(I started writing this approximately 2 weeks before I posted “It’s Not Here (https://crazymessyme.com/2020/05/30/a-dog-leash/), which inspired me to write that. It took me two days to post that blog. Remember this is therapy for me, therapy isn’t quick, it is a long drawn out process.)
Life is crazy unexpected sometimes. When one curve ball is thrown at you it can seem that a thousand more are right behind that one. A family member facing unexpected death is definitely one of those curve balls.
Naturally when someone you care about is facing death a lot can come to surface. For most people it’s all the good memories they have and they can’t think about living without that person, because they made life so much better. For some though when those memories come flooding back they are not good. What happens then? In my experience it makes a whole lot of not good things happen.
Just over 2 years ago I found myself being called to the hospital ICU because my step-father the only man I knew as dad, because my dad was in prison. I didn’t call my step-father dad to his face (still don’t) but I used to refer to him as dad to everyone else, that’s how they knew who I was talking about, and a lot of people took offense to me calling him by his name in front of them, so I like the good little masker I am, put on the appropriate “Kelly mask” and did what I had to do.
My father I had referred to as my sperm-donor because he wasn’t present. He was in-and-our if our lives so much before he went to prison, mainly because he was in-and-our of jail, that I really didn’t even know him. I was old enough to miss I’m and as I got older, wish that he wasn’t in prison and I lived with he and my step-mom, even though I didn’t have very fond memories of either. I knew that my dad would have most likely protected me had he’d been in a better place in his life. Hell he’d have even been better to my mom had he’d been in a better place.
He was in prison and I had no contact. He didn’t know how bad it was, I knew he couldn’t fix it, and I still barely knowing him wanted him to be the one who came and rescued me. I still desired my father, the man who made me and hurt me, to come to me. Knowing that even if he knew, there wasn’t anything he could do didn’t help me feel better at all. My step-father was there though and EVERYONE it seemed thought he was a “great man” for stepping up and taking care someone else’s “problem”, someone else’s “responsibility”…just how great of a thing he did.
Sure the potential for him to make a real difference and to be the hero everyone thought he was, was there. One voice was a warning voice. A voice that loved my mom and us to kids a lot. The waring came from his sister, the only one who really had the guts to speak up and say, “Hey he is a user and abuser.” The voice that warned of the possibility of him molesting a niece, only speaking out of pure love and concern for the little girl who had already lived through that nightmare. —Side note once a child has already been a victim of sexual abuse they are more likely to be preyed upon, sought out, and revictimized—So the fact that my late aunt, his sister, tried to say, “Hey Im concerned that you are being fooled here, don’t set yourself up for being a victim or them either”, and my mother just like her usual self only chose to hear what she wanted to hear, “She’s just trying to make trouble. She took all my moms money and possessions when she died. This is just her trying to get back at me cause I did…”
My mother didn’t listen though. It seems that she thought the life he provided her was a one that she was deserving of, it was better than anything she had known afterall. I mean he worked, he was home, he bought her flowers and occasionally said all the right things. I mean c’mon at one point he was sending her ridiculously expensive bouquets of flowers to work every week. I mean he was really good. Like really good. Not only was he good with her, he was good with us. What I was he and my mom were loving being together. They were married after to weeks of dating or even knowing each other really, so my mother was really sure of him. What I am certain of is that his potential death triggered a mental health break down, which required intensive therapy, I am still in recovery and always will be, because what I know now is that he spent a whole lot of time grooming her and us.
That day though in the ICU hallway it all started coming at me, opening the door to a whole lot of feelings and hurt that I had numbed myself to long before that day. I numbed myself because of him and other men as well. I had already been in counseling for a little over a year and had been working on self-esteem and the view of myself. We made progress, I got out of my abusive marriage in that first year, so my therapy effective. I thought that the healing I had to do was mainly from that, but I found out one day that he (my ex-husband) was an unfortunate result of something much darker and much closer to home.
Ever since that day in the hospital I have been struggling. Learning to grieve the loss of people who are still alive, that you have had to walk away from because of their toxicity, is one of the hardest things to come to grips with. But after you remember everything that, that person did to hurt you, it’s hard to have any kind of relationship with them. So much hurt. So much pain. So many things I should have spoke out about then. The regret from knowing that the shame was theirs and not mine and I should have said something to anyone other than my mother, will always be here with me. I figured if my mother didn’t care and tell the truth when questioned, then no one else would care either.
I speak now for no other reason than healing. I never wanted anyone in trouble then and I don’t want anyone hurt now. However I have found writing this on a platform that I know someone, anyone, will read it helps me feel heard. Feeling heard is important to any person. The only reason I choose blogging is because well, people keep asking for the book version, but I am not a book writer, lol. I have terrible grammar and punctuation, I misspell words and cant always spot my mistakes when editing, so a blog it is. Because an online journal feels like something I can make mistakes in and it’s okay. My cousin whom I love very much, is my best friend here. Writing a book is something she has always told me to do because, “so many people could probably benefit in knowing they’re not alone”, and she is 100% correct. If anything it helps me be heard, and that means the world to me.
Who knows if the 10 year old me had actually had the courage to speak that day to child protective services. I was afraid of so many things. I sat there at that table with two adults who I had to live with and two adults I didn’t know. I had already a few years prior sat at a detectives office showing them with dolls, and telling them in explicit detail what my next door neighbor/babysitter’s significant other did to me, it didn’t matter though.
So why would I say something? I knew nothing would happen and I’d be forced to stay in that home with the very person/people who were hurting me. It’d only get worse. Why would I split up my family? Why would I hurt my mom that way? (When you’re a child the adults should never have you in a situation like this)
I just couldn’t speak. I just hung my head and denied the whole thing.
I remember the lady asking multiple times if I “was sure nothing was happening”, I remember telling her, “I was sexually abused before and I would know to say something if it was happening now.” You know I don’t think she bought it, but without hearing it from me she couldn’t do anything about it. The only lie involved in that situation was the one I told those social workers. The things I had told my grandma, that she shared with her sister because she didn’t know what to do about her suspicion, those things were all true.
25 years ago my brother had a Nintendo Gameboy and I wanted one so badly. I kept asking for one and no one would get me one. I was told my brother needed it to help him focus because of his issues he as with that. I was also told that video games were for boys. I had been asking grandma for quite some time to get me one, well because, grandma spoiled me. She loved to make me smile. I wasn’t treated very fairly at home and grandpa had passed a few months back. So like the 10 year old that I was, I had hoped that the silver lining in all this would be a Gameboy. I mean either way I knew grandma would come through for me, Christmas was only a couple months away.
I couldn’t be strong enough to get me and my brother out of that. I just couldn’t, and now knowing that I, “should be lucky she didn’t give us up for adoption when she knew she couldn’t do it”, I am sorry that 10 year old Kelly was weak and scared and to timid to talk to “strangers”. You know I am also Autistic (diagnosed as an a 34 year old) so I am pretty certain that played a bigger role than I know. I feel terrible that not only did I not save us, but hen I was was 20 and adopting, I still didn’t “see” my abuse and neglect, and they went on to adopt a child. I was 10 though! Just 10!
As I sat there listening to them come up with every rhyme and reason why she would have “made” this up or “convinced” me to say these things, I just wanted it to all stop. No, she didn’t make anything up. No, I didn’t either. I am not known for my lying abilities, I cannot even buy gifts and keep them a surprise. Terrible at lying.
I was 10 damn it! 10! Do you understand that?! 10 and for the second time in my life I’m being asked to describe what a man did to me, but only this time the man I’m accusing is sitting at the table with only my mother between us. She had a look of, “I can’t believe this”, I thought that it was she couldn’t believe it had happened to me again, I was wrong though. She quickly came to his aid. She just chose not to believe it.
At 10 not only could I not look at them and say “yes these things are true about him”, but I couldn’t bring myself to speak up about the food shortages and my mom telling my doctors the opposite I was telling them, my mom not believing me when I said I needed help, and so-on, I felt helpless like there was nothing I could do. That every choice I could have made that day was a mistake, and pain came from all of them. I need wanted to hurt anyone.
None of those things could I bring myself to say that day. I trusted Grandma I knew she wouldn’t hurt me in anyway. Although she did call me a, “little bitch” a couple times when grandpa was dying and just afterward. I know now that she was grieving and I was the closest thing to a “child” they had, had together. (By the way if anyone in reading this knows how to contact Jacqualene Williamson, married to the late George E. Williamson of Hammond, IN, with 6 step-children, and a granddaughter named Kelly and many more, please let her know I am looking for her. I miss her a lot.)
I was listening to them say, “Her grandmother has wanted to take her from us for a long time.” I even heard them accuse her of doing this because she “wanted him” and “wanted to break him and my mom up.” I mean they were just bad mouthing my grandma, who for the most part, with the exception of a couple bad days while grieving the loss of my grandpa, always did what ever it took to keep me safe, happy, and feeling loved. She was the one who taught me so many wonderful things. She taught me to bake and craft. She taught me that strong women do serve their man without it lowering who they are in this world. She taught me that it was okay to be independent and fierce (she was a red-head after-all), while being gentle and kind.
Lying always had major consequences. I was taught it was better to tell the truth no matter what. That although there would be consequences they’d be less severe if the crime was confessed immediately. But what happens when the lie you and they are being accused of isn’t a lie? What happens when parents are so convinced that the child is in wrong that they cannot even hear the child tell them the truth, simply because their truth is a better fit for them and their reality? What happens then?
Thats what happens. Even if the only lie you told was the lie to keep your mom and brother, and entire family from being hurt. Even if the only lie you told was out of so much love for you mom that you chose to stay knowing it was a choice to continue being hurt. I was 10. 10! I know I already stated that, but I am writing as I think. It’s great therapy. 10 year olds are not equipped or these situations.
The 10 year old me did want my grandma to tell if it meant I would go into foster care, that’s the only reason she didn’t raise concerns sooner, because she wasn’t sure what to do, and I didn’t want to lose her. She didn’t want to lose me either, so her sister thought the best thing was to report it.
It was most definitely not the right thing!
You see if DCFS doesn’t “find” a reason to remove the child, the child is left in the home with the very people that someone thought was unsafe in the first place. I guess, sure, you can blame the child for not speaking to those that could have helped, but I was always told, “you call child protective services you better hope they take you because if not, once they leave I will beat you like a red-headed step-child if you think you will have it better somewhere else, cause you won’t!” I knew how this worked already though. I report it to the “right” people they “find no evidence” and I’m left there in the home or immediately placed back, then what?
I found out that day after the workers left, just what was meant by that line. That lie that I wasn’t bribed to tell like they thought, was the truth, the lie I told protected them, but not me. What I did learn that day was just what being “beat like a red-headed step-child” felt like. I am sorry to any “red-headed step-children” that, that quote offends. It offend me too. I am pretty certain there are plenty out there. I am also pretty certain that most of you were never “beat”. I am not certain where that line comes from and I am sorry it exists.
One lash after another, after another, after another that green dog leash (I am certain they still have), you know the thick ones for large dogs? Across my 10 year old bare skinned legs. Me screaming out after each one; crying and screaming I couldn’t catch my breath. I screamed “I can’t breathe” as this 200 pound plus man straddled my chest, one knee on each arm pinning me against the bed, ass in my face, being told, “You’re screaming aren’t you?” “Yes cause it hurts, but I can’t breathe!” “If you can’t breathe you wouldn’t be able to tell me you can’t breathe!” WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!
Whack! Whack! Whack!
Whack! Whack! Whack!
“Shut your mouth the neighbors will hear”
My mother instructed to and more than willing to hold my legs down so I wouldn’t, “kick and hurt him”. I mean afterall it was important that the 30 something year old man not be hurt by the 10 year old girl that he’s physically restraining on the bed. Yep. He’s the one that needed protection. Right “Mom”, right!
My bedroom the window right off the front porch, open. My mother instructed to close it while he held my legs with his hands, so that the neighbors couldn’t hear my screams. I am not certain why, yet, again, neighbors chose “not” to hear my screams, but they did. I wish they hadn’t.
She resumed holding my legs after closing that window. I am not certain how long it went on from there. I went numb. I went to a place far-far away. A place where I couldn’t be hurt anymore, where I couldn’t hear them enjoy it and justify it anymore. A place where those lashes didn’t hurt anymore. A place where grandpa was still alive and I was safe in his arms on his lap once again. A place that I tried to escape to.
I think it is safe to say that this episode right here is what triggered it all. I believe that this is what has caused me to suffer with dissociative disorder and check out. I believe this day right here was the day I died inside. I believe this day was the day that stripped me of all normal emotional thought processes and well for the most part feelings in general. I became completely numb.
This day will forever be the day that I unknowingly set myself up for the worse physical abuse suffered at the hands of my parents. It will also forever be the day that I unknowingly chose to stay in a home where multiple men would eventually live or visit and got by with touching me as well. It is also the day I unknowingly gave silent permission to them to forever use, abuse, neglect, and molest me. I was numb to it all. I know now I had to be because no one, including my mother cared. I had to survive.
The only reason I survived is my faith. Without my faith I would have not survived as long as I have. I knew God was telling me that my life would get better. I knew that He would keep me safe because he promises to keep the innocent close to him. I knew that I could survive, so I went numb. I got threw it purely out of the love I had for my mother and the promise from God, not a church, not a book, not humans, but God himself that he would, “Protect me as long as I followed Him. As long as I loved Him. That the only thing I ever had to do was “pretend” I was in a fairytale, trusting Him that one day there would be a way better life that I could ever imagine”. This was His promise and I clung to it.
Shortly after this promise was made I remember having more vivd dreams a way more deja vu type moments. I am pretty confident in saying that I dreamed my love into existence. Life may have take many weird twists and turns on the path to finding him, but I knew his face the moment I saw him. I got in his car and said, “I think I know you from somewhere…”, I knew that I would be an adoptive mom. I knew it would be two boys coming home with me on the same day, I assumed twin babies. I knew it would be a very hot summer like day. I felt like God was always showing the good things to come so that I could have the strength to get through. You know that strength that even you didn’t realize you had?
I had forgotten that if I heard God speaking then I needed to act because so many men of “faith” said I was “wrong” in what I was hearing because, “God wouldn’t like that.” (Where’s the angry mom waving her finger in your face emoji?) One day a very wise pastor named Isaiah DeMoss, a pastor in his early 30’s reminded me that, “no man can tell me what I am hearing from God is wrong, because God will only speak to me about this”, and that, “if you have truly been hearing God say that you were free from your marriage for as long as you say you have, you need to pray and ask God for a clear answer.” I did. I got it. I acted. My reward was instant!
God came through bigger than I ever could have imagined.
If only my mother was capable of doing for me the very least any mother should be able to do for their child, protect me, then maybe my hero wouldn’t be on he undeserving side of this putting this broken puzzle back together again. Sadly this is something shell never understand. It should have been out of her love for me that she chose differently, not my love for he protecting her. Me protecting her and standing-up for her always, is something, with tears in her eyes, she’ll admit I did. Although she’ll admit that I have defended her and protected her however I could, she changes nothing and acts like I owe her something, not realizing that it was her that should have been protecting and providing for me. It should have never been the other way around.
Back to that dog leash…I have often wondered, “What lie did I tell?”, “What caused this to happen?”, “When did this happen?”, and so on. I blocked everything out and by learning to do that I have very little good memories from my life, and a lot of memories are blurry. I went through life on auto-pilot. Just going through the motions, never really living. The good memories I do have, which are few, are with a mom that’s not my mom and I always felt torn, as if I was betraying my mother by loving another woman as mom. So much so I had myself convinced that I don’t have a mom at all.
I’ve come to realize recently though I have a mom. A mom who chose to open her home to me. A mom who chose to feed me. A mom who chose to love me. A mom who didn’t get to get to know me since birth but for the last 30 years she’s been there getting to know me. I have all these unanswered questions about how I was or who I was growing up. I seriously don’t even know who I am. Not being dramatic here. Not looking for attention of any kind. I am just stating that since I went to my “fairytale” I didn’t get much of my “reality” to come with me. I don’t even know if she could answer them for me, but I’m guessing she tried her damndest to, simply because she cares for me. The only woman that I have heard tell me she that she was “proud” of me and felt like she meant it no strings attached, was her.
Every time I “go home” to her she’s excited to see me and welcomes me with welcome arms and the warmest hug I can ever ask for. She is by no means perfect, I’ve even inherited some of the things my “sister” would complain about, but I am glad because my sons are amazing! She has been my rock, my encourager, my friend, my authority, and my voice of truth for so long. It was so hard for me to admit any of this to myself for so long, I’m guessing because I felt some deep-rooted loyalty to the woman who made me. Like always with being an adoptive-mom I find my children teach me something.
They taught me simply by allowing me to be their mom. I realize that I am no different than they are. That I am the mom choosing to love them, but that makes me no less their mom. That blood doesn’t make you a mom. Your ability to have children makes you a mother. Your ability to love your children correctly (love is actions) makes you a mom. The good mom in me, is her. The understanding reassuring voice in me, is her in me. That daughter that she made that loved me unconditionally and still does, is the longest relationship I have ever had, has it always been easy and sunshines and lollipops? No absolutely not! But, because of her love and friendship and willingness to share not only her bed, but her mom and family in general.
I never saw my grandma again after she found out what had happened and had confirmed that I was telling the truth. Imagined had I not lied that day at that table, not only would I have lost my mother and brother, but I would have lost everyone I loved, right after loosing my grandpa. I never told anyone from that point forward anything. I am certain people had their suspicions (someone told me so recently), but without me speaking what could they do? Nothing. I learned speaking got me in trouble. I also learned if my doctors were listening to my mom over me, then no one would hear me anyway, that’d they’d always listen to and trust her over me anyway, so why speak. I’d rather be silent than to lose everyone I loved at 10!
And you know what else?
I never got that damn GameBoy!