This is going to be triggering to some, so I am hiding the content beneath a -READ MORE- line. I was abused for more than fifteen years; sexual, emotional, and psychological. I wasn’t able to talk about this before now. I’m not entirely sure I can write about it now. But I’m trying. This might give an idea of why I now have PTSD.
Some of my dates might be off. My memory is shaky, at best when I was that young.
My mother passed away 17 years ago on August 2, 2018, and this is my catharsis.
My mother’s name was Mary. She was born in September of nineteen fifty-two in Roslindale, a neighborhood of Boston. She was the youngest of four at the time; the middle of six within a few years. By all accounts, she was just like every other kid her age. She went to Boston Public Schools, had decent grades, and kept a small group of friends. Her family was perfect; they went to church, they volunteered in the community, and her father was a firefighter for the city of Boston. Her father was also a predator who violently and methodically abused all six of his children, three boys, and three girls. My mother was first raped by her father in fifty-nine (do the math, I’ll wait) and the physical and emotional abuse followed shortly after that. Her abuse continued until she married my father, in nineteen seventy-two (more math. Yep, for that long). Somewhere around the age of fifteen, she started drinking beer. By sixteen, she’d graduated to vodka. She was a full blown alcoholic by eighteen.
Spring of seventy-two found my mother in a bar in Charlestown, dancing on the bar, and she accidentally kicked over a bottle of Schlitz that ended up dumped over my father’s lap. Ahh, true romance. They married the following year, and my mother’s drinking and drug use ramped up even more. In July of nineteen seventy-three, my mother discovered she was pregnant, and by some miracle, she stopped drinking, smoking, and using. For the ten months I was incubating (I was comfortable. Shut up) she was clean and sober. Her due date was mid-February, and I came along in late March. She stayed sober for a few months after I was born but had gone right back to drinking by the end of seventy-four. Divorce happened in seventy-six, and my mother moved us into her old house in Roslindale. Her family had moved up to New Hampshire by that time after her father had been involved in an accident wherein his legs were crushed by an overturned fire truck, so it was just her and I in a triple-decker.
In a funny aside, during the blizzard of nineteen seventy-eight, my mother was working in a hospital, and she was called into work as an emergency worker. I was left with my biological father’s mother, Nana, during the storm and was there for almost a week. When we were finally allowed to return to our house, the first two floors of the house were behind a white wall of snow and, when we got upstairs, my three-and-a-half-year-old self couldn’t believe my eyes. We had a blizzard in the house! Somehow, the sash of one of the windows in the living room had raised up during the storm, which allowed a massive pile of snow to drift into the house. I could sled in my house! (My mother put a stop to that pretty quick) And then, walking to the back door that led to our balcony, another surprise awaited us. Another snow pile, this one coming in from under the weather stripping. I got to use my beach sand pail and shovel to help dig out the back door while my mother took care of the window pile.
Shortly after the blizzard, my mother began dating the man who eventually became my stepfather. She’d taken work as a waitress in a restaurant in downtown Boston and met a woman who introduced my mother to her brother. He was significantly older than my mother (twenty plus years) and, within a year, we left the triple-decker and moved in with her boyfriend. I remember picking out wallpaper for my bedroom and him promising I could have anything I wanted. I chose a ginormous rainbow on a white background, and I thought it was SO cool. It was a straight line from the master bedroom to mine, across a small living room and, to go to the bathroom, you had to go out into a hallway separate from the apartment. In September of nineteen eighty, she married him, and he became my stepfather.
I remember the wedding because I remember the dress. I remember feeling like a princess because it had a long pink skirt and puffy white sleeves. (It was the early eighties, shut up). I remember that my mother’s whole family came and, when they left on their honeymoon, I went to Nana’s house once again. Ten glorious days in the Charlestown projects and I was happier than anyone in the world. My Nana was my happy place. My joy. And eventually, my safe haven.
I was six the first time he tucked me in. They’d just come back from the honeymoon, and my mother was drunk on the couch. I remember I was wearing a bright yellow nightgown that had cap sleeves and it was a soft, silky material. I climbed up into my bed, and he pulled the covers up to my belly. It wasn’t uncommon for him to tuck me in before they’d been married as my mother was a sometimes violent drunk but this was the first night that he touched me. At first, I didn’t think anything of it. He was smoothing the blankets as he talked to me about the cruise they’d gone on and asked about what I’d done with Nana while they were gone. As he spoke, his hand moved up higher and higher until he was rubbing my chest. At that point, I didn’t think anything of it. This was the guy that bought me my first Easy Bake Oven. The one that let me sit beside him on the bench seats and sometimes let me put my hand on the wheel. Over the following month, the rubbing got more and more intimate. He started lifting my nightgown and would tell me that rubbing my chest would keep me from getting sick because it moved air in my lungs. (I was six. What the fuck did I know?). By Thanksgiving, he was taking my nightgown off and touching me everywhere. I lost my virginity before Christmas of nineteen eighty. Gave my first blowjob before I turned seven.
My mother got sober in October of nineteen eighty-one. She found Alcoholics Anonymous, and she got a sponsor. For the first time in my life, I finally had a mother instead of a violent drunk. Life didn’t change much, but at least she was sober. And it was around this same time that she cut contact with her family. She’d finally admitted what her father had done to her and had gone to therapy, where she’d worked through her anger and parted ways with her family. I didn’t see them again until I was sixteen.
This continued until I was nine. When I was nine, I worked up the courage to tell my mother. I had a book on talking about sex. I’d gotten it from the library, and I finally brought it to her and told her. I told her about how he tucks me in, how he made me kiss him, all the lurid details of what he’d been doing to be for three years. She brought me to a therapist, with my stepfather in the room, and basically accused me of lying. I was “confused” about the affection because I wasn’t used to a male figure in my life. I “didn’t know” what I was saying and indeed, he’d never touched me like that. No medical exam, no private conversation with the therapist. Just him saying he hadn’t done it and my mother believed him.
This was the same year that I started menstruating. It was the night before I was going to sleepaway camp for two weeks and I got my period for the first time. It was fucking miserable, made worse by my mother throwing a box of pads into my suitcase and sending me anyway. It was the camp counselors that taught me how to use pads and how often to change them. Two weeks later, when I returned home, my mother brought me to Planned Parenthood in downtown Boston. She dropped me off at the building and went to go have coffee with her friends while I had to be escorted through the protestors by a volunteer and I spent three hours with a nurse, learning everything I never wanted to know about STDs, birth control, pregnancy, menstrual care, tracking my period. I mean everything. I was the most well-informed fourth grader on the planet. But I was also now very aware of what he was doing to me, and no one believed me. We’d recently moved to a new city, and so I didn’t have friends that I trusted, and I was in a new school, so I didn’t feel comfortable. I couldn’t tell my Nana because I was afraid he’d hurt her and my father wasn’t exactly the pillar of stability. So I endured.
I got pregnant the first time when I was fourteen. My mother brought me to Planned Parenthood and paid for the abortion. She never asked who the father was.
I got pregnant again at sixteen. Once again, my mother paid for the abortion at Planned Parenthood. When I told her it was her husband that had gotten me pregnant both times, she accused me of being a slut that was asking for it and that “maybe you should stop flirting with him” so I wouldn’t be in this mess. I punched four teeth out of her head.
After that, it was just an endurance test until I could leave. Sometimes I remember things that I’ve forgotten, and they still catch my breath.
Like if someone is holding my hand and they scratch their finger against my palm, I can remember him telling me that was the signal that he wanted to fuck me.
If I’m in a car and I accidentally sit on a seatbelt buckle, I remember being in the front seat of his nineteen seventy-nine Oldsmobile Delta Eighty-Eight with the crushed velvet bench seat and he’d position me, so the buckle rubbed right against my cunt. He liked doing that on days after he’d fucked me.
I can remember the taste of his denture cream. The smell of cigarettes and Canoe aftershave. I can remember he had club fingers. Sometimes, I see men that look like him, and it gives me a minute. He ruined my life.
But my mother ruined it first. She should have protected me. She should have believed me. Mothers are supposed to protect their children.
I don’t know why I’m writing this. Maybe for me. Perhaps because it’s time. I should delete this. Family and friends who don’t know and still have the positive memories of how my mother could make you laugh until you peed. Her legendary blow-up at Radio Shack when the guy wouldn’t let her return a two dollar adapter.
My mother’s name was Mary, and she was a shitty excuse for a person.
The Dirty Oracle
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