Didn't Break Me

by Stephanie
(Indiana)

I have to find some goodness in all things. That there can’t be things that are truly built with nothing good in them, because it’s actually how I survive. It would be too hard to survive and thrive if there was not even a glimmer of something good in a situation.


The plus in this situation: What you did give me was no threats of harm or death if I told, and oddly I can give thanks that you at least gave that, although I don’t believe that was intentional. I think you were lucky. I think you had a “means to an end” that fell into your lap. I believe you took advantage of something because it allowed you your actions without a big elaborate lie to keep track of. I don’t really believe that would have relieved you of guilt, but I actually don’t think guilt was in your makeup.

Your “don’t tell”: You took advantage of your daughter's migraines. I don’t really know when you started using that as your method, but since I had my first one at 5 when I wasn’t near you. I know you weren’t responsible for that one. I don’t really know how long you used those to your advantage though. When was the first time I woke up with one in the morning, feeling hung over, was it really a hangover from alcohol and or drugs? Did you figure out enough alcohol and drugs would render me with no memories? The results the next morning would be no different than the normal migraines (throbbing pain, nausea, vomiting). Did you start very early in my life, when I was pre-teen, or were those true migraines? What did you feel when you looked at your passed out child, did you only think about your next step, or did you ever stop to think, just once what you were doing was wrong? The next morning, you never seemed surprised by my complaints of migraines, and being sick. I have never questioned why you were lying next to me. Why would, you were my mom. Was there any guilt when I told you how sick I was, or when you saw how sick I was, or did that serve as a pleasure of what you had done the night before or confirmation your lies and actions were safe one more time.

If I never “knew”, or “didn’t remember”, did that absolve you of your sins? Did you somehow justify in your head that if I didn’t know, and if you didn’t threaten me “don’t tell”, it wasn’t “wrong”? Was it less harmful if you didn’t physically or verbally abuse me (although a weapon and penetration is physical harm and abuse and by the way, there are no words to explain or reason that in my head!!), if it was a touch, not a smack? When you carried your weapon every day in your job- did you ever think about what you had done with it the night before, the week before, or did it never occur to you the pain and harm associated with that? Or were you a coward and couldn’t do any of this without being drunk- maybe you needed the same “morning after” the “not remembering” your actions. After all you took the cowards way out by taking your own life in the end. Which meant no one would ever hold you accountable, you would never have to try and justify it, wouldn’t have to find ways to reason away your actions. Most importantly you would never have to face me, looking back at you would be what you did. But truly I believe you were too narcissistic to ever believe it was ever wrong.

I always wondered why there were panicked feelings that came with the migraines, that didn’t seem to be a “normal” symptoms like what others were going through. I struggled with that for a long time. It wasn’t until Nancy told me what you had been doing for years, what she had allowed out of “devotion” to you, and God how I can’t even fathom that! Though I could not recite action for action, doesn’t mean my body wasn’t responding and storing the information of the trauma for a later reveal. It doesn’t mean that subconsciously I didn’t know what you had done- and that I didn’t associate that pain with your deeds. I have been pretty lucky (if anyone can really think or say that in a situation like this) that my body only seemed to betray me, reveal what it knows when I’m alone… so then I really haven’t had to explain you and your crimes. In time, those will lessen and then less memories of you, or at least that’s what I strive for.

I have come to terms with your part in this. You were just simply evil- there was nothing good in you. The only good you did was me, but that your ability to be good didn’t exist. I don’t know if you were good to others- but as a child, how you were with others wasn’t of any benefit to me...how you were with me is what formed me, harmed me, but you did not destroy me. Ultimately, I don’t know if that was your intention, but it didn’t happen.

I still have migraines- I still struggle with panicked feelings during them, not all of the time, because I know you’re gone, and your power doesn’t exist anymore...but they still happen. It still requires that I tell myself it’s a migraine, not leftover responses from your abuse- that there is not current abuse causing the pain.

Besides you and your destruction, I wonder how you managed to involve another person- how you managed to have another human being cover for you, be complicit in what you were doing. How she learned to cope with what she did, how she let it happen, how she continued to lie to me after you were gone. She had to be dying before she could tell me- I think she needed to tell, but I think she chose when to tell, because she wouldn’t have to deal with my reaction, watch the devastation she had been a part of for so long. But you know what, at least she told- for whatever reason and timing, probably self-serving in the end...she at least told. I still hold feelings and sadness about her- because she told, because she at least portrayed that she cared when I was growing up- something you didn’t know how to do and something you obviously didn’t pick up from her. So oddly, the biggest betrayal came from someone who wasn’t even my mother- but make no mistake, you were far from innocent. But she hurts deeper, there were emotions attached to her.

The one thing I wished I had learned as a child was to ask for help, and taught how to go about it, where and who was safe. You were my mother, that was your duty and responsibility as a mother. It is resoundingly obvious as an adult that is one of my most difficult tasks on a daily basis. I have obviously learned how, but it still isn’t my first response, that would be to store it, if it needs to be dealt with it, it will be persistent. I now know not teaching me that was a safety barrier for you, if I didn’t know how or when, I wouldn’t. Ultimately, when it would have been beneficial to be me, it wasn’t for you, so it never happened. I wonder how many people would have helped had I known how to ask? I wonder if I would have been believed? As a child do we know how to articulate something like That? If we don’t, do we just wait until we learn? You gave me very little, however you took a great deal- none of which I will get back. At least you did not break me to a point I wouldn't be able to learn.

To the woman who was supposed to be Mom, you did not break me. In spite of you, I still became an amazing person with the passion and drive to help others. You were a police officer. I opted for a career as a firefighter who handled search dogs (wanted no comparison of me to you). During 9/11, the demands were high. In spite of you, we (my K9 and I) showed that we not only survived, we thrived.

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