During my childhood my family consisted of me and my older half brother (4 years older)and then my mom and dad. Both my mom and dad had prior marriages and children. My mom had been married twice before and left 2 daughters in her first marriage and brought my half brother from her second. My father left 3 daughters from his previous marriage. My mom and dad met in a bar where she was waitressing and he would stop by most days after a hard days work out in the woods as a logger. They had an affair while they were both married.
My experience as a child growing up in my family was confusing, terrifying at times and lonely. There were sprinklings of fun times but I was always on guard waiting for the terror to come again. My earliest memory as a toddler was being awoken in the night after my parents came home late one night. I remember feeling like I was floating out of my body and watching them from the top of the room. My mom was telling him that she was going to call the police if he touched her as she picked up the phone. My father then grabbed the receiver from her and beat her with it. I don’t remember anything else from that night.
My parents were gone a lot working during the days and hanging out at the bars at night. My brother and I had a lot of babysitters. My parents would come home around the time the bars closed. Sometimes they would just go to bed but a lot of the times they would fight and my mom would get a beating. It’s weird because she seemed to antagonize him at times as though she needed him to react. She was small at 5’4″ and he was a strong towering 6′.
I liked some of my babysitters but there was a very crazy gal who was the daughter of my mom’s best friend. She enrolled my brother into abusing me. Whenever she came to watch us, as soon as my parents left she made me strip naked. I was 3-4 years old at the time. I liked to be naked so that wasn’t such a bad thing but I didn’t like the other things that happened. She would boil water and put a belt buckle in it and then put it on my butt. She also made me hold my hand in really hot water. In looking it back it seemed like she did things to terrorize me but in the end I survived them all. They may not have been that bad but at the time as a young child I was terrified always. There was one time when she had my brother hold me down as she applied ice to my throat and then acted like she was cutting my throat open with a knife. She described the blood running down my throat. I thought I was going to die. After that terror session she held me up to the mirror laughing showing me that my throat was fine and explaining that she was just scraping it with a butter knife and that I was really ok. She did tell me however that if I ever told anyone she really would kill me and she told my brother to watch me to make sure I didn’t tell. She was the worst babysitter I ever had and she was only around for about a year and then we moved away. I didn’t tell my mom until years later when I was probably 7 years old and the only reason I told her was because we visited her friend and she was going to have that girl babysit me again! After I told her about it, she blew me off like it didn’t matter and had the girl babysit me anyway. My brother told the babysitter that I told my mom but she just laughed it off and that was the end of it. I was so relieved that she didn’t kill me.
I had a couple other baby sitters that were weird but nothing that extreme. I fell out of a car once while being babysat. I also had a couple different guy baby sitters who tried to get me to “play” sexual games but I was able to get out of those situations and nothing was forced upon me.
My brother seemed to hate me and treated me poorly any chance he got. I think it was because he was jealous. My mom was nicer and more affectionate towards me. I would never go swimming if he was around because once he held me under water so long that I swallowed water and thought he was going to drown me. He didn’t hate me in a playful way – it really seemed like he wished I was dead. One time he talked me into playing hide and seek and hiding in the dirt basement in the crawl space way back in the corner by the water pipes riddled with spider webs. As an adult I realized how dangerous that was and I’m lucky I didn’t get bitten by a black widow which are prevalent in our area. A couple of times when my parents thought he was old enough to babysit me he held me at gun point and forced me to get him food and snacks and be his foot rest on my hands and knees. There were times when he beat me as well.
My father was rarely happy and mostly drunk but he did work all the time. Most of that money was spent at the bar as he bought drinks for all his friends and coworkers. He was not affectionate and it was always hard to tell if you were safe around him. I found out that it wasn’t ok to express my feelings around him ever or he might hall off and hit me. One time he hit me so hard in the side of the head that my ear rang and I was dizzy. One day he happened upon me as I was crying in my room. My brother wouldn’t let me play Atari with him in his room. My dad asked and I told him why I was crying and he then hit me and told me to shut up. I was probably in the 4th grade at that time and that was the last time I showed emotion in his presence. I didn’t even know he was around otherwise I probably wouldn’t have cried, after that I had to always be careful and make sure he wasn’t around when I wanted to cry out loud.
My mom was not a disciplinarian, rather she let us get away with all sorts of crap and then spoiled us by buying us toys and candy. Of course my father was rarely present so this worked out for her, had he been around things would have been different. She kept a drawer full of candy bars for us and we could grab them anytime we wanted. I believe she loved us but she was more concerned with following my dad around to the bars than really being involved in our lives.
Neither of my parents ever spoke to me about what I wanted to be when I grew up. They were never involved in my education. One year I won the Spelling Bee for 2nd grade and went to the regional competition. They sent me with the school librarian instead of attending themselves. I was eliminated in the first round…
I spent most of my grade school nights home alone propped by my bedroom window looking down the long highway waiting for my parents to come home. They were out most nights of the week and would come home around 2am. I got so good at this that I could tell at about a mile away which headlights were my parents. I would then run through the house turning all the lights off and pretend to be sleeping. I was terrified to sleep even when they were in the house because I was worried that something bad would happen in the night when I wasn’t on guard. I didn’t get much sleep as a child and would fight it to the very end.
I liked playing sports but again my parents never came to one of my games except one time when I pleaded with my mom to come because we were giving the parents roses. She did come to get the rose but left during the beginning of the game. I was usually on the starting team when I did play. I loved volleyball and basketball. It was tough for me because my parents weren’t involved and I always felt like an outsider watching the other kids and their parents cheering for them. Seeing them coming to the games with their families. When in high school, after the games I would go get high or try and find a party so I could drink.
Anyway that was mostly what growing up in my family was like – not too exciting and quite sad. Like I said there were some fun times but they were rare, I will write about these in a future entry.