In times of difficulty we learn several things about ourselves, fight or flight, give up or shut up, or do I really want to find out what I am made of? Until we find ourselves in a situation that calls for the need to find out, we may never know. It may not be dire or drastic, but at some point we are tested and pushed to find out.
The very thought of this makes us cringe. I mean who wants to go on the battlefield just to find out you have no battle to begin with? I find it hilarious at times that we can be stirred up at the slightest suggestion of warrior battle. Or that it is even worth putting forth the effort. That is the decision we have to make within ourselves.
Back to the original thought…I have had several battles within myself. Not family life battles where single life, married life, children, finances, or housing were a problem. But something that happened personally. Being attacked physically. First, shock sets in. The old wait-a-minute-did-that-just-happen moment. Second, the feeling of hurt. How did this happen to someone like me? Third, questioning yourself. Did I cause this to happen? Your steps of trying to find out what on earth happened and why are endless. The real question is what are you going to do about it.
Me, myself, I let the pain and hurt rule my life for years. Then when the person thought they had me in a vulnerable place to attack again I struck. Not physically. I faced the person and let them know that this was not okay. Of course when you live with this person in the same house with other people it is hard. Why? Because I had two minor children who I would move mountains for to protect. I had to be nonchalant around them, but watch out that this predator didn’t strike again. At first I wasn’t taken seriously and that was okay. I was now beginning to find out what I was made of. What I was in control of. You may not be in control of what happens, but you sure as heck are in control of it happening again and how you deal with it.
I chose to let this person know I wasn’t going to keep quiet. Back off or suffer the consequences. I wrote a five page letter to the pastor of this person’s church to let them know what happened and deal with it on his level. Of course my pastor at my church was waiting for me to come to him and report what happened. My sister had taken the initiative to tell my pastor what took place. I wasn’t strong enough then to do so. As embarrassing as it was. The offending person was kicked out of the attending church. How do I know? I heard this person tell my mother. My mother of course asked what the reason was and it came tumbling out that the improper staring of female church members etc. were just for starters. There was a letter that was written by someone that was physically offended and the pastor was not putting up with it. Of course I was never approached by the other pastor for counseling or help so I left it alone.
This was not an over night assault. Nor was it a one time thing. I was abused over a number of years. I was on medication for an injury I received and my mother herself had told this person so. That is when the plan was put into action by this other person. I did let my mother know what took place. At first she was appalled. She said she tried to find a place for me, my two boys, and her to live. But the thought of being financially strapped or as she put it “destitute like me” turned her against me. It must’ve been a pretty good plan on the part of the offending person that the money she so dearly loved and all that came with it would stop if she left. Hence, the hatred my mother now inflicted on me was at first unbearable.
My younger sister and her three children showed up and were now living with us as well. Nothing was ever tried on her. And she even confronted this person. Of course the joke of the dirty old man came up without laughter on my sister’s part. Then the offending person hatched another plan. Offering me money to let it happen again and again and even put a trailer in the backyard and charge me rent so I would be available at any given time. I called the offending person’s son. We were close as children but he moved away once he became an adult. The son confronted the offending person and I was later told I should’ve kept my mouth shut because nobody needed to know. Wow.
The offending person and my mother talked to my sister and took her wherever she wanted to go. Disneyland, shopping, whatever it took to get her on their side. I started seeing a change in my sister towards me and my sons. I was now alone as alone can be. The years of being singled out were at times unbearable. My sister denied any of it and I wasn’t surprised. I loved my sisters and brothers very much. But being sold out does something to a person. She will never know the pain in my heart.
Time passed as it often does, my sister moved back in with her husband in another state and I was once again left alone with my mother and this person. I felt as if I was fighting for my life.
My sons grew older and the older one moved out. My youngest son and I found a place to live. But by this time the offender was showing signs of memory problems. Insisting on putting the cat and dog food away in the cupboard. I went to check that it was done right because let’s face it, the memory was definitely not up to par. Yup, he had mixed the food together. Here I was having to re-arrange over fifty cans of dog and cat food so I was pissed to say the least. He came in and asked in a harsh tone what I was doing. This of course set me off. I had had enough. I turned around so fast it took him by surprise. I lit into him about his memory. About his ineptness of doing anything helpful. I was in full swing when I saw the offender’s face change. He looked like the devil himself. Walking toward me was the wrong decision. My youngest son entered the room and went after the offender pushing him away from me.
I stepped between my son and the offender and before I could collect my thoughts I blurted out, “You’ll have to go through me to get to him.” I pushed the offender against the sliding glass door but not hard enough to push him through it. After all, my oldest son’s dog was on the other side showing his teeth while he growled. My mother’s voice came into my ears, “Don’t do it. Just don’t do it.” Pleading more than anything. I stared down the offender and he walked away. I knew I had to get away from this man or something bad was going to happen and I wasn’t going to jail for anybody.
Of course the story doesn’t end here. I did move away with my son. My mother sold the house she lived in with the offender. But now it was my mother who needed help. I would get calls from her that the offender was getting worse and was diagnosed with dementia then Alzheimer’s. He would walk away from the house in the middle of the night. Become a little too aggresive toward my mother. Drove away from the house at one point. Brought back by the police because he went for a walk in the wee hours of the morning and they found him in a apartment complex laundryroom that happened to be behind where my mother and the offender now lived in their new house.
My oldest son moved in which helped my mother immensely. Until my mother turned on my son and he decided to move out. Now the calls to me at work started again. The offender had fallen on the floor. Had slipped and was now between the shower and the toilet in the bathroom and she couldn’t get him to stand up. He couldn’t remember her and would keep asking who she was and what did she want. I almost lost my job over it. But it was more threat than anything else. How could I possibly explain everything to my boss where he would understand. All I said was that the offender had Alzheimer’s and now my mother needed help. My mind reeled at the thought of this because of all I had been through. Anybody else would’ve told them both to go to hell and figure it out themselves.
It didn’t take long after the battles I went through to help that my mother asked if I would help her. Things weren’t exactly going well between my youngest son and I so I decided to move in with my mother. The offender wasn’t a threat like he was before. Now my mother was the one in the hot seat. I was afraid he would hurt her. At one point the offender went out the front door after my mother told him not to. She went after him and just as she got to the platform step to the front door her shoe caught the middle of the step and down she went, face first. I heard it from the other room and ran toward her. My mother moaned as she tried to get up. Just then the offender came back inside and the door hit my mother on the head. I pushed the door shut an yelled for him to stay on the porch until I got my mother out of the way. I helped my mother to a sitting position and opened the door. The offender was shocked at what he was seeing. He had no clue. I sternly told him to get in the house and if it hadn’t been for him none of this would have happened. Like a kid he obeyed and went straight to his room. After that we didn’t have too many more episodes of trouble from him.
Three months later the offender was put in the hospital. Then a rehab hospital where he finally succumbed to the disease that came to claim him. It was finally over. All the nightmares. All the stress. Years of abuse. At the funeral I couldn’t muster a single tear. Not that I wanted to. He wasn’t worth it. But still the same I was glad it was over. Or was it? I soon realized it wouldn’t be completely over until my mother’s passing as well.
I soon became her caregiver. Not by choice. I was “told” this by my mother. There are times when I feel like this is my punishment for something I did at some point in time against God. Why did He hate me so. At other times my mother and I get along. But there are never times that I don’t still cry because of the deep hurt I feel due the betrayal of so many people that knew what was going on and didn’t help me. Relatives, Womens Groups, my church, etc. The hurt is great and at times overwhelming but I have learned to mask those feelings. People that go through what I have been through do that. Pretend. Make believe it didn’t happen. Isn’t that bad. Broken souls with broken hearts that will never, ever, ever be mended again. All because of one person who couldn’t control themselves and the fear of their mate that they couldn’t do anything to stop it or didn’t think it was important enough to stop it.
I am going to be okay. I will lose myself in the short stories and novels I write. But the day will come when the last of my nightmares will die as well and I will be alone with my memories. I hope I will rise from the ashes a stronger person. A better person. More refined person. But I will never be someone else’s nightmare. I will be their blessing…