Never Again, I will Hate You

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.’

Part One: https://valentinelogar.com/2012/06/02/no-bastards-no-choice/

Opening the Secret Box

I said I would tell my mother’s story, what I know of it at least. I do this not to make excuses for her but to show the lineage of abuse. I am one that believes we always have a choice in our actions, no matter our history, no matter what has been done to us we always have a choice. My mother’s choice was to hold her bitterness and pass on to me her anger, her bile and her self-hate. I was the empty vessel she poured all her stored resentment into; I was bottomless; different from her in my emotional make-up, proof that we can be greater than our environment.

My mother was born in 1920; the first of two daughters to German immigrant parents, her sister would be born four years later in 1924. The two sisters were as different in looks, temperament and intelligence as it was possible to be. My mother was short, stocky even with a ruddy complexion, thin hair and her father’s prominent nose and thin lips. My mother was never what would be considered terribly attractive, when you added to this her plodding intellect and lack of curiosity she was simply an average person.

The two sisters

Her sister on the other hand was handed all the best physical features of her parents, tall and willowy, with average more feminine features and most important an above average intellect. The differences between the two daughters was apparent from a young age, the favoritism shown to the younger daughter was also obvious from a young age.

My mother was raised in a German enclave of Cleveland, Ohio. The house she was raised in still stands today though the neighborhood is no longer as nice. My mother and aunt attended public schools though they generally were not in the same schools due to the four-year gap in their age. They grew up surrounded by extended family and friends and both of them were bi-lingual, speaking German and English. It was a hardscrabble existence during the twenties, work was hard to find, money hard to hold onto but my grandfather supported his family throughout the depression.

Sometime around twelve years old she was molested by a neighbor, he may have been a family member. This molestation went on for months before she told her mother. According to the story I heard, her mother didn’t believe her at first. This man was a ‘pillar’ of the church and the neighborhood and so my mother was punished for ‘making-up stories’. Then something happened, I don’t know the full story of what happened to bring to light the extent of what this man did, not just to my mother but to other young girls in that neighborhood. It was several years though after my mother had told hers what had happened to her. The man disappeared and nothing more was said. This was the first time my mother’s parents failed her.

My mother told this story in a group therapy session where I was present. I was fourteen at the time. I held that story as ‘close hold’ for forty-four years. I suspect it was supposed to make me ‘okay’ with her treatment of me, it did not change my view that we make choices. Even at fourteen I knew she made a choice to pass her anger down to me.

As my mother matured she sought ways to escape, to leave the enclave and the family that so favored her sister and had failed her so completely. Each choice and opportunity was blocked by her parents and met with ridicule. My mother was not one to scream her fury, not like the daughter she would ultimately raise. My mother was in all respects a conventional daughter, obedient to a fault and more than anything else she sought the approval of her parents, most especially her father. One of the choices that still stand so poignant, that she told me about more than once is this conversation with her father;

Mother: I want to join the Navy, be a Wave and see the world.

Grandfather: Only unnatural women join the Navy. I will not give you permission!

Mind you, she didn’t need his permission at that point in her life she was legally an adult. If I remember correctly she was at least twenty-one. Nevertheless, in her mind, without the blessing of her father she could never follow her dream to see the world, to join the Navy. I think she would have been great!

She had already been quashed in another desire of hers; even uglier in my mind than her desire to join the navy was this one:

Mother: I want to go to college I want a career.

Grandfather: You aren’t smart enough for college; I am not wasting my money. Your sister is going to college you need to find a husband and have children it is all you will be good for.

My aunt did go to college and received her Bachelor’s degree. She also married well, according to my Grandparents. My aunt produced three children in fairly short order after her marriage, another feather in her cap. My mother floundered, sought to find safe footing on land in a sea of disapproval.

My Mother & Father on their wedding day 1951

She met and married my father, who did not meet with my grandparent’s approval and was likely the one thing my mother ever did that was an act of rebellion. That marriage was fraught with heartache for both of them; if ever two people were divinely mismatched it was my parents. If ever a marriage was proof of why it is a bad choice to stay together ‘for the sake of the children’ it was their marriage.

Before embarking on the adoption journey my mother suffered five to seven miscarriages. She failed at the one thing her parents had told her she was good for. Her failure would haunt her. Her loss would haunt her and eventually would haunt me as well. Her loss of her natural children was as if thorns had been driven into her heart that never stopped hurting, never lost their grip. Adoption did not change this for her; I did not replace her children though my brother was a balm for her pain. My mother told me once many years ago, she did not want to adopt she only did so for my father but she was glad she had my brother; I believe her.

That is my mother’s story.

Part One : https://valentinelogar.com/2012/05/17/secrets-define-us/

Inside Domestic Abuse

The 112th Congress has refused to reauthorize the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, significant in the original passage it opened the door to what had previously been viewed as private family matters and provided both education and funding to help victims and law enforcement. Never, since its original passage has it been the subject of a partisan fight on the floor of either house of Congress, yet this year it is. The overall tone of the Right, women are of no particular value unless they are in the kitchen, pregnant and silent. The objection to the Bill, is the expansion of services, the boogie man of ‘other’; Gay, Transgender, Native Tribes and Immigrant Women are included in this years re-authorization, we all know none of us are part of humanity and should be served, right?

I wrote this several years ago. At the time, it was wrenching to write. Today it remains wrenching for me to read. To answer the question, I know first hand what it is to be a survivor of Domestic Abuse. I also know how very important this Bill is to all those Women and Men who are now and will be in the future Victims. I ran from an extremely volatile, horribly violent relationship after having been hospitalized multiple times with multiple broken bones, I knew I would not see my eighteenth birthday if I stayed. I had nowhere to go, no money and no support structure; still I ran as far and as fast as I could go.

I survived.

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Why we stay, pitiful in our bruised bodies and our excuses, our fear palatable yet even before we are healed we return to the hell that is home. Why do we stay? The question is asked repeatedly, often with a tone of derision. Our answer, sometimes that we love him, sometimes worse that he doesn’t mean to hurt us he loves us. The truth though is harder for us to admit to you when you ask and ourselves; this is all we deserve and we have nowhere else to go.

How did we get here?

Is it because we seek what we believe that we deserve? Do we have a neon sign swinging over our head that says “I am here and vulnerable”; I will take it, whatever you dish out. I will take it and even be grateful to you for staying one more day, one more month, one more year.

Have we been so convinced by our mothers, our fathers, or society that we must conform, not speak out; not fight back that we will take the slaps, the closed fists, the kicks and on our knees begging for it to end still be thinking that he loves us and if only we do better it will not happen again?

Why is it that we stay? 

Why do we make excuses, transparent excuses for the broken teeth, the black eyes, the bruised arms? Why do others believe our excuses? Do they really think that we are so incapable of walking from our beds to our baths that we run into doors once a month or once a week? Is it easier to believe that we are so clumsy that we cannot walk up or down a flight of stairs? Do those who claim to care for us find it easier to ignore the truth than acknowledge that we are in danger?

Why is it that we allow ourselves to be so brutalized? What happens to us that our flight or fight instinct is entirely broken? We find no comfort, realizing even those to whom we reach out for help find us incomprehensible in our pain. Even if we finally find it in our spirits to run, to escape we are broken by the prison of our shame. Our defeat is what we carry with us; our inability to explain our willingness to take what our abuser gave; his love in closed fists, slaps, kicks, hate filled words that tore down the walls of our humanity and convinced us that we had no value in our homes or in the world.

Run, with Nothing but You

The telephone, our greatest enemy each time it rings we jump through our skin; we know it might be him. We know we are still weak and frail; that we have no defenses against his apologies and his protestations of his own weakness. Even through our nightmares; those screaming, cold sweat nightmares; we know that if we hear his sugar coated voice telling us that it will never happen again; we might believe him because we need. Who else will love us now? He has destroyed all that was ever lovable in us. We know that in our heart and soul; in whatever humanity we have left we know that we might listen and might return. It will be good for a while; as good as it was in the beginning. Then it will start again, we know that too; even knowing these absolute truths; we are weak and fearful and lonely.

Our frailty during our initial freedom, so tenuous, unreal to us because there is no one to confirm our existence and we don’t know where to begin. The slightest sound behind us is no longer the precursor to pain. The footsteps on the stairs, not a reason to fear but maybe a friend come to call instead. Bumps in the night no longer herald a rape by the person who promised to love and care for us. Still all those sounds send us into a paroxysm of fear, self-doubt and finally anger that our lives will never be without our abuser because he is inside of us; he has replaced everything  that was good with his vileness. We may have escaped him physically but we will never escape him fully, we think this now and in our hearts know this as a truth. We have lost ourselves to his definition of us, weak and of no value.

Nightmares

Our minds work in miraculous ways. If we can stay gone long enough we begin to heal and rebuild. We can begin to take the abuse he called love and place it in appropriate boxes sealing them tightly and marking them as our hated history. When the boxes are full of our past we can stack them in a room within our mind padlock the door; knowing that some day we might return to examine them to try to understand what led us there; but not today. Today just stack the boxes tightly, shut the door and turn the key. Face each day knowing that the door exists and all the boxes exist waiting for us to be strong and come back to learn; but not today. That we might revisit them in our nightmares and run screaming down the corridors of our sleeping mind; waking in cold sweats and shaking in fear; this we can escape. This will happen for some of us it will happen forever, when we least expect it sometimes at the end of what we thought was a great day. In our nightmares the maniacal horrors of our past will sneak through the cracks of that door we locked to terrorize us; to remind us of what was or what might have been.

Future Glory

Our history does not have to hold us hostage; we can shape our future we can redefine ourselves. We were somebody before they arrived to tear us down. Somewhere else in our mind we have a room with a locked door that contains the “us” before them, before the abuse. We have the key to that door also, even if it is lost in the trash that our abuser has piled on us. We have the ability to unlock that door and find the “me” that was before them. Perhaps we will find there were reasons we let them in, the neon sign that was lifted above our heads inviting them in; we can fix this. Possibly we will only find ourselves in the here and now that we are stronger now, more able to face today because of our past. Perhaps we will only find only that we can let go, say no more and look forward without fear.

Whatever we find we will ultimately know that we are precious, worth more than the blows, the slaps, the kicks, the venom that dripped from the lips of our abuser. We will know no amount of pain masked as love is the truth and abuse is not the reality that we deserve in our lives. We will roar our anger and our frustration at the waste of our days in agony rather than joy. We will cry out our pain. We will whisper our validations of self and finally scream our truths in the wind if no one else will hear us.

We will most certainly stand free of what was told to us as the truth knowing finally it was a lie.   

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