It’ll never happen

I talked to my mom on the phone last night, and it finally struck home to me.

I will never have her support for the traumas I’ve been through in my life.

We were talking about a friend of mine who moved back to Florida, & when she asked where she lives, I told her.

Mom: “Oh, that’s the same city *he’s* (my male sibling) lived in.”

Me: Yeah, mom, I know.

“And btw, the girls (his daughters, my nieces) are coming up to visit this summer. I need to get in touch with Youngerdaughter to see if she wants to schedule her time home to coincide, so she can see them”.

Me: It would be nice, I don’t get to have any contact with them.

My sibling made a big deal of telling me years ago that he had the passwords & logins for his wife’s social media, as well as his daughters, so I believe he would not just watch if I tried to interact with them, but actively block contact or attack me through their pages.

You can think me paranoid if you want, but he’s attacked me verbally & emotionally so many times I have blocked every attempt he’s made to contact me. He is toxic in my life, & I won’t put up with his abuse.

Mom: “Oh, honey, he’s changed.”

Me: Not enough to say he’s sorry for what he’s done & said. Last time, Mom, he said “I’m sorry if you felt hurt, but sometimes you’re just too sensitive.” He didn’t say he was sorry for hurting me, he put the blame for my trauma back on me, then told me that I was “too sensitive”.

BEING SENSITIVE TO PAIN IS A TRAUMA RESPONSE.

Me: Mom, he has never apologized for what he said, or for what he’s done, he’s always just “I’ve grown up, & want to move past this”

Me: Translation – I’m tired of being called out for the real harm I caused, & want everyone to sweep it under the rug, because it doesn’t fit my “benevolent Christian man, husband & father” persona.

Mom: “Did I tell you my dog hurt her paw? She won’t let anyone anywhere near it.”

After about 10 more minutes of basic, surface conversation, I told her I love her, & hung up.

Avoidance, thy name is Mom.

Same thing happens whenever I bring up anything regarding the sexual assault I suffered from my best friend’s brother when I was 16. Her best friend is this (now man’s) mother. Every time she comes to visit, my mom wants me to see her, & they end up, somehow, working his name into the conversation, which sends me into a PTSD- induced panic attack.

Mom once: “Its been XX years. You should move past this. Let it go.”

I was never believed, not by anyone from either of our families. I was never allowed to talk about it, except when my parents tried to send me to a Christian counselor, & then told him that I thought I was molested. Not that it had actually happened, but that I thought it did.

I love both my parents. And I’m lucky to still have them in my life.

But, that hurts.

It hurts to know that my pain will never be valid in their eyes.

That they don’t believe that one instance even happened, but that I made it up or dreamt it.

And that they don’t remember reading the actual email my sibling sent me that ripped our family apart.

“My little sister died years ago. I don’t know you.”

Oh, fucker, you don’t know how right you are.

She died at 16, when a boy she trusted sexually assaulted her, and no one believed her.

She died at 17, when her parents sent her to a counselor & told him they thought she was delusional.

She died again at 19, when she was raped in college, and didn’t feel as though she could tell her parents, because why would they believe her now, when they didn’t before?

She died AGAIN, when at 20, they accused her of being on drugs, and forced her to get tested, when she’d never taken drugs in her life.

And she dies again, and again, and again, when they excuse her abusers for hurting her.

I still love my parents.

Don’t forget that.

But, loving them, does not make what they say & do, right.

My parents have always been the “turn the other cheek” people.

I can’t. I won’t. I will NOT give you another chance to hurt me, after being repeatedly struck on one side.

I still love my parents.

They’re good people.

But, the pain is real, when I know I’ll never have their unconditional love & support.

It’ll never happen.

AU

I imagine there’s an alternate universe where I became a horse trainer, & lived alone on a farm with all my animals.

I imagine there’s an alternate universe where I died from suicide at the ripe young age of 16, because – emotional trauma.

I imagine there’s one where I became a published author, famous or not, I finally finished writing a damn book & sent it toddling out into the world, instead of having children.

I imagine there’s one in which I actually finished college, and became a psychologist, only to realize I got too depressed over my own problems to help anyone else effectively.

I imagine there’s one where I stayed with my love of acting, even with crippling stage fright, & became a bit actress, only to become a diet-pill junkie, who died from complications due to extreme yoyo diets & depression.

I imagine there’s one where I became a famous horror writer.

I imagine there’s an alternate universe in which I have more friends than I know what to do with, because I can be so extroverted with the emotion switch “on”, and a complete recluse, with the switch “off.

I imagine there’s one, where I retreated into the woods to become the swamp witch of my dreams, leaving everything behind to live off-grid, because I had no one left, after pushing everyone I knew away due to emotional issues telling me I’m not worth loving, which is why everyone leaves, refuses to commit, or plays on my heart strings until I collapse & lose my shit, running screaming into the void.

I imagine that there’s an alternate universe in which I am living a happy life, with someone I love, who loves me back.

Wild imagination.

Family Plot Twist

I know what I said last night.

And I know it was harsh, writing about the guilt and anger I feel towards my parents over the abuse that took place at my friend’s house when I was 16.

But, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea.

Because I do still love my parents.

It’s complicated.

My parents are good people. They’re”salt-of-the-earth” kind of people. The ones who would take in unwanted dogs for friends and family, and find them new, loving homes. They’ve done that many times in the past.
Hell, they’ve taken in other family member’s children, when their parents were having a tough time, or the kids needed more attention or discipline, and they weren’t listening to those at home.  Two of my cousins lived with us at different times, both for different reasons, and were sent home with a different outlook on life.

Not that my parents were hard-asses, not at all. They were, and are, hardworking, honest, and deeply moral people. They always want what’s best for those around them, and I can honestly say that, while I might never have had everything I wanted as a kid, I always had everything I needed. 

Well, except for that incident. But I’m trying to make a point, here.

My parents helped me in many ways, for many years. Especially when I was a single mom, struggling to make ends meet.  They were always willing to lend a hand, and babysat for me when I really needed a night off.  (1 weekend a month, or 2 separate nights a month, my choice)

I was never spoiled, but was taught how to be a responsible, independent human being. They taught me to think outside the box, how to care for animals as much as people, and that, as my Dad always says… “Shit washes off.”

They’re irreverent and funny.

My mom once rode a horse into a bar, because she was looking for Dad after he got done mowing some yards in town for folks who couldn’t do it themselves, and a friend dared her while holding the door open. She rode in, all the way to the table he was at with his friend, said “David, meet me outside”, and rode back out.  It’s just a good thing she was riding the Arabian gelding we had…he was much calmer than her super-tall Saddlebred mare.

And my dad once had a man (who he couldn’t stand) convinced that Dad had an imaginary friend with him for lunch. He carried on a one-way conversation for about 5 minutes, before the other man gave up and went to sit elsewhere in the cafe’, which was what my dad wanted in the first place.

My parents have both been emt’s, at separate times, they’ve helped care for elderly folks in their town, who just needed a little help from time to time, Mom helping them get to the store for groceries, mowing their lawns, cleaning their houses, etc. Dad doing plumbing for them, for nothing more than the cost of whatever parts they needed.

Dad got paid in pies, homemade egg noodles, honeycomb…all kinds of food goodies these elderly folk could, and would, press on him, because they knew he wouldn’t ask for anything else.

They are good people.

And I love them, down to the DNA they gave me.

That’s why I struggle so hard with the guilt and anger.

It’s all twisted up in love.

Goddess. That explains so much about the rest of my relationships…

I don’t know how to title this.

It’s 4:15am, and I’ve been up most of the night.  This is a bad time for me, between 2:30 and 5am…too many dark thoughts, not enough sleep, and no one to hold me in my anxiety-ridden panic attacks.

So, I’ve come here.

I’m angry. And I feel horrible guilt.

I can feel the lump in my throat, choking my voice, threatening tears, which I won’t allow to fall.

Anger, shame, guilt, hateful rage, and soul-crushing depression, all weigh on me, each voice in my head clamoring for the lion’s share of my attention… screaming and pounding on my temples, until I feel like banging my head on the floor just to make them shut up.

Because there’s a confrontation coming. I can see it up ahead, I feel it in the wind, and I know it, in my bones.

Because his father is dying.

Gods. There’s so much history tangled up in this. 40-some years of it. How do I explain it? Can I even explain it clearly to myself, much less others? 

And the history doesn’t even touch on all of my anger.  

Fuck. 

My parents and his are best friends.

Their daughter was my best friend growing up.

He was the boy who taught me how to French kiss – in the 3rd grade, on the playground at school.

And then, when I was 16, he molested me.

I don’t know, truly, what my parents thought when I called them at 2am that morning. But I know what they did.

They made me wake up the mother. She took me upstairs & made me confront him, while he lied and, of course, said that he  never. 

My parents didn’t come get me. Yeah, yeah, it was a 12-hour drive from here to there, 2 states away. Instead, they had me shuffled from family member to family member, slowly working my way closer to home.

Nothing would have stopped me from reaching one of my children if they called me at 2am, sobbing about being sexually abused. Nothing. 

Did they not want me home? Were they hoping that by the time I got there, they could have given me enough time to forget what had happened? Or, maybe, they were trying to give themselves time to forget.

Forget that their friend’s son had harmed their daughter. Forget that their daughter was now “damaged goods”.

Forget that maybe, just maybe, they were supposed to DO SOMETHING about this? Instead of just closing all the blinds and pretending it never happened?

And now, the father is dying from terminal cancer.

He is still my father’s best friend.

His wife is still my mother’s best friend.

They visit, back and forth, at least once a year, they come to North Dakota, and I’m expected to come down, play the dutiful daughter, and visit with them.

And every year, I have panic attacks, nightmares, trigger events, from these visits. The mother always has to, at some point, bring him up, show me pictures with him in them, call him on the damn phone when I’m sitting right there, and can’t escape.

30 years later, and they’re still all denying that it ever happened.

And I feel rage.

I know that there is a funeral coming up. I know that my mother will want me to go down there for it. Show support. Be kind. Be compassionate. 

I feel horrible guilt about this.

Because I – can’t. 

I just can’t.

I can’t be anywhere near him.

He caught me by surprise, once, a few years ago, when my girls were little. I was visiting his parents with my daughters & mother. He wasn’t supposed to be there, but showed up, unexpectedly. He tried to corner me, actually tried to grab my arm, and I threatened him. Told him that if he ever touched me again, if he ever came near me or my girls, I’d kill him. Then I went straight to my mother & demanded to leave.

I never returned to their home.  I wasn’t going to go through that ever again. 

And now, if my mother tries to guilt me into going down for the funeral… I’m going to have to confront her… Them, really, because my father is just as deep into this. But it’s Mom who uses the guilt. Dad just ignores it, and hopes the emotional people will go away.

I don’t want to cause anyone hurt.

There’s the guilt.

But they never defended me, never believed me, never talked to me about it, never confronted the other family. He was never punished. He got away with molesting me, because our parents couldn’t deal with it.

They left me damaged and alone in my pain. Which has colored so much of my life since.

And there’s the rage.