(Well, a couple of weeks have passed and here I am again. I think it's taken me this long to be able to process the last segment I wrote, to be able to get on to this one. Putting all the subsequent pieces together has given me a new perspective on what dad said about me being better off in foster care. I realize now, that statement wasn't about dad not wanting me. No, it was about his understanding that the world between his wife's ears was a very twisted one and that my only hope of not getting sucked in, was to get the hell out.)
Facing the Giants:
So, thus went my first "remembered" disclosure to mom and dad about the sexual abuse. Other fragmentary pieces would come through later - of disclosures prior to this ninth grade account. Some of what I remembered though, didn't surface until years after dad died.
I'd always had some fragmentary memories of the sexual abuse it's-self; memories that I'd never forgotten. I'd often held recall of the beginnings of abuse incidence, but not the endings. In the early days of my incest survivor meetings - I found this frustrating; but I'd soon come to the conclusion that if I was meant to remember something, eventually it would come. I guess in a sense I'd figured that what I could and couldn't remember was also part of God's plan. Later, I'd come to realize that some of what I couldn't remember was because of what would later surface of mom and dad's knowledge of this abuse.
So I returned to school the next week and told the counselor that I did manage to disclose to mom and dad what happened. When I'd explained to her some of how it unfolded; she seemed rather shocked and a bit horrified that my mother had forced me to confront my brother. She said she was proud of me though, that I didn't back down. A lot of kids when forced into a corner like that; will then say that it didn't happen. I told her no - I wasn't about to say that. Yeah, there were times I struggled with whether or not telling my parents was the right thing? In the end though, I'd come to realize that divulging this to someone who actually believed me, lifted such a weight off my shoulders that I knew there was no going back. Even to this day, I've never regretted telling.
"For you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free!"
Well, a couple of weeks passed and the counselor told me that she was going to send my parents a letter; stating that she was aware of the disclosure, that the accused still lived in the household and that she was requesting the family seek counseling before she contacted CPS. She gave it a week and my parents never responded to the letter. (I don't think my dad ever knew the letter had come in the fist place.) So, she told me the next step she was going to do was to call my parents.
This happened on a weekend and but for the providence of God, I'd gone for a walk when the call came. I'd only been gone for about 20 minutes because, for what ever reason - my mother didn't want me to leave the house? When I returned, she said that if anyone called to let her answer the phone because we'd just gotten a "prank call". I waited in great dread the rest of that weekend for the call I'd thought never came.
When I'd gotten back to school and talked to the counselor, she told me she had called. My mother had answered the phone and it didn't go well. At that point, the counselor said she'd decided that she needed to call Child Protective; but also she wanted to do it while I was there, so that I could know what she was telling them and that I could speak to them myself. So she made the call while I was sitting in the office and I did talk to the CPS worker.
I remember the investigator asking me if I had been sexually abused as the counselor had stated and I told her yes. Then she asked me if this was still happening and I said no. Her third question was if I knew whether or not it had / and was still happening to anyone else in the house. I told her that I remembered incidences involving my sisters, but that I believed it was not still happening to either of them. (I'd find out years later that I was wrong about that too; but again - that's for a future chapter.)
Finally, she asked about my age and the ages of my sisters. Since we were all 14 and over at that point; she seemed satisfied that we were "safe enough" and she told me that she was not going to launch an investigation. She did say though, that if there was anything else I wanted to tell her in the future; she'd give the counselor her name and extension so I could talk to her again as opposed to another investigator. (Since she already knew of the case.) After that we hung up.
The last 15 or so minutes of the session; the counselor and I talked about foster care. I asked her what would happen if I did go into foster care. She explained the process to me a little bit and than asked why I'd asked that. I told her I didn't really feel safe in my house and that I thought maybe I'd do better in school and stuff if I wasn't living there. She told me that she believed that if I wasn't being removed from an active abuse situation, I'd probably end up in a juvenile facility - a group home or something like that. Well, that scared me because though I didn't want to be at home; I also didn't want to be labeled a delinquent. She told me that a lot of kids in these homes were there because they had problems like I did and they didn't feel safe with their families. Still I was too scared to make that kind of move. I was afraid of the kids that might be there and I was afraid that going to a facility like that would some how limit my future.
What I really wanted was a nurturing place where I could grow. Someone to take me in and mentor me into early adulthood. I didn't want to be bounced around and I didn't want to be some place like school, where I always felt like I was fighting to not be totally on the bottom of the pecking order. I was depressed and I felt like I had a huge hole in my heart. I needed a place where I could heal. The counselor asked me if I had some place in mind; like a relative or a friend's house where I thought I could get what I needed. I said no, I felt the rest of my family was too screwed up and I didn't really have any friends. The only person I thought that might be of help was my dad's mom; but that I didn't think she wanted a fourteen year old who was messed up. Besides, if I did go there; I didn't think my mother would ever talk to me again. I remember she asked me if I really thought my mom would do that even if I was only staying with grandma? I said yes. She sat for a moment and then told me she was really sorry to hear that and she could understand why I didn't know what to do next.
After that, I asked her if my brother would go to jail if something else did happen. She said that he would be arrested and if he didn't confess to the abuse, there was a chance it would go to trial. Well, at that point I just started crying because I felt absolutely trapped. I told her I felt like jumping off a bridge. She said that if I really was afraid that I'd hurt myself, then she could have an ambulance come and take me to the hospital. I told her no, I didn't want to go to the hospital. At that point she made me promise I'd stay safe. I just said - yeah, yeah, yeah.
Well, she wasn't going to take that. She made me look her in the eye told me that if I couldn't make a solemn promise to be safe until the next time I saw her, then she couldn't let me go back to class. I remember looking at her and I knew she was serious. I don't think I could articulate it at that time; but the expression on her face made an impact on me. Here was someone who really cared whether I lived or died.
"OK." I said to her. "I'll stay safe until I see you again. I can't promise after that, but I'll stay safe until I see you again." She said. "OK. We can renegotiate that contract next time I see you. But if you're sure your going to be safe until then; I'll let you got to class." I said "OK" Then she asked me if I wanted a hug. I said yeah and she gave me a hug. I think that was the first time she hugged me.
Funny how that was 25 years ago and I can still hear her voice.
I miss her. But for the Grace of God - one of these days; I'm going to find her again.
All the while, You hear each spoken need,
Yet love us way to much to give us lesser things.
Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know your near?
What if my greatest disappointments, or the aching of this life;
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy?
What if trials of this life,
The rain, the storms, the hardest night,
Are Your mercies in disguise?
The second confrontation with my mother I'd always remembered though, occurred shortly after I'd come home from the Navy. I think the conversation started with her being angry at me about not wanting to live at their house. I told her there were reasons I didn't want to be there. There was stuff I needed to resolve in myself and stuff this family needed to face.
Well, she jumped all over me about my brother; telling me she didn't know what my problem was? She stated that she didn't really think I had an issue with the sexual "stuff" - it wasn't abuse. I wanted him to do it and now I was just saying all this because I jealous of him and I was only ever going to be half of what he was. I just looked at her and said: "What?"
"You're just jealous of him because your only ever going to be half of what he is?"
"Don't say that. You don't seriously believe that - do you?"
"Yes I do!"
"I'm only ever going to be half of what he is? And what is that mom? Half of what?"
"You heard me."
"So does that mean you're only ever going to be half of what "uncle slime - pseudonym for what he really is - a slime ball" was?"
She glared at me.
"You don't really feel that way. You're just drunk."
"No I'm not! That's the way I really feel!"
"Well mom if that's the way you really feel. That's pretty fucked up!"
I turned around a walked away.
I remember going up stairs to bed. I wasn't really angry, hurt or feeling much of anything else at the time. I just remember being really confused and wondering what the... hell, had possessed mom to say that? Looking back at it now, maybe "hell" and "possessed" were really the words. A couple of days later, I told dad about what she had said and he just shook his head: "Yeah." He nodded. "Your mother's got some problems." When I asked him what he meant, what was wrong with her? He said: "I don't want to talk about it." I remember looking at him and shrugging and he then he got angry at me. "I don't want to talk about it!"
So I guess in the end, my mother never really thought of herself as "any more than half of what her brother was." No, I guess she was too encumbered by her demons to hear anybody's voice but theirs. So what ever thoughts she may have had in her last days - she took them to the grave with her.
Mom's funeral was a strange event indeed. The only eulogy dad had to friends and family was "Thank you for being part of our lives." He couldn't say anything other than those eight simple words and sat down crying. My brother was the next one up; in which he posted a list of accolades he felt mom deserved. He basically talked about one event. Her efforts to have the local elementary school reopened and subsequent summer several family members spent cleaning and painting the building. My oldest sister talked about how mom had told her not to "follow the crowd" - "don't be a Pringle"; (the analogy being that all Pringle potato chips come out of the can looking exactly the same). My next sister made reference to how she loved her mother; although honestly, I don't remember what she said.
I was the last one to speak. I opened my remarks with the words to the Beatle's song "The Long and Winding Road". I recollected a 14 year old who was metaphorically left standing at her grandmother's grave because her mom was too consumed by the grief of losing her own mother to help her child through it. I mentioned a reference of my older sister's. She'd relayed mom telling her that she regretted not taking better care of her kids when her mom died. My sister had stated that she felt mom had more than made that up by the care she extended to her grandchildren; and to that, I had to agree with my sister. I talked about things mom had done for my son and how all us kids stewed a lot in the last days as to what we'd guess to be mom's "final wishes". I posed my hypophysis that she'd not want us to carry the same regret she had. She'd want us to take up our kids from her grave site and make sure they not lose us in our being consumed by our own grief. I talked a little bit about God helping us through our trials and to overcome our regrets; because in the end - God wants good and most parents want a better life for their children than what they'd struggled through. To greater emotional strength and stronger families - All God's people said Amen!
After that, I sang a song (or at least did my best at singing a song). "If these walls could speak" by Amy Grant. I don't think most of my family really understood that at least to me; that song spoke more of God's faithfulness than it did of any "love" our family displayed to each other. I had a Father in heaven who cared for me and certainly more than any of the lies and deceit that had been passed around for years as "love. God and His kingdom had become my family and what ever gratitude the proverbial walls of my life could tell - I owed it all to Him.
They would tell You that I owe You - more than I could ever pay.
Here's someone who really loves You - don't ever go away.
That's what these walls would say!
Well, come to find out at dad's funeral four years later - that my brother was absolutely livid with me over what I'd said at mom's funeral. From the point of when mom died though; I honestly didn't care what any of my siblings thought. I had spent a few days pondering this "eulogy" and the day before the funeral I'd read what I'd written to dad. He was quite for a moment and than said: "I like it. You're the only one who's got the guts to stand up and speak your mind." I asked him if anyone else had told him what they were going to say. He said yes; and that my sisters basically missed their mother and he felt my brother's eulogy was just full of crap.
Needless to say, my brother acted rather strangely at the cemetery. He wasn't stoic or extraordinarily weepy or anything like that. I remember being one of the last people to leave because my husband and I were on foot. We stood off a bit while they put the casket into the ground. My brother had been hanging all over it between the time most of the family had left and the cemetery crew came to close up the grave. The cement lid to the crypt was laying on the ground a couple of feet from the open grave where the crew was working to disassemble the apparatus that lowers the coffins. I don't know if they noticed my brother, but he was just about laying on top of volt cover stroking the name plate that had been screwed to it. When my husband saw this; he got this disgusted look on his face and said something to the effect of my brother being one sick puppy. "That is just creepy." He'd said.
As we walked the mile or so to my brother's house; (where the wake was) my husband had posed the question to me of something going on between my mother and brother? I just kind of looked at him funny. "No, I don't think so." I remember saying. (Come to find out later of course that I was wrong there too.) The further I get in time away from the funeral and the more I look back at it, the more "Rock's" actions really were bizarre and twisted. At the time I remember thinking - she'd dead, get a grip. Knowing what I know now, I guess at least my brother's actions have a context to them; even if he was acting like he would have crawled into the casket with mom's corpse if he could.
I guess at this point, I've spent more than a few hours trying to decide how I really felt and what I really thought of all this? It's been hard to digest, even when I've spent several years trying to process it - I'm still not sure what to think. Maybe in a certain sense it doesn't really matter any more. My parents a both dead. One of those things I suppose I'll just never really wrap my brain around. We all have our crosses to bear and the memories we carry with us. I don't think I'm mad at my mother any more for any of this. She was a lost and I suppose, demon possessed soul. Am I glad that she's gone? I guess for the sake of a certain amount of closure in my own life - I'm more relieved than I am happy. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked and I certainly have a certain dread for the future I fear my mother will face. I was talking to a friend of mine shortly after her funeral about my suspects for her eternity. He said: Yeah, what happened in those few moments before she died - you don't really know; but I know your enough of a Calvinist to know God doesn't save everyone and you just got to let God be God.
Yeah, I just got to let God be God!
(So here I am, end of what ever instalment this is - it's just about bed time and I've got to get a certain child marching off in that direction. Maybe more tomorrow.)