Monday, June 18, 2018

Pulling Threads :: The Babysitter

****This story was previously "half-told" in the Daddy Larry post, but both have now been edited.****



Not long after I was molested by my step-father, still about the age of five and living in an apartment above an auto parts store, there was THE babysitter.

My mother was getting ready to leave for work. The babysitter was about to arrive. I remember her having long Janis Joplin-ish hair. I had been throwing a fit all morning. My mother insisted I stop. She had to go to work. As she answered the door to let the babysitter in, I hid between a cabinet and the wall in the dining area of our apartment. I barely fit and had to squeeze myself into the corner. My mother physically dragged me out from my hiding place as I cried. As were the times back in the early 70’s, I was told to stop and behave.

I wasn’t crying because I didn’t want my mother to go to work. Again, this wasn’t a case of separation anxiety. I was crying because I didn’t want to be left with this babysitter. Like my step-father. She was evil.

This babysitter would beat me black and blue. She was going to take me to my grandmother’s house and she wanted me to wear a particular pair of shoes. I had a lot of shoes, but she wanted me to wear my shiny, black, patent-leather shoes. I don’t know why she was so insistent. She’d send me to my room to look for them. I couldn’t find them. She’d gotten my mother’s wide, yellow belt out of her closet and beat me with it.

“Are you going to looking under your bed?” whack-whack-whack

“Are you going to look in your closet?” whack-whack-whack

“Are you going to look.....?” whack-whack-whack

Each time I came back without those shoes she would repeat the cycle of questions, naming different areas of the apartment and beat me. They finally stopped when I found the shoes in my mother’s bedroom. I don’t even remember going to my grandmother’s house that day.

As I did when my step-father molested me, I would tell my Aunt Myrna about my abusive encounter. This time my Uncle Toby was present too. They had been called in to watch me while the babysitter met with my mother at work, who at the time was a housekeeper at a small Inn. I showed Myrna and Toby my backside covered with welts and bruises.

They were shocked and were not about to leave me with the babysitter when she returned.

Myrna and Toby snuck me down to where my mother worked to inform her of what the babysitter had done. Knowing the babysitter was there to talk to my mother, they had me hide in the bushes out front. Myrna stayed with me while Toby approached and talked to my mother. I don’t know what excuse he used for being there. Once the babysitter was gone and my uncle had told my mother why he was really there, he waved my aunt and me in to join them. I would be taken into a storage room to show my mother the marks on my body.

The babysitter was fired. I recall some argument between my mother and perhaps the babysitter’s parents because the police had been called, but I don’t recall if anything ever became of it.

__________

In my mid-twenties I was struggling and returned to therapy. I was discussing a therapy session with my mother and recounting the laundry list of abuses. She’d told me that there was more to the babysitter than the beating I took. However, she wouldn’t tell me what it was.

“If you don’t remember, I’m not going to tell you.”

When I shared this with my therapist she insisted I call my mother back and get her to tell me what else had happened. She explained that even though I don’t have a clear memory of it, it’s important to know because it would still have an impact on my life.

“She made you watch her boyfriend masturbate.”

This made sense. This explained why I hid that day and why I was so frightened of the babysitter before she beat me. Perhaps my fit that day made her worry that I was going to tell what she and her boyfriend had done. I don’t know.

What I do know is that I am eternally grateful that I had someone in my life that I could go to. I had someone who would believe in me and listen to me. I had someone. If even just for a little while.

There is still some lingering anger, as with my other experiences. There’s a pattern developing. A laundry list of experiences with one thing in common. And when I think about them all together, when the list repeats in my head, and the pattern emerges, I feel angry and resentful. I feel worthless and unable to trust. I don’t feel safe. Fear and anxiety are overwhelming. I have trouble focusing.

However, through these writings I have begun to remember the good. There were moments I felt loved and heard and worthy and there were people who made me feel that way. Sadly, I don’t have any of them anymore and haven’t for a good long time, but yet, they were there. For so many years these childhood traumas have overshadowed everything else. Not talking about them, even within the family, has given them far too much power and is alienating.

So here I am. Shedding light onto my darkness.


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