It was February 9, 1972 when I went home to wait for what would come it would not be pretty. Around 6pm February 11, I went into Induced Labor after the Instillation Abortion and my mother was quite put out by the inconvenience of my timing. She and my father were preparing for a Valentine’s Day party, now they would have to take me to the hospital instead, damn I was a troublemaker and rude on top of it. My father had finally been told and was not happy with the choices made, there was nothing to do though but go along, it was done. I was driven to the local hospital and escorted into the emergency room. That was it, she left me there they went off to the party, I was alone to finish what she had started.
I will not tell the rest. It was horrifying and terrible. Three weeks later, before I was healed my mother took me back to the doctor and demanded I be fitted with an IUD, because as she had so clearly stated previously, ‘I am not having any more Bastards in my house.’
This was the Year
This was the year I learned to love the Blues.
This was the year I slapped my mother and said, “No more, never again.”
This was the year I began to regularly run away from home. This was the year my mother told the Juvenile Court systems to ‘keep the Bitch’, leaving me in lock-up for 7 weeks while she was in Hawaii. This was the year I entered the Foster Care System and was subsequently declared both a Juvenile Delinquent and Incorrigible.
This was the year, on December 15, I ran away from my foster home and everything else familiar. I wouldn’t see or speak to anyone in my family for just over three years. I had turned 15 that September.
This was the year I started on a path that would teach me everything I would ever need to survive anything life threw at me. The year that would strip the last of any innocence I might have clung to and any hope I might have had. This was the year I made a desperate choice to save my own life no matter the price.
Winding Roads to Perdition
The road from Seattle to San Antonio was long I hitchhiked the entire way. There were stops along the way. Sometimes people were kind, feeding me and giving me a place to sleep for a day or two. There were still hippies on the road back then, people who were willing to reach out a hand for nothing much in return. Other times, people weren’t so kind and what they wanted in return for the offer of a ride, a meal or even a cup of coffee wasn’t simply a thank-you. Sometimes I found myself in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. I learned quickly to evaluate who was offering a ride and politely refuse them if they didn’t ‘feel’ right.
Texas isn’t as cold in the winter as other places, especially central Texas. I have a long history here, which is what drew me back when I ran. Unlike most runaways of the time who made their way to San Francisco and Los Angeles I headed to the land of my heart. San Antonio in the early 70’s was a booming and dangerous military town, not a safe haven but easy enough to find havens for short periods and easy enough to find work if you weren’t too picky. People didn’t ask many questions back then, not how old you were, not for ID.
This is where I met my first husband, at an after-hours bar where I was waitressing. His father ran the poker game in the backroom. It was a whirlwind romance; he swept me away with sweet words, real dates and trips to buy real clothes. Nobody had ever pursued me like this before, treating me as if I was precious and valuable. Within weeks we were living together, Sundays were dinner with his parents and siblings, cards and dominos in the backyard. I was part of a family, prized and cared for.
Everything changed soon enough; I was too young and didn’t see it didn’t understand the signs. First it was the little things, the jealously the screaming rages. Then the name-calling began. As the months wore on my nerves frayed and my fear rose, he became cruel or maybe he always was. It started with open hands, the slaps that cut a lip or bruised a cheek. Soon it escalated, closed fists that didn’t stop with one or two but continued until I was curled in a ball on the floor no longer able to beg for mercy.
Everything Comes Back to You
September 17, the day my choices were forever stripped and I learned the meaning of hate. That day started just like any other day. The day didn’t start out well, I had been sick for a couple days, with fever and cramps, this always tended to cause problems since if I was sick I couldn’t work, couldn’t earn money for the household and by now I was the only one working on a regular basis. It was also the start of the football season, I was supposed to prepare something for a party that evening but I was too sick to get out of bed. This earned me a vicious beating; one focused where I hurt, the region of my Cervix and Uterus. I guess he though if he beat me hard enough he would beat the pain out of me.
He left me on the bed, bleeding and curled around myself. His mother found me three hours later and called an ambulance. I was barely coherent when I arrived at the hospital but I was able to tell them I had an IUD. They were unable to remove it; they were also unable to determine the extent of the internal damage without surgery.
I woke up on September 18, one day before my 16th birthday. I had been in surgery for 5 hours. The nurse looked very sad and said she would call the doctor. The doctor didn’t look very sad, just concerned.
He said my IUD had perforated my uterus wall. That they could not repair it and that there was other damage as well. They were forced to remove my uterus. He also said one of my ovaries had been damaged and had been removed. Finally he said I had Syphilis, my husband had given it to me, there was no doubt about this diagnosis, no doubt where it came from either. My husband, the man who had beaten me, while screaming his love for me had destroyed my future fertility and infected me with a potentially life-threatening disease. That son-of-a-bitch was standing beside my bed with his parents; hanging his head in shame as the doctor delivered this terrible and terrifying news and all he could do was say he was sorry.
The doctor watched me closely, ‘do you understand everything I have told you?’
‘Yes, I will never have children and he made me sick’
I understood. My rage was cold it was like an arctic ice flow. I asked everyone to leave and told the doctor I was in pain. I could not face the future just then. I thought, as the morphine slid through my veins and I drifted off;
‘I will never love anyone or anything again, I will never love God again.’