Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Growing up With MOM...

The following piece of writing is to be part of a project to raise awareness about the effects of abuse...
please check out the following link as the author is currently looking for those who are willing to share their stories - also be aware this is a no holds barrred blog - If you are sensitive to issues such as abuse then perhaps it might be best to skip this one...

A quick note from the author who has launched this incredible project and then on with the story...

I am a survivor of childhood abuse which spiraled into a long term relationship with a man who introduced me to a life filled with domestic violence, and unfortunately I also became a non-offending mother of a sexually abused child. I am developing two books.

“Shadows of Silence: Book 1” gives readers a front row seat to what transpired in my life.

“Shadows of Silence: Book 2” This is an anthology e-book, with entries from professionals as well as both male and female survivors from most age brackets, from many walks of life and from many parts of the world.

As a sign of my appreciation for being a part of my e-book, you will receive a copy of the e-book "Shadows of Silence: Book 2" naturally free of charge (there is no selling price for this e-book)

Once I am published I will be presenting something that is rather unique gift. Most authors sell their book alone with nothing extra. I am giving the second e-book to those who purchase it. The second book will contain no less than 500 entries and no more than 1000. I am able to give it because I am paying a one -time fee for the temp plates.

Here's a link that will allow you to read some of my testimony and other articles that I have authored so that you can learn my writing style.

I want to thank you in advance for caring enough to check out what I am doing. I really hope you will join me in my efforts to spread awareness about an issue that affects more than half of this world. If you are interested in adding your voice or if you have additional questions please do not hesitate to contact me at
I look forward to hearing from you.

Sherry Clyburn

Growing up with MOM...
Today may mark the beginning of some extremely painful suffering and sorrow, or it may mark the beginning of some very powerful and potent healing. I can’t predict as I sit here to write out this tale which way this is going to go, yet something in my heart tells me it is an important step in the right direction so without thinking much on consequences I boldly stroke the keys of my computer in the interest of sharing a bit more of me with you in the hopes that it may lead both you and I to a place of acceptance and forgiveness.

When I was first approached to be part of this book project it never occurred to me to consider saying
no, as I am currently working on my own third novel that discusses self healing and the power of the mind in the healing process it made sense for me to be a part of this. Taking time out of my own writing is easy enough when it is for a good cause and I supported the work the author who brought us all together is doing. It wasn’t until I actually sat down to begin that the true implications of what I was about to do hit me; with two novels out, both of which reveal some very personal pieces of my life I had never yet considered allowing my readers this far into my own painful past. It just did not seem to me to be the right time, nor did it seem to me to be important for them to know that part of the tale. I think however that it was more about me not wanting to go back to that place, back to that time to dwell on pain that I have worked very hard to let go of. Yet if I have learned one thing in my time as an author it is that our own personal history affects directly how we view our present circumstances and it does the individual no favors to ignore the experiences and influences of our youth. Still as I have come to a place of peace with regards to my relationship with my mother the things I am about to tell you are not things that should yet hold power over me, and any fear I am harboring with regards to writing out my truths is being unceremoniously tossed to the floor.

Please be warned, I am a blunt and honest writer and I do not believe anymore in sugar coating issues such as abuse. If we are going to tackle these issues we must do so openly, honestly and without shame; as a victim you may feel powerless to have stopped the actions of others but you have much control and power in how you choose to react to those actions and therein lies your strength, that you can decide to make of your life whatever you wish regardless of where you have been or what you have been through.

I think my earliest memory of my mother’s sharp tongue comes from as far back as when I was around 5yrs old; I remember vividly a midsummer’s morning with sun streaming in the bedroom window and the sound of birds chirping happily on a nearby hydro line. I was trying to help her make the bed, little kids you know they do these things, not because you expect them at such a young age to do household chores but because they desire to emulate the actions of the adults in their life. I noticed the same with my own daughter when she was very young, that she always seemed to want to do what I was doing no matter how menial and irritating the chore seemed to me to be, my daughter was thrilled at all times to be a part of it if I was willing to take the time to show her how and allow her to try. So it was with me, and at a very early age I was learning all sorts of things around the house; cooking, cleaning, gardening (my favorite pastime as a child); basically anything and everything my mom and dad did so too did I wish to learn how to do.

It should be a pleasant memory this summer morning, making a bed with mom; imagine perhaps an impromptu pillow fight or a quick chase around the bed, a tickle attack perhaps like the kind we see so often in movies and commercials (the ideal family – lighthearted, fun loving interaction). Not in my house, no not that day. “You stupid little bitch, how many times have I told you to fold the sheets before you tuck them under the mattress; you’re as useless as your father was”

Yup, that was mom...

Now before I go any further I have to explain, my father had died when I was 3, and although my mom was happily living now with a wonderful man who would ultimately raise me as his own and not only turn out to be the world’s best dad but also my best friend, at the time I still, I am sure, had memories of my blood father. Those have faded over time as well and I cannot, try as I might, recall anything about the man except that he used to bring me little strawberry marshmallows every time he came to pick me up. By the time my father passed away, he and my mother had been separated for over a year so my time with him was no doubt limited.

As for mom and her obvious anger issues, as much as it pissed me off while growing up when I look back at it now I realize she was very ill; an alcoholic and addicted to prescription pills she must have had some real inner sorrow that drove her to lose herself in the bottle and hide from reality. I should have asked perhaps, but there it is, and now that she is gone, secrets taken with her to the grave, there is not much to do but speculate on her emotional issues and the cause of herself destructive ways; I don’t spend much time mulling it over, because to me, it is over.

Life with mom was a challenge, every day a new adventure. You never knew when you walked in the room which of her two personalities you were going to get; in fact the only time you could be guaranteed to have an indication of who you would be dealing with today was if you happened to be in the house when she poured her third drink. She had this on and off switch that automatically triggered on drink three, and if you knew it was drink three it was a good time to vacate the premises. Mom sober was an angel (we’ll get to that later), mom drunk was the devil incarnate and there was no stopping her rampages once they began. The more you tried to talk her down, the more you tried to reason with her, the angrier she would get; God help you if you were silly enough to try and fight back, the verbal tirade that followed was a tongue lashing that lasted for hours. She had some pretty potent weapons my mom did; she was an exceptionally intellectually intelligent woman who had spent much of her youth studying the human psyche; she knew just where to hit to do the most possible damage. Her arsenal included words such as bitch, slut, whore, cunt, stupid, dumb, worthless, useless, lazy, and her favorite one – selfish (something it has taken many years to battle and talk myself out of and one of the words that as mild as it seems did possibly more damage to me growing up than any other)...

Now the argument can be made that at least she never hit me, (she did just not often) but I can tell you from experience that the more you put down and insult a small child the less sense of self worth they will grow up having; emotional abuse can therefore have some serious lasting affects if not dealt with and sadly it is up to the individual suffering the abuse to find ways to cope. Sure schools and social services can try to get involved, they can remove the child from the home, they can begin to treat the damage but until the individual is really ready to face these things and accept that their parent’s view of them was twisted and not warranted, said victim is never going to heal. As children we look up to our parents to be our guides, we look up to them as people who are supposed to care for us and we hold within our tender young hearts a deep seeded natural love and respect for them; try to tell a kid their mother or father is completely in the wrong and the kid just might tell you to go to hell. I did just that, for the first few years I accepted everything she threw at me with as much grace as one in my position could manage, and when I finally came to the age where I realized that what she was doing was wrong, it was too late. I tried to tell friends and family but for the most part my family would have nothing to do with it, they viewed me as a rebellious ungrateful teen. My mom was very good at being an alcoholic you see, she hid it so well from the people in our life, and we as her family had done our part in helping her (partly out of shame – partly out of fear) that when I decided to stop pretending the rest of the world simply refused to believe what I was trying to tell them. I was I guess one of the lucky ones, I had an incredible dad, an amazing big brother and my
paternal grandmother who to this day remains the most pure and powerful female influence in my life; she is gone now but never forgotten and her warmth and strength will always be my guiding light in times of darkness and doubt. Yes I was one of the lucky ones, I had strong friends, patient and understanding friends and a compassionate intelligent boyfriend in high school (albeit a bit crazy) all of who nurtured my skills and gifts and convinced me to follow my own path even if it meant walking away from the life I knew. I wonder if they have any idea how many times they saved my life growing up, I wonder if they have any idea how a small act of kindness or a passing word of encouragement can make such a monumental impact on a young heart.

They saw mom in a different light, for the most part my friends thought my mom was absolutely nuts, but for whatever reason they continued to come around, even though they knew a night at my house might not be the most pleasant of experiences, they never let me down when I needed to not be alone with the dragon lady. My brother also tried to take her focus off me by warring with her deliberately as often as possible, which really should not have been his to do as he was my step brother and no blood son of hers. He did not have to stand up to her, or put up with her crap but he did for as long as he lived with us; he sheltered and protected me to the best of his ability. Sadly he is ten years older than me so he left for college when I was still very young, but for the time he was there he would take me with him when he went out with friends, rather than leave me home alone with her. Funny thought that is; a small child of six being towed along to parties and such by a bunch of teenage boys, but living in dairy country as we did nobody ever said a word about it and his friends and their families tended to take as much care of me, if not more than, my own mother. I had a multitude of sub-families in our little village, so I had a way to escape if needed and it helped me survive the early years.

I have a few stories that might give you insight into what I was dealing with on a daily basis and as much as I would love to offer these up to you in the order in which they happened I doubt very much that is how they will present themselves. I figure I will just write whichever one comes to mind and we can go from there. The one that stands out the most is the day I was attacked by a dog in my back yard; our yard and our neighbors was attached and as I was very close friends with the kids that lived there it was habit just to walk across the yard whenever we wished to see each other. Again it was summer, as this was the most social time of year in our small village it is no surprise that many of memories come from that particular season. Our parents and some of their friends had been hanging out on our patio all day having a great time, bbqing and sharing stories from some of their earlier child hood. It had been a day of much laughter and copious amounts of alcohol. One of the guests had brought his dog along and they had given the animal a bone which he was now happily gnawing on in the adjacent yard. Apparently he seemed to think that my proximity to him and his treat were too close for comfort when I attempted to cross the lawn and he, seeing me as a threat, made a lunge for my tiny body. His aim was horrifically accurate and before I could blink I had a dogs jaw locked firmly around my throat. Regardless of the fact that this occurred only a few feet from the patio, it went unnoticed by the adult’s until finally they heard my screams and turned their heads to see me stumbling towards them with my hands clutching my throat and blood pouring through my fingers. I remember the arguments that ensued as mom and dad fought over the severity of my wounds it was a neighbor who came to my aide and ushered me into the house where they discovered much to their dismay that I was pretty messed up. I was laid out on the kitchen table and careful pressure was applied to the holes in my neck, a tricky feat given the small size of me at the time and their obvious desire to both stop the bleeding and not cut off my air. While I lay there bleeding another fight began over how to get me to the hospital – they were all completely wasted on booze, none of them was in any condition to drive and an ambulance would take forever as we lived a good 20 minute drive out from the next town that had a hospital. Luckily a solution presented itself in the arrival of the neighbour’s teenage daughter who offered to drive – she was sober (imagine that – sober teenager and drunken parents) and soon enough I was in the car and on my way... More fighting however as mom and dad accused each other of being at fault for not keeping a closer eye on the kids. Had I not been terrified out of my mind and in intense pain I am sure the situation would be funny, as it happens, at the time, it was far from entertaining. Once in the care of doctors I was stitched up and observed for a while before being sent home; they said a ¼ of an inch either way and it would have been over for me, the fangs however had missed my jugular and other than having some interesting looking scars on my throat that have faded with age, there was no lasting effects of the attack. To this day I absolutely love dogs and refuse to fear them – they are after all mans best friends and there is a definite mystic quality to the love of a good canine friend. Oddly enough the dog was never put down, even though it went on to attack several other kids and elderly peoples from the area our illustrious and wise adult types decided that the dog was not so much at fault as it was the people who had inadvertently threatened the dog... Go figure they would choose to blame the victims.

Another incident occurred when I was riding my bike one Sunday morning after church, I was out with friends and against my mother’s wishes I had not bothered to change my clothes so I was still wearing my dress and some very pretty lace trimmed knee socks that my mother had bought for me. They were white and I loved the way they looked but I was not still wearing them for that reason alone, mom had been in fine form that day on the way home so I had grabbed my bike and bolted out into the freedom of the village streets the minute I had jumped out of the car after arriving in our drive way. We were racing down one of the hills (the steepest hill we could find) in town not 20 minutes later when I lost control of the bike and went flying over the handle bars. I was pretty messed up and had to be carried back to the house as I was not able to walk, by the time we arrived at my place my one sock was no longer white – it was a very bright red from all the blood; my leg was skinned in places almost down to the bone. You would think my mother would be concerned for my well being but no, she was more concerned over the new socks that I had destroyed with my obvious disregard for her hard earned cash. Why the hell had I not changed? This is what she wanted to know as I sat on the floor bleeding...

My friend took me over to his place next door, and his mom doctored me up, no questions asked as to why it was not being done at my own house. It’s not like they did not know mom was home, the houses are old style row houses and there is a lot of sound transference between. If there was yelling of any kind going on in either home it was easily heard inside the other. Still nobody ever bothered to intervene, it was just not done, so it would seem other than my friends to bolster me and offer support I was on my own. Of course when it came to other peoples kids, if mom’s moods or drinking habits affected their health there was hell to pay.

I remember one summer when my cousins were visiting from the northern Ontario for a few weeks; it was tradition really for them to do this. My mother’s sister and her family lived 12hrs away by car so every summer they would come to visit and spend about a month hanging out at our place. We had a huge house and an amazing back yard with lots of bells and whistles. My cousins, a girl (my age) and boy (two year older) were so used to being there that during their stay they pretty much treated our home as their own as was expected of family in those times. Mi casa su casa... We were out in the yard one afternoon playing on the swings and having a grand old time trying to out-swing each other. Two girls on swings and one boy taking turns pushing us as high as he possibly could in an attempt to wrap the swings around the top bar with us still on them. Stupid game sure, I admit it, but kids will be kids. He had just managed to get my cousin higher than he had ever done before when she lost her grip and off she went while the swing was in its forward momentum. Flying through the air with the greatest of ease, arms flailing, mouth open in a silent scream she went much further than we thought possible (much to our delight and amusement – again kids will be kids) and landed squarely on her well padded behind. Thump – wail – in that order and we realized she was possibly very seriously hurt so off I went running for mom. My aunt and uncle were not at the house, they had gone away for the weekend for some quiet couple time and left the kids with mom (maybe not so smart that) so it was up to my mother to assess and treat the damage. Momma had already hit that third drink so the wailing and screaming was grating on her nerves, she ordered my cousin to walk it off calling her a baby for making such a fuss. So there they were in the backyard my cousin’s tears streaming down her cheeks trying to copy my mom’s example of how to exercise the kinks out; mom was walking around lifting her legs practically up to her chin with each step explaining to my cousin that it was important to stretch out those damaged muscles before they stiffened up. I give my cousins credit, she tried so very hard to do what mom was doing but it was obvious even to our young inexperienced eyes that she was not able to walk properly let alone able to lift her legs. Luckily her own parents were due back that afternoon so it was not long before she was taken to the local hospital; her mom was a nurse and knew the second she saw her daughter that there was some serious damage done. Turns out the poor kid’s tailbone was cracked from the fall, and once the child was treated they began the long journey home. Shockingly they never came back and our summers spent together were at an end. Imagine that; somebody trying to protect a child from harm, hmmm...

The attempt was made on my behalf one time by a good friend of the family in later years, a minister of mom’s church who tried to step in and get us counselling. I was turning 16 at the time of our first session. We met with this very sweet man who sat us both down separately after a quick 20 minute joint introduction then after a couple hours brought us back together with his recommendation for treatment. I doubt you will hear this very often and to explain further where he was coming from the only way they could get mom to go to the session was to convince her that it was all about me and my acting out so when the councillor pointed out to her that her drinking and her anger were the issue, not my attitude, she was taken a bit by surprise. He flat out told her that the best thing possible for me would be to remove me from the home, to pay for my expenses and either place me with friends of the family or even, if nobody could take me in, provide me with a place of my own close to where I was going to school. Unheard of I realize but I was fiercely independent and was pretty much taking care of the house on my own anyways, the way the councillor saw it was that at my age and with the experience I had amassed, I would be more than capable of taking care of myself – the only barrier or issue he could see that presented a problem was the money to pay my way. I found out later he was a good friend of the minster who was also a friend of my mothers which may explain how he had so much background info on our family already and why it is the social services people were never called. Regardless, you can well imagine we never went back there (mom called him a fruitcake and a quack who had gotten his degree out of a cracker jack box) and it took some time for my mother to forgive her friend and allow him to come back to the house to visit. This was fine with me as I saw him frequently anyways and was able, through our chats, to unload some of the junk that was building up. It was not long after that night that I ended up running away for the second time.

Mom and I had been in a colossal fight and she had pinned me up against the wall by my throat breaking the chain I was wearing and leaving claw marks on my neck. I had finally broken free and was headed to the kitchen for a knife (I had reached my limit) when my dad intervened and begged me to get out long enough to calm down... He had just walked in the door and so had not seen what had occurred just moments before but he could see the marks on my neck and I am guessing he had drawn his own conclusions. He never raised a hand to me, or his voice much for that matter he just pleaded with me to leave before I did something I would regret.

My best friend came as soon as I called and promptly drove me to the police station in the next town where a nice old officer sat with me and asked me to consider carefully whether or not what I had just been through was discipline or abuse... Claw marks on my neck and a broken chain in my hand I stared at him in utter disbelief as he mildly suggested I go home and think it over. It was the first time I learnt the harsh reality that not all cops are good people. It was not the first time I had had run ins’ with police and would not be the last I would feel completely let down by the very people who are sworn to serve and protect. In time I grew to despise anybody in uniform and it would take years and an encounter with an extremely caring detective to undo the damage done on that day. With no offer of support or help from them we left the station in search of a friends place to stay. I could not go to my best friend’s house as it was too close to my own and they would look there first, so we sought out some of our older associates and there I stayed for a few days until they moved me out of town. There was a price to be paid for the bed of course, and as I had no money I paid the price in flesh but when it is the choice between that and either living on the street or going back home – you shut your mouth and pay your dues. If my best friend had known she would have killed the guy, he was easily 4 yrs older than me and she had trusted that he would keep me safe and hidden. They did manage to keep me out of site for some time, in fact the minister was one of the first to find out where I was and he never told a soul, but he would slip into the local pool hall every once in a while to meet with me in secret and bring me a little cash here and there for food. He was a good man...

It was summer so it was not like I was ditching school to avoid being caught, which I am forever grateful for; at least my education was never interrupted by these little side trips into hell. I was moved about two weeks later into a neighboring town, the cops had been getting pretty anxious about my whereabouts and though the kids on the street were staying silent, my guardians were pretty sure it was only a matter of time before somebody got caught doing something illegal and would find themselves being offered a deal to cough up info about where I was hiding. The police found me not long after in the other city, three hours away from home and dragged me back and tossed me off at my parent’s door. They said that even though I was 16 and they really had no power to force me to go home, they had evidence of prior criminal activity on my part and if I did not go quietly they would bring charges against me. I went with them. No charges were laid for anybody involved including the idiot who gave up my local after getting arrested shoplifting. The whole incident was again swept under the rug and by the time school began most people had stopped discussing it. In the public eye I was a troubled teen acting out and that is the image that followed me for most of my high school career.

Yup we had done a good job covering for mom all these years and we were paying for it now. I had in my younger years become quite adept at calling her boss at work in the morning before leaving myself for school to tell them she would not be in due to some kind of stomach bug or cold or whatever illness happened to be my excuse for that week. She had a bad habit of staying up till 4 or 5 in the morning drinking till she could not walk, or talk; eventually she would either pass out where she was or puke it all out wherever she was and stumble off to bed not wanting to sleep in her own vomit. Some mornings the house would be rank with the mixed scents of human excrement, vomit and alcohol; those were the days I would call work for her and let her sleep it off. I still to this day have no idea how she got away with it, she was a grade school French teacher and even her students knew something was really wrong with the woman yet she managed to keep her job for a few years before her health gave out and she was no longer able to work. When I was in grade 8 I had made friends with some of her students (she taught in another school in a town close by) and they had asked me several times why my mom was so bloody moody. I lied to them and told them at first that she was under a lot of pressure and having just recovered from years of rehab due to a horrific car accident back in the day, she was also still on some pretty heavy pain medication; my excuse was that the pills altered her personality. Maybe that’s what she was telling her boss as well, because nobody ever questioned me when I called in to tell them she was ill and would not be coming to work. Who knows how these things work, I only know what it was doing to me at home.

On moms late night binges she would keep me up with her telling me how much she hated me because I reminded her so much of my father. I look just like him or so they say and since it was her view that he had ruined her life it was also in her twisted little mind my fault by default that she was not living the life she had dreamed for herself. Those were long nights and I became very skilled at sitting there silently allowing her to belittle and berate me for hours, going inward by focusing my mind on other things while she vented her angst on me. I would let her talk herself into exhaustion, then when she finally ran out of steam and closed her eyes, I would sneak up to my room and try to get a few precious hours of sleep before school. I was lucky for the most part in that the school seemed to know much of what was going on, so if on the off chance I was overly dopey the next day they ignored it and allowed me to be distant, not calling on me too often for answers or pressuring me to participate. Going into high school I had a French teacher who apparently knew my mom well, and after the first month of classes it became habit on the worst days for me to sleep right through his class. They left me alone and I somehow managed to still get A’s in French even though I was hardly ever mentally present. I had an absolutely amazing vice principal at my school and it is in part thanks to our many talks and his compassionate nature that I never took a gun to my head; I thought about it a few times but somehow it seemed that if I went that route I would be disappointing a great many people who had stood by me over the years. I just couldn’t bring myself to ever take the idea seriously, something in me wanted to survive this, no matter how hard it got so I kept pushing myself to find ways to escape.

You may wonder where my dad was while all this was going on; sadly as good a man as he was his
hands were tied. He married my mom yes but he had never legally adopted me so he could not legally remove me from the house. He worked out of town during the week, so he was only home on weekends but it was during those times when he was there that I was fully protected from her wrath. He was big man, of Scottish decent, with gentle eyes, who had a way of turning any situation no matter how tragic into something that could be looked back on with fond memories. He could not take me away from her, and because there was no work in the area and bills that needed to be paid he could not always be home but he did his best to raise me to be strong and sure of myself. He was her opposite, the light to her dark; for everything mom ever did or said to make me feel worthless he poured positivity and light back into my world. He would tell me repeatedly how smart I was, how kind I was, what a good heart I had... He told me I was special and that I had talent and that someday these experiences would make me strong and lead me to want to help others. He never judged, or tried to stop me when I needed my space, he didn’t hold grudges against me when I acted out (and I did on a level that is hard to admit even today – but we will get to that). He forgave anything and everything I ever did to him; lies and stealing were for a time a big part of my way of life. He never held it against me, he only tried to talk to me, to reach out to me and be there for me when I needed him. He did leave me in jail one night (I look back on this fondly now even though at the time is sucked large) after I had been arrested for shop lifting at the age of 14. The police officers had told him he had to take me home, I was too young and they could not hold me but dad being an ex-cop himself was friends with most of them so he managed to convince them to keep me there in the cell overnight. He said I needed to learn my lesson; I did... it was the last time I stole anything from a store.

Dad was the good guy who had very little power to control or stop the bad guy so he just did his best to let me know the good guy was around when I needed a shoulder to weep on. I miss him; he passed away 7 yrs ago, a day before mom... Harsh that, but in time we will get to that part of the tale as well.
Life in our little house was decidedly odd at times, apart from what I have already shared there were several more occasions where mom’s mental instability was glaringly obvious.

There was this time when she kept me camped out on the kitchen floor for three days with a shot gun waiting for some imagined enemy to come and take me away...

The time she broke an old fashioned wooden hair brush by hitting me over the head with it because I would not sit still while she was attempting to get the knots out of my hair... she laughed so hard at that tears came to her eyes and then she told me stop whining when I began to cry (it hurt); she complained about the brush being old and cheaply made but as I remember it the brush was very solid with a thick handle. This was confirmed years later when I had a CAT scan done on my head as part of a search for clues as to why I was getting recurrent headaches, they discovered an old healed up fracture in my skull from my childhood... They asked me how I got it; I never bothered to tell them.

There were the reoccurring incidents of me coming downstairs in the morning and finding random men sleeping on our couch on days when dad was out of town. We lived in a village surrounded by farmland, conveniently for mom, our house was right across from the local hotel and bar, so when my mom and her drinking buddies were done at the bar they would wander over to our place and drink some more until they either ran out of booze or passed out. I never told dad.

There was the car accident that almost killed them both and the cover up that I discovered after my mom and dad had passed away. Insurance documents and police reports collected by mom revealed that she had been drinking and driving, but thanks I believe in part to my dad’s connections there were never any charges laid and although there was some indication of another vehicle being involved and something about an unexplained mechanical malfunction, the accident was never investigated and never discussed. Mom spent years in a wheel chair after that as she had broken most of the bones in the left side of her body in the crash and my role as house mother began in earnest at the tender age of 10. I was responsible for the cooking, cleaning and general up keep and care giving when dad was away at work. Life was get up, go to school, come home, cook, clean, do homework, take care of mom (which meant making her drinks – bringing her meds – and listening quietly while she ranted and raved about her ruined life) then going to bed only to get up the next day and do it all over again.

It was during this time that I ran away for the first time but I did not get very far, it was a cold rainy day and one of the locals found me walking down the highway, soaked and shivering; he put me in the car and brought me home. I had been walking for a good four hours though so I did not argue much about getting in a warm vehicle. I had left a note for mom, telling her I had enough of being her little slave, I had signed it Cinderella and left without so much as a backward glance. She had not bothered to call anybody to go look for me, she herself could not have driven anywhere as she was still in a wheelchair but she had figured in her drug induced state that if the cold did not get me then hunger would and I would eventually wander home. She explained all this to the man who dropped me off when he asked why she had not told anybody I was missing, she laughed... She thought the note funny and stated that I was a drama queen who was being overly melodramatic; it was her favorite story to tell of my childhood, even into my adult years she would tell anybody who would listen and yes you guessed it, she laughed every single time.

An old photo my mom took,
the sticker is her little joke..
ha ha ha.
Sometimes the things that were done at home were just downright twisted; the great gerbil hunt for example. I used to keep little pet gerbils in cages, loved those things and I would spend hours playing with them... Trouble is they don’t live long and my parents had to figure out a way to get rid of them when they were on their last legs. I am not sure who came up with it but it became a favorite pastime of the local drunks to occasionally take one of my pets and let it go in the back yard; they would then allow the dog to chase the thing until it caught and killed it. I had no idea at the time they were doing this; it was something I found out about accidentally much later in life after overhearing a conversation between my parents and one of their friends. By then I no longer lived there nor did I have anymore caged pets for them to torment; I chalked it up to alcohol induced insanity and promptly pushed it out of my mind.

One of my friend’s favorite tales is about my pet rabbit bought for me by my parents in the summer. Dad had built a huge cage for the thing in the back yard but come winter they realized they could not keep it outside. Refusing to bring it in, it would destroy the house they claimed they went about the task of finding it a home. I came home one night from school and was told the rabbit had been given away. Not thinking anything of it I carried on with my routine, until two days later when we had what I was told to be chicken stew for dinner. It was confided to me a few days later that the ‘chicken’ had in fact been Thumper who had been taken to a local butcher; apparently they had not wanted to waste the meat, times must have been hard.

Dinner at our house was an odd experience in and of itself as my friends soon realized when they were brave enough to venture into my domain. We ate on TV tables in the living room and on weekends when we were all together as a family there was a bit of a ritual to the evening meal. The trays were set up ahead of time, stand trays in the living room in front of the couches, and carrying trays in the kitchen set with full place settings. The food was dished out and each person was expected to carry their tray into the living room and pick a seat, after everybody was seated mom would pass two things around for everybody; first the jug of milk so we could all fill our empty glasses then she would offer each person Tylenol...

Yes that’s right, pain killers were a normal part of the dinner routine and as some of my friends have very bluntly stated it was the weirdest family meal they had ever been a part of. Mom was not just an alcoholic, she was a drug addict, thanks in part to her long time exposure to narcotics after her accident, and a doctor who was more than willing to keep signing prescriptions to keep her quiet. My mom had pretty much every narcotic you could think of stored in her medicine cabinet; in fact when we cleaned out the house after her death, between the drugs by her bed and the bottles in the bathroom we filled two white kitchen garbage bags with prescription drugs. Outrageous you say? Yes I agree, but trust me it gets worse. I was prone to headaches from a very early age and as I became a young woman I also suffered from severe cramps; mom’s solution was to give me her pills instead of children’s Tylenol or aspirin. She started with Perk’s, oxycodone and oxyconten. By the time I was 13 I was fully addicted and dependent on Opiates (prescription narcotics made from opium) and into my adult life I battled the addiction with everything I had. Yet even today, regular pain killers do not work on me because I built up a dependency and immunity at a very young age. To this day nobody I tell this too can come to terms with the idea of any woman giving a 12yr child medication of that potency but then many of the things my mother did were not exactly what you would call normal. By the age of 14 I was an addict and an alcoholic myself; having given up on fighting the crazy lady I
opted instead to join her in her insanity. I was diagnosed with ulcers at the age of 15, had been arrested 3 times by the age of 14 and was well on my way to complete self annihilation. I was happily selling drugs to pay for my booze, smoking as much pot as I could get my hands on and spending as much time in the streets as I could manage. There were nights when I would opt to not go home knowing what was waiting for me and if I could not find a place to lay my head for the night I would curl up in a local park. Tube slides are great cover if it is raining and if you can manage to get yourself drunk or high enough the cold does not much matter.

Most of the time however I had places to go as long as I was willing to put out, my self esteem being as low as it was I had more men in my life from an early age then I knew what to do with. I wanted to feel loved so I gave more than I got for that chance of being taken care of and feeling appreciated; even if I knew the love to be a lie, I would take whatever kind of affection I could get. I dated men way too old for me, and far too many of them came and went during my teenage years. I had several abusive relationships with boys, was used and tossed aside more times than I could count yet somehow I managed to put a good face to it all. I grew up with a reputation and I really didn’t care, I was considered by most to be an outcast but to those who knew me and my story I was considered a little sister who needed to be protected and cared for. I had a lot of friends (that happens when you are the local pot provider) but I had very few who I ever let into my heart to see the real me. Those friends are still in my life to this day, some of them having lasted over more than 20 yrs, surviving marriages, divorces, multiple moves, those friends are the people who held me up when I was going through my most troubled times, those friends are the friends who kept me alive. (Oh ya – I said that already – oh well I think it is a statement worth repeating) thank-you to those friends (ya’ll know who you are).

Looking back on it all now I have to wonder is it any wonder really that I lashed out, the story I have shared here only scratches the surface but it does I am sure give you a taste of what life for me was like growing up with mom. There were times when we found humor in the situation and times even when mom’s addiction came in handy. More than once I was asked by her to stay at my boyfriends for an extra night or two if possible because she was too drunk or high to drive the car to come get me. In later years she would come to me for drugs, she knew I was selling and though she had been
by that time given prescription pot as part of her treatment, she considered it to be of the poorest quality possible. It was to me she went to supply her needs and addiction and trust me, by then I had no qualms about making her pay for it; the price was in fact higher for her than it was for anybody else. I was a bitterly angry teenager who did things then that I look back on now with utter disgust. I had this incredible dad who when I asked for 20 bucks would give me 40 yet I began taking money from his pocket or wallet whenever I could manage. He knew but he never called me on it, there was it seemed a quiet understanding between us; after years of don’t ask, don’t tell, it just seemed natural for neither of us to bring it up. Of course I was accused once of stealing my mom’s pot – something I did not do, and it was not a week later that I was forced to ask her if she had lifted a vial of hash oil from my room – she denied it. If it is any comfort to the reader, I stopped dealing the day I turned 18, I didn’t want to mar my future with stupid choices. By then I was long gone from the house of pain having moved out late in my 16th year. I went to school, worked at a local restaurant serving tables after school and on weekends and also held a co-op position at the local paper. I had my own inner demons to deal with and my own battles with addiction to conquer but I fought like hell to build a future for myself. I went to college for journalism where I met and married the father of my little girl. I did not touched pot since the day I found out I was with child, she was my miracle baby and I was not about to risk losing her.

I had spent most of my summers throughout high school living with my grandmother in northern Ontario where I learned a great deal about compassion, forgiveness and family values. My grandmother was a victim herself of an abusive alcoholic husband; it was something she had kept secret for years from the family but from me she held nothing back. She said that in those days divorce was just not an option, so she had stuck it out and cherished the quiet moments, the magical loving moments that they had had. It was those memories she had chosen to focus on and it was that which had allowed her to endure. She was considered by most of the family to be the most caring and compassionate person you will ever meet, gentle and wise beyond measure it was her patient teachings that brought me out of despair and into a place of wanting and needed to not just survive but to flourish. She called me her angel and she was convinced from a very young age that I was special; just as I should not have had my daughter, so too I found out after a late night talk and confession on her part that she should not have had her son (my birth father). She had gotten pregnant at a very young age, long before her and my grandfather had been married. She was raised Catholic so you can well imagine the problems a marriage out of wedlock would have caused. She had opted for an abortion, unheard of in those times and dangerous in the extreme. She survived but not undamaged so when she became pregnant with my father she considered him to be a gift from God, her redemption, her second chance. For her it was a sign that she had been forgiven even though she had never managed to forgive herself. There is a white wooden cross that I keep on my balcony, a cross that stayed in her garden all my life. Not many, if any knew what it represented but she had confided shortly before her death that is was there to commemorate the child she had killed; I have carried and will continue to carry that cross with me every time I move and place it outside to honour her unborn child. Why you may ask would I go to such lengths when she herself has been gone for over two years; it’s because I understand her pain.

While I was spending my summers with her I had made friends with some of the local kids from the bush, some of them lived in a hippie colony not far from my grandmother’s home, one of them was very special to me... I adored him, and I guess in a way I still do though I doubt the man (a boy then) will ever forgive me for what I did to him. I too became pregnant, before I had managed to move out and knowing that bringing a child into the world as I knew it to be was completely unfair to the child and having no way to provide for said child I took the same route my grandmother had years before. I never told her until years later when she shared her story with me; I never told him until the horrible deed was done. I lied to him about it, told him that it was a tubal pregnancy and for health reasons I had to have it terminated. He didn’t buy it, and he never wanted to see me again, he would have married me he said, or barring that at the very least me and the baby could have lived on the farm with the others. It would have been a way out but at the time I had absolutely no sense of hope and to me the pregnancy was just another thing to justify my mom’s hate. So I cart the cross around, in honour of two little babies who were never given the chance... I guess though even as the tears fall in the writing of this tale, God forgave me too because years later I gave birth to my own angel after being told by the doctors that I would never have children. After the abortion I had become pregnant a few more times and lost all of the pregnancies in my first term; my doctor said my body had simply taken too much abuse at too early and age, the drugs and alcohol had destroyed my hope of ever being a mom.

Now I could continue to hide all of this and I could continue to pretend life at home with a drunken pill popping lunatic had no effect on me but that would be an outright lie. Can I blame my mother now for all my actions as a teen; no I can’t. I realize that but it has taken years for me to get to where I am today and perhaps many more before I get to where I want to be. The point of telling you all this and I have to stop long enough to point out that this is not even close to all of it is to give a firsthand account of how damaging this kind of abuse can be.

Going back to moms favourite accusation, that I was being selfish and self centered and not nearly caring or compassionate enough with regards to her own pain, I have to offer up my thoughts and feelings on just how much that has messed up my sense of self worth. I believed her, I really did; all these years I bought into that idea and have been busting my ass to be the most giving person I could be just to prove her wrong. I pushed giving to new limits, putting myself into thousands of dollars of debt and forgetting about my own health and wellbeing just for the sake of helping others. I allowed people in my life to play off that need that I had to give, that need that I had to feel appreciated and play they did. I bought into the idea, body, mind and soul that it was ever important to put every single person I meet and their needs, wants and desires before my own. I learned to resent giving, to abhor people who put their hands out to me and have harbored some pretty powerful hate for those who have in the past used and abused my generosity. I don’t do that anymore, because after much work on me I have learned that it is ok also to receive, it is ok to ask for help and it is ok to accept the compassion of others. It literally took me losing every cent I had for me to see that it is absolutely impossible to help others when you are in no position to help yourself. Can I blame my mom for that, perhaps some would say yes but as I get older I also have come to terms that it is not how others treat us that defines who we are, it is how we respond to that treatment. Still it is in my heart today to say that the damage done to small child on such a deep emotional level is not something that is easily risen above and it will haunt you the rest of your days if you do not find ways to cope with it.
Even in my married years, when mom was still alive it put a great deal of strain on my marriage. We had moved as far from mom as possible and as close to my grandmother as we could. Yet for my own reason whenever mom called me, (yes of course I had call display) I would still pick up the damn phone. The fights it caused between me and my husband were memorable and played a big part in the destruction of our marriage. He wanted me to shut my mom out; I resented his sticking his nose in where it did not belong. He wanted to protect my daughter from that kind of abuse; I resented him talking about my mother that way. He stayed silent after a while because he had given up trying to reason with me, I resented him not trying to protect me from the crazy lady. So you see, no matter what he did, since I could not bring myself to confront her he would be the one to suffer for it. Commitment also was not an option for me, and the more he and I fought over issues such as this the further we grew apart. As our marriage collapsed I still felt this great need to be needed and desired so I turned to other men, flirting and building friendships with men who were not my husband. I wanted the attention and when I got it, it drove him into a fury. He tried to stop me, to control my actions and where I spent my time and the more he tried to control the more I fought back and was soon out of control. Eventually our fights became too much to handle, the words that he spoke and his accusations brought back to many memories of my younger years.  He like my mother knew where to hit and how to hurt.  Instead of doing what I could to talk to him about it, I went about the task of convincing him that he no longer wanted to be married to me.

I had learned manipulation at a very young age and was more than willing to use it on anybody I saw to be a threat to my sense of self or my freedom. My husband, a man I loved passionately, a man who had married me because he knew that my child was my miracle baby and could not bring himself to ask me to give her up had become my most hated enemy and our marriage at the end of it all lay in ruins. Again I am only scratching the surface but since we don’t have time here and the whole story would probably make a novel in and of itself I will only offer up the details that I feel may help you understand the lasting effects of abuse on our young.

Relationship after relationship was destroyed by memories of my youth, if say I had a boyfriend who happened to prefer Rye over any other alcohol it would eventually lead to me leaving. It was my mother’s drink of choice and the very smell of it causes me to become agitated and confrontational. Not such a good thing if you happen to be a bartender and it encouraged fights not just with friends and lovers but with customers as well. Rye is in fact to this very day banned from my house, and I am lucky enough to have an extremely supportive and patient man in my life who would not dream of drinking the shit and trying to come to bed. I have over the years forced more than one man in my life to the couch for the night simply because they came home with the smell of it on their breathe; try and explain it to others and some will go so far as to laugh and tell you that you are being silly and irrational. Personally though I have researched the power of smells in triggering memories and it is proven true that a scent can spark emotion from days gone by; the trouble is many are not aware that it is happening to them and they become unreasonable and pick fights with people they would otherwise enjoy the company of simply because the person happens to smell like something from their past. I could blame mom for that too but I won’t – Father forgive her, she knew not what she was doing...

Alcohol, it ruined a good part of my life yet I still drink. I am however cautious and try to stick to my beloved red wine. I watch myself closely and if I feel I am drinking too much or too often I will go on a cleanse. Of course that is not how I deal with others who drink too much; I have walked away from numerous friends and lovers when I think they may be in danger of getting lost in the bottle. Sometimes no explanation has been given, sometimes I am honest and tell them truthfully that I think they are borderline alcoholic and that I am not prepared to go that route again. One ex boyfriend accused me of seeing alcoholics everywhere, said that my mother had messed me up so badly that I would accuse anybody and everybody of doing the same as she. He wanted to know when I would get over it. We broke up soon after and he went on the drinking spree of all drinking sprees, lost his job and his home. Do I feel guilty? I probably should but I can’t bring myself to, his issues are not mine. I had another friend who was really far gone and an angry drunk to boot; the last time I saw him he was in the hospital for detox having almost drunk himself to death. I went in long enough to say good bye and wish him luck. I explained as gently as I could that I did not have the strength to watch him drink himself to death so that would be the last time he would be seeing me. He understood, we hugged and off I went; that was over 5 years ago and I have not seen him since.

It was a hard choice to make, because we were very close and he was somebody I had grown to love. I think he forgave me though because he knew my own personal history and maybe he did not want me to watch somebody else in my life perish due to drug and alcohol abuse. I had met him in Mechanics College, and he had taken on the role of big brother to me when my own big brother could not be there for me because he was trying to put his own heart back together after my parents had passed. They both died of natural causes, mom going a day after dad, in two different hospitals in two different cities. Mom never knew that dad had passed away; I never had the heart to tell her dad was gone. At the time it did not matter, when my dad passed she only had hours to live so what would have been the point of bringing her more pain. In my heart I knew already she had suffered enough.
My brother still to this day seems to be in shock of some of the things that occurred during the time of my parent’s death. One of the most amazing moments for him I think was the day I made peace with my mother on her death bed. She was hooked up to a ventilator not able to speak, with tubes down her throat helping her breathe. She had only hours left and we had just returned from the other hospital which was in a town 4 hrs away where we had said out last goodbyes to our beloved dad. We had not made it in time to be with him when he passed and now with my mother’s death imminent we were both not only completely exhausted, we were also emotionally drained. He had no need really to be there, she was not his mother and there was no love lost between them but there was no way this incredible gift of a brother was letting me go in there alone. He sat in a chair close to the door and watched as I carefully sat on the bed beside her. She tried to speak but I shushed her and stroked her hair. I spoke to her as gently as I could; telling her that it would ok, that the pain would be gone soon and she had no need to be afraid. I told her she had to stop fighting now, that the struggle was over and it was ok to let go. I told her she had nothing to feel regret over, that she had done her best and that she had been a good mother. I thanked her for everything she had taught me, and I reassured her that I would be ok. I told her we would take care of dad and make sure that he understood that she loved him. I talked to her about horseback riding, something that she had loved to do in her youth but had not been able to do for years and told her that soon she could ride as far and as fast as she wished.
I told her that I loved her and that it was time for her to rest, and that I would be back to check on her later and I watched her close her eyes. Then I went out into the hall and having already called for a priest (mom was raised a Catholic) I found him waiting for me in the hall. I told him our story and I asked him if he would stay with her; I explained I did not have the strength to watch her die and I begged his forgiveness for placing that burden on him. I shared with him her favorite hymns and scriptures and pleaded with him to make sure he sung them for her. After he assured me he would and reassured me that he understood why I had to go I left the hospital without looking back...

Every ounce of strength I had was now gone and my brother helped me to the car and silently drove me home where I was placed on the couch and wrapped in blankets with the phone beside my head. In the morning since the call had not yet come I sat in the driveway on the ground and went through my mother’s phone book calling friends and family to tell them dad had passed away. The next morning after that, mother’s day, June 9th, found me yet again sitting in the driveway calling the same people to tell them about mom; she had passed during the night.

I am offering you this part of the story if only to let you know that healing and forgiveness is possible and life after abuse and death does go on. My brother still swears to this day he has never seen an equal act of courage; I keep telling him it was not courage, it was compassion and at the time it was needed.

Coincidently that brings to mind an act of courage equal to that that I did have the honour to be witness to and it may surprise you to hear me say that it was my mother who showed complete fearlessness in the face of some serious danger. We had been dog sitting for a friend and I had come home in the middle of the night from work, the dog thinking me and intruder had attacked. Thankfully my parent’s bedroom door was immediately beside the entranceway so my dad hearing my screams was able to restrain the dog long enough for me to get away. I suffered minor bites on my leg and we thought nothing of it after doctoring my wound up we all went to bed. The next morning everything seemed normal, the dog was ok with me being in the house and dad sensing no danger went off to the store down the street. As soon as he left the dog attacked again, this time lunging for and grazing my face; I was trapped now having climbed up on the kitchen table and the dog, a rather large breed, was on its way up to finish me off. My mom came bolting into the kitchen, grabbed the dog by the hind legs and using all of her strength heaved it through the door into the living room. Then she did something I will never forget, (keep in mind she is partly crippled) she got down on all fours and faced the dog, growling at it and defying it to come on inch closer... I swear if it had not backed off she would have ripped it apart. Dad came home a few minutes into the standoff and his jaw near dropped to the floor when he walked in the room. His presence scared off the dog who ended up in the backyard tied to a very short strong rope until the owner of it returned. We found out later that the thing did not like women, apparently it had been abused by a woman in the past and its instinct was to attack first and ask questions never. That dog was also allowed to live although it was some time before the owner was granted access to our home. Quite the test of will for mom since the owner of the dog was also the owner of the local bar and moms favorite drinking buddy.

At this point you may be asking why I put that story in there and my answer to you is this; that in our
life we are faced with many tragedies and challenges; tests of faith and endurance. As much as these experiences may affect us, even haunt us it is of the utmost importance to do our best to focus not only on the pain others have caused us but also on the joys. If I must remember my mom after today I will do my best to do so in the spirit of who she was when she was NOT drinking. She was a brave woman; she once managed to have a rapist captured in TO, Ontario when she was driving cab for East End Taxi. She had been assaulted by the man when he entered the cab and he had forced her at gun point to drive as per his instructions. She knew she was doomed but she calmly and methodically placed the radio between her thighs pushing the button by squeezing her legs and with the radio on she kept the man talking. The police were notified and they were at the location that the man with the gun had ordered her to when the cab pulled up. After a couple hours standoff with police the guy surrendered and mom was hailed a heroine for her act of bravery. I was not born yet, but I saw the newspaper article on the incident and I can honestly say that despite everything I am proud that she was my mom; nobody knows how many more women he would have raped and killed had he not been stopped.

Mom was the kind of woman who if she happened to be in a store getting groceries and saw a random trinket that her third cousin 6 times removed would like she would buy it. Regardless of whether or not she had seen this person in years, if she remembered that they collected elephants and she saw one that was unique she would dish out the dough, wrap it up, write a quick note to say hello and pop it in the mail. Her hand writing was exquisite, as was her use and knowledge of both the French and English languages. She was in her early years a singer who had cut a record with her sisters, and had won awards for her skill with a rifle; mom was deadly with a gun. She taught me how to garden, how to grow and can my own vegetables. She taught me how to shoot a gun sniper style at the age of three by propping it up on the patio rail. By five years of age I was nailing targets at a distance most adults could not manage. Of course don’t ask me to do it now, I have not held a gun in years but I imagine if I had to remember, it would come back to me soon enough. Yes, sober mom was a joy to behold, and a true beauty in her youth, talented vocally, artistically, and literally she had all the potential to be and do anything she wanted; sadly I think the alcohol got her and her dreams never amounted to all that she had hoped they would.

I feel sorry that in my years growing up I never knew or understood all the things I do now because perhaps if I had I could have helped. Who knows, maybe she just wanted it that way...

I don’t blame her for the things she did and said when she was tanked, I can’t; in my heart I know she was very ill and it was perhaps not entirely her fault that things turned out the way they did. I can however blame a lot of the people involved with her during my younger years, doctors, teachers, ministers, family members and friends who turned their heads and denied the reality of what they saw. It is not so long ago that I myself had to make that choice, to speak out or stay silent in an attempt to protect a child. I chose to speak out.

Present day, not so many months ago...

I lived above the home of a friend, and it was common to hear fighting coming from downstairs as they were having some serious issues with their relationship. The day came when the violence hit a new level and the noise coming from downstairs was much louder than normal. At one point a bang erupted that shook the building and several people were drawn onto their balconies in an attempt to find the source. I too went outside and had others from across the building shouting at me asking me if I knew what had happened. I told them I had no idea, and turned to go in when two girls from another apartment called me back out telling me that the kids downstairs were on their balcony calling for me. I bolted downstairs and knocked repeatedly on the door, I honestly did not give a shit who was fighting who, I just wanted to bring the kids to my place until things had calmed down. They answered the door and I asked if everything was ok, I was told it was fine then the door was slammed in my face. I went back upstairs and waited to see if things would calm down, they did not... The fighting actually got worse and after much pacing and debating I picked up the phone and called 911. Of course I asked the call be kept anonymous and it was but because I had gone downstairs first a phone call came shortly after the police left and I was confronted about making the call. I lied and told them it wasn’t me then I lied to anybody else who asked including friends I have never lied to in my life and had sworn absolute honesty to. People who had won my respect and loyalty – I lied, not because I was ashamed of calling but because I knew that if I told them they in turn would have to lie to protect me. It ended up that it didn’t matter really, my friends never spoke to me again, and they moved out shortly afterwards. I imagine if they ever read this I will no doubt get a knock on my door and it is possible I am going to pay for lying to people who trusted me. Still having gone through the process of writing out my own story one thing I can definitively say to be a truth is this... The man or woman who refuses to raise a hand in defence of a child is as guilty as the person who abuses the child. So I called the cops, because I felt those kids were in a dangerous situation – sue me... judge my actions anyway you like; tell me I had no business to stick my nose in, tell me it is none of my concern and while you are spouting hatred from your lips consider what would you do if a child called to you for help and when you went to their aide you were tossed out or barred from entering... WHAT WOULD YOU DO? And that is the whole point to this immensely painful process. How far will you go to protect the innocent...? Will you stand by and turn the other cheek as many of our friends did, would you refuse to get involved for fear of losing a friend or would you do what you felt you had to do to protect the child... Someday the parents may just come after me for this, someday my friends may shut me out for telling this part of the story but I am at the stage in my life where I don’t much care, there will always be others to take their place; people who understand where I am coming from and think in terms of action not apathy.

In defense of some of our mutual friends, some have confided that they chose not to speak out so they could remain in the children’s lives, knowing that if they continued to push the subject they too would be tossed aside. I can support that for now but to the parents I say this...

You think that just because you don’t raise a hand to your child that the child is not affected by your rage, you think that there are no repercussions for your actions, that there is no affect or lasting impact on your children because of your screwed up relationship issues. Think again, it does hurt them, as deeply and leaving as long a lasting scar as if you were to take a knife to their tiny little hearts. You are teaching them that this in normal behavior, that couples act this way, that this anger and violence are part of being in love – you are teaching them a lie and as parents it is your responsibility to act like the adult and get help for your emotional crap. Do to not torment the youth with your own inadequacies, growing up in the times we are in they have more than enough sorrows to contend with without you destroying their sense of security. Home is supposed to be a safe haven and for any child who lives in a home that is bombarded by negative emotions and hate the future can be quite bleak if nobody has the courage to speak out. Plainly spoken and direct as possible; your interactions with each other as adults set an example that your children will follow the rest of their lives. Please get help and work at restoring that precious thing we call family values, please do not annihilate your child’s perception of love.

An interesting thing about all this is, is that if I as a victim had not done such a good job of covering for mom then perhaps I may have gotten the help I needed, perhaps she also may have been saved. Not too long before my grandmother passed away we were sitting on her deck at her home with family and discussing the lasting impact of child abuse. Among those present is an aunt who I absolutely have no respect for in that she is the kind of person to make surface judgment calls on everybody around her without ever bothering to dig deeper into the story behind the choices they make. Add to that the fact that her own family is seriously screwed up and I get agitated just being in her presence since in my mind she should be more focussed on her own family’s troubles and not those of others. She started in on me that day about how ungrateful I was as a child for everything my parents had done for me. She looked at us all in turn and bluntly stated that the woman she knew (my mother) would never treat anybody that way. It was the one and only time I have ever seen my grandmother truly angry, she straightened her stance in her chair and leaning towards the woman she very aggressively told her that she had no right what so ever to judge my actions as a child, teenager of an adult until she had walked even one painful minute in my shoes. Then she told her to leave... I had never seen that happen, my grandmother’s place was a peaceful haven and fights just did NOT happen within the boundaries of her home. Shortly thereafter my grandmother made me promise her that after she was gone I would stand up for everything I knew to be a truth; she made me swear to her that I would put people in their place as openly and honestly as possible (family included) if they DARED to questions my trials and tribulations as a child. I have stayed true to my word, in the writing of this I have made good on my promise both to her and to myself to speak my truth in the interest of defending my right to a happy healthy life free of judgement and guilt. I honor her every day by living a life in line with all she taught me because I could live a thousand more years and she will still be the wisest most compassionate woman I will ever meet. I thank her for the freedom she gave me that day and the strength she gives me every day by remaining close to me, protecting and sheltering my heart with her courage and her love.

The hardest part about that day was the realization that I as a victim had allowed this belief to spread; I had made it OK for people to blame me because I could not bring myself to have them blame my mother. So to the victims out there I say this; there is never a time when it is ok to protect somebody who is robbing you of your sense of self worth, your freedom or inner strength. There is never a time when it is OK for you to put somebody else’s safety before your own (barring that of a child) and it is never OK for somebody to raise a hand to you or your child. If you are a child your options many seem limited yet there are people who will help you, but you need to have the courage to speak out and to do that you need to know that you are not alone. There are thousands of others out there like you, but it is NOT acceptable, and it must be stopped. I call to the victims then to raise their heads, release the shame and find the will to get away. You do NOT have to fight back, that is not the way.... Get help, hostiles, hospitals, churches, police, teachers, social services and shelters are there to help you. Don’t hide your bruises, you have nothing to be ashamed of, nothing you have EVER said or done warrants abuse of ANY KIND... COURAGE.... you are NOT ALONE... we are out here, survivors of the same hellish torment as your are now enduring and we say you WILL OVERCOME – you WILL RISE ABOVE – you WILL FLOURISH and BLOSSOM and in time you will remember how to FLY FREE OF THOSE WHO TRAP YOU....

To the rest, it is beholden of us as members of a global family to protect and shelter those who cannot protect and shelter themselves; to STOP the reign of terror that still haunts our young today. Take a stand damn it, raise your voices, speak out, speak up, scream your anguish for this in the streets and scream as loudly as you can muster your voice so that it may carry as far as possible. The power lies in the PEOPLE; as free peoples of our earth we have the power within us to take the pain away from those who suffer by stopping our tendency toward apathy, by stopping our tendency towards complacency. The power is in our hands to stop a hand that is raised to another... So to the public I call to you... DO NOT ALLOW THIS TO BE OUR REALITY... It MUST change... It WILL change and we will be the ones who change it.

Remember this ... Our children are our future, it is up to us as adults to insure that our future is not lost because we are too afraid to defend it in our NOW...

Now on a lighter note, I was able as a young woman to escape more than once and to the multitude of people who took me in over the years and sheltered me I say to you now thank you...

I found much solace in my teenage years during the time I spent at with the hippie colony. There was a continuous stream of music and laughter to ease my wearied spirit, and it was there that I first learnt the true value of our Mother Earth and our need to live in harmony with her. So to the members of Morning Glory Farms I owe both my allegiance and my gratitude for all that you taught me about love and freedom of expression. I learned there the value of friendship, the power of the heart and the healing properties of all forms of artistic expression. Of course I also learned that if you drink too much and pass out on a red ant hill it hurts like hell the next day but that I am afraid is a whole ‘nother story.

I would like to thank Sherry for the opportunity to be part of raising awareness and offer permission to anybody who feels the need to pass on these writings as they wish freely and without fear of copy write infringement. This piece will be offered up on several different levels, as a blog, as part of a project that has been launched to bring comfort to the numerous silent sufferers out there by opening up our hearts to let them know they are not alone. I may even add it in to one of my future books, I guess we will just have to wait and see.

I will admit this has been the most difficult thing I have ever done, but the tears have ceased to fall and I find much comfort in the thought that these words may bring a sense of hope and inspiration to those who read them. I pray for all those out there who still suffer at the hands of others and I tell you now we will not forget your plight nor will we the survivors remain silent until our victory over abuse is won.

Finally in writing this I am reminded that the pen as they say is so much mightier than the sword and although some say that our true power lies in our thoughts I maintain that the HEART is mightier than ALL... because it is ALL... USE IT!!

With heartfelt love and gratitude,
Niki Norlock, author of Truth - My Synchromystic Journey

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