When I was little, I was very outgoing. Very outspoken. “Quite the little dickens” I heard, over and over. I had a smile that never quit, unless I was thwarted in my evil plans to take over the universe. I was bright, and sunny, and even had a pink bedroom.
I was just the little girl my mother always wanted.
Of course, there were the mudfights, and the climbing trees, and the getting my clothes filthy 2 minutes after I got dressed… but still. It was a near-perfect childhood.
When I was 11, we moved to North Dakota. But, our family kept in close touch with another family, one that I’d known my whole life. My best friend was the daughter, her parents were my parent’s best friends, and her brother was a good friend of my brother’s. We spent pretty much all our time together growing up, until we moved away. Even then, I would go down to their house in the summer, spend a couple of weeks, and come home.
Until one summer, when I was 15, going on 16. (Correction made, not that it matters to the telling, but it matters to me to tell the truth)
That summer, I went to stay at their house, like always, but things were different. The brother was more aggressive, and more persistent in picking on, and teasing me. I didn’t think much about it, except that he was really becoming a jerk.
One night, as I lay sleeping, I awoke to him molesting me.
In my shock and abject terror, I pretended to have a nightmare, so he’d leave, and I’d wake my friend, who was sleeping in the bed next to me. After he snuck out, I ran downstairs, grabbed the phone, and called my parents. At 2 in the morning.
My parents were groggy, of course, but told me to go wake up the adults in the house. When I did, my mom spoke to their mom, who promptly dragged me upstairs, and forced me to confront her son, asking if he’d done what I said he’d done. He faked confusion. I was led, back downstairs, bawling, to be told by my parents that obviously I was just dreaming, and how dare I say such things.
I begged to go home, instantly. Instead, I was shuttled from family member to family member, each taking me part way, until I reached home.
Once there, it was not spoken of again for 5 years.
In those years, I rebelled. Getting more and more angry, more and more furious with my parents, and my mother in particular. These were the people who were supposed to back me up, supposed to protect me. And instead, they defended their friends and their horrible son. I blamed my mother more than my father, because it was her opinions that carried the most weight in our household. Her ability to apply guilt to everything, weighing it in the direction she wanted it to go, was overwhelming.
I pushed the memories down deep, blocking them, even from myself, not realizing that they were where most of my rebellion stemmed from. My desperate need to escape, to be different from those people.
The summer that I went from 19 to 20yrs. old, my parents finally got fed up with me running all night, every weekend. Even though I never really drank at that age, they assumed that because I was out late, sometimes not coming home till the next morning, that I was on drugs. Truth be told, most of the time, I was driving the other drunks home, and that’s why I was late. I had never, and have never, taken any form of illegal or illicit drugs. Even though they were offered many times, I had “control issues”, and couldn’t stand to think of acting the way I saw so many of my friends act while they were stoned. Out of control, I couldn’t be sure of what would happen to me. And I couldn’t do that.
Anyway, that summer, my parents (mostly the mother), decided that maybe I needed counseling. They sent me to see a social worker, and when I arrived for the first meeting, his first words were “Your parents are worried about your behavior. They think it might have something to do with you claiming you were molested a few years ago.”
Claiming. Not admitting that it actually happened. Just that I “claimed” it.
Needless to say, the counseling session went straight to hell, with me leaving in a ball of fury and tears. All the memories came flooding back, causing a whole new batch of hot mess, which ended in me – hitting a spiral of bad behavior that I’d never seen before that summer. I was told by my father that it was either join the armed services, or find a job. I found a job nannying in New Jersey, and ended up there for 2 months, until I found out that I was – pregnant with Eldest. I hadn’t realized it when I left home, as I’d been irregular all summer, due to drinking, and horrible eating habits.
To this day, I have never had any of the adults involved admit to what happened.
I have forbidden them to allow any of my children anywhere near “him” if they happened to take them back to Iowa.
He approached me a few years ago, wanting to “talk”. I told him to get away from me instantly, and that if he didn’t, or if he ever touched one of my children? I would kill him. Myself. And gladly go to jail for it.
The place where childhood ends, is not always at the initial abuse. Sometimes, it comes later, when the people that are supposed to protect you, listen to you, believe you, and stick up for you….. don’t. When you stop trusting that they’ll be there for you, you have to rely on only yourself. When your life blows up, and there’s no one to catch you, hold you, and tell you that it’ll be alright, someday. When your self-esteem disappears at 2am on a tearful phone call with your parents 800 miles away – because if your own parents won’t believe you, won’t stick up for you, then maybe you’re not worth it.
That’s where childhood ends.