Saturday, June 9, 2018

Pulling Threads :: Daddy Larry (edited)

****Please be advised:: This post may have triggers, includes curse words, and involves molestation of a child.****

I never liked Larry. I’m not sure why. I didn’t understand how I felt, or why. I didn’t have a father, so it wasn’t that I resented him for trying to take his place. I wasn’t particularly close to my mother either.

As I look back, I realize that I sensed evil in him. My intuition was strong. I just didn’t know what it was.

I recall a time when he and my mother walked into the house together and began to do a slow dance. It made me want to hurl. I was disgusted by him. But I was just five-years-old and I could’t articulate what I was thinking or feeling. I didn’t understand it myself. If I did exhibit any behavior or expressed any thoughts regarding Larry, I don’t recall and no one else took notice or listened.

I don’t recall being present for their wedding. Perhaps I was. To my recollection, it was held across the street from our home with a justice of the peace. I vaguely remember what my mother wore. I do recall sitting in the living room near a front window facing the street and crying. I had been left in the care of a family friend. Delores tried to comfort me. She tried to reassure me that my mother would be back, but I wasn’t crying because my mother was going somewhere without me. This wasn’t a case of separation anxiety. I was crying because she’d married Larry and would be bringing that evil back to live with us. I was just five-years-old though and I couldn’t articulate it. At the time, I’m not even sure I understood why I was crying.

I don’t remember the whole of this experience. Memories are like a skipping record. Bits and pieces go missing. I don’t recall all of the details. I don’t even have any other memories of Larry, except for the night he molested me. I remember my mother was at a club meeting; Homemakers of America, or something like that. I think it was a Tuesday night. She’d left my younger sister and me at home with Larry, our step-father.

He tried making it a game. I’m not sure how it started. The first thing I remember is not having my pants or panties on and he was on his knees behind me with his penis between my legs. My younger sister, who was two at the time, was standing on a chair watching. I recall looking down and seeing his penis sticking out from between my legs. He may have instructed me to touch it, but I don’t recall doing so.

The next thing I remember is walking towards the bathroom. Me in front of him with him walking on his knees behind me. He kept his penis between my legs. I recall stepping a little off balance at some point in the hallway and getting ahead of him. He put his hand on my shoulder and held me in a stop because his penis had come out from between my legs. Once he’d placed it back between my legs we continued to walk. He was erect the whole way. As we stood in front of the toilet, he said,

“See. Now you can pee just like Daddy Larry.”

That’s the last thing I remember. I don’t know if he actually urinated or if he ejaculated. Perhaps he did both. For years I heard those words in my head, “See. Now you can pee just like Daddy Larry.”

I felt so utterly uncomfortable, to say the least. It felt wrong. I felt bad. Horribly bad. Like I did something wrong. I was overwhelmed with angst and confusion. This wasn’t a game that any of my uncle’s played with me. But I was only five-fucking-years old. What did I know? You did as you were told. You listened to adults no matter what. It wasn’t fun. It didn’t feel like a game. I was confused and frightened. Unbeknownst to me, or anyone else for that matter, this would be the beginning of my life long struggle with anxiety.

I’m not sure how many days had passed before my Aunt Myrna came to babysit me. She was just ten years old at the time. I told her about the game Daddy Larry played with me. She jumped up and immediately insisted I tell my grandmother. When we got to their house, my grandmother was in the kitchen washing dishes. She told my grandmother that I had something to tell her. As I did, my grandmother stopped what she was doing and sprang into action. She called my mother to the house and broke the news to her about what had happened.

The next thing I remember is a huge argument between my mother and Larry as she kicked him out of our apartment. We spoke of what happened once. We were lying on the couch and she instructed me to tell her what Larry did. I didn’t want to. I had already learned that I couldn’t talk to her. I had already learned that she didn’t hear me when I did. She threatened me with something like going to bed without dinner until I told her. I’m not sure how. I don’t recall the words I used. But it was never spoken of again (and I’ve never written about it in such detail before). She didn’t console me, or tell me everything would be okay or that it wasn’t my fault. Instead it was like it never happened. I spent the rest of my childhood struggling with what happened to me....alone. Feeling like it was all my fault that she wasn’t happy or that she didn’t have a husband.

When I was 14 we had a counselor sent to our home because my sister, 11, had started experimenting with drugs. I initially refused to participate. Her drug use wasn’t my problem. I had bigger chips on my shoulders. Perhaps I was angry that my sister’s bad behavior warranted help and counseling and discussion, but my molest did not. It was swept under the rug. The counselor didn’t give up on me though. He came to my room located at the back of the house adjacent to the kitchen and encouraged me to come out. Initially I refused. He caught up to me later when I decided to get a glass of water. While we were in the kitchen talking I blurted out, in tears, how I was molested. He convinced me to join my mother and sister in the dining room where he asked my mother if I had been molested. My mother, in all shock and horror said,

“I had no idea she remembered.”

How would she when it was never spoken of? I learned early on that how I felt and what I thought didn’t matter.

I was five-fucking-years-old and my very being was shattered. All sense of wonder, curiosity, trust and playfulness damaged. If I hadn’t had Myrna and my grandmother I don’t know how long the abuse would have gone on. It was the first defining moment of my life. It’s when I learned I was not enough. I was not important enough, good enough, worthy enough, loved enough. The sweeping of it under the rug by my mother and pretending it never happened did serious damage to my emotional well-being. As long as I didn’t remember what happened, we didn’t have to talk about it and she didn’t have to face her guilt for bringing such evil into our lives. But I did remember. I never fucking forgot what had been done to me. And I never forgot how my mother swept it under the rug like it was nothing.

As you can imagine, this experience permeated every aspect of my life. Particularly my mother’s reaction and handling of these events. Aside from the damage it did to my developing sexuality, I didn’t feel heard. I didn’t feel seen. I didn’t feel as though what I thought or how I felt mattered. I barely existed. I wasn’t important. I wasn’t worthy enough or good enough.

Today, I can think about the abuse without feeling shame or quilt, but I have little-to-no self worth. I'm anxious and afraid of the world, which is an accumulation of all of my experiences.

When I think about how I felt as a child and how I feel today, I fall down a rabbit hole of darkness. When someone says to think back to when you were a carefree child...I have no idea what that means because it was taken from me. I have little-to-no memory of being a happy or carefree child. It still makes me angry.

But, I have art. Making art is a life saver. It keeps me breathing. It helps me to express myself. It helps me to process all the feels from dark to light.

I have memories, memories of making Peanut Butter Cookies with my grandmother or visiting her at the bakery where she worked to snag a donut and milk before school. I have memories of playing school and Crazy 8’s until the wee hours of the night with my Aunt Myrna. I have memories of tagging along with her when she hung out with her friends down by the river. I have memories with her of hiking at Pinnacles, and camping, and shopping. I have memories of living with my Aunt Marie in Arkansas and hearing her tell me she loved me every night before bed when she’d ask how my day was. I have memories of my uncle when I raced to the corner to greet him as he disembarked the school bus and the day he took me driving for the very first time. And let’s not forget the time he brought me my very own pie from Bumbleberry. My sister complained that I was cutting it crooked and he said, “It’s her pie. She can cut it crooked if she wants to.” He also kept me from falling as he walked me down the aisle to marry.

I have art and a basket full of cherished memories with people I can no longer make memories with. These are my life savers, my moments of peace and reprieve from the darkness that settles in my bones. These are my escape from the rabbit hole.

Healing is a process, a journey, not a destination.

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