Monday, November 12, 2018

Spring Chickens

Trigger warning: sexual abuse.

My mom would have had a milestone birthday today. I think she would've been surprised and wondered out loud how could she be that age already. Where had the time gone? She'd tell me again that I was a Spring Chicken at the age of 56. I don't feel like one these days.

I've been wondering what she would say about my time off work right now. I seriously wonder about that. She was an integral part of why I was put in the situation that ended in rape and continued sexual abuse for the months that followed. If she was alive I would've told her exactly what happened that lead to my being on an extended time off work. Yet she was so fragile at the end. Would I be obligated to protect her from my reality? What is fair? And to whom? Will I always feel like a bad person for feeling such anger?

I never allowed myself to feel angry about it while she was alive. There's still that frown of hers that I can picture in my head and the very real comment she made me to when I was 13 that what goes on in our house stays in our house.

There were many things that she didn't think should be brought out from the shadows and into the light of day. I don't think she ever experienced the freedom that speaking the truth can bring. I don't think she ever got over the boatload of mother guilt she carried. I'm guessing at these things because we couldn't have an honest conversation about the guilt although we came close way back when. She admitted that day to being an abusive mother. It cost her all she had to voice it. It was so much more than anything her own mother would have admitted to being or not being. There's that.

But. She knew he was a predator. Knew he bragged in the bar about the young women he got. She let me/sent me there to babysit anyway. I intuitively knew she had her own history with him. Intuition is a bitch sometimes.

She knew things were going on between him and I. I found out later that she rationalized that I was old enough to handle it. I remember thinking to myself , as I shoved blood stained underwear into the back of my jeans, "where are the adults and why isn't anyone rescuing me from this?" That I didn't feel like I could go to anyone is a sad reality. Let's take a detour down a back road and keep you there for hours. Tell you I'm not done with you yet when you try to get dressed.

It took years of therapy to see that he was always in a position of power in any encounter we had. That my voice meant nothing. My "NO!" eventually fell silent amid anxiety and fear. I thought it was all my fault for decades. To this day there are moments when my instinct, if you touch me without permission, is to want to throat punch you.

Motherhood is such a winding path. The baggage you bring with you into it. Baggage you don't even know you have. It can drag you down. The baggage that accumulates while you are actively parenting. She had enough to make one shudder. But still. There is no excusing not protecting one's own daughter. Not even doing the best you can in the circumstances.

If I indeed, am a Spring Chicken now at 56, she was a real Spring Chicken at the age of 41 when all this happened. I wonder what her milestone self today would tell her 41 one year old self if she could.

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Cyn Huddleston said...

My mother’s last days were spent trying to get me in the same room as her brother, my abuser. It doesn’t always do any good to tell.

I know that you mother yourself. That can be so good for you. The mothering feels good — give and take. I’m here. I hear you.

Hope said...

Thank you, Cyn. A significant part of my therapy process is learning to re-parent myself and showing myself compassion for what happened and didn't happen. Thank you for bearing witness to my journey.