As 2015 comes to a close it brings along that time of reflection. And a decision, especially given the events of the past few months, to break my silence.
I held it for my own personal shame. For not wanting to hurt anyone by speaking. But when my mother began treating my daughter the same way she treated me…I hit my breaking point.
Even then I still held my silence – hoping beyond hope that I could find a peaceful solution. But it boiled down to it was well past time to stand my ground and put a stop to the abuse.
I also want to state that I am sharing my story in hopes that it will help someone else. That there is something better out there. I have found much, much better than I probably deserve. And reunited with people that actually cared about me.
It has also given me the final pieces of the puzzle to try and understand my mother’s behavior. And I feel incredibly stupid for being so blind to the substance abuse and other illegal activities and I lived with her. I don’t think that will ever change.
I grew up with different forms of abuse. I tried to reach out to teachers and other “trusted” adults. Just like how I was told to in school. Either they didn’t believe me because my mother made sure to show the world a model citizen, or they would bring her in and I would quickly fold out of fear. I felt trapped and after a while, I began to believe that was just how life was and tried to deal with it.
I read, a lot. It was my form of escape. I started writing when I was about 10 years old to escape. Tried not to lose myself to the madness. Felt like I was trying to swim upstream constantly because even after the physical abuse stopped, the emotional abuse continued and got worse.
I think little of myself still. Quick to put myself down. Have a strong dislike of mirrors. But even fast forwarding to current day when I live on the other side of the country, happily married and with a beautiful daughter, I am still afraid of my mother. Literally there is nothing that she can do to me or mine. But when an email would show up or her name came up on my caller ID, I would go into a panic to the point that I wouldn’t answer the phone and my husband would have to listen to the voicemail or read the email first.
And I never want my daughter to go through that. To know what is on the other end and trying to find enough strength to play the part of the shield and the peacekeeper. To stand between my mother and the rest of the world. So that no one would know my shame. No one else would be hurt by her. Just to maintain some level of peace.
I don’t want to see anyone else go through what I did. So please, if nothing else, if a child reports abuse, and I know how easy it would be to pass it off as just a parent disciplining their child, take a moment to actually look and listen. Speak with them in a manner that they will know that they are safe to tell their story. Model citizens may be completely different people when the world isn’t watching.
Is that cynical? Probably, but I’m not so cynical as to not give people a chance.
I don’t hate my mother. Angry, yes. The years of being torn down, beaten, threatened, manipulated, and what have you does take their toll. I know I spoke of no specifics and that is primarily because I’m still coming to terms with the full picture. I just know that I refuse to let that happen to my child. I’m just done running and hiding.