There are some stories that just aren’t shared. Stories that you hold in and push aside instead of shouting it out to the world. Few people know mine and even fewer people know a specific chapter. Throughout the years, my husband has tried telling me that maybe by me speaking about these things, that I can maybe help others or help myself in the process. I never felt like that was an option. But now…now I see things in a different light. Now, I know he is right.
While leaving work today, I was graced with Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter” on the radio. It’s been a while since I’ve heard it and it instantly hit home. While there are many parts of the song that do not apply, there are several key sections that I understand all too well.
Upon hearing that, I realized how true it is to my life. Because of all the things of my childhood and all the things I face every day, it’s made me who I am and for that, I am thankful (mostly).
You see, I didn’t have a glamorous life. I didn’t have the “loving” parents. I didn’t have “let’s have friends and sleepovers”. I didn’t really have much of a life. I missed all the fun things kids do. That should make me bitter, right? Wrong. I’ve learned a long time ago not to play victim. Here’s why:
A little background: I was raised mostly by my grandparents and aunt and uncle (and for them, I couldn’t be more thankful). Then along came my sister when I was 5, and I helped them raise her as well. Even at such a young age, I saw and heard things I should never have. Skip ahead to when I was 9. My mother married my step-father (though I do not claim him nor have any contact with him, for the purposes of this story, that is what he shall be called). After a couple months, he filed papers to legally adopt my sister and I. In the process, he decided to not only change our last names but our whole names. My sister’s first and last name changed while the spelling of my first name and my middle and last changed. That’s a whole new identity. Along with this so called new identity, came other changes. We could no longer call our beloved family the little nicknames we had for them. Mawmaw and Pawpaw became “Grandma/Grandpa (such and such).” Nanny and Paw became “Aunt/Uncle (such and such).” Dare us say differently.
Next came the move. About 7 months after marrying my mother, he picked us up and moved us a couple hours away. Visits “home” were limited and on the rare occasion we did or my grandparents would come up, we couldn’t leave his side because “they were up to no good….they’d turn us against him.” Phone calls were monitored and even those became few and far between.
I hated him but was respectful nonetheless. I obeyed. I followed the rules. I performed well in school. I was the model child. However, that was overlooked. I got in trouble for everything. I picked one option, I was wrong. I picked the other, I was still wrong. There was never any winning. For example, we weren’t allowed to lie (clearly that’s a good rule). But we weren’t allowed to tell people he wasn’t our real father either. So when people asked us if he was our biological father, you can see what predicament that put us in. He went with the assumption also that we told people, but in reality, it wasn’t hard to figure out. My mother is way white. He is white. My sister and I are mixed (though we do look white, but you put our unruly curly hair into the mix and you can clearly tell we weren’t his).
I was told frequently how demonic and possessed I was. How evil I was. How awful and crazy I was. But then how beautiful and smart I was. Things like that aren’t easy to hear. But knowing he was wrong, I was able to shield myself some. Because I was called all those things because I didn’t like him. Because I’m a sarcastic person. Because, well, I just lack a lot of emotions. Still, mentally, hearing those things can take a toll on a person.
My sister got whipped for every little thing too. Because she was supposed to be the “good” child and not be like me. Looking back, I tried to shield her from many things, but I didn’t do enough. And that’s one thing I beat myself up over. Yes people will say “oh but you were still a child yourself.” Yea yea yea. It doesn’t matter. I should have done more.
Many years of turmoil passed, and in those years, he looked at me as more of a wife than a daughter. And then it happened. A little over a month before I turned 19. He sexually molested me and there was nothing I could do about it. I lay there and let it happen, and I hate myself for that. It wasn’t a one time instance. It continued for over a year. But, still, I took it. I let it continue. Because no matter how much I hated him, how much I hated myself for letting that happen to me, I refused to let him go after my sister. He took away my innocence and I’d be damned if he ever did that to her.
In between this time, my mother left and took my sister. And I still let it happen. Why? Because we were in and out of courts and he was…is…crazy and I still refused to let him fixate on them or go after them in any way and that was the way to keep him from doing so. It wasn’t easy. Still isn’t easy thinking about it. I regret not standing up for myself but in the end, there was a greater purposed served.
He fought to get back my sister. I fought along side him. Don’t judge me. I fought because I didn’t think my mother was fit to have her either and at least by him getting custody, I could be there for her. I could raise her. Protect her. But, thankfully, in the end, he didn’t get her.
I was able to visit her once a week for an hour or so. It broke my heart every time. And then…then he made me stop. He made me cease all communication with her. She needed me and I couldn’t do anything about it for the safety of the both of us.
He wanted me to move away with him. Start a new life. Wear a wig. Be his wife. And that is where the last straw was drawn. I refused. Multiple times. And so he decided to leave. And for that, I am thankful. It was the beginning of being set free.
Throughout the years, I’ve struggled with many things…mentally. Going through some of the things I did took a toll on me. I refused to let it control me or my life like so many people do. And this is where “Fighter” comes into play. I fought to become me. I fought to accomplish the things I have. I fought myself. I fought to be stronger. To be better.
There are things I work to overcome as time continues, with the molested part being the hardest. I even cringe when I hear his name in general. I literally cannot call someone by that if that is their name. I just say their last name. Yea I know..I’m crazy!
None of it will be forgotten no matter how much I want to. But, I want to live a life where memories…nightmares…don’t creep up in my head and haunt me from time to time. I want to be free of that. I want to live a life where deep in my subconscious, I’m not scared to do things because I’m scared of failing or fear that I’m not good enough to accomplish something. Because also deep down, I know that all that is a lie. I know I’m better than all of that and I rock most things I put my mind to.
And this is the point I am at in my life. For the first time a couple months ago, my eyes were opened. My heart is healing. My mind slowly is following. And for that, I am thankful. Getting all this out may not get to a large audience, but the truth of the matter is, I already knew that. This isn’t just to help others. It’s part of my healing too. Part of my relief. My therapy. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders right this very second. And I thank you…the reader…for being here. For listening. For understanding.
As Christina Aguilera says, “thanks for making me a fighter.”