Her hand did not always hurt me. It use to stroke and play with my hair as I rested my head in her lap. Her mouth once whispered inspiration into my mind. I thought that as long as she told me she loved me that she really did mean it. No matter how many times she punched or slapped me in the face when I did not scrub the tiled floor of our apartment back to it’s original whiteness. What did she expect when all she gave me was a toothbrush and bleach? Perfection. My mother expected her distorted vision of perfection.
The beatings started with purpose. As far back as I can remember I received punishment by belt for misbehaving in school or for not listening to my mother. As time went on the belt turned into kitchen utensils that turned into blunt objects. When the beatings came unexpectedly and more often I knew it was no longer about my misbehaviors but about something much larger. My mother was ill. The loving mother I once knew checked out and was replaced by a woman I began to fear.
As I grew older she knew she could no longer control me with physical abuse so she switched her method of torture to mental abuse. Oh, she played so much mind games with me but not only with me but with the people I loved. She used me against them and them against me. One thing I couldn’t understand was my father. No longer living in the home he had an opportunity to save my little sister and I but he didn’t. This women had a firm hold on him even though they were separated. Part of me wants me to believe it was because he loved her. Not the ill woman but the woman he met in the streets of Boston Massachusetts. They both bounced from group home to group home. That hopeless romantic part of me wants to believe that they found a home in one another. Another reason he stayed away was because she always told him “your children are disappointed in you Jimmy” and “they don’t want to see you.” I know because I would always listen in on their phone conversations. I guess a man doesn’t want to see the disappointment in their children’s.
I cried every night in my room and sometimes my little sister would hold me so I would calm down just enough so my mother wouldn’t hear. My little sister was there protecting me and being strong for me when I was suppose to being doing that for her. I was suppose to be the big sister. I always prayed the rough nights to God and asked him why he would give me to a mother that didn’t love me. Was it a lesson? I begged and pleaded with him every night to take me away. I promised that I would give everything I had to leave. One day he showed me that it wasn’t about what I had but about who I was. I found my strength and left everything else behind. It killed me to leave my baby sister behind but I swore to the heavens that I would come back for her and when I did I would bring an army.
My oldest sister and I researched and sought out lawful help to take my little sister from her. We didn’t hold anything back. We told our stories of abuse to one lawyer after another and finally we marched to the courthouse day after day with a lawyer by our side and demanded our baby sister come home with us until we were put in front of a judge that would hear our story. He heard it and ruled in our favor. That night we were escorted into my mother’s home to collect the rest of my sister’s things and of course my mother put up a fight but so did we. We walked out of there with three boxes full of clothes and our puppy. We did not look back. We never saw her again. I wish I could say we never heard from her again but living in a plugged in era that was impossible. From time to time she tries to connect through Facebook but we know better which is why we don’t respond.
When you are a victim of childhood abuse it doesn’t just become a thing of your childhood. The affects last well into your twenties and sometimes beyond. As a college student I had to ignore what my mother did to me in order pursue a better future for myself and that was a mistake. Depression had loomed over me. The winters seemed the hardest to get through. During those cold months I began to believe I was seeing my mother in places she wouldn’t be. Like my part-time job off campus, at the shopping mall and the city bus. I knew it was time for me to seek professional help. A few months into therapy I was diagnosed with Post traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD). It was heartbreaking news because even after two years of being rid of my mother she still had control over my life. It was then that I decided to take back my life. I became dedicated to not letting my past define me nor get in the way of my future. I refused to let her ruin what I built for myself. It is in the moment that you decide to take back your life that you already have.
10 Things to Remind Yourself of:
- You do not belong to the past.
- You are safe.
- You are loved.
- Even when it is difficult to do so. Just breathe.
- Take time to reflect on where you are now and where you want to go.
- When you are ready. Open up to someone you trust.
- The only person with control is you.
- You make the decisions in your life.
- We are meant to grow better not bitter.
- Love yourself before anyone else.
These ten things that I have just listed have always helped me when I tend to lurk in the past and I want to share them with you. It’s mostly about reflection and when you reflect on who you are as a person you tend to pick up on things that you love about yourself. This is the road to recovery. It is not one we have to travel on alone and whether or not you want company is left up to your discretion. Remember to always put yourself first.