Warning – “TRIGGERS” – Some may not be able to read this post, but this is my reality and my thoughts. Pictures at the end may be found gruesome, but they are my arms & legs.
I’ve gone my life, from age 12, carrying the scars of my, so-called, mother’s neglect. It infuriates me to think of a woman watching her child literally rot before her eyes and do absolutely nothing about it; not even acknowledge a problem exists.
YET EVERYONE SAYS FORGIVE!!!! I wonder how that’s possible? How do you let go of the very anger and disgust that is covering your body; especially when you know they could have helped???
I’ll never forget giving her a cold stare as she said to me one day, “Maybe if you’d take a fucking bath you wouldn’t look so disgusting?”
I knew she was probably right, but she knew the challenge that taking a bath or shower at home imposed. She was well aware of the danger it caused for me.
Many times I remember her sitting in the next room, or right down the hall, which was completely visible to the bath. She was fully aware, in fact couldn’t avoid knowing that he would come into the bath and stay for extended amounts of time, usually ’til I came walking out shortly behind cause I had to finishing getting dressed.
The woman who gave birth to me, even nurtured me through those first five years, completely sacrificed me to “his” perverted behaviors, sadistic sexual assaults, severe physical control. I was raised from six to be completely submissive to “him” – his slave!!! It could be something stupid to getting him a glass of tea or scrubbing the patio in my swim suite, I had to come running when he called my name. As many of us were taught in my generation, so that isn’t what bothers me most. It was the depth of that submission and her disregard.
My, so-called, mother could never be bothered when I went to her to make “him” stop. She couldn’t be bothered to teach me about being a girl; couldn’t buy me pads or teach me about my period; couldn’t provide a tooth-brush; couldn’t take me to a doctor or dentist; couldn’t acknowledge that her daughter was a human being!!!!
She never taught me about shaving my legs, although it’s been pretty tough to shave over the scars. She never encouraged me to do anything, only ordered me to clean her house, cook the meals, care for my sister, brother and especially “Him”.
As I went through school I avoided showering at school because of how I looked. Gym class was the most horrible experience and very trying to change in a small cell of lockers with about ten girls changing around you. All of whom looked quite normal, especially compared to my condition.
If you can imagine your pre-teen daughter being covered with pussing patches of deep infected sores. If it was a tough night before then I was trying to hide the bruises. As the dirt began crusting around my ankles, knees, wrists, elbows and the stench of body oder grew, this only made me more shameful of who I was. It was difficult to keep others from noticing me, but I managed to hide my way through school. Many of my classmates barely remember me, but not many had much to do with me back then. Don’t blame them though, not so sure if I would have and who knows what their parents told them.
By the time I was in high school and had reached the normal age of dating, the rumors through our small town had already been going on for some time. It fed through the coal mine where “he” worked, into the diner where “she” worked and like wildfire through the school, especially the teen boy rumors of who got me and what they were allowed to do.
I’ll admit that I was indeed promiscuous but these rumors came from the parties “he” held with the many local boys. “He” would supply the weed and the booze, force me to make the calls, and then I would be held up by my hair as he yelled; “Who’s gonna be first to fuck my daughter?”
Teenage boys love to talk and although they may or may not have taken the opportunity that night, I assure you the next day I was the main topic of discussion.
“Man great party last night!! He held her up and offered her out AGAIN!!”
In the small community most everyone heard the rumors. They all heard things about what I did, how “he” acted, and worse. I’d then hear the whispers of “Who would want to touch her?”, but many of those boys took “his” invitation or tried when their friends weren’t watching.
It hurts my soul, angers my spirit, that no one ever said, “Can I help you?” Nor did anyone ever ask, “What happened?” They knew it all existed but 1500 people, our law enforcement, school officials, family friends who could have and should have questioned, never said a word. The worst of them being my own mother!!!
Because of all the “ugliness” that covers my skin, the decay that turned even my four front teeth into deep black holes, my life, my goals, my dreams have all been plagued by judgement. The little girl who hid close to the bushes at the bus stop, fearing the teasing of classmates, whispers of adults; condemning eyes of all, had to survive in this world. Granted there has been more than one incident of running to sit by a gravestone, asking God to please take me out, but I still had to feed, clothe, shelter myself and my children.
From the men who’ve chosen to be with me, to the innocent questions from my own children, through job interviews, jobs serving food or alcohol, and especially working in a professional position; it’s all be hazed by the extra effort to conceal the scars and bury the truth.
Today I use my wounds to help others see how turning away from a child or growing teen can have detrimental effects. Those who were trusted with my well being convinced me that I never deserved care, treatment, help. They had an in-house slave who was directed and trained to care for the family who has now completely abandoned her.
The, so-called, mother who always expected me to answer her needs or be someone to talk about her health issues with, left me a voicemail about 8 months ago, I keep saving it in my messages to keep me focused.
It starts out, “Fuck you daughter, you never did anything for me when I lived up there by you.”
She had moved up here for a short time, it was during that time that I had gone into respiratory distress and was hospitalized for a couple of weeks. Truly I was minutes away from death when Robbie walked in and found me, rushed me to the hospital, saved my life. During the few months after this incident, I was on 5 liter oxygen support and using a cane to get around.
My younger sister would call me upset by all of the dark secrets within our family. When I went to talk with “mother” about my sister’s distress, she threatened to have the cops escort me out of her house and told me never to come back. It was then that I succeeded at breaking ties with the toxic woman who had kept me so obligated to her for so many years. Anything she wanted, needed, or whatever “her” whim, I answered and would act like a puppy over any affection “she” bothered to pretend.
No one in my family talks with me now because they don’t want to hear about the anger or the issues I have about “MY CHILDHOOD”, but they are willing to sit and bitch about how horrible it was for them and how the toxic alcoholic environment hovered about in their lives.
I’m still working on closure for this very touchy issue of my basic health being so severely disregarded. These actions I blame on only one person, “Mother”. We had great health insurance, one of the best in those times. Our family had a steady income, although it was quite difficult at times because of the alcohol involvement. It’s not as if the needs couldn’t be met, “she” made a conscious decision to ignore them and allow me to just rot away.
All my life I can only remember making sure I was covered up when in public. I never wore a dress without heavy nylons to cover up my legs. It wasn’t until my late thirties that I stopped forcing myself into long sleeves during the summer, except of course for job interviews. Those are open floors of judging anyway, so it was much worse for me. People who do see the scars are shocked by the severity. Some are caring or just want to know what happened, others still point, turn away, avoid contact, or you hear them whisper.
My upper body has been decorated with some very special tattoos. When I show my arms it draws the attention away and makes me feel better about myself.
“I’ve turned what was ugly into something pretty to look at!!”
Will the anger over “her” severe neglect ever leave my spirit, I don’t know!! There is an instant second when I see my reflection or stand at the vanity to brush my teeth, that everything flashes like a movie in my head. Yesterday as we rode on the bike and joined up with some folks we hadn’t seen in a few years, along with a lot of new faces, there was still that shame of how I looked. “What were they thinking at first sight? My own instant reaction was to feel their judgement.
“How do you explain, I lived a childhood full of rot?”
Moral I’m hoping to share- Please never turn away and allow the neglect, physical, emotional and sexual abuse to continue. You can’t UNKNOW something and when you hear the rumors in a small town, or have that moment of suspicion at family gatherings, this is the time to react or at least offer kindness. The violence, abuse, and disregard will only flourish in the silence.
In closing let me ask you this, “Would you be able to forgive the mother?”
(c)Patricia A. McKnight