No Bastards No Choice

I have circled this memory so often, shaken this box more than once to determine if it rattled or if finally what was inside had turned to dust. Close hold, this is one I keep buried in the back of the closet and under lock and key, rarely even considering taking it out for closer examination, I know how these skeletons dance. Truth, I know how hot the firestorm will burn when I finally unwrap the chains, release the padlocks and set a match to the dried tinder, I know what is in this box.

I was fourteen the first time I understood what bastard meant. I had heard the term a few times; my second (adoptive) mother had used it in reference to me on more than one occasion, truthfully though I was never that

Florence Crittenton, Courtesy HistoryLink.org

curious as to its literal meaning. In January of 1972, I was sitting in the offices of Florence Crittenton Home for Unwed Mothers aka “The House of Another Chance” and my mother was explaining to the woman behind the desk “I would not be bringing another Bastard like me home”. Surprisingly, she also told the woman this was where my ‘slut’ mother was when she was pregnant with me, ‘like mother like daughter’. She made clear one of two things would happen, I would agree to a closed adoption or the state would strip my rights from me with her help. The ‘nice’ lady behind the desk helped explain that as a child myself, I would have no say in this matter, I had no rights and could not prevent this from happening to me or my child.

Did I mention I had hidden my pregnancy? By this time, I was just past my twelfth week and already had a small bump. I sat in that office arms wrapped around myself rocking and stunned by what was happening to me.

SeaDruNar – Seattle Drugs & Narcotics

Don’t let their glossy new look fool you, back in the early 1970’s they met in the basement of an old house in a not so nice part of Seattle. They were ‘famous’ for their approach to dealing with drug addicts and ‘bad-assed’ teenagers; addict-to-addict mentoring and complete immersion techniques that stripped you of your soul, your will, your entire self and then filled the empty spaces left with something new and presumably better. Don’t get me wrong, my badass at this stage of my life included a bit of inhaling now and again, but I was far from any addictions, certainly, I wasn’t in need of hardcore intervention. I was simply a scared fourteen-year-old, with a baby bump. My mother wasn’t having this, she had her heart set on a disappearing act and SeaDruNar was the ticket. After the first session the ex-addict who ran the teenage group told her it wasn’t the right place for me, I didn’t relate to their problems and issues and didn’t ‘share’ with the group.

A few days later, we were back, this time I was shoved into the adult group. These were grown people with grown people problems, led by two ex-addicts. This is where I learned some of my mother’s story, but as part of her sharing with the group she also shared what an ungrateful and wretched child I was. She threw her head back and howled her own pain, instead of chewing off her own leg to release the trap; she gnawed at mine drawing blood as she shred me in front of her willing audience. I resisted their demands I beg for her forgiveness; I should given them what they claimed as due.

Three days of Hell – You Win

For those truly hard cases, those unrepentant hard to crack nuts SeaDruNar use to run ‘camps’. Three-day away camps, where you sit in rooms on the floor with little to eat, infrequent breaks and are verbally, emotionally and sometimes physically abused until you are broken. Sounds fun, right? Back in the early 1970’s, this was common treatment for addicts and hard-cases. There were no real medical doctors, no trained psychologists or addiction specialists present; just ex-addicts, ex-convicts and us the hard-cases who they hadn’t gotten through yet and whose parents signed permission slips for them to abuse.

Did this treatment work? I don’t know, this would be my last experience with SeaDruNar, my mother certainly got what she wanted from it.

I walked into this thinking I would sit for three days and survive. I would ignore the screaming, crying and sob stories. I did not have to give in, I didn’t have to talk to them, didn’t have to answer their questions; I knew the rules. They could scream at me, I could sit silent and there was nothing they could do. They didn’t scare me. I only had to get through three days. This wasn’t quite the truth of the ‘camp’; I didn’t quite understand the rules.

I didn’t know about lack of sleep.

Really me 1971 School Picture

I didn’t know what pressure on your bladder could do to you, or urinating on yourself can do to your ego. I didn’t know about public shaming, or being forced to sit in your own filth for hours before being allowed to change and bath.

I didn’t know. I didn’t know what fear could do under those conditions.

By day three of this hell I was destroyed. My heart, my soul, my fight was gone. There was nothing left of me. I was convinced I was unworthy to nurture life, let alone consider trying to care for it. I was shown pictures of deformed children and they were mine, because I had smoked pot, I had smoked hash and this is what drugs do I was told. I was an addict, I was a slut I was nothing, I was beneath contempt; I believed, but then I had been hanging on by a thread anyway it didn’t take much for me to believe.

“Yes, you win. You win, how could I have ever thought to want to keep my baby, that I might be worthy. You win.”

By now, I was at my sixteenth week of pregnancy. My mother was running out of time, soon my father would find out and she would be out of options.

The Abortion I never wanted was arranged. I was picked up from the “camp” house by mother dear. No time to change my mind to gather back my soul, to rethink or re-feel. No time to beg, though I begged the doctor and the nurses;

“NO, Please, NO. Please don’t do this. Please I don’t want this No.”

I curled on the table on my side. They strapped me down to keep me supine, to stop me from moving.

“No, please don’t please don’t.”

“There will be a slight pinch this won’t hurt,” someone said that just before they stuck needles into my womb.

I was given an Instillation abortion and sent home to wait.

What happens when choice is not choice and waiting is all we can do, the next box I will unlock in Breaking Chains. 

Comments

  1. There are no words.
    I wish there was a way to right every wrong and make all the evil ones pay for the harm they have done.

    • I am starting that process, not by making them pay but instead by releasing the anger and hurt. Hopefully by telling the stories I will also remind people of what real choice means.

  2. Androgoth says:

    I am new to your Space and so I will not add too much regarding this heart wrenching account of your teenage years, but do know that I can see your pain, the hurt and unbearable heartache as you were forced into this terrible nightmare, a frightening assault that is a truism and one that has serious repercussions on your whole life.

    When humanity breaks down this is the shocking consequence and I am sad that you were thrust into these dark and wretched times my friend.

    Be well Valentine Logar…

    Androgoth Xx

    • Androgoth – I am writing some trilogies. They are of course from my past, I had a strange on by all accounts. The are also, by all accounts a bit difficult to read, perhaps as difficult as they are to write. But, they aren’t the only thing here.

      Thank you for reading and adding your thoughts.

      Val

  3. To represent some similarities between our experiences. Here is my experience in 1978 Ireland.
    Having returned from England at the age of 19, still ‘untainted’ as it were, I moved back to Mullingar, (my hometown) to my tyrannical step-mother and battle fatigued father. My hope was in the 2 years since i left, the old adage of ‘abscence makes the heart grow fonder’ had any substance to it. Unfortunately not.
    After a couple of months of institutionalised abuse I was thrown out to live with my uncle nearby. My first experience with a man resulted in a pregnancy and subsequent plans made for us to elope to relations in Scotland. Unfortunately secrets are not a privilege allowed in small town Ireland therefore plans were scuppered amid veiled threats. These veiled threats included forced repatriation into my step-mothers house and no contact with the babys father again.
    During the first 7 months of my pregnancy there was a cease of open hostilities, a ‘pregnant pause’ if you will, but the threat of hatred from my step-mother hung acrid in the air. One evening we recieved a visit from a priest and a welfare official extolling the virtues of giving the baby up for adoption. However, virtues didn’t come into it. This was no choice. No chance of keeping the baby. It was at this time the systematic destruction of any maternal feelings i had held close for 7 months began – my step-mother leading the charge.
    I was admitted for inducement and remember pleading with my gynecologist to help me keep my baby. To no avail.
    My daughter was born and taken away – not even having held her in my arms.

    These are the basic facts and may appear devoid of emotion but there were also a lot of other complicated factors not mentioned here as this is a semi-public forum.

    The legal age of maternal responsibility in Ireland at that time was 21 and although not relevant to my experience but purely as a social note – To this day abortion is illegal in Ireland, this even stands in cases of rape and in cases of an inauterine death, the baby still has to be carried full term.

    I,like you, am trying to make sense of it all, if sense is the right word.. Only in the last couple of years I have felt the need to write past experiences down as a cathartic process but finding it very hard. I like you have held these feelings in out of respect of people who are now not with us. Whether opening these old wounds will help, remains to be seen but I can only hope I can obtain some peace of mind through this process and build a degree of self-worth which has been a life-long battle.

    Thank you for your continued support as a much admired friend .. Kay x

    • Kay – my dear friend, in part I write because I know my story isn’t unique for the time. I know similar stories like yours and mine are played out everywhere, crushing hearts and souls in the process. Part of why this happens is our voices are silenced in shame and pain. I know mine has been for 40 years, but fury has always been part of the make-up of my emotional response as well. Fury at the loss of my choice, fury at the shame I was forced to feel and mostly fury at the loss of the child I desperately wanted to hold in my arms.

      Nobody reading your story will see it as devoid of emotion, honestly it is overflowing with the the emotion you are trying to hold in. I am glad you shared. Opening the wounds, yes it is difficult, painful even, but also cathartic. Eventually, each of us must let go. Remember, you don’t owe your tormentors respect, love or protection.

      My love and support always

      Val

  4. You know Valentine, I often wonder at the Nature of Mankind.. and wonder how on earth he came about being given that Name.. For ‘Kind’ is definitely Not within his/her Nature, for the most part of it. Being pregnant at 14 is bad enough for any teenagers mind to get into gear, let alone what your adoptive Mother put you through.. It makes me wonder why people adopt and then mistreat whether that be verbally or physically.. Many such people do..
    Working within the system that I do as a Support Worker for Adults with learning difficulties and now in the mental health field.. I come across so much heartache and abuse especially when they were growing up.. as young defenceless children, Which leave Scars and deep wounds etched within their hearts for the rest of their lives..
    My heart goes out to you.. and your suffering .. Which you have kept within locked and bolted away.. I know some of these hurts which I hold inside myself, which are only now seeing the light of my thoughts, let alone being brave enough to place them within the written word.
    I salute your courage Valentine!
    And I know as you at last revisit and open these heart- rending episodes within your early years.. You are at last letting in the Light of Day into your Heart and allowing it to heal…
    Often scars are so deeply ingrained we cannot even begin to pull them out..
    Only this morning within the early hours I could not sleep, I wrote about a hurt so deep I still couldn’t name it..as I dug into my heart snipping the scar tissue and the stitches that held them together within my mind.. releasing them one by one as I let my heart beat freer.
    The time is upon us within the Consciousness Valentine of letting Go, and releasing as we allow ourselves and give ourselves permission to move on and pass them..
    I know that this is the beginning of Finding that reflection in the looking glass and at last looking at her and saying without any doubts.. You Love who you see..
    Blessings.. Sue

    • These are my trilogies. Odd how they work that way. I once said to another victim of abuse that someday I would talk about my history in something other than the third person, but the time wasn’t then it wasn’t time for me to open those doors. Honestly, I don’t know why the time is now, or for that matter why I have chosen this forum.

      These are dark and terrible stories. Sometimes they feel as if they aren’t even mine. Other days I think to myself, how did all this happen to one person, to what purpose?

      But they are mine, every last one and for some reason now is the time.

      Sue, you are a great help; your calm and gentle teaching more often than you know allows me the peace I need to slide the locks off.

      Thank you

      Val

  5. It’s not often that I’m at a loss for words. But I am now, after reading this post. But I am so amazed and impressed and happy that you have become the person I see through the pain.

    Sending you love and hope.

    • When I made the decision to walk this path I knew it would be difficult and dark. Thank you for both the love and the hope, it gets darker but then it gets light. I said it earlier to someone else, I found the rhythm of three, it seems to be what I can bear and how it works.

    • In total agreement with that comment.

  6. My heart was just breaking reading this story, Val! You have gone through so much all because of a man-made label that she feared.
    My love and hugs to you! xo

    • I am just following the trajectory of my life, I am doing it in threes. Funny that, not that the trajectory is in threes only that I can write it that way. It is like a purge. I waited till most everyone was dead or past caring that I wrote the stories.

      It wasn’t the label though Deb. It was her own self hate that caused her I think to hate me so.

  7. Valentine, I will be back tonight to comment upon this post.. As I have just not enough time right now.. Love to you Sue x

  8. let me first tell you i fell in love with that beautiful gorgeous girl in that picture 🙂
    sometimes it feels someone up their sat and took a month to specially write our lives…
    “bastard” …..a child never chooses to be born without one parent it is the adults who choose that life for them…a childs right is lesser than a pets in lot of cases…
    heart wrenching
    hugs n love 🙂

  9. The horror parental units do to children in the name of keeping themselves from being tarnished is vile and horrific. Never once do they consider the consequences outside their own skins. What’s more, bastards are the parents, not the children. Children do not choose this.

    Love and strength, my sister,
    Red.

    • Well, specifically and factually I was a Bastard, so was my brother. I always wondered why she never called him that, just me. I know who she was, now I know. I didn’t know then but it didn’t matter. This is a hard story to tell, Red.

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