I left for the person that chose me to be their mother and I left for the ones that I lost along the way. I left because I could not keep them safe. I had made a promise to my child the day she was born, that they would never go through what I went through.
In therapy, in my recovery journey I have repeated that many times along with the belief that my child chose me because I have asked myself why. People have asked me why. Why did I stay? Why didn't I leave for me? What is my why? I have shared bits, fragments because when I sit down and start writing it out memories flood the gates and I ask how am I even alive?
My story starts with scattered memories of my father, his drinking, our car getting repossessed some time during dinner. My brother being left in a hotel room alone so that he could go the the bar to drink during a hurricane. Of a night he made me stay up and call every aunt, uncle and coworker of my mother's because she hadn't returned home. Of the years prior where he dragged her across the living room floor, a living room that had no furniture. One memory where I thought I had never been hit so hard in my life, my father had my mother by her throat and had been choking her after just hitting her in the face. I had thrown these encyclopedia books at him that he had given me. My whole outer thigh was covered by black and blues in the shape of his palm and fingers.
My mother quickly shuffled me in the bathroom, the lightning was this strange yellow, perhaps it was what the walls were but it made her look sicker than she already was. I remember she said that I will understand when I get older. I remember hoping not. I understood then the pain I felt on my leg and the marks I saw on her face and throat. Looking back, when I do the math...this was when my mother was being treated for cancer. My father had picked us up from school one day and told us that our mother was dying.
My mother left, but years later and many fights later. There was no help back then. My grandparents told my mother that he was her husband and she had to work it out. I found myself living in a home where I was abused more frequently now. The abuse shifted. My mother was no longer being abused, she became the abuser. I still was being sexually abused by family members; who previously who took advantage of my mother's abused and fragile state but who now taken advantage of her neglectfulness and abusiveness to further sexually abusing me.
Not too long after a car accident I left. I walked away from my home, my family, my job, school and my writing scholarship, the army which I had loved. All during severe manic episode. I began hitchhiking across the country, living on the streets, eating out of dumpsters, going to rainbow gatherings, even living in a Red Wood Tree but I soon found myself trapped in the home of a truck driver who had slipped me some drug in the water he offered me. When I woke I was bound, bed ridden...the days bled into one another. I still recall each one who showed up, their scent, if they had shaved...how kind or unkind they were. How much ''medication'' my captor had to give me to not fight off the nicer ones, and when he sobered me up for the sadistic ones. Sometimes, not often but around the time I was taken I wake up in the middle of the night, because I still smell all of them, because I can swear I feel them staring at me in the dark.
I was able to escape one afternoon after days had passed and there had been no sign of him. No sign of anyone. Some of the nerve damage in my hands is from breaking the wood posts with the rope that were tied around my wrists. I fought for my life. I fled for my life but after changing into a pair of clothes so that I wouldn't raise suspicions being half naked and all. I found my backpack and dog which I thought he had harmed and walked to the nearest highway to hitched a ride to the nearest state...New Mexico. I learned how to sew blisters that afternoon so that one could continue walking without being in pain.
As I write this...this abbreviated version of events of a cycle of violence I sit here in disbelief. Because the hardest part hasn't come yet.
I met my child's father within days of these events at a Rainbow gathering where I believed I'd be safe, untouchable even.
I met him in the heart of dependency, trauma, and a deep seated need to be loved. I did not like him but these factors led to my poor judgment. The first time he and I fought occurred while he was driving and I got out of the vehicle when he stopped at a red light and I went to a friend for a couple of days. I felt lonely and insecure about my life so I went back to him, begging him to allow me to come back. I became pregnant shortly after that, but he did not want the responsibility of parenthood. I stayed pregnant regardless of his obsessive attempts to make me miscarry; his attempts included pushing me off our roof where I ended up breaking my wrist all the while telling me that me staying is my approval of how he treats me to even recreating the events with some added flare that led to me ending up in New Mexico thus causing more nerve damage to my wrists. I lived with denial for three and a half years. My pregnancy was painful, I developed eclampsia and gained 150 pounds, was hospitalized twice, and delivered a 10 1/2 pound girl who needed to be resuscitated. I know all the complications I encountered were direct results of the abuse I survived.
He was abused and that was my excuse for his temper. My mother had my grandparents who lived through the holocaust and generational trauma exists. These, I can say now are excuses. In my mind then I honestly believed I could help him work through it. I chose to isolate myself, ashamed of my bruises and most importantly ashamed of what friends may think. While we were together I provided for the family. I took care of our child, worked and catered to his needs. I knew he did not like it if I challenged him but I still did, sometimes out of habit, other times out of spite because of my soreness. He often duct taped my mouth shut and stood over me. With one hand closed and the other holding a hatchet, tears only led to punches; I knew if I screamed it would lead to my death. I prayed that if I lived I would leave. I never kept those promises to my daughter or to myself. I stayed and made his dinner, then went to bed...sore, sad, slowly dying inside.
He then bought a gun one day with three bullets. He left it in clear view with a note attached to it, ''If you ever call the cops on me I will hunt you and her down and kill you both and then myself.'' I had that gun to my head six times.
I once confided in a friend that I was stuck in an abusive relationship. It had been the first time ever putting the words out there. It was before my 24th birthday and the next day I had left him but two months later I had returned to him. I had problems asking for help the times I left him. The shelters only provided so much and I saw it as a weakness. I thought mothers and adults should be able to take care of themselves. I was ashamed that I was allowing my life to spiral downward and I continued to isolate myself from people.
In December of 2002 my daughter and I had went home to a cold house where he was in bed. I knew he knew. I knew deep in my soul he found out I was leaving because some time prior I had walked in on him molesting my daughter. I had to make a plan to leave without us being killed. I was now not the only one being hurt. My child was. I made her a promise. To never have to go through any of the things I did as a child and so far she had gone through so much. I no longer wanted to fail her as a mother. I began to secretly plan our escape but he found out, rather told. A so called friend told him everything. I had went to eat at a neighbor's house, a driveway I would later climb that evening barefoot. We came back to that cold house but this time he was out of the bed. It was here that point in my life. Do I make another promise to leave but stay anyway or do I defend myself? Do I argue back with him knowing that he might kill us all?
After the worst altercation of them all I counted the seconds as I hovered over my child, with a gun to my head going off but somehow finding itself empty When he went looking for the bullets we fled. I got us both in the car rushing, that I shoved my little girl inside practically and locked all the doors but the hatchback. While trying to put the key in the ignition he crawled through and grabbed my daughter and then locked himself inside the home. He had not been alone with my child since that moment I walked in on him hurting her and here I was faced with leaving her alone or going to that neighbors house who had a phone where I could call the cops.
I fled, hiking up two peaks with no shoes, snow covering the ground. It was so cold. My car was not a 4x4 and so I had to leave it at the bottom of my neighbors very rocky, non paved, deep rut of a driveway...if you could call it that. I lost most of my toe nails from embedded splinters, then slicing a chunk of my baby toe to where the bone peaked through on a rock after falling, rolling that ankle. I was racing the clock because my child was locked inside, trapped with someone I finally stood up to, trapped with someone who also had hurt her who knew how many times because he hurt me countless times. I had the light of the moon guiding me wishing I had a flashlight, a torchlight but I h ad the glittering snow and the prayer that a neighbor who once said come to her for any reason was still home. She had a phone, and the thing with people living off the grid most of them are hiding, healing or running, most do not have phones.
We waited anxiously at my old home. I broke free after the 9th time.
The cops said they saw no bruises. Before I moved into the shelter both my daughter and I were seen by an ER DR who took pictures and I was given an exam which were used for my restraining order. My daughter went through a series of saferoom visits that were incomplete because of trauma/ptsd which were led by CPS after I reported the abuse. I successfully had his paternal rights terminated. He fled and never saw time.
I moved out of the country but had come back after seeing that my child's need for treatment outweighed my fear and moved to a new state.
Has it been easy? No. I'm not going to lie. It's work and the BEST thing about this kind of work is that I do it all on my own with no FEAR that I am going to be abused in some way shape or form. Most importantly I know my child is not being abused in some way shape or formed.