The White Farmhouse

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White Farmhouse

I close my eyes and I can remember an old white farmhouse with an enclosed front porch and one large room upstairs. We were once again moving into a new house and the prospect of starting at a new school and making new “friends,” frightened me. To say I was dreading it was an understatement. I can remember that house so clearly, the cavernous hole that consumed the back yard and how one of the rooms was filled top to bottom with garbage that had been left by the previous tenants. For some reason it was our responsibility to clean up the house prior to moving in, although I’m not all that surprised considering this isn’t our first time renting from this landlord. I guess it’s only fitting that a slum would continue to rent from a slumlord. Who knows what kind of arrangement he and my father must have had in place.

The house sat along a main route surrounded by corn fields and farms. I can remember the day we moved in, there was one disgusting shock after the other. When you walked into the kitchen, it was small with white rickety cabinets. Bits of rice and other bits of food were scattered inside and I could imagine the cockroaches fighting for each scrap as they scurried across the bottom. There was a doorway to the right leading into the living room and a door to the left that lead to the “basement.” The basement was a dark and dingy corridor lined with moist stone and a damp floor. The most interesting feature was the giant tree that had taken residence right smack dab in the middle. The basement was similar to that of a root cellar but, it carried and sense of eeriness that I wanted to avoid at all cost. The truth is, we took our laundry to the laundromat so there wasn’t really any need to go down there.

The living room was small, and “simplistic.” No pictures adorned the walls and the paint job was about as plain as it could get, unless of course you considered nicotine stains “art.” For some reason, I can’t really picture the layout of that room except for the kerosine heater that was planted right smack dab in the middle of the room. We frequently used the heater when the electric would suddenly get shut off (a common occurrence when your father spends his money on beer and cigarettes rather than paying the bills). The smell of kerosine permeated through the air, absorbing into anything and everything. I can remember feeling like I was waking around with a kerosine scented perfume on and to this day the smell of kerosine causes me to feel a sense of disturbance, like that smell is going to linger with me forever, burning a hole straight into my brain, making sure I never forget the events that occurred in that house.

Off of the living room was a master bedroom, my dad slept in that room for a short while. During one of his schizophrenic episodes he was certain there were people in the room with him. He feared that room and what the “people” were telling him. Eventually he would move upstairs but, being upstairs made it harder for him to perform his “nightly” abuse routine. When you went upstairs which was located across from the main bathroom, there was a large bedroom. This is where my sisters and I slept. Off of that room was a door that led directly into another room. This is where my dad would sleep for awhile. We all hated it, we hated him being so close to us, every night hearing his heavy step slowly inch up the stairs. He and his drunken stupor made it impossible for him to enter the room quietly.

Since it was challenging for him to abuse me around my siblings, he was forced to wait until he was sure they were asleep. Once he was certain they wouldn’t wake he would call out for me. I knew I couldn’t ignore his calls, so I closed my eyes and said a quick prayer and forced myself to go to him. One night I entered his room and sure enough the abuse began immediately and to no surprise he felt “guilty” afterwards. For some reason he was feeling particularly sorry for himself and he decided to attempt suicide. This was a regular occurrence and he was never successful. His preference was to call emergency services prior to taking the pills. You would think that would be enough for the “system” to remove his children from his custody but, apparently not. Anyways, he called 911 and proceeded to take some pills. He soon would regret choosing a room connected to mine, I took a long deep breath, this was it, he was drunk and weak and growing weaker as the medicine started to take over. I needed to seize the opportunity and end my suffering once and for all. I saw a pillow laying in the ground beside the bed. I immediately grabbed it and jumped on my father. I slammed the pillow as hard as I could, pressing it firmly against his face. Tears poured down my face as I asked God to take this man from this earth and forgive me for what I was doing. It was no use, although he was inebriated and seemingly weak, his strength was overpowering and I was unsuccessful. Much like my other attempts at freedom, I knew there would be severe consequences for my actions. I quickly retreated and climbed back into bed as if nothing happened. The medics would arrive and my dad would spend a few days on a psych hold at the hospital and I would have a few days of recuperation before I would receive my punishment.

When my father returned home, he moved himself into a small bedroom downstairs. The room was more like an office, barely large enough to fit a bed and a nightstand in there. The room was located just past the main bathroom at the end of the hallway. This would be his last bedroom before we were evicted and moving into the last home I resided in prior to moving in with my Aunt. For some reason, it’s that room I see in my nightmares, I see the hallway closing in on me as I head closer and closer to the door and begin to feel claustrophobic. The room feels hot and I can see my dad, a large man, naked, pulling me towards him. I cringe at the site. This is what keeps me awake most nights. I fear falling asleep, I fear the man in the tiny room. If I close my eyes I can hear the c-pap machine and the motor of the bed as he adjusts it to a lower position to accommodate the position necessary for him to be able to rape me. I can feel my eyes burning from the cigarette smoke that fills the air and desperate screams inside my head.

There are so many memories that are trapped in my mind from that house. Schizophrenic episodes, countless cold nights surrounding a kerosine heater and abuse running rampant. This house is where I learned that one of my brothers was also schizophrenic and another was just as perverted as my father. Although the abuse started just shortly after my mother’s death, that white farmhouse is where the true torture began and that will live with me forever.

The Twilight Zone

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Here I stand, staring off into the distance, lost in a sea of unwelcome images that have embedded themselves deep into my brain. Images of my father flash before my eyes over and over again. I see a large man, tall with a round, protruding stomach sitting with his right leg bent at the knee and his ankle resting on his left thigh. I can see him sitting on his lazy boy throne with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other, a toothless smirk plastered on his face as he sits comfortably in his underwear. Every time I start to have flashbacks, that image is always the first to appear, it’s like the opening scene of a horror film, a reoccurring nightmare that begins the same way every single time and it is sure to end in tragedy. Each flashback is like being hit by a lightening bolt, sending a surge of energy coursing through my veins and I become paralyzed by the visions that flash before me.

Stuck in a trance, I can hear the muffled sounds of talk and laughter dancing around me. I can hear my husband repeating himself and the increasing frustration in his voice. I can feel myself going through the motions of everyday life but, its as if I am standing in the middle of a carousal, life circling around me as I stand frozen in time. It feels like I’m in an alternate dimension, my mind is in another world but my body remains stationary, trapped in the eye of a hurricane while unwanted images swirl around my encapsulated body.

When my mind is being sucked into a maelstrom of memories it feels like I am reliving every second of torture. On the outside I appear calm and even relaxed but, on the inside I am screaming and desperately trying to claw my way out of the quick sand that just keeps pulling me deeper and deeper into the twilight zone. A flashback can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, drawing me into the unreal nightmare that feels like I am actually experiencing what I am seeing. I can suddenly feel every touch, smell every smell, and see every detail from a single moment in time that should be long forgotten. When I do finally snap back to reality, I feel as though I missed a lifetime of noteworthy conversations and monumental moments. My short term memory has been clouded by horrific images and I am left with only tidbits of information.

I can understand how frustrating it must be for my husband when he is constantly repeating himself or feeling as though I am not listening to him. I feel an incredible amount of guilt and I’m ashamed at how forgetful I can be. In a matter of minutes I can easily forget what I was doing or where I was going and why. Usually it is little things such as, not being able to remember what I was going into the kitchen for or, what it was that my husband wanted me to add to the grocery list. After awhile I start to feel useless, if I am incapable of remembering such simplicities, how can I be trusted to remember things of actual importance. In a sense it makes me feel like I am irresponsible and that leads to a feeling of hopelessness. How can I ever truly be a good wife or mother if I am incapable of being fully present at all times. My inability to control the images that flash before me seems like a poor excuse for my imagined shortcomings. I feel utterly worthless.

Have you ever watched the waves moving across the ocean, crashing into the shore and rolling across the sand, that is what a flashback is like for me. An object, a touch or a smell can trigger me and suddenly several memories and images wash over me, sending a tidal wave of emotions throughout my body. In an instant I can start to shiver with fear and I can feel my body tense up. I feel jumpy and irritable and I can become so lost in the memory that I am easily startled. Sometimes when my husband comes into the room and I have been alone for a while, I may not hear him right away, he could be right behind me and when he speaks or touches my shoulder to make it known he is there, I panic and my heart sinks as it takes a minute for my brain register that it’s not my father, tragedy isn’t about to strike and I am indeed safe.

I am beyond grateful for my husband. I sometimes forget how challenging my struggles can be for him. He is patient, kind and incredibly supportive and sometimes I take that for granted. If it wasn’t for him, I fear I could have headed down a much different path in life, a path of destruction that was certain to lead to eventual death. It sounds dramatic but, living with the memories and scars that remain from my tortured past is incredibly difficult, I carry a lot of baggage and my mental state is fragile. Depression and anxiety go hand in hand with my post traumatic stress disorder and everyday I have to work hard to find the strength to persevere. I will continue on my journey of healing, one day at a time. I refuse to let what happened to me control me. I will prevail!

Heroism!

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Heroism requires sacrifice, profound bravery, and valor. A hero puts others before all else, even at their own risk. As a child I would dream of the day when a hero would come and save me. A knight in shining armor or a military man, strong and courageous, willing to fight my abuser and rescue me from the torturous hell I’ve been living in.

When I was about 16 years old, I started to lose faith that such a hero even existed. Everyone around me was nothing but a disappointment and I felt like they failed me. I was so desperate for a savior that I began resorting to promiscuity in hopes to cling to someone, anyone, who would steal me away and never let me go. Eventually, I would meet Michael.

I was so enamored by Michael, he was intelligent, soft spoken and most of all he seemed to accept me for me, or so I thought. I was so attached to the idea that someone genuinely cared for me that I was blinded by the reality that he was just another user, taking advantage of my desperation and promiscuous lifestyle. Michael was smart, he knew exactly how much to give to keep me feeling safe and connected but, his embarrassment of me prevented him from committing himself to me fully. I mean, why would someone want that poor girl who reeked of cigarettes and shopped at good will, a girl who by the true definition of her peers was nothing but a loser. I was merely a secret lover hidden in the night.

I thought Michel would be the one, the one that would fight for me, help me when I needed it most. Instead, he used me to satisfy his needs and when the sun came up he tossed me away like I was trash. I can remember how hurt I would feel when I would see him in school and he would either ignore me or make a mockery out of me. He was so good at playing mind games, stringing me along for his pleasure. I didn’t understand what was wrong with me, why was I so incapable of being loved, was I that hideous or stupid or was it knowing the drama that would unfold by being entangled in my families web of disgrace. I asked myself these questions so many times and I still don’t have an answer.

Between the cockroaches and the regular visits from the police it was hard to maintain any normal relationships. I could never have Michael over, at least never inside of our house. I was to ashamed by the conditions that we lived in and I feared the punishment I might receive if my father knew of his existence. Making accusations against me was another manipulation tactic on my dads part, if I had a male friend or wanted a boyfriend I was a whore, if I had a female friend then I was a lesbian. He was so convincing that I started to think I was a whore and I even began to question my sexuality. I was confused and frustrated that I let him get into my head. He made me believe that if I was a whore or a lesbian, I would never be able to maintain any real relationship, I would just scare off anyone I tried to get close to.

I tried hard with Michael, sneaking out in the middle of the night and riding my bike down to his house. I would stay with him until I had to rush home and get ready for school. Every time I left my house I would go over the potential consequences and every single time I would question if he was worth it. It wasn’t long before I realized he wasn’t and just how little he thought of me.

I have been using my bedroom window as an escape route for a while now. Ever since my failed escape and my father started barricading the doors and windows on the main floor, I needed to find a new way to free myself from this hell, even if it was only temporary. The fear of what my father might do to my sisters and the punishments I have endured in the past is what keeps me coming back. I couldn’t allow him to hurt them, I felt I was strong enough to continue to take on the torture I had been experiencing for years.

I waited until I knew my dad was in a deep sleep, it was easy to tell because he had sleep apnea, therefore, he snored and very loudly. I slowly climbed down the ladder and hopped on my bike. I always rode my bike as fast as I could because I feared I was being followed or it was dark and I feared the night. Michael didn’t live far, his street was just past the cemetery that my mother was buried. Every time I would pass it, I would close my eyes for a moment and say a swift I love you before continuing on my nightly adventure.

It was about a 20 minute bike ride to Michael’s house. He always sneaked out to the side door and we would tip toe back to his bedroom. We would share some laughs and each other before falling asleep. I was never able to stay more than a few hours and this night was no different, I must head back before everyone wakes up. I started petaling down the street when suddenly my chain broke on my bike. I knew I needed to figure something out and fast. I couldn’t very well walk home because I would be late and I couldn’t take the chance of getting caught, so I walked back to Michael’s house and I knocked on his bedroom window.

I asked him if he could drive me as close to my house as he could take me. He responded with a quick no because it might wake his parents. I then asked if I could borrow one of his bikes, he had at least 3. Without hesitation he said no. I didn’t understand this, I explained to him what might happen if I didn’t make it home soon, I pleaded with him. I was sobbing so hard that he began to shush me. If I took his bike and somehow one of his friends would notice, his reputation would be ruined. He closed his window and I was left with no choice but to walk.

I walked through the darkness, tunnels of trees swaying in the moonlight, spreading shadows across the ground. I hated every step I took and I could feel the rage brewing inside of me. I was heart broken, I had put my trust in this person. Why did I think that someone would care about me enough to risk their reputation. The cruelty of his actions was beyond disheartening and it added to the feeling of hate and disgust I had for myself. I was nobody, I was nothing and I was worthless.

I prayed for a hero to save me and I was naive to think that there was someone brave enough to challenge my abuser, fight for my freedom and save me from this hell. It was in that moment when I realized that I needed to be my own hero and one day I will don my cape for the last time and be free at last.

Thank you to ALL the heroes in this world. Men and woman who fight so gallantly to defend our rights and freedom and without hesitation. Thank you to the silent heroes, who are in the fight against rapists and abusers and go above and beyond. Thank you to anyone who puts others before themselves even at their own risk. I think you all are amazing and I wish I had half the courage as you!

Much love, -Elizabeth

Disbelief

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The insurmountable anger that I feel right now is indescribable. My blood is boiling and for once on my journey, I’m allowing myself to feel angry. I have been on a long road to discovery, searching for answers from the past, anything to help me understand who I am. My mother died twenty years ago. Cancer took over her body like a flood takes over the earth, killing everything in its path. Often times when I think of my mother, it’s like I’m thinking of a stranger, when I close my eyes, I can see a petite woman with black hair and a basic outline of her face, but, the intricate details, I have long forgotten. Over the years, I have tried to do everything I could to figure out who my mother was.

It has taken me a long time to muster up the courage to drudge up the past and look for anyone who has had a connection with my mother. My first thought was my grandfather, I knew roughly where he lived and his second wife’s name, so, it was easy to find him. I quickly realized that I was to late, my grandfather died 6 years ago, and his wife died this past year. In my deep and frustrating google search, I came across my grandfathers wife’s obituary, a lovely description of a wonderful life once lived with her late husband William. I sat back in my chair and let out a sigh, I knew there was a possibility he would be gone but I was holding on to a small shred of hope. I took a moment to mourn his passing, but, much like a lot of my relatives, he was a mere stranger to me and the connection just wasn’t there. I searched and searched for my grandfathers obituary, something that I could hold onto, something that could lead me to the answers that I’ve been longing for, but, it was to no avail, my grandfather didn’t have an obituary. I later would find out that a divide in the family caused a major rift between step mother and step daughter. When my grandfather passed, his wife decided it was best not to share the news with his daughter, therefore, no obituary was ever written.

I felt like I was back at square one, but, thinking of the rift between my aunt and my grandfathers wife, made me realize that I was looking for the answers in all the wrong places. I needed to start with my mother, I needed to look into any information from when she died. That would be the most recent information regarding any familial or non-familial connection that she may of had, so, I searched for her obituary. Thankfully, this was an easy task considering I knew when she died, where she died and more importantly where she was buried. Among many others, my aunt was listed as a survivor of the deceased in my mother’s obituary. This was it, all I needed to do was find my aunt and I would have all of the answers I ever wanted.

Once again, I found myself scrolling through pages and pages of potential hits on google. I knew my aunt was married, but, I wasn’t sure what her husbands name was, as he was not mentioned in the obituary. I came across a white pages listing for a man living in an area that I was certain was where my aunt was currently residing. After diving in a little deeper, I discovered a listing with my aunts name as a possible relative of this man along with a phone number. I took a gamble. First, I called the number, but, given the substantial amount of solicitors that harass the general population on a regular basis, I decided it was best to send a text message explaining who I am and why I’m reaching out. I felt like a crazy person and this was definitely a long shot. A few hours later I get a phone call and I was shocked to discover that this was indeed the person I have been looking for. It was my cousin, his mother was my aunt on my moms side. We had a long conversation and he seemed eager to help me with whatever I needed. He finally got me in touch with my aunt, I was nervous, yet, excited to talk with her.

I soon received a message from my aunt, unfortunately, her reaction to me finding her wasn’t exactly the reaction I was hoping for. Although she was happy to hear from me, she was “hesitant” to talk with me. I have been trying to be patient with her but, truthfully, my frustration is growing by the minute. I don’t understand her hesitation, what is she hiding? Something doesn’t add up, something just doesn’t make sense and I am determined to figure out the secrets she clearly has been holding onto for years. I was on the verge of giving up when, for some reason, I decided to call the hospital of which my mother died.

I was truly shocked when I was informed that my mother did indeed have records at this hospital. She has been gone for so long, I was sure any information would have been destroyed by now. I went through the long, and tedious process of acquiring her medical records. The amount of paperwork you need for a hospital to release medical records of someone who has been dead for 20 years is beyond me. It took me a few months to collect everything that I needed but, I managed. A few days ago, I finally received any and all records that the hospital may have had.

I would sit, staring at the manilla envelope for hours. This information could tell me exactly what life was like for my mother during her last few years before she died. I pulled the paperwork out and started reading, my hands were shaking, I don’t know why I was so anxious. Most pages read the same, “1996, very kind, petite woman admitted for such and such, 1998, a young petite woman admitted for such and such,” it was repetitious, but, I couldn’t stop reading. The memories that started flooding back from that time was overwhelming, but, some of my questions were finally answered. After a while, I started reading slower, taking in everything I was reading and that’s when I saw it, that is when I discovered the devastating news, the news that would crack this case wide open, exposing all of the crooked people in my life. You see, I was always under the impression that my fathers alcoholism and bipolar/schizophrenia disorder was exacerbated or triggered rather, by my mother’s passing, but, I was sorely mistaken.

In 1996, my mother was admitted to the hospital for complications related to her recent cancer diagnoses. Like all intakes, the admitting nurse did a very thorough job describing the patient, her history and a head to toe physical exam. I get through the first section of the admission paperwork and move onto the social history, this is where I realized that my whole life I have been lied to by everyone. The social history reads as follows, “this female is married, the husband is diagnosed with bipolar disorder plus obsessive/compulsive alcoholic with suicidal tendencies.” This was two years before my mother died. My heart sank to the floor, this was beyond devastating. This would mean that when my mother died, everyone knew my father had problems. My father was 35 years old when my mother died, who in their right mind would think that a young man with bipolar disorder, alcoholism and suicidal tendencies was fit to raise seven kids on his own. I’m angry because everyone seems so surprised when they discover the horrific things my father had done to himself and to his children. At this point, it would be impossible for me to believe that no one knew the condition my father was in prior to my mother’s passing.

I have been struggling with this information for a few days. I have more questions now than ever before. Why? Why was the needs of one man put before the needs of innocent children. I understand he just lost his wife and the last thing he needed was to lose his children, but, to turn a blind eye to the potential harm he could/would cause, is infuriating. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, everyone failed us, left us with a sick man, knowing the seriousness of his illness. Is this what my aunt has been hiding, is she hesitant to talk with me because she is overwhelmed with guilt. I am in utter disbelief as I try and process my latest discovery.

What is Innocence?

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What is Innocence?

Today, I decided to take a step back from my storyline and write about innocence. So, what is innocence? What does innocence look like?

To me, innocence looks like a child, a youthful soul whose smile is genuine, whose heart is pure, whose mind has been unscathed by the dreadfulness of the outside world.

As parents, we want to preserve our child’s innocence for as long as possible, protect them from any negative influences that may enter their tiny little bubbles. Between technology and living in the 20th century in general, its naive to think we can maintain our child’s complete innocence for long. We are surrounded by negativity and it’s sure to plague their minds soon enough, but, it’s up to us to fight that war and ensure their innocence remains untainted. It’s a never ending battle, but, it’s worth the fight.

You can tell when a child has been stripped of their innocence. The smile that was once so genuine now seems forced and lack luster, their laugh goes from a sweet sounding melody dancing in the air to a low fake rumble and their eyes are now glossed over in grey, replacing the once bright light they exuded.

The harsh reality is, so many parents are responsible for their child’s loss of innocence. Child abuse, emotional, physical and sexual happens all to often, stripping children of their innocence, leaving them exposed to a world they shouldn’t know yet. When their innocence is taken from them, they are forced to grow up much sooner than they should and that purity, genuine curiosity and drive to explore no longer exists. They are no longer children, they are incapable of thinking like a child, not having a care in the world and their trust is shattered.

This was me, I was 8ish when I lost my innocence, at least from what I can remember. I haven’t smiled the same since, I will never trust the same and my once beaming face is now pale and washed out. I was no longer a child, I was, in an instant, an adult. I will never get that innocence back and I will spend the rest of my life trying to repair the brokenness.

It’s time to shed light on child abuse. If you or you know someone who is being abused, emotionally, physically, sexually or otherwise, please seek help.

For the Domestic Violence Hotline call: 800.799.SAFE (7233) or go to https://www.thehotline.org/

To find your local Child Protective Services number go to: https://www.childwelfare.gov/organizations/?CWIGFunctionsaction=rols:main.dspList&rolType=Custom&RS_ID=%205

If your dealing with sexual abuse, there is a National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or go to https://www.rainn.org/about-national-sexual-assault-telephone-hotline

For Suicide help, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Living in Squalor!

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I head downstairs, the overwhelming scent of mold permeates throughout the room. Garbage and wet clothes are scattered everywhere and makeshift hammocks adorn the ceiling. A dirty rabbit hutch reeks of urine and feces, and the rotting smell of dead mice or some other mysterious animal buried beneath the filthy ruble burns my nose. As the intense aroma penetrates my eyes, they begin to water incessantly, I don’t think I can handle this. With a trash bag in one hand and plugging my nose with the other, I proceed down into the dingy basement. I begin wading through the plethora of items in my path, deciding what to keep and what to throw out, I’m disgusted at what I see, my mother would have never let it get like this.

I stand, staring at a massive pile of clothes laying on the damp floor by the washing machine. It feels like just yesterday my mother died and suddenly life went from living in splendor to living in squalor. For me, living in “splendor” didn’t mean living in some extravagant mansion with marble floors and a spiral staircase, to me, it meant living in a quaint little townhouse decorated with precious moments figurines and glass animal knickknacks. I look around, I can feel guilt mounting, how could we let this happen, what would my mother think right now?

I start grabbing clothes by the handful and stuffing them into the garbage bag. I take my time, I have no interest in doing this and to no surprise the boys aren’t helping any, they think this is a joke. My father is upstairs with my grandmother, aunts and uncle. My grandmother is a tyrant, a wretched witch in my opinion. My siblings may feel otherwise, but, I have zero respect for her, she is an enabler, she feels some sort of obligation to “help” my dad because he is a widow with ten kids. The funny thing is, her idea of helping is by providing him with alcohol or a ride to the store to buy alcohol, therefore, she is utterly useless, in fact she is aiding in the abuse by feeding his disgusting habit.

I continue to work, slowly plugging away, section by section. My grandmother makes her way downstairs, she is furious at the lack of progress that has been made and I start to see Hitler making his appearance. Much like Hitler would begin a speech, my grandmother stands there, arms crossed in total silence, making us wait in anticipation for what she has to say. Eventually, she starts to speak slowly in a low, condescending tone, slowly building to a crescendo of fury. Face red and spit spraying across the room, she makes her point, we offer our salute and continue to work until my grandnazi decides to relieve us of our duties.

Today, I often wonder if that house is where any reminder of my mother remains. Before she died, she wrote all of her children letters, she entrusted them to my father, sadly, a poor choice because he decided to hold onto the letters until he felt we were old enough to read them. We never received our letters, my father was to busy wallowing in self pity to pay attention to anything of value or importance like those letters or his children. The house was falling apart beneath him, but, he was to consumed with alcohol and his desire for his own daughter that he didn’t even notice. I think those letters were left in that house, trapped beneath the remains of precious moments figurines, never to be seen again.

Never Alone!

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Desperate for a Moment of Solace!

Click, I shut the door behind me, I lean my back up against it and slowly inch down to the floor, pulling my knees up to my chest. I rest my head down on my knees and draw in a deep breath, please leave me alone, just let me have a moment to myself, a moment of solace alone in this bathroom. I can feel the cold tiles beneath me, the icy chill sends shivers up my spine, my teeth chatter and I rub my arms, it’s always cold in our house. I pull myself up off the floor and turn on the shower. I disrobe and stare at myself in the mirror, I’m disgusted at what I see, an instant desire for self-mutilation takes over me, to cut and remove every part of me that he is attracted to. I turn my ahead away, I can’t look anymore, the more I look at myself the more I hate what I see. I try and lock the door, I drop my hand and bow my head, the lock doesn’t work. I pray that I can have 30 minutes of undisturbed silence, time to collect my thoughts, and give my body a chance to recuperate from the constant abuse.

I climb into the bathtub and I lean my head back, allowing the water to pour over me like a waterfall flowing wild and free, soaking deep into my roots, so my soul can start to blossom once again. Suddenly, I hear a click, I whip head around, I feel cool air seeping into the shower as the curtain is slowly being pulled back. I close my eyes, I should have known he wouldn’t leave me alone, privacy does not exist, it is a mere illusion, a fallacy created to make me think I am alone and not being watched, but the truth is, I am never alone, I will never be alone, he will always be watching, waiting for his moment to attack.

I can feel my skin crawl as his wandering eyes scan across my body. He asks if he can take a “peek,” I’m confused, I thought that’s what he was doing, apparently a “peek,” involves a much more thorough examination as if he is a doctor inspecting my body for ticks. I cringe, once again, he asks me if he could take a “peek, like I’m given a choice. So, reluctantly I allow him to do as he pleases. When he is satisfied with his inspection, he smiles and retreats from the bathroom, leaving me to finish showering. I sit on the floor of the bathtub and curl back up into a little ball, I feel like if I were an actual prisoner in jail, I would have more privacy and rights than I do in the “safety” of my own home, it’s a shame since I haven’t even committed a crime. I grab the soap and washcloth and begin scrubbing vigorously, I scrub so hard my skin becomes red and raw and I can feel it burning as the hot water runs over it.

I look up to the ceiling, I feel sorry for myself. I ask God the age old question, “why me,?” Does God hate me?, is there any truth to the statement, “God doesn’t give you any more than he thinks you can handle,” because I feel like giving up, I don’t think I can handle this anymore, 5 years of abuse and dealing with my fathers infatuation with me. When is enough, enough? I bring my head back down so the water can run down my back, just then, I notice something strange in the wall, there is a hole in between the shower head and the handle. I am perplexed by the fact that the hole is perfectly round as if it were put there intentionally. I reach up to it and draw my face near, I squint my eyes and try to focus and I ask myself, is the hole deep?, does it go completely through to the other side of the wall? I am now pressed up against the wall, hands up on either side of my face, bracing myself, I push my eye up against the hole, I pull away in horror, there is an eye staring back at me, but, that isn’t what startled me, what startled me was the color of the eye, you see, my dads eyes are blue, this eye was not blue, in fact it was dark and sort of droopy looking, I knew exactly whose eye was staring back at me, it was my brother. In that moment, I realized, not only was my dad perverted but my brother was also disturbed.

I quickly left the shower, I wanted to confront him, but, I didn’t know what to say. My body shook in dismay, I suddenly felt like a pawn in a chess match between my brother and my father, a piece to be used in their game of life and they had intended to win no matter what the cost. I ran to my room, I didn’t know what to think or do, I buried my face into my pillow, wrapped myself in my blankets and silently screamed, I screamed for hours until my head felt like it was going to explode. At this point, I am so depleted of energy, I can’t even wrap my head around what I just saw, so I close my eyes and go to sleep.