.
In a way, I wish I could be so bold but I never was or have been. Heck! I wanted to try out for cheerleader in high school but when it came to my turn, I looked out at the crowd and high tailed it out of there. I never regretted anything more in my life. Now if you asked me to rock climb or slide down a mountain on ice with only an ice ax to break my fall, well that’s different and I’ve done that. I ran a half marathos and won a cycling race in my age category, I’ve done a century ride (100 miles in a day), climbed mountain peaks… well, you’ve read my stories. Oh, and I’m scheduled to go sky diving soon, weather permitting, but that’s different.
I’m sure there’s a psychological explanation for that.
Queen Bee’s is a small theater in the North Park area, in San Diego. I went to a Burlesque show and last night I witnessed the most tremendous array of bodies in all sizes, shapes, ages and… ethnicity do just that. They were simply amazing. I was in fact impressed and jealous that these women had the guts to do what they did and they did so with gusto and grace.
Backstory: This was my second time attending and I was sooooo reluctant to go the first time and found so many excuses not to attend again from there on. Truly.
I – DID – NOT – WANT – TO – GO!!!
But, my sister, who is in the show, insisted. My hub, said “No way, I don’t want to see your sister naked! You go, if you want to!”
I didn’t “want to” but, when Sherene said, “I don’t have anyone in my family I can share this with, except Brian…” Brian, her husband goes to all of her shows. Well, once her son J.C. went, but not to see her, but because a friend of his was in the show and invited him. Otherwise, oooh, ick no way!
For my across the globe, across the country, conservative friends, hang on. <Big Smile>
I totally get it.
I also get and would so much like to have someone I could share my screenwriting with, someone that actually gets it and won’t get all hot and bothered when I kill someone off or get upset that a sympathetic character dies or heaven forbid has sex, or whatever. My writer sister didn’t want anyone to die, have sex or use “swear” words, she writes for children so her mind thinks only “G” material and not of the string variety. I let her read my work once and she “G’d’ it immediately. What? I’m supposed to use marshmallow guns? No one dies? I explained to her that it’s called an “inciting incident” and a necessary “evil” is a must. No, no she cried. That’s not you! That was the end of that.
Even though, Sherene can’t reciprocate, I do understand the importance of family support.
So, off I go…
I pick Brian up, because he’d had hip surgery and couldn’t drive, but we’re early, so we grab a bite to eat in an old timey diner next to the theater. Yummy onion rings.
We wait in line for the doors to open and once in, I get a gin and tonic and sit in my seat facing forward wondering what in the hell I’m doing there. I text my husband and ask him “it’s party time, except for me. I feel like such a stick in the mud! When did I get so old?”, I ask. He responds, “Sorry, Me too.” I turn to Brian.
Brian is busy talking to some lady across the aisle from him and it’s loud and I am so unconnected. A bunch of rowdy women seated behind me catch my eye and ask me if I had someone in the show.
“My sister”, I replied.
“Our Zumba instructor”, they said. They’d never been and were giggling like school girls. We made friends and suddenly I find myself forced into having a good time.
The Emcee (is that what she’s called?) is a voluptuous redhead with ivory skin in a black corset and silver pointy nails. She never strips.
She announces that these girls have been working very hard and are pretty much all beginners and her expectations of the audience was for tear down the wall cheers and clapping. She said the audience were all invitees, family and friends of the performers with the exception (she jokingly says) of possibly a “perv” or two in the mix who might have snuck in. “You know who you are”. Everyone of course laughs. It was then, I realize she is right. These were all family and friends of those who would be performing. A non hostile crowd. Hmmmm
This is not the strip joint type crowd. It was a small but humble theater. There are two young men sitting in front of me, perhaps in their mid thirties. One had a green Mohawk, but he was well dressed and clean cut looking otherwise. Green though? he was a looker too, quite handsome. The other young man seemed to be more conservative and equally good looking. A young lady sits between them, but it appears they are all together. The crowd was mostly well dressed people and some more so, like they were attending a gala. There were young (over twenty one because everyone was carded) and old alike. All were quite friendly. In fact, I gathered many were of the artsy types, so why am I being a snob? I got over it.
When the show began, it started with two solo routines with rather large women. The women came in all sizes (boobs and bodies), ages (my sister is in her 60’s) and what surprised me, varied ethnicity. I was slightly embarrassed for them (?), not sure, but they were fantastic. There were routines with and without clothes, like hip hop, one with bare minimum, which was a shocker and a ballet spoof at the end. There were young ladies who were extremely fit and more experienced and poised and then there were the moms. With bodies like any one of us. They obviously had to be fit to do the routines they did, splits, twirls and kicks plus dance but they jiggled in the usual places they might not have when they were young, yet fit.
One especially large gal, strutted her stuff and made sexy moves like she was flirting with her man and him alone. She went through the whole song, fully dressed and put out more sexuality than most women would scantily dressed. She smiled and flirted and shook her booty, until the very last. And then, in the last few seconds, she took it off to briefly show her stuff and the crowd roared!!! I laughed so hard and cheered …………….. Way to go girl!!!
They jiggled and they jogged and gave it their all. Throughout, I watched the conservative young man in front of me, who never yelled but would nod his approval and on occasion stood up and clapped at the exquisite routines, especially of the big gals. It wasn’t like he knew them but more like he admired them for having the chutzpah to get up there and be proud.
My brother in law Brian, leans into me and said it’s “woman empowerment”.
Yes, I could see that. It wasn’t about showing off your body so much as, this is my body and I’m okay with it!
Pictures were not allowed of the performances, but we did get a group with their teachers. The man in the middle, teaches hip hop and his wife the rest.
I still can’t figure how they get those “things” to jiggle like they do?
Do they sell that stuff at WalMart?
I’ve had a cold and it sorta shows here. Lookin’ tired. It was way past my bedtime.
Weeeell, After what felt like a near death experience with the flu which I thought I’d never get over, I did and none too soon because my oldest “child” was graduating college at 51 years of age!!
Tina got married at 17,
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and traveled with her hubby some. Knowing he would one day inherit the bicycle business started by his father, he learned German and Italian, since those were the primary manufacturing locations of their products. So, of course they got to go to Europe several times. Not having children yet, she was able to accompany him on these trips. For some time, we never thought she’d ever start her family.
When she was in her late 20’s, the business was sold and they did begin their family. At age 29 her firstborn child was born, on the same date my eldest boy was born. After that came son number two…
and sometime after that came son number three. It appeared that once the ball started to roll, they couldn’t get it stopped. Suddenly, she found herself pregnant once again. I asked her if she wished for a girl, but she said, No! “B—‘s only make boys, (her brother in law has four boys) besides if I had a girl, I don’t know what I’d do with her, I know what to do with boys.” Guess what?
She had a girl.
Unfortunately, it didn’t go well for her. Postpartum depression set in and sadly ruined the momentous occasion. When she confided in me how she believed she should be happy, but wasn’t, I suggested she see her doctor. Fortunately, I wasn’t the first person to tell her that. Her mid-wife gave her a referral and in time, she improved.
By now she was 38.
Five years ago, she decided to finish school and go to college. I shouldn’t have been surprised that she chose nursing given her own previous experience, but I was. Her whole life, she had been more into holistic healing and the organic approach to health. Yet nursing it was.
Little by little other pieces as to why have fallen into place, giving me clues as to how she came to her decision.
You see her goal is to eventually become a travel nurse. Her kids are all but gone and she’s seen the need in her travels. She’d been to Nepal for a mission trip some years back, so yes, there is definitely a need. She just returned from Tahiti with her father (a graduation gift) and she was told there was a need there. There’s always a need, regardless of her age anywhere in the world.
First came the pinning and everyone was there. Little Ally was in a wheelchair and on pain meds still since her trampoline accident had just occurred a few days earlier.
With her family’s support she completed her schooling, so of course her family was thereto support and cheer her on, with the exception of one brother. He came out earlier for his grandfather’s funeral, which took place during Spring break while his wife was on hers from teaching. As foster parents, getting away doesn’t come easy, so it was the best they could do. He did bring his oldest son with him, so it was a good visit.
We get to meet her classmates and some “bestie’s” she made while there. She made a point of not giving away her age at first, not that it ended up mattering. They loved her.
And finally graduation day:
And more family –
And then it finished off with a party at her house, which for some reason was just us… at first. It seems the graduates make a circuit run of all their friends and stopped in later. For some reason, probably because it was way past my bedtime, I didn’t get pictures. Oooops! Yea!!! She graduated with honors and much thanks to the whole family for their support.
The word “House” is impersonal. It is nothing more than wood and stone. A “Home”, on the other hand denotes warmth and love. It is a place where you would feel safe and secure.
I don’t remember having a “Home” growing up. Just a house. It was a place with airspace we inhabited and that was pretty much it. I always wanted a “home”, somewhere safe to go to. A place to hide. A place of fond memories. We had few.
I do have memories, but not of any nuances of the house or perhaps they were and I just don’t have a complete grasp of what a nuance is. I have few memories of the structure but mostly those are of me helping Dad nail shingles on the roof and Mom waxing the vinyl floors and us kids sliding across them to buff them up. So, I guess there are a couple of good memories, but that was much later.
Before all that, I remember the hole where the septic tank was to be and where our little ducklings fell into and we had to rescue them. There was nothing there but a big hole, no tank yet. I also remember us kids on our bellies watching as daddy fished them out. There had been a two by four dipping down into the hole and apparently they (the ducklings) walked down it but couldn’t figure out how to walk back up it.
I remember the outhouse out back that served as our toilet until the house was completed. I only once remember mother cooking on a two burner kerosene stove in our one room shack that had once been a chicken coop. There were possibly only two beds as there wouldn’t have been room for more and we kids often shared one bed, two on each end facing away one from one another. Why not? We were little.
What I remember most of the kerosene stove was the stench of the fumes it gave off when she cooked. The one night I remember her cooking on that stove, it was raining hard outside and at that time we were still in the one room. We kids were laying on one of the two beds in the room, I was about six, which then made my siblings, 5, 3 & 1 or thereabout. There was nothing much to do on a night like this except watch mother cook, so there we were all in a row like the three wise monkeys plus one. I’m sure my job was to keep the smallest out of her way. There wasn’t much wiggle room and cooking can be risky business.
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What reminded me of it, is that it’s been raining outside this morning.
So, on a day like today we were making do when suddenly the stove burst into flames! The flames flew up so high that they touched the ceiling. We all screamed as mother used her dishcloth to try and put the fire out. Bad idea. It was getting away from her, so she yelled at me.
She yelled at me again before I realized that I had to go for help. I may have been frozen or was going around in circles panicking before making it out the door in the DARK, I don’t know, but I made it out. The last I’d seen was mom grabbing the baby. Outside, I struggled with leaving at all. I was so afraid. Afraid of the night, the rain and to leave the others alone but… they needed help. My help. I started running and running, tears fell as fast as the rain. I had to be the hero and in my head, I felt like one. Yet as my little legs carried me further away, the DARK got darker. It hardly ever rains in California, but it was raining now. There was so much rain I could hardly see and my hair was matted down over my eyes as I slipped and trudged through gooey mud. It was cold.
It couldn’t have been more pitch BLACK out there and I couldn’t see a thing. Was I afraid of the dark? Yes, what if something else gets me? This is wrong, what if they die and I’m out here all alone I’m thinking, but I don’t look back. My heart is pounding in my chest like it will pop out at any given moment. I slip again. There had been a tumble down fence between our two homes and most of the time if we went next door, no problem. I was an expert at separating and maneuvering through the wires but tonight I can’t find them and it was so DARK. Suddenly, there I am tangled in a mesh of barbed wire and I can’t get out. No, NO! I gotta get out. I gotta get out, I gotta save them!
barbed wires against blue sky.
Finally, I break free and make it to the house next door and my little fists pound and pound away but it feels like nothing on their door. Can’t they hear me? So, I scream but nothing comes out. There’s no sound or maybe I just can’t hear for the noise of the rain. Weakly, I keep pounding.
Finally a light switches on and the door opens and I fall through. I barely get the words out “a fire!” and Mrs. Lopez’ 20 boys hit the dirt flying out the door. Me? I fall limp and someone carries me to this massive dining table where I’d seen Mrs. Lopez feed her ginormous family and I’m situated in a chair. I sit there as her daughter, Ernestine quickly mixes me a concoction of sugar water to drink. I think someone says she’s a nurse. I don’t understand how it works but she says something about how it would calm me. Perhaps it was an old folklore remedy or just a distraction but it worked as I sat there slumped and worried. I think there are other people around, but I can’t be sure. She, or maybe it was Mrs. Lopez dries me off, then cleans and bandages my wounds.
The fire department did come out, someone across Hwy 5 had seen the blaze and called but I think the Lopez boys had pretty much gotten it under control before they arrived. The important thing is the fire was extinguished and my siblings and mom were all safe. Where they went while it was burning, I don’t know. I would later return home to a tarp being put over a gaping hole in the ceiling, which did not prevent periodic drips seeping through and plaguing us the rest of the night. THAT is all I remember. I would like to say I was praised for my heroic flight, but I wasn’t, at least I don’t remember. It was actually quite anticlimactic. I even tried sharing my adventure but no one cared. The only thing anyone was worried about was the house.
The place was a mess, Dad had arrived home and that was it. I don’t remember if we ate or much of anything else after that. There were no McDonald’s in those days, but that wouldn’t have mattered. Dad would never have sprung for anything so extravagant.
The rain subsided and the tarp sufficed until the rest of the house was built. This room would later become mom and dad’s bedroom I think, minus the charred wood. Why it hadn’t burned to the ground, I don’t know. Perhaps it was the rain. I would later recall vaguely remembering being a little sorry I’d missed all the excitement.
The next day, I went out to the yard and noticed where I’d traveled, but what had seemed like a hundred miles the night before was only a a couple hundred feet. Not far. It was no wonder no one cared about my adventure. Some hero.
Dad would later incorporate this as part of our house, a U shape structure with a courtyard in the middle. Mom would put a garden out back and I would wander the hills. I didn’t stay home much, because “home” wasn’t safe, unless I was left alone to read a book.
I still long to be coddled, but that’s just a dream. I am glad for what I do have. My hubby loves me, sticks up for me and keeps me safe. We are not rich, but it’s a coddling of sorts. I wonder though, did I ever give my kids a home? Did they ever feel coddled and nurtured? Or, was that something I didn’t know how to do or do well?
I know they know I love them like life itself. They know I’d give my life for them if need be, so I hope that’s enough. They often tell me I was a good mom, and sometimes it comes with a qualifier… considering where I came from and where I’d been. We laugh about that. They do know.
Here it is the wee hours of the morning and I can’t sleep. I seldom have that problem any more but here it is.
I got to thinkin’ about cousin Jack.
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Cousin Jack was an old farm boy from Alabama. Actually, his real name was Israel but we all called him Jack. He spent most of his youth in the army, retired Air Force, so the first time I remembered meeting him, he was already an adult with a family and all. (pic on left) I think I was in my twenties then, with two girls of my own.
I remember Jack hoisting my little city girls up on the fence to watch the hog that had just given birth to a whole bunch of piglets scrambling for a teat. His two boys were older and like their dad, loved riding the girls around the farm on their four wheeler’s.
Jack was older than I but halfway in age between daddy and me. All I know is that he was actually daddy’s first cousin which made him my second cousin but we were still cousins.
I didn’t see him again for a good many years. What I learned about him though was that he was hard working and enterprising. I remember daddy driving us through his land on what seemed like miles of corn fields. It was amazing to see row upon row of fresh corn. That was all his, daddy said. What I remember was that he was always accumulatin’, but mostly land and cows. I would later add to my opinion of his persona, “hot tempered and opinionated”, after all he was a southerner. A redneck through and through.
It seemed that Jack took a dislikin’ to my Uncle Tracy for “some reason” and felt compelled to compete. If Uncle Tracy bought a parcel of land, Jack would out do him. If cousin Bill bought a bunch of cattle or more land, he’d out do him. (Cousin Bill was uncle Tracy’s son in law).
You see my great grandma had 12 kids and out of those only 8 or 9 of them lived. I could be wrong on that. But Uncle Tracy and my grandpa were from the same litter, only grandpa was on the older end of the scale and Uncle Tracy was closer to Daddy’s age. Cousin Jacks Poppa was Pervie also near the bottom rung and I heard tell his momma was mean as hell, but I don’t remember her. The pic below shows some of them.
How one family could have kids on opposite ends of the social spectrum, is beyond me. I can only guess the younger ones benefited from the older ones working by getting more education, therefore more advantages. One thing for sure, they were all a hard working bunch. Uncle Fitzhugh also had a Jack who would move to Texas; his sons were younger and fully educated and classier.
Cousin Jack was decent folk, steady and far brighter than he let on to be. Being in the military he got to see the world and was well traveled, but daddy doesn’t know how he survived being so bull headed as he was and all, but he did. Calling him bull headed, well that was like the pot callin’ the kettle black, as if dad could talk.
When I visited Daddy once, Jack noticed the tires on my car were going bald, so he sent me to this tire place in town. Beings as I was from Colorado, I was a bit shy on going to a business I didn’t know for fear of being taken advantage of. For one, I am a woman and…two, considered a “Yankee” to boot.
He tells me to tell them that “Jack B of Walnut Grove” sent me. He says, “They know me there”. “They know I got a big mouth and if they don’t treat you right, the whole damn county’ll hear about it!” They gave me a great deal and I was in and out in no time.
Daddy said, that’s how he was. He had a big mouth and at times could be downright offensive, but one thing for sure, if he likes you, he likes you and you couldn’t ask for a more honest dealin’ man around. You always knew where you stood with him.
After I moved there I found that to be true. People either loved him or hated him and that would all depend on what kind of person you were or how you’d dealt with him or one of his kin and/or friends. That’s what happened to Uncle Tracy. You see Uncle Tracy had taken advantage of daddy once a long time ago and basically absconded with over 360 acres of good timber land, leaving daddy with only 20 acres. Daddy and grandpa got like $5,000 for all of it, perhaps less. Truth is, it was grandpa’s and daddy’s temper that interfered with their judgment that lost the land, none the less they all blamed Tracy for taking advantage of a known flaw in their personalities. Daddy never forgot that and of course Jack didn’t either. Loyal.
Jack, like us, started out land poor. I don’t know how but there was quite a bit of land in the family and each started out with a chunk of it. I used to tell people we owned the town. My husband didn’t believe me until his first visit and he spotted a street named after us. Actually, there were several but that’s all we had. No money. Just land.
Now Jack was different. He may have looked like a hick, but he was sharp. He not only gained more land adding thousands of acres but he had hundreds of cattle, pigs, llamas and for a time raised corn to boot. So, he did right well for himself. He also knew how to handle money, and he knew how to save and multiply it. He put his boys through college and they too did well as engineers and accountants.
Daddy liked him because he said, he wasn’t uppity, he’d give you the shirt off his back if you needed it, that was how he was. He did get in Dad’s face at times and was always bugging dad to get his affairs in order and take care of us kids, but daddy wouldn’t listen. Jack was trying to look out for us to no avail. I respected him for that.
That’s why, when he popped off spit firin’ mad at some politician or some injustice, callin’ them names ya hadn’t oughta repeat, ya let him go because it was “his way”. One thing for sure, there was never a doubt in your mind about what he thought. There were times you’d cringe at the stuff that came out of his mouth. The more I was around him, the more I could see right through his prattle as he’d spew. I was to discover that it was just talk. There was a heart of gold in there. Half the time I think he was just tryin’ to get folks riled and he did it well. He didn’t mince words and he could get ya to thinkin’.
One day, I’m at work and one of my coworkers tells me he’s dead, killed in a wreck or maybe daddy called and told me, I don’t remember. For sure it was my coworker that told me how. Some big trucker fell asleep or was drunk and went over to the other side. Her husband was on his motorcycle and saw it. Saw Jack. Jack had been decapitated. Killed on the spot. He died in 2007 at the age of 73. His obit states:
“Mr. — was retired from the U.S. Air Force and the United States Department of Agriculture. He entered the military at the age of 17. He served in the U.S. Armed Forces as a Ranger when they occupied Germany after World War II. He also served in the Korean War and saw combat duty during the Vietnam War. At present, Mr. — was a cattle farmer.”
Daddy missed him most. A lot in fact. He was his best friend. But even he said, “sometimes Jack could be an ass hole” and I said “yeah… but he was our ass hole.”
What made me think of Jack is the elections comin’ up. Yeah, we got a couple of them.
The thing of it is, there are people in life like Jack. They can be a bit hard to take sometime, because it’s all out there for the whole world to see, flawed and imperfect. Even so, I never heard him demean a woman like daddy would and did. He was a good man. I never heard him say an unkind thing about someone based on color alone so much as work ethics and it was a sorry thing if they were one and the same, regardless. He didn’t pick and choose. You work hard, you get treated fairly. Period.
Daddy said that sometimes he was harder on his boys. I believe it. My boys got to work the farm once one summer and one liked him, the other didn’t so much. He treated them as his own. My sweet nerd was not at all the out door type, so he didn’t quite toe the line and farming is hard. Manual labor was not up his alley but it was good for him. He learned and never held it against Jack. For all his abrasive ways, when the chips were down, Jack was a good fair person and could always be counted on to give you the shirt off his back to help you.
Despite daddy’s ill treatment of us kids, I took care of him when he was sick and Jack liked that. He liked me and yes, I liked him too. I wish he could have been around when daddy passed away, but he’d been gone nearly four years by then. It would have been nice to get his advice on a few things.
First of all I’d like to give credit and honor to the creator : https://ilmondodishioren.wordpress.com/ for divising this entertaining blog to pass on. It is the season. Then also to https://theguywhosaidalwaysno.com/2016/10/06/autumn-tag/ for nominating me to pass this request on. Check out his blog for some great food fare. Yum!
After all it is Autumn, one of my favorite seasons. I like Spring and fall because they are the periods of transition. We bud and grow in spring but in Autumn we morph.
WARNING! This post is not for the feint of heart. It is disturbing and unpleasant.
As I mentioned early on when I first started posting, there were some things I would eventually include in my posts that were cathartic for me but that I hope might help others as well. This is one of them.
I have heard from the proverbial “they” that you must first love yourself before you can love others. I have also heard that those who stay in an abusive environment are ones in search of love. They equate abuse with love. I disagree and perhaps agree a little with that. In fact, there are countless reasons that come into play. More than you realize. (See footnotes)
My parents were both abusive.
My mother who was later diagnosed schizophrenic was more verbal than physical, although she wasn’t above taking a wooden coat-hanger to us, yanking us by the hair in the middle of the night because we left a spoon in the sink. It didn’t matter who did it, we all got it. It was worse, when she and dad got divorced and she remarried and took on her second husbands children. Those poor babes were taken out of foster homes where they’d been molested to a home where they would get beaten, and they were there because they’d been abandoned as children while my step-father was serving his country. Hard to imagine that kind of stuff exists, but it does.
Oh, did I have my hands full! My sisters and brothers (now six girls and three boys), made a grand total of nine, with me being the oldest. They tell me they pretty much regard me as the momma they look up to. Hard to imagine. I was 16.
Daddy was both physically and sexually abusive. The sexual he reserved for me. It had never occurred to me at the time to ask or wonder why the other girls were never touched. Later, as an adult, I was to learn his why. It was simple really. He told me he really never thought I was his daughter. Apparently early on in their marriage, when mother had escaped from him after one of his beatings she had returned to Mexico. He thought perhaps she’d reunited with an old boyfriend because when she returned, she was pregnant. She was aghast at the idea and told me, yes she left but had gone to her mothers and upon learning she was pregnant, returned to her husband as so it was expected in those days.
But, the question remained. Was he punishing her through me? I don’t know.
Once I became an adult, he no longer believed that. In part because after I moved to the small town he’d grown up in, he had taken me to a store to meet a cousin. Later, a woman walks in and says you must be a —–, giving our family name. She hadn’t seen my dad standing nearby but the family resemblance was apparently unmistakable. He laughed proudly.
The sad thing about abuse is, there is often times no rhyme or reason for it. Abuse is not punishment. It wasn’t always discipline for misbehaving. If mother had crossed him, he’d had a bad day at work or was just in a foul mood, he’d take it out on us. His physical abuse against me and my siblings I remember, that against my mother, I don’t, whereas my siblings do. If it wasn’t an outright beating, then he’d hit us on the back of the head with one of his famous backhanded slaps. (I wince every time Gibbs does that to his people on NCIS even though I’ve noticed he does it less now, so someone may have complained) The sexual part was in a cloud-like dream. I couldn’t remember anything beyond a certain point. In some cases I thought the perpetrator had been someone else. Over the years I’ve seen several (three) therapists and through them, learned a lot about myself and my ability to cope. I call it “shelving” the ugly. The therapist said that it is how I survived and remained sane.
I came face to face with “ugly” several years ago when my daughter encouraged me to see her therapist and thought maybe it would help me as well. I was in one state and she in another, “out west”. She was having some things she wanted to work through and some of it was in relation to her feelings for me. Being the eldest, she always felt responsible for me emotionally and didn’t understand why. I too, am the eldest and it was my job to protect my siblings, which I often did, stepping in or deflecting blows, so I understood.
My little sister and I were caring for my father at the time which by comparison was relatively easy to that of caring for mother. I was having a hard time though. I’d been doing it since 2005. She joined me in 2008. I was already drained from the energy it took to care for mother who had Alzheimer’s and who had recently died. (I had all the paperwork to do which was daunting since I had a battle with VA constantly and then shared the physical care with my sister.)
Earlier on, there had been an incident with Dad when I found out he was friends with an old neighbor of ours. I had always believed that this neighbor had been part of a group of boys who had molested me. I told him I remembered the blood on my panties and my little friend running for help and his mom coming. I remembered her cradling me in her arms and I presume taking me home. I remember my little sister coming home from the hospital soon after. I remember little else. I was five. My dad blew me off!
He never once said, “poor baby”. “It’s not true.” Nothing. No comment and that seemed odd. He also continued to be friends with this guy, he just talked less of him. I thought, why no paternal indignation or anger?
So when my daughter, who is not generally the most tactful person on the earth made her request gently, I accepted her offer to come out and give it a try. I had questions. Besides, I thought a vacation sure would be nice. Hah!
My daughter had already learned about a phenomenon called “transference”, where the roles are flipped. It made perfect sense to me. As a child I had been abused in every sense imaginable. I craved love. I was needy. When I was pregnant with her out of wedlock, I recall with definite clarity thinking and saying, “Now I will have someone to love and who’ll love me back and never leave me”. Oh my! It is a known fact that children in the womb absorb so much more information than before realized and here I am loading her up with this stuff. I was so relying on this child to take the place of all the love I’d ever wanted and never got. So, yes, I wanted to be there for her to work this crap out. I didn’t do this to her knowingly, but I still did it.
I gave permission for her to be present. It was there we learned the extent of the damage. I was functioning as an adult and I was a good parent, but certain triggers would cause me to respond as a child. Trauma, it turns out can prevent you from moving beyond a certain point. (* A form of child PTSD.) The therapist we saw, tapped into my inner self and found the details of the rest. So much ugly!
It did turn out there were five teens (as I had remembered) that had raped me, but the man dad was friends with was not one of them. But there was more. Dad was also a perpetrator. Not with the boys, but later. All I knew was by age 6 it had started. The man I was always trying to please was hurting me in ways I didn’t understand and I had blocked it out! The therapist asked me if I wanted the details. I said, “No way! I can’t go there.”
Oh, I didn’t disbelieve the doctor, because the cloudy dream like memories I had lived with were now coming back to life. Memories of Daddy coming to me in the night, lowering my panties, staring at me and stroking me. I remember him coming to their friends house where I was staying in LA. They had been in entrusted with taking me to auditions and make Hollywood connections for me to get in show biz, because I could sing and dance “a little”. I would hear him tell them he’d beaten mom to a pulp because of another man she’d fallen in love with, and how later that night, he came to me and held me in his arms and tells me how he wishes I was mother and then kisses me passionately. I recall wiping away the nasty kiss and not falling asleep, afraid he might do more. A more I thought I was unfamiliar with. While at the same time he was telling me my Hollywood dream was over, I had to go back home and protect my siblings from my mom?
No, I didn’t want to know details. I already had more than my fill of memories that suddenly took on a life of their own. What I had begun to think were the musings of an over active imagination were solidified.
A flashback of me confronting him as an adult and him not denying it but making the excuse that he’d grown up with all boys and never had a little sister so was only “fascinated and marveling” at my changing body. (My earliest memory of him was when I was 10 years old so it made sense) He apologized and cried and said he never meant to hurt or confuse me. I forgave him then. Was that all bullshit, or was he just relieved that that was all I remembered? Now the therapist is telling me there was way more than that? My mind was in a whirl. It was too much and I knew I could never handle more. As it was, I was gasping for air and my daughter for one last time, took her mommy role and held me in her arms as if I were her child.
For hours I sobbed uncontrollably. I would see her little girl sitting on the couch, confused and probably wondering why her grandma couldn’t stop crying and me thinking I was no bigger than her. Why? How could anyone do that to a child? Mother and daughter cried together.
Dear God, how was I going to go back home and continue caring for him?
I couldn’t. More than anything I wanted to run far, far away, but I didn’t. Did it cross my mind to exact vengeance? You bet. I didn’t know what or how, but I thought it.
Instead, because I am who I am I didn’t. I talked to my sisters and we agreed on specifics on how to handle his care, especially when he became totally bedridden. Up until then, it was just me and my baby sister. The other sis had never stepped up to the plate, but now I was forced to engage her help. She was out of work and her forte’ was senior care-giving. I would not wash or take care of any of that. I hated to do that to her but she said she was fine. To her, he was just another patient and she needed the money. I strictly handled his financial business, his medical and hospital transport and later hospice care. He had made me legal guardian years ago so that’s what I did. I took extra care to never overstep my bounds of guardianship and I refused to physically touch him.
I had accepted the beatings as how things were in those days and that they (my parents) didn’t know any better and had forgiven them both for that. Mom because of her mental incapacity and dad for his upbringing. His dad beat him and his dad beat him and so on, but this?
When I began caring for my parents, my baby sister had moved from Florida to help me care for mother since my caregiver sister would not. My parents had been especially cruel to my caregiver sister because they thought she was retarded. Daddy and her locked horns regularly and at the time, he was still very coherent and although he fluctuated between giving her the “farm” and nothing, he could still hurt her by his words. And, she came through in the end. So, in comes baby sister.
I had to find a way to protect us all and still do our jobs. Mom had passed away the year before and we would now be alone with him.
My dad was very well liked in our little southern town. He was highly regarded for his intellect. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do. If you’ve read my other blogs, you will also know there were many admirable qualities about him as well. He was charming and smart. So, it’s no wonder I was conflicted. There was also this need to hide what had happened. We were related to so many people here, so there was also this sense of embarrassment and shame for the family. My revealing this old stuff or explaining why we would no longer care for him would bring all this out if we just walked out. Maybe we wouldn’t have to explain, but I liked my other family members and being God fearing Christians that they are, I just couldn’t do that to them. They would be so disappointed and maybe even angry. Most of them are elderly. No, I couldn’t tell. Walking away would not be that easy.
On his deathbed, I would tell him what had been revealed and why I had distanced myself. I told him too that I forgave him. He had never been a God fearing person but had explored all faiths, but he had accepted Christ and I trusted God would take care of the rest. By then, he had had a stroke and could only listen and not offer up any excuses like he always did before. I went on to thank him, because it was my history with him that made me a stronger person and a better parent. (the girls still tell me I did a good job and we are closer because of it). Early on, I always knew what kind of parent I would be and nurtured my children the best I knew how. And, I also thanked him for having been able to care for him.
I had to tell him this way, because before his stroke he had inadvertently slipped up and told me about a time he and his pals had violated their little sister, so his excuse about never seeing a little girl’s genitalia was hogwash – he also didn’t see it as violating her. He had said, it was just a child’s natural curiosity. I get that, but it wasn’t right. What amazed me further is they surprisingly remained fast friends until they died – had she blocked it from her memory as well?
My siblings all say they couldn’t have done it. For either parent.
The younger sister I refer to is the one that was born after the first incident and because of our age difference I never really knew her well. She was also ten when our parents divorced, so our memories are not the same, neither our experiences.
Through it all, I don’t regret it because the bond between my sister and I could never have developed and grown like it did had we not shared those trials the last days of their lives. In so having this experience, I got resolution. The two of us got resolution. We shared our perceptions, our feelings and we are now closer than I can imagine we would have been had we not shared that time together.
We noticed too that my brother who didn’t share this experience with us still has that baggage to unload. I hope he can.
My caregiver sister was my Irish twin and although we wished we could have a relationship with her, it didn’t happen. She escaped back into her own little world again when it was over. Her son would later get arrested for supposedly molesting their sons. I had shared my experience with him and his wife and a year later in the middle of a nasty divorce she accused him. I don’t think he did it. But how does anyone know for sure? The last I heard he was acquitted. Psychiatrists examined the children and there was no evidence to support her claim, but the damage was done.
What’s interesting is, during a bitter period, when a dear friend of mine who also knew dad and liked him, was singing his praise, I retorted “he wasn’t all that he seemed.” Her response was, “we know”. I didn’t ask what she knew, it didn’t matter.
The family and friends I made during that time are irreplaceable and had it not been my decision to go there and explore my roots and meet family I would never otherwise have met them nor had the experience that was so worthwhile.
And even though they are several time zones away now, I love all my friends there and think of them often.
As painful as it was, it explained a great deal. My daughter now gets to have her mommy back and the “ugly” no longer haunts me. When it comes out it is when I feel it safe to share and perhaps help someone.
I have come to the conclusion that I have great survival instincts. When my first husband threatened to strike me, I stood up like a cobra and got in his face and snarled, “Don’t you dare! Don’t even think about it!” He stood over 6 feet to my five foot 2″ little self (and I was little then) and he quickly backed off and apologized. I know I frequently irritated the hell out of him in those days because if he raised his voice or was angry I would duck. I was still young and the wounds fresh back then.
Once when my dad hit his wife while I was visiting, she ran and hid behind me and I immediately got in his face then too and told him, “NEVER, never do that again! You don’t hit women or kids!” He backed off instantly. (I had already heard from the neighbors that she would sometimes run to their house to get away.) This woman who didn’t like me for most of the years they were married couldn’t do enough for me from then on out.
Why did these men back down when I stood up to them?
What was different now than from me as a child? Size? Not likely. I’m not much bigger now than I was then. Then I remember I did stand up to dad, when I stuck up for my siblings and/or myself and only got more beatings because of it.
The same for my brother. I think he and I got the most beatings. So what was different? Did it come from the fact that I had nothing to lose or to gain? I don’t know.
No matter. Tenaciously hold onto life and choose joy and happiness. I do.
The following links shed some light and understanding of the psyche of an abused child and adult. I hope my blog wasn’t totally depressing.
NOTE: When I added the above picture of me when I was little, I didn’t realize how tying it to this blog would affect me. I suddenly became overwhelmed with the urge to hold that little girl in my arms and comfort her and tell her, “it’ll be all right”.
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