Instability, displacement. Blessing, disaster, or a source of strength?

“Stop leaving and you will arrive.  Stop searching and you will see.  Stop running away and you will be found.”  -Unknown

It is sometimes hard to really determine what affect our past has on our current day life and relationships. If you really stop and consider it, did your upbringing guide you to strength and stability, insecurity and instability, or someplace in the middle?  I believe that we often just go through the motions of life as we grow and don’t realize the impact and work on the shortcomings that we may have developed.  This is the main reason for my blog, my months (so far) in therapy and so many of the changes taking place in my life now.  I am understanding myself better than I ever have and realizing, as I have stated in multiple other blogs, why I am the way I am and understanding many of my fears.

I believe I have mentioned before that throughout my life we moved a lot and rarely stayed in one place.  This created more issues for me than I ever realized.  It made social skills a challenge, trusting people has never been a strong point to this day.  It is hard to walk into a room and believe that you belong when you are constantly on the move and having to make new friends everywhere you go.  If you read my original blog, you know – I was born in Corpus Christi, TX, was adopted there and at 3 years old moved to Mountain Grove,  MO.  I won’t take through every single move I went through, that would be incredibly boring!!  BUT, I can tell you that in the 17 years I lived at home I lived in 10 houses (that I can remember at the moment) as well as in our camp trailer or in our van for many months and 2 additional locations as well as a lot of camp sites and road time.  My 4th grade year, I went to 3 different schools, living in 2 different states!  That year stands out for me as the hardest year of my younger years for obvious reasons, and more that will come out at a later date.  It’s so hard being the “new girl” anyway, that being the new girl in the capacity in which i was, was extremely difficult.  What do I mean by “in that capacity that I was”, right??

Well let me back up just a bit and I will explain a bit.  At 8 years old, I was a pretty well adjusted kid living in Blue Springs, MO, attending the 4th grade local elementary school, not fully aware of how abnormal and inappropriate my life was.  I knew my life was a bit crazy and things were not the same as for most others, but as I have mentioned before, I was too young to fully understand the depth of what was taking place and what the lasting affects would be.  There were a lot of things going on inside of my household that many would not believe or comprehend, things that people might say was a tall tale or a wild imagination.  Many of the things I don’t fully understand to this day myself; and yet I lived it!   While many of you may think that what I sometimes post is just family drama or dirty laundry that should be kept within the family confines, it is my story that I am sure somebody relates to.  I tell you in such detail what took place in my life because I believe that to understand me and my story, you have to know details and what feelings were inside me.  You cannot put yourself in my shoes and understand if you don’t know the feelings I had and I truly want people to understand and feel what I experienced.  So know, this is very personal and graphic for a reason.

The well adjusted kid disappeared at 8 when my somewhat normal life came to a screeching halt.  Craziness escalated when my brother Brian got married.  He had married someone that he didn’t know well enough to marry and it didn’t take long for this to become a disaster.  This quickly caught up to him and he realized he shouldn’t have married her.  I mentioned before that my dad was my hero, but Brian was my idol.  I loved him so much, I idolized him.  He was the most handsome big brother, he was cool, he had the prettiest girlfriends and I admired him so much!  And most importantly, he loved me and he protected me.  He got me out of the house when he could, he bought me things I wouldn’t otherwise get; he took care of me the best he could from a distance, since he didn’t live with us.  That year, he bought me a teddy bear that at 8 years old, was the same size as me.  I remember sleeping with this thing on top of my body because it was just too big to cuddle, but I didn’t want to miss a moment of it.  That was the coolest thing I had ever received, and today, one of my best childhood memories.  He will never know how much that bear meant to me.

Anyway…how this ties to my topic today – instability and displacement.  Brian had married and had a child with a woman that was not who or what she claimed to be.  He was so trusting and such a loving soul; he believed her, he loved her, he married her and had a child with her.  He quickly found out that she was not someone to be trusted and she was also a child abuser, abusing their new born son, my nephew Willie.  Willie was the sweetest and most handsome infant I had seen!  I loved my nephew an incredible amount and so did my entire family.  Still wondering how this applies to topic I’m sure, but keep reading and you’ll understand this sets the stage for the displacement from my home.  My sister-in-law was a very unstable young girl and severely misled my brother.  She had lied about her age, her situation and multiple other things; and she did not want the baby she had just delivered.  She called my brother at work daily, saying the baby wouldn’t stop crying so he would come home.  After some months of him bringing the baby to our house so he could go back to work, very concerning things were appearing.  Willie was crying uncontrollably at our house on a regular basis which was abnormal, after examining his body, my mom found little pin holes in his fat creases.  Having the heart he did, Brian struggled with believing his wife would do anything to harm their child and tried to figure things out – how to keep his wife happy but protect his child.  When the crying worsened, it was clear he was in pain and doctor visits determined his esophagus was burned and tests ensued to determine cause.  It was confirmed that she was sticking him with pins to make him cry and she was putting lye acid in his vitamins which was the cause of the burned throat and the stomach pains he was having.  Ultimately, my brother clearly couldn’t tolerate the abuse and made the hard but only decision he could, and took the baby and left her.  He had to find help and my parents were readily available.  He didn’t want to divorce her yet, he still wanted to understand.  Unfortunately, as he began to understand there was no option but to move toward ending their marriage and cut off all contact.  It was an incredibly difficult and tumultuous break up.  The cops were called several times for disturbing the peace and as a civil escort when she was granted visitation rights with the baby.  This was a devastating time for my family, although I had no idea how deep it would go.

I know this sounds a bit like a Lifetime movie and I have often joked about my life being like a movie.  The sad truth is, it’s not a joke.  My life truly has very much resembled a messed up movie with multiple crazy family members!  But guess what!!  That was my REAL life!  That’s the cards some of us were dealt and that makes it hard to handle but we have no choice but to handle or crumble.  I’m not a crumbler, there fore it may not have always been easy, but I handled it!  Until the past year, when I began falling apart and looking at why.

Now, this is the segway back to topic and into  our next and most significant move.  Because of the craziness happening with the baby being poisoned and his health declining, the baby’s life was in danger.  The courts wouldn’t suspend visitation rights and my brother and parents feared that one more visit with her and Willie could be dead.  Nobody was willing to take that risk, we loved him too much.  That week, we spent the week packing our home into a storage unit, and putting only what we absolutely needed to live into the van.  Leaving behind my life-size teddy bear was the hardest thing I had to do to date in my short 8 years.  While I knew we were having a serious situation, I was still a child and that bear was my favorite thing on earth.  It was symbolic of my brother’s pure love for me which was so different than the perverted and disgusting lust that my other brother had.  Two very different types of affection, one is NOT love.  In any case, my heart was broken and my parents PROMISED me I would get him (the bear) back, along with all of my toys, my bedroom and our home for that matter.  For the record, I never saw the bear or anything else including our home, again.  We packed what we needed in our van in the night and went on the run.  At this point we were fugitives of justice, considered kidnappers with a baby.

There were 5 of us in the van:  Dad, Mom, Willie (baby), Andrew (abusive brother) and me.  This series of events over the next couple of years stands out as some of the roughest times I have ever been through in my life.  I didn’t understand what was happening, I didn’t know at 8 years old what “running from the law” meant or how serious the repercussions would be!  I wish I had never learned, but eventually I did.

The only positive thing about this period of my life is that with all of the distractions and the fact that we were living in our van, on the road, there was very little opportunity for my brother to bother me with his perversion.  This allowed me to relax a little bit and try to be a kid, but I didn’t really know how to any more.

After some weeks in the van (I’m not really sure how long), on the road traveling cross country to many states and stops, we landed in Saucier, MS where my parents had some friends from when they lived in Corpus Christi who were willing to help.  We stayed on their property in a camp trailer for a short time, until we found a tiny 2 bedroom house for the 5 of us to rent.  I started school again, being my second school in the 4th grade.  The insanity of the situation we called life kept me from being able to play with friends after school or have sleep overs, so I didn’t exactly have many friends.  My parents fought too much to have anybody over anyway…it would have been mortifying for anyone to witness that.  Then, some normalcy – I got to join a basketball team, my first sport ever!  I was so excited!!  My parents came to my first game, amidst a fight, and my mom made such a horrible scene at the game that I never went back.  As you can imagine, I was incredibly uncomfortable and nervous ALL of the time.  I also had developed what, at the time they called “nervous stomach”, which kept me in pain a lot of the time.  It was a long time before I actually got to go the doctor to find out why my stomach was hurting me all the time and I was the least of my parents concern.  Ultimately I got some medication that calmed my intestines and helped the pain so I could relax as much as possible, which still wasn’t a lot.

When I think today about some of these things it blows my mind that this was my life.  So while I have not had an easy storybook life, I have had built up a lot of strength, understanding and empathy for others.  This part of my story is long from over, and I will continue in another post.  For today, my focus was to discuss instability and displacement and how it affected me.  My crazy life has offered me so many advantages and many disadvantages; I mentioned a couple above.  Feeling the comfort of a home is critical to me.  For the past year and a half, my daughter and I had been sharing a house with my friend which allowed me to get bills paid off, relax a little bit financially, but also gave me a very unsettling sense of displacement because it wasn’t mine.  I wasn’t providing for myself fully.  Last weekend I moved my daughter and myself into a new home.  I have a sense of security again that I have been missing for the past year.  I couldn’t be happier!  It is very important for me to be in control of my life now because I had no control growing up.  I have been dependent on someone else for my happiness for a lot of my life, sadly.  I admit I am very much a codependent.  My self confidence has been low most of my life, but I am raising it.  Now, through so much work in my life, I am learning for the first time in my life that I am more than capable of making myself happy, taking care of myself and my daughter and overcoming the remaining humps in my life.  Today, I am an over-comer and am excited for every day that comes because it is another step in the right direction and continued healing!   I have learned the importance of giving back to those in need, I understand what it means to be without.  I want to give and help with my knowledge or my paycheck, whichever is most appropriate, at any given moment.  I am thankful for my life and the terrors and what I have learned.  I love my family, I love my friends and I love my mankind.  This will not change, but will grow!!  Thank you for reading, and I welcome any feedback or comments.  Please share if you know anyone that might be interested in my story!

Child Abuse is the World’s Greatest Silent Crime

“Only when we are no longer afraid, do we begin to live.”  – Dorothy Thompson

Throughout our lives so many types of memories are created.  Good, bad, fun, scary, some indifferent.  I have memories of laughing harder than I have ever laughed before and I have memories of nightmare moments that many would never believe actually happened.  We have all experienced those moments, right?  Just some to other extents than others.  I believe that these assist in creating who we are as adults.  We turn out to be the product of our environment combined with things inherent within us.  Some people go through little and come out a mess and some live a life of hell and come out on top.  Things affect people in different ways and drive them to different abilities.  I am thankful today, that while I am one that went through hell growing up, a lot of abuse and contrary to that, I am a pretty OK adult!  I am full of strength I sometimes forget I have, I have a good work ethic and I have intelligence that got me where I am today; all while being a loving and compassionate person, (despite what some might say).  I love my fellow man and woman, although am often afraid to show it for fear of rejection.  I am in love with you, I am especially in love with me these days.  I am in love with the less fortunate who are trying to put food in their bellies or the bellies of their hungry children, and with their children who are struggling and hungry and don’t know any different.  I am in love with love, despite abuse; and in fact I crave it and don’t function well without it.  I think that would be exact reason I have made myself a priority lately and have focused so much on getting myself right.  I have learned that I cannot depend on anybody other than myself and my God to fulfill that hole in my heart that needs the love.  I am blessed to have the support system that I have now; but years ago, I didn’t have that.

I lived most of my formative years in fear.  Something that most people cannot fathom.  Fear of what was coming next, what was lurking around the corner.  Do you know what living in fear feels like?  Let me give you insight into what my world felt like, as I dealt with the fear and pain in silence and hid it.  It’s paralyzing.  Was there a punch to the face coming from my brother?  Will there be a black eye, will my jaw open wide enough to eat after he hits me across the face?  Will there be a bat to my ribs and will I be able to stand upright?  How long until I catch my breath?  Is there a 2×4 being swung at my head?  Will I be woken up inappropriately in the night and have to fight for my innocence?

Do any of you have claustrophobia?  Do you know where it came from?  I have it so bad I have to be pulled from the MRI tube 2 or 3 times crying because it terrifies me so badly.  How about fear of heights?  That’s my biggest one.  Fears all come from somewhere, you’re not born with them, they’re learned.    From the age of 3 or 4, (I’m not sure which age, but I know that was my age when I lived in the house where it started) we lived on a farm in Missouri.  Southern Missouri is filled with mountainous cliff hillsides, beautiful lush green trees and snakes.  Lots and lots of snakes.  As a 10-11 year old boy, my brother loved the snakes, toads, lizards – basically anything he could find to scare the daylights out of a 4 year old child.  He also was a good builder.  He build tree houses all over our property, one in particular that I was mortified to go up because that is where he kept his “pets”.  His pets being all of the creepy crawly things that I mentioned before.  I would be easily coerced into going up the tree house at 3-4 years old because I believed him that he wouldn’t do anything to scare or hurt me.  We are quite gullible at that age!  As a child you see the good in everyone, you don’t think they’re out to hurt or scare you and ultimately damage you for life.  So as I climbed the rickety boards nailed into the tree to the house portion, I would immediately see that he had NOT, in fact, gotten rid of any of his creepy crawlies and they he would lock the gate so I was stuck.  Stuck in the air, with him and his disgusting mind and jars of snakes, frogs and lizards.  (I was really only scared of the snakes because they were huge and scary; frogs and lizards I played with on the ground all the time.)  Here I am trapped with him as my commander to do as he says or he puts snakes on me.  Kind of like “it rubs the lotion on its skin or it gets the hose”.  Sick analogy, right?  But that’s what I think of every time, that’s how it felt.  So without further details, I tell you this is why today, I am mortified of snakes and I don’t like heights.  Now the claustrophobia, that’s a different story.  I suppose some of that came from him trapping me in a small space, but mostly from him holding me down.  Remember he is 7 years older than me and quite big.  He would be over top of me with my arms and legs pinned with his and first I would just get mad, then I would panic and scream and cry.  Eventually, he would be satisfied with his torture and let me up.  To this day, I cannot stand to be held down.  Not that this happens a lot as an adult, but in my younger years I found some superhuman strength if I got into a scrap and was on bottom, I quickly made it out of there and back on top.  Even playing around, wrestling, I feel trapped and will almost immediately freak out and start yelling.  I already told you how I react to the MRI tube and that is something I have to do several times a year.

Then there was my mom…what awful names will she call me today?  What would I do wrong today?  How would I displease or disappoint her?  What awful things would I be accused of when I was still very much innocent?  Will she grab me by the back of the head and slap me back and forth until her hand is tired?  How high will my anxiety be today?  Will my stomach hurt from the stress?  Will I need a pill to control my “nervous stomach” as they called it then.  Will I survive another day in this house?  How quickly can I get out and how late can I stay?  These were the thoughts that went through my head on a daily basis.  Utter fear brought all of these feelings to me every single day that I had to live in that house.  Put yourself in that mindset for just a moment.  Can you imagine that these are the people that you depend on, every single day of your life, yet you’re mortified of them?  Will they protect you or hurt you that day?  AND THEY CHOSE TO ADOPT ME!!!  WHY??  I’m not saying my life would have been any better anywhere else, but that question will always be there.  My life was hell and did it really have to be?  As a mother myself, I know I have not been perfect; in fact far from it.  I can guarantee you one thing though, if you ask my daughter if I love her she’ll say yes.  If you ask her if I would die protecting her, she’ll say yes.  I’ve had plenty of fails as a parent, but ultimately my child knows I would and DO, do anything in the world for her.  So please be clear, I am making no claims to being a perfect mom, but my daughter does not live in fear of me nor does she question my faith and love in her; and that is all I ever wanted from my mom.  Faith and love.  And protection.  I never got any of it before she died.  I will live with that nightmare for the rest of my life.

Then there was Dad…he was the closest thing to a hero I ever had in the house.  My dad was the best, although looking back now I don’t understand why or how he let everything happen.  He wasn’t a large stature man.  He was only 5’9″, retired from the military on disability with a very bad back and just not physically able to do a lot in the realm of protection for me.  He couldn’t fight off my brother by any means and hadn’t been able to for many years.  My brother is 6’3″ and weighed about 300 lbs.  Dad was no match for him and he couldn’t physically protect me.  He couldn’t protect himself or Mom either, as my brother often turned on them as well.  I will never understand why he didn’t get me out of there though.  Call the cops, do something!!  I know my dad loved me more than anything and I believe that to be the reason Mom hated me, jealousy.  She never worked.  He didn’t work.  So my entire life they were both home and Mom didn’t drive.  It was a very old fashioned home.  Mom and Dad cooked dinner together every night.  They went to the store together.  They hung laundry on the clothes line together.  They differed on my treatment.  Dad was never ok with it, but didn’t stop it.  So on one hand he was my hero but on the other hand he was the enabler.  I feel guilt when I say this, because I loved him so much, but it made him as guilty as the abusers by not putting a stop to it.  Silence is as bad as performing the act yourself.  Remember that people.  If you see abuse – DO SOMETHING!!!!  If you aren’t sure, find out.  Call somebody to have it checked out.  Could you live your life knowing that YOU allowed ME to go through what I’ve just described to you?  I couldn’t.  If I could stop all abuse I would, but I’ll take it one at a time as I can for now.

This brother is now in prison for the rest of his life, where he belongs, but the nightmares will never stop.  In fact, the first thing for me to do today was write because I woke up screaming at 6:30am over a nightmare of him and Mom.  The nightmare took place in our old house where I lived in high school.  He was in his 20’s by then and I had learned to stand up to him.  He would come and go when he pleased, not really living there, but showing up to stay whenever he wanted and the hell would ensue.  Most of my dreams, or nightmares, are a real depiction of what took place.  We are both home, I try to be calm, but the fear wells up and it’s as if he is an animal that can smell it.  The fear triggers his reaction and the hunt and fight are on.  In this particular dream last night (remember how crazy dreams can be), the fight began and several pieces I don’t remember of me trying to get away and scream but nothing came out; he ended up holding me down as described before, shoving paper into my mouth so I couldn’t breathe.  All the while, Mom was in the next room not hearing my cries.  This was a much more intense dream than usual and I didn’t know where I was but I knew it was a dream I needed to wake up from.  I didn’t know how old I was for instance or that I was in my bedroom or where the door was, because I was looking for it as I tried to wake myself from the screaming cries with tears rolling down my face.  When I finally woke, I couldn’t stop crying.  It’s a horrible realization that these things happen and not just to me, but to thousands of children and much worse than what I went through.  It absolutely breaks my heart.  It takes me back to a time I don’t like to remember, but I am thankful somehow that I have these memories because it gives me empathy and understanding for those that have also endured this type of life.  It also gives me the satisfaction of knowing I survived it, I have strength most don’t have because of it and unfortunately I have insecurities and fears most don’t have as well.  So in everything there is good and bad.  I ignored for so long…I focused on the bad…now I learn from it and focus on the good.

Thanks for coming back, more to come!  Love.