My story begins before I really have any memory of it. This is going to be very raw, and also painfully true. Some of it is going to hurt to talk about but I feel that if I left pieces out it would either not make sense, or someone else may not recognize that they’re in a similar situation.
My mother was never a healthy woman and my Dad being the sweet, big-hearted man that he was, ignored several red flags. He was at an age where he really wanted to get married and have family more than anything, and settled for less than he should have. This would later prove to be a hazardous decision for both of us.
My parents separated when I was two years old and divorced just a month before I was to turn three. My mom had what she’d always wanted: a daughter. There for she no longer needed my father and wanted him fully removed from her life. How did she go about this? She claimed that my father had raped and molested me (remember those red flags I was talking about?) and got child protective services (or the children’s aid society as they’re called here) involved. She also claimed domestic violence and one clear memory that I have from that time is my mother setting me on the toilet seat lid, a hot curling iron in her hand, and she made me watch as she burned her neck with the curling iron while claiming that she was doing it for me. Remember that I was so young, I wasn’t even in school yet, despite this I’m being made to watch my mother injure herself to frame my father for something he’d never done, nor would he ever do! My one aunt was able to defend him however as she actually had been the victim of domestic violence. While my mother was early in her pregnancy with me, they’d gone out to see my Aunt only to find her knelt down on the floor, her baby clutched close to her chest, my cousin is screaming his head off, his older sister is cowering in the corner of the kitchen crying and screaming, “leave them alone” while my drunk Uncle pulled my Aunt’s hair, trying to swipe at their infant son. Why was he so angry? Because the baby was fussy. According to my Aunt, my Dad (who had been a linebacker in high school), grabbed my Uncle by his hair, and threw him against the wall before pinning him by his throat and told him, “if you ever lay a hand on her or the kids again---” and that’s all he needed to say. It was like my Uncle sobered on the spot and realized he couldn’t hurt them anymore, not with my Dad around. Another cousin (who was about 16 at the time) had told me that my mom wanted her to sign an Avid Davit stating that my Dad hired hookers and molested her. She refused to and testified against my mom as did her own mother.
The court system saw her for what she was and my story should end there. I was originally given to my father for primary care. However due to the debt my mother had accumulated, he needed to move in with his mother to make ends meet. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s, but we wouldn’t realize this until I was in my early teens and I would see the signs (due to being around her the most) before anyone else. My mother was originally given hour long supervised visitations once every two weeks with zero contact in-between visits. That would’ve left well enough alone.
My Dad, once again having a heart that is too compassionate, argued that she is my mother and she should be allowed to have access. As a result my mother was allowed to have me every other weekend, and from after school Fridays until noon on Saturdays every other week. My fate at that point was sealed.
My mother was not happy with this arrangement and she made it very clear to me one day. After my ballet recital, when I was about three or four years old I went back to my mom’s, and I just wanted to play. Truthfully I didn’t enjoy ballet that much, but she had dreams of me being on Broadway as a famous Prima Ballerina. I was on the floor playing with my toys, still in my tutu. It had been the final recital, I didn’t see any harm in playing in the tutu. My mom did. She stated to me, “get up or I will kick you.”
I thought, she’s my mom, she isn’t going to hurt me. I was wrong. Her foot connected with the center of my chest, and I remember being sent up into the air a good inch or two, and then landing hard on my elbows and knees. What still surprises me is I didn’t cry, whimper, scream, nothing. I was too shocked to react to what she’d done. After that I was afraid of disobeying her or not doing what she wanted because if I did, she’d physically attack me. I’d keep this fear until I was much older and I never spoke of it. I should have.
My mother refused to work. She could’ve done several telephone or desk jobs, but refused to do so. She went around telling everyone that my father was a deadbeat who didn’t pay alimony or child support (I found out after my father passed away from the court documents during their divorce proceedings that it was my mother who was supposed to be paying these things to my father, but never gave him a penny), and woe is her she had to live in poverty because he didn’t take care of her. Darn right he didn’t, he took care of the child that she neglected. She’d stay in bed and make me cook her canned soups and carry them up to her in bed because she claimed she was in too much pain and refused to tell me my Dad’s phone number so I could call him to come get me (I didn’t remember phone numbers very well back then). I also had to get my own food, my own drinks, I had to take care of her and myself. I was four years old parenting my parent on the weekends, needless to say she never wanted me to have friends over and if I ever did it was when she felt like it, and tried to control everything that we did, everything that was talked about. I’d talk to my Dad for hours, but my mom would ask me, “what did you learn in school today?” My answer to her would always be “nothing.”
Sure conversation ender, but she’d snoop through my backpack and say “explain this to me”. Nope. I never would. I’d talk to my Dad about my school work, but I would never talk to her. I was afraid of her, why would I tell her anything?
My mom moved into financially assisted housing (or geared-to-income housing) when I was about five or six years old. I remember my mom hated a lot of the apartment building staff there. The nun was apparently an alcoholic (but she was pretty cool, taught me how to bake bread from scratch), another woman there whom for privacy we’ll call Callie, was a lesbian (and there for a child molester, I was to stay away from her). All the men in the building were pedophiles and rapists. You see the fear this woman is trying to instill in me? Now could she have been abused? Could she have some unresolved issues? Yes, it’s possible, but her problems should not be made to be my problems. Even as a child I was rolling my eyes at some of the things she’d say. My mom began experiencing migraines around this time, and when those happened, even with my mother protesting, I’d call down to the main office of the building and Callie would always show up, take my mom to the hospital, sat and played clapping games with me in the waiting room, made sure I had food, drinks and snacks, took me to the washroom when I needed it, and if my mom was still too sick to take care of me after being treated at the hospital, she’d call my Dad and stay with me until he arrived. I honestly began to see Callie as more of a mother figure than my mom. I’d have several mother figures throughout my life as each time I became close to them, my mother would find some way to chase them off.
Callie would also teach me how to use a typewriter in the building office, she encouraged me to write little short stories usually about animals (what else is a six year old going to write about?) between her and my father making up his own bedtime stories for me I can honestly say this is where my love of writing and story telling begins. At this time I was still taking dance lessons but I had dropped ballet in favour of picking up Tap and Jazz. I’d always been a fan of Peggy Lee, The Cherry Popping Daddies, Lionel Richie, Mahalia Jackson, The Righteous Brothers, Beach Boys, Abba and Meatloaf. Kind of a strange array of musical choices for a girl my age, but that’s what my parents listened to so that’s what I grew to like along with Anne Murray and Billy Ray Cyrus. At school it got me teased a fair bit but more than anything my mom wanted me to keep listening to Raffi and children’s music, and would keep making me listen to it when I was with her. Dad was okay with me rocking out to “Bat out of hell” as far as he was concerned if I liked it, why not? I was a child and had no idea of the meaning behind the lyrics but I loved the way that Meatloaf used piano, bass, guitar and drums in all of his songs on that album. I liked his music back then for the melodies, but in my mom’s mind this was highly inappropriate.
My mother also took issue with me watching YTV’s hit list, watching Power Rangers, watching Transformers: Beast Wars or liking the goosebumps series. Why don’t I watch and read Little House on the Prairie? Sky dancers? Why am I getting into baseball, basketball, water polo, football? I should be focusing on dance and playing with Barbies. When I let it slip that Dad had taught me how to throw a spiral, she was frothing mad. “Are you trying to turn her into a boy?!”
Suddenly we absolutely had to do my nails every weekend. We had to buy frilly clothes and hair accessories. I couldn’t have any of my guy friends over only my girl friends were allowed over. Well sorry mom, but all of the girls I hung out with were as tomboyish as your daughter. Actually, I’m not sorry! Girly girls were annoying and boring. They just wanted to play with baby dolls and Barbies. I wanted to run, I wanted to tackle, I wanted to challenge myself, push myself. See just how much I could do. When my Dad tried to send me to a summer camp one year, my mother threatened to take him back to court as it interfered with her visitation time with me (those two weeks of summer were always the longest of my life and I hated it). There’s long patches of my childhood that I still don’t remember. I remember once I began puberty my mother began flipping out even worse and began treating me as if I knew absolutely nothing.
Specific incidents of this, she insisted on going on shopping trips with me (I really would’ve preferred just me and Dad but apparently she needed to ‘protect’ me which was really code for ‘hurt’ me). She’d follow me into the change room and barge in to watch me try on all of the clothes that she picked out (I hated all of them they were not my style). My mom would also instruct me on how to put on a bra through a door as if I had zero clue on it (at this point I was about 13 and began developing and wearing bras when I was 10. I’m sure that in three years time I have no idea how to put a bra on). She’d actually tell me in a loud voice for everyone in the department to hear “Once you have the straps on your shoulders, lean forward and let yourself fall into the cups.”
I’d be grateful for the fact that she couldn’t see through doors and notice my tomato red face as I yelled back in angry embarassment, “GET THE HELL OUTTA HERE!”
She began asking me if boys that I knew had forced themselves on me when I wouldn’t let her follow me into change me into change rooms anymore (again, I’m a TEENAGER why do I need her to help me get dressed?) I’d always answer, “no.”
“So you’d be okay with a doctor examining you to confirm that?”
“I would be but good luck getting my Dad and family doctor to agree to an unnecessary exam.”
Yeah, she never got the gyneacological exam to confirm or deny anything that she wanted. She began doing this when I was 11, after I got my first period.
When I was fourteen my grades were heavily affected by my grandmother’s Alzhiemer’s, again Children’s Aid got involved and they made the worst decision they could have, they removed me from my father’s care and into my mother’s primary care, and gave my Dad visitation.
I was fucked and this is where you’re about to see just how controlling and abusive she was.
I wasn’t allowed to close the door to my bedroom for any reason. I had a diary but I knew she was reading it and thus I never wrote in it. She would randomly look over my shoulder when I was on the computer. She’d randomly put people on speaker phone whenever I was on a call that she thought was going on for too long. I wasn’t allowed a phone in my own room, it was always in the living room. I wasn’t allowed to go and check the mailbox in the apartment building on my own. I couldn’t go to the laundry room on my own. I wasn’t allowed to go to anyone’s house without them being over first and if they were too physically close to me (one female friend tickled me in front of my mother, which in her mind made this girl a lesbian who was trying to “convert” me), I wasn’t allowed to watch certain TV shows or movies (she didn’t approve of them because of witch craft, LGBT content, Gross-out humour, or if something seemed to glorify drug use), I couldn’t be friend with anyone who smoked cigarettes, drank alcohol, went to parties, toked or did any recreational drug, well okay that excludes about 80-95% of the high school population, or anyone with a mental health issue or girls that were involved with sports or tomboyish, or who were part of the LGBT community (that leaves maybe 0.5-1% of the high school population that I can associate with, maybe? That could be stretching it). I wasn’t allowed to be around girls who wore short shorts or skirts that were above the knee, wore shoes with a heel higher than 1.5 inches, nor could I be friends with girls who wore tank tops. I could keep going but the list just gets more ridiculous and if you were a guy? There was absolutely ZERO way for you to hang out with me without her trying to force it into being a date and if you didn’t meet her standards you would not see me a second time and she’d try to get school officials to keep us apart. This really killed me inside because in 9th grade I did meet someone that I did want to date, but he did smoke cigarettes, he did have a mental health issue (not his fault, for crying out loud you don’t choose your own genetics or biochemistry), he’d throw parties (another strike against him in her mind) and his favourite movie was a crime comedy called “half baked” which as soon as he mentioned that, it would’ve been the final nail in his coffin as far as she’s concerned. My Dad would’ve been far more lenient and understanding, but thank CAS for that epic failure. So I talked to him at school, but that’s all I could do. It’s not what I wanted. I wanted to hang out with him outside of school, I wanted to go fishing with him (and he did invite me) but my mother refused to let me protect him and date him. Towards the end of second semester, I let him know that it wasn’t going to work out. I just couldn’t think of any possible way that I could keep in touch with him over the summer. The thought made me heart sick but I had literally no autonomy at home, no privacy, no real means of communicating with him regularly. I cursed CAS for their failure to see her for what she is, but cursing them didn’t change facts. I couldn’t be with him. I wanted to, but I couldn’t. The connection that I felt with him, I haven’t felt since with anyone. I did everything that I could to protect him from my life, including, ultimately letting him go. He didn’t want to, and made it clear when he sang the first verse of a song to me in class as he finishe