Every adult looks at another adult and thinks at some point, “Oh they had a good life, just look them.” Well, your wrong. Not every adult had a good life… Not every adult is having a good life. We must learn that the outside appearances of an individual is just a cover up – like a book cover, what is inside is what makes the book not the shell.
I grew up in a broken home as many have, but most of my friends all grew up with their parents – both mother and father. Not me, I had my mom and her “husband” at the times. I remember all but one of her husbands… my father.
Looking back now, I am 43, I can see what an impact that made on me. I was just as broken as my home and yet I survived. I endured many abuses over my life and the vow I gave to no one but myself was that I would stand by my child against any of these happening to them… I can only hope I did well enough. You see, this is my story…
When I was around 4 or so, I can remember hearing him come in, mad and yelling. I ran and hid under my bed. I listened terrified of the yelling and fighting going on… I just knew I was next. Imagine a small child, fragile and terrified with no one to comfort them. I was a scared child from as early as I can remember. This was stepdad #1. I have several memories of this nature.
Around age 7, my memories begin to fill of stepdad #2 spending his special time with me. He loved to touch me and do things to me and have me to do things to him… then he would share me. This ranged for about 7 years of my life. The worst of this travesty is I told my mom, she didn’t believe me. She refused to listen. I was shattered. I was not believed therefore thought this is all I was worth. I endured this abuse silently…for years no one would know because I wouldn’t tell anyone else. Why should I when my own mother wouldn’t protect me? This was my youth, my teen years…
All the while stepdad #3 entered around age 12 or 13… He caught on to the special attention stepdad #2 gave me and at age 14 put a stop to the visits where I was shipped off to see him… He put a stop to something he was not sure was happening, but he was not much better. You see stepdad #4 was violent. He would demean us verbally. He would beat me more than anyone should endure. This is where I was hurt the worst emotionally. My mother saw it all and stood there watching, doing nothing. Never once standing up for me. I was told I was fat… I weighed 105 lbs at 5’3″. I was told I was worthless and wouldn’t amount to anything. And if I didn’t follow the rules I was beaten.
My mother was not much better in this… She reminded me often how I was her mistake. How I had ruined things. She let me know I was no good, that I was worthless and how I’d never achieve anything. She tried to marry me off several times at the age 16 and 17.
Now, here is a teen who had endured several types of abuse over the years, not able to learn of her real father and had no escape. You see all these years had passed and I had seen my fathers family only once. I do not have memories of the man who helped to create me, at least I don’t know that I really do. There is a stranger in my memory… but I don’t know who it is, not even today
So what did I do, I rebelled. I did drugs, drank, smoked, partied, skipped school, all this and so much more. I purposefully did things I wasn’t supposed to. It was like giving me a dare to live and I did. I paid for it all too, each time I was caught I paid. The last time I decided to go against the rules my stepdad #4 beat me so bad I had bruised welts across my back around 4-6′ deep and then when he was done beating me he threw me across the kitchen. My mother stood and watched. I remember I looked to her for help…nothing.
This was the turning point in my life – I was going to die. At least that is what I thought. I was no match for these men who controlled me, beat me, hated me… I had to leave or die, or something worse would happen. My mind was breaking, my soul already broken.
I moved out the next day… lived with a friend and her mom and sisters. That was the closest thing to a normal family I have ever had at that age. 17, senior in high school and this was my life. This is when I made the vow to protect my children. Children I didn’t even have yet. Children I swore no man would be more important over. Children I swore I’d die for by protecting them.
I tried my very best to do this. I tried to not have a broken home. Sadly, I failed. I have divorced twice. I do not feel I protected my kids enough but when I realized something was wrong I did fix it to the best of my ability. My kids were not physically abused or sexually abused (At least they have not told me of such things… or I’d be in prison right now). I was with one man who demeaned our self-esteem…but as soon as I realized the situation I got out. Sadly, it took me over 8 years to realize it. The damage was done.
You see when you do not protect your children. When you do not shield them from the horrors of life – they begin to feel they are worthless, they deserve the harshness given to them, they believe they have no direction. Our children our are gifts, our precious future…we must protect them, help them and guide them.
Now with all that negative there were positives… I had joys, laughters and memories that are good that I cherish above all. I have family that I will never abandon. I learned a great many things in my life that are very positive… but the most important thing I learned is that no matter what you have been through you can succeed. Bad things happen to people even when they do nothing to warrant them… This is life. We must make it better.
Today, I am proud to have graduated college… held great positions in employment, made a difference in lives. I have friends and family who love me.
I’ve never thought I was good enough for anything. I never thought I was truly worthy. I never learned how to truly love myself or those in my life. I am always waiting for the bottom to drop. I have one child who feels I have failed them, another who says he loves me but the actions and words he throws at me shows me he does not. I am waiting for the man I love to start telling how I have failed or have disappointed him. This is something I will never truly overcome, what took 39 years to make can not be undone in 5 or less.
I am told often how as a parent I do not do enough, am not strong enough…
So while I outwardly overcame so much, I kept that vow I made to no one but myself. I did all I could to save, shield and protect my children.
Why am I sharing this with you now… because I know what you are going through. I want you to get help. If you are someone going through such things, or know someone who is… reach out and get help or get them help. Had I not had such a friend in school… I would not be here today, I truly believe that. Help, Listen, Pay Attention… and if that person doesn’t realize they need help… educate them
We are all special. We all deserve love and respect. We all need to know we are worth a good life.
You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE
For child abuse call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD
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