I found this image on Pinterest when looking for writing prompts. It is incredibly tempting to create a beautiful story to go with this quote, but it hit a nerve and so this won’t be some made up story.
You see, there are those of us in the world who can understand and relate to this one.
From the age of 3, the monsters in our life were our parents. More specifically our biological mother and her second husband. He entered our life right after the bio-mother forced the bio-father into leaving. Possibly even before then. Those two had a long history, dating back to the bio-mother’s teenage years when she babysat his children from his first marriage.
From what we can remember, the sexual and emotional abuse and manipulation began right away. Years later, while trying to process everything, I believe we have come to terms with the fact that we were an easy target and quite possibly the only reason he married her. We were 4 when they married and we were someone else’s child. Bio-mother was so intent on having the picture-perfect family that she kept bio-father as far away as she could, and she turned a blind eye to the things in her life that didn’t fit into her perfect family. She was all about appearances.
Even at 4, (I’m going to use “we” here. It’s more comfortable for me.) we knew that we weren’t good enough for bio-mom. He told us that on a regular basis. He groomed us to be available to him and he made sure we understood that we had no hope of her ever loving us. By the age of 6 we had been told that she hated us. She hated us, and would be jealous and hate us even more if she knew we were getting his attention. We didn’t know… we had no idea that this wasn’t happening in every family. We didn’t know there was only supposed to be one of us. We had no idea that anything was wrong on a conscious level.
On a subconscious level, we knew. We were a** full-blown bulimic by the age of 9. By 12 we were hugely overweight and made to weigh ourselves in front of the family so that he could tell everyone how fat we were. He was sure to tell us that no one would ever want us, we had no hope at a family, marriage, love, or children. We were expendable and not wanted and the only reason we had a roof over our head was that he pitied us. All of this was being fed to us while he abused us sexually. She – bio-mother – was rarely home. She went out with friends, went to school, went to work… she talked to us on the phone after school every day but that was simply to tell us what chores she wanted to be done. When we were alone, the bad things happened. To this day we feel rejected and struggle with nearly paralyzing anxiety when we are alone. We lose time badly and often forget the children are here and rarely remember where they are or what they are doing.
At the age of 14, we told. We told a camp counselor, who told the camp director. We were at an overnight camp for a week. They reported it all to social services and then sent us home. Bio-mother told us all about how our report was going to cost her the house and her cars. She told us to “shut up about it”. She told us that we weren’t the first girl it ever happened to and that we probably wouldn’t be the last. She told us all about her anxiety, and how her feelings needed to be protected, and how she needed us to give her space to deal with her emotions. She made sure to tell us how hard her life was and how she needed her space. It was 3 years before we heard her say she loved us. As a matter of fact, aside from necessary conversation she pretty much ignored us.
She didn’t leave him. We were forced to continue to live with them. It was the early 1990s and reports weren’t handled like they are now. She wrote a letter asking social services to close the case and made us sign it (she says it didn’t happen like that). They closed the case and left us with them. We spent some time in counseling but that ended when bio-mother was done taking us.
We left that house at 17. And I wish I could say that was the end of the abuse, but we left there broken. Broken and split.
How I wish there had been a monster under the bed to protect us from them.
** I understand that there are some issues grammatically. It was done intentionally and in a way that makes sense to us.