Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Early morning demons

I am a Morning Person.  And becoming weirder about it as I get older and spend a lot of time alone at home.  I sit here nearly motionless and silent until the sun comes up.  Then I strap the baby on my back and start working as fast as I can.  It's pretty neurotic.

I feel like it is cheating to cut'n'paste that from the other window and yet, I've already typed it into the frickin phone!  It counts!

I have to do both.  In the silence and still I wrestle with demons and I have to move quickly once the sun is up or the demons will catch me and wrestle me to the ground and then they have control of the day.  If I work fast enough and hard enough I can escape.  I can instead find my Zen.  I can get lost in the methodic beauty of gardening.  Playing with the dirt helps me stay in the here and now better than almost any other activity.  That is interesting to know about myself.  For most of my life I have lived in a place where plants just kind of grew.  You didn't really do a lot to try to change what they were doing anyway other than beat them back a bit once in a while.  But you know what, that's not even true.  Folks up there did plant things and they did follow the seasons.  I didn't.  I moved so often that I have never before in my life felt the flow of the seasons before.

That's kind of an intense realization.  I'll tell you flat out that I'm looking for God in the flow of the earth.  Probably not God in the Judeo-Christian sense.  Maybe more of a Goddess.  Thing is, this shape in my head really doesn't have a gender.  And saying Goddess requires a gender in my head whereas God is basically neutered.  Even if you do think of God as inspiring men, God inspired women too and there aren't that many differences and it's not like God is out there flipping people for who gets to top, you know what I mean?

But I digress.  Only, it's only sort of the digression.  Maybe this is the point today.  Maybe this is why I haven't thought about abuse stuff in a few days.  Maybe I am looking for God instead.  Maybe I am trying to focus on the here and now with such intensity because if I don't I may not be here to have a future.  This is hard to say out loud.  Ha.  And I'm not even speaking.  As Alex said to me recently, "If I say it, I make it true."  But I think the important point he was missing is: if it's not true, you can't deal with it as being true... but it's still hanging over you thinking about being true.  Ok, so here's the truth.  I am more honest-to-God suicidal right now than I have been  in over a decade.  My mother called me to tell me that I was not sexually abused as a toddler.  She wants me to get my story straight.

Then why is he in my head and my body like this?  Then why do I so clearly remember the stages?  Why can I now sit down with a textbook on grooming a child for sexual assault and tell stories about every single stage?  There is no doubt in my mind that when I prosecuted my father he intended to rape me.

So here's the story on that.  When I was 16 I was living in Bakersfield and going all the way across town every day so that I could attend the best high school in the district.  Then our car broke down.  Of course it did.  Because that is what happens when you live in poverty and you do not properly maintain your possessions.  Which is to say, I don't blame my mother in anyway.  Our lives were really shitty.  It took an hour and a half each way on the bus to get to school.  I was in AP classes: English, US History, Biology.  I finally, for the first time in my life, was actually in the classes for the smart kids instead of sitting on the waiting list behind people who had lived there all their lives and never made the cut.  I loved it.  I blossomed.  I hung out intensely with the kids in the AP classes and they were all religious and obedient but open minded.  They were very interested in ska music and silliness and Veggietales.  Good clean fun.  But I was getting in trouble at school because I didn't have a computer for research or typing up my papers.  Given that I was spending 3 hours a day on the bus I didn't really have a lot of time to sit in libraries.  And did I mention that the public water was so disgustingly chlorinated I couldn't handle drinking the water?  So I spent hours a day making orange juice from the tree in our yard so that I could drink something that didn't make me want to puke.  We had no money for bottled water.

Anyway.  Not that those layers of poverty really affect the story anyway, right?  It's not like there are mitigating factors for your father sexually molesting you?  It's not like he got away with it because I was poorly supervised by a mother who is completely incapable of getting her shit together.  And there's a digression I'm not up for right now.

So I called my father and told him I needed a computer for school.  He wasn't paying full child support anyway, right?  He told me that I could have a computer if I came to visit him for the weekend.  I told him I would check with my mom and ask her when she could get a weekend off work so she could come down and supervise.  He said no.  If I wanted a computer I would have to come down there and spend a weekend with him alone, unsupervised.  I felt gobsmacked.  I felt like I was standing on the edge of a precipice and in that fucking moment I got to make a choice.  I could lay down and take my fucking.  Or I could shoot him in the face.  So I hung up on him and called the Sheriff's office to report my lifelong molestation.

The part of the story that is missing here is the part where I made that phone call to him in secret because I didn't want my mother to know I was doing it.  And I made that follow up call to the Sheriff's office before my mother came home.  When she got home the detective was in the living room asking me questions.  It was too late for her to do anything about it.  I think I knew I had to do it that way.  She would have talked me out of it.  She would have minimized what was going on.  She would have told me I was making things up or being melodramatic.  But I wasn't.  Every single memory of my father in my lifetime involves him touching me in a sexual way.  Ok, not every minute of every visit or anything like that.  But he snuck something in every time I saw him.  He fingered me while I sat on his lap while eating snacks at an amusement park when I was 4 or 5.  When I lived with him and Trudy he would come into my room to "tell me stories" that were about sex and sometimes about evil and magic.  For years he told me stories about my maternal great grandmother.  He said she was a witch and I inherited her powers so I should do some research on black magic.

All this to say that I was absolutely being groomed for rape.  Or, rather, I was being groomed to think it was totally acceptable for me to be my father's sexual partner.  He told me all about how incest taboos only exist because you don't want the genetic material to get to close.  But it's ok as long as the woman uses birth control.  He told me that when I was 12, not long before my brother got married when he came to visit us at our house in Apple Valley.  He came upstairs to my room and felt me up.  He told me that my breasts were going to be large because my chest felt like his older sister's did when she was my age and she ended up with large breasts.  I do wear an E cup.

My father had every intention in the world of raping me.  I needed to prosecute him.  Oh, and my father was stalking me while we lived in Bakersfield.  He would show up random places and just look at me.  I wasn't exactly hard to track.  He stood outside our house in the street sometimes.  If I didn't prosecute him he was going to rape me.  It was ok for me to prosecute.  My father sexually molested me for a decade starting when I was a baby or toddler and it was right for me to prosecute.  And now I'm sobbing.  Because Alex honey, saying it doesn't make it true.  I wish that saying it made it true.

And we come back to the faith in grey thing.  Was my father a monster for what he did to me?  What he had every intention of doing in the future?  I don't know.  What I can know is that only a rabid dog attacks with no provocation and at that point you put the animal down.  And I mean seriously no provocation not, "What?  I only acted in this way that in dog-language is really aggressive but seems fine to me as a human."  It wasn't actually about me just never calling him again and writing him off because he wouldn't buy me a computer.  And fuck you very much, Mom, for saying that to people.  He was going to rape me, and soon.  No matter what.  He had a history of molesting people going back decades before my birth.  If he was escalating to the point where he was stalking me?  Yeah.  I'm not even sure I would have survived.  I had to prosecute.  And I had to do it in secret because my mother wouldn't have allowed me to.  Once the ball was rolling there was nothing she could do about it.

And that right there.  That is why I sit here in silence every morning in the still, quiet time of the day and I think.  I have these horrible, gut clenching thoughts about assault and I try to work them out.  I try to find my peace with these things.  Even being angry with my mother the way I am is just a stage.  I'm so angry because I feel freshly hurt and she is the only one alive who can be blamed.  Isn't that what mothers do?  And the instant that thought goes through my head I realize that is part of breaking the cycle too.  I don't want to be blamed for everything that goes wrong for my children.  And I need to stop blaming my mother.  And she needs to stop calling me and telling me to get my story straight.  I have my story straight.  It's just not a story she can believe and maintain her thin hold on the world.  Even though it is complicated and I don't want to see her, I want to know my mother is in this world.  I want to hope she is finding some shreds of happiness to lighten her load.  I love my mother.  So being angry with her is almost a derailment... only it isn't.  I think it's a different project though.

Today I'm talking about prosecuting my father.  Today I am talking about how complicated all the factors are.  We were poor.  We desperately needed the financial support he doled out in fits of pique.  Prosecuting him was a complicated decision that I had to make in one big temper tantrum.  And in many ways that is what it looked like to people on the outside who didn't see how dense of a spider web I was standing in.  I had no where safe to step.  That was the moment that saved my life.  And it wasn't important because I prosecuted my father, per se.  It was the moment when I irrevocably broke the patterns of my family and decided to ACT instead of react.  That moment could have been then or it could have been later.  With my mother and my sister the battle to act instead of react is constant in every single conversation and I feel like a very hostile person.  Ultimately I'm not sure how much of it is their fault.  They are still in patterns of abuse and reconciliation with one another.  They really can't find a way out of that system.  I don't know why.  But I can't be part of it with them.  I feel like I am growing to understand Aunt Vonnie more.  I'm starting to understand that she was the one who stayed in one place and put down her roots in the community and she has a busy, involved life.  She was able to support so many people because she actually had very little involvement in the drama.  She just went about her business as the storms raged.  And she kept me afloat.  Well, her and a whole bunch of other random and semi-random people.  Whether I was in the cycles of abuse or not I was tolerated and supported and encouraged.  I feel I am lucky.  I was helped by more people than I can count.

And so now I wrestle with my demons until the sun comes up, and right now I see a faint hint of blue through the window instead of black.  It is time to go get dressed and start breakfast.  It's time to smile and kiss my children and sing silly songs.  It is time to hug my husband and wish I had the ability to be the sexual partner he deserves, one who is not held back by monstrous figures in the dark.  Yeah folks, even the freaks lose the ability sometimes.  And I have to smile while doing it.  I have to be cheerful.  My family deserves to live with someone who is pleasant to be around.  And that is the pressure.  How do I live a dual life like this?  When I want to snap because I feel tension and anger at my mother... Let's go use the rototiller for an hour.  My arms will hurt so bad I won't have the energy to be cranky.  I love you both, my darling babies.  I will struggle to hold you tonight so I may end up wearing both of you because my arms are weak.  But even if it's a cranky day.  I promise there will be snuggles.


  1. "That was the moment that saved my life." this is my favorite.

    at first i wasn't sure what you meant about the difference between acting and reacting, but i think i get it - directing your life instead of things just happening to you. pretty impressive, as a teenager. i know a lot of grown-ups who are so not there yet.

  2. oh god(dess), i love that this is tagged as 'book ideas'.

  3. What do you think I could do/say differently to better communicate the difference between acting and reacting?

  4. Krissy, I'd have tried to say something about "in the pattern or out of the pattern" if I wanted the most clarity.

    Your way sounds better, though.

  5. it wasn't necessarily unclear, just something i had to think about because i knew there was more than the literal/surface meaning of the words. and yes, then when you more specifically mention breaking the pattern, that helped shed light (for me) on what it meant to act, the weight of that shift and its impact on the rest of your life.

  6. The problem with "If I say it, I make it true," is that just because you don't say it doesn't mean it's not true...