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 finished his work sheet. I can honestly say that I’ve physically felt my heart break twice in my life. The first time was with that genuine act of affection, the second time wouldn’t come until I was 25 years old. Looking back on it, I can honestly say that I did love that boy, and I still do, but what I was going through was messing me up. I could feel it. I could feel my strength leaving me just a little more each day. I quickly wrote out a letter for him and gave it to him before leaving the class. It was only after that a thought occurred to me: My Dad’s place and e-mail communication, but I didn’t know if he had an e-mail address.
I already knew that I wouldn’t be going back to that same school in September, I was being forced to attend a school for kids with severe depression and anxiety. Oh I definitely had the anxiety. My startle response was off the charts, and don’t get me started on panic attacks or nightmares. I got maybe an average of 14 hours of sleep per week, averaging out that was a grand total of two hours a night, except for when I had my weekends at my Dad’s. He’d let me sleep in and with him there I felt safe enough to get a full solid 8-10 hours.
When it came to being social, essentially if I wanted to be friends with someone it had to be a girl who seemingly came out of a time machine from 1965 or there about with absolutely no bad habits, no athletic interests, and attends a Baptist or Presbyterian church every Sunday (despite that my mom never went to church in all years I can remember).
I had zero autonomy living with my mother. She would not allow me to shave my own legs or under arms. She would not allow me to trim or shave my own pubic area (shaving that area was an absolute no-no in her opinion and my body was going to look the way she wanted it to). In essence, I had privacy at my Dad’s, zero at my mother’s. She’d barge into the washroom whenever she wanted. If I had any kind of abdominal pains he’d stay in the washroom with me while I used it to look at the colour of my urine. The day that I first stood up against her for that, she flung me against the bathroom wall and then disconnected the phone and put it in her bedroom in an area I couldn’t reach even with a chair or step stool (my mom was taller than I was even when I stopped growing at 16, permantely stuck at just below 5’2” and my mother was an amazon at 5’8”). At this point, I’m 17 years old, and I tried to stealthily move out. I had a place I could go to, finances set up but then SLAM! No phone, no internet, no friends, no family, just her and she’d escort me to my therapy appointments (because surprise! I’m suicidal! I wonder why?). She also decided that I’d begin dating someone who was as emotionally abusive towards me as she was and I wasn’t allowed to break up with him because his mom’s a musician and can help me get started in show business. I did the one thing I could think to do and gained weight to keep myself from being considered for any roles or deals.
I had wanted to be a psychologist, but my mother made that impossible by forcing me into taking all essential courses in school (essential more or less prepares you for a life working in customer service, not college, not university, which is what I wanted). I thought I’d get into trade school and become a chef, nope! Mom vetoed that idea quickly and threw in my face that it was a dead end job and why would I want to be like that deadbeat asshole? Performing arts is what I needed to focus on and when I became famous she could tell everyone about how she raised me and saved me from my abusive father. “So when are you going to start spewing your venom out at me? Half of my genetics come from him, Mom. If you hate him so much it stands to reason that on some level you must hate me too,” I challenged her just once.
She stopped trash talking my Dad after that one, but continued to do so with a friend of hers we’ll call Dick. You’ll see why I refer to him with such a degrading name in a moment.
Dick is a father of four kids. Two adult kids, one adult daughter who didn’t talk to him anymore (red flag!), two school-aged kids, the daughter was defiant but the boy was okay. I used to play chess with him, and the girl was constantly angry. I saw all too clearly why. Just like my mom, Dick believed in a very old fashioned way of life. We often ate out at McDonald’s with him because he didn’t cook, I refused to cook for him and his kids, and my mom complained that she hurt too much to cook. When Dick’s son began cooking, that was okay in small doses, but once his daughter was old enough to cook she was supposed to. What the hell?
My mom would say “great minds think alike”. I say “dim minds seldom differ.”
It’s the same meaning, people who think a like will often associate with each other, but it’s a different way of saying it. One phrase glorifies it, while the other conveys how narrow minded people like that can be. I have never been afraid of anyone who thought different than me, I saw it as an opportunity to learn a new perspective. Dick also helped my mother control me by guiding her on how to put a start up password on the computer (which I should emphasize was technically MY computer, purchased by MY Dad so that I could do MY homework and MY research for school projects). My mom forced me into taking a college course that I didn’t want to take (literally told me, take this course or go live on the street, but when I went to go back up a garbage bag of clothes to live on the street, she blocked me and started throwing punches near my face to intimidate me into behaving the way she wanted me to).
Her other big thing is “when you get married I’m going to live with you and your husband” … excuse me?! No you are not. I won’t even get married if I’m still living in the same country as you! I’m about 18 at this point. She begins to continue, “you’ll have your first child at 22, a girl will be Skylar and a boy will be Zachary…”
Who the hell says?! Oh yeah, her. Under duress I dropped out of high school and wrote an exam to earn mature student status, I passed. She then proceeded to select my college courses. God help me and get me out of here, please! The only place I knew I could safely escape to was my Dad, but with my grandma still being at home, not in a nursing home, I knew I’d be in physical danger if I lived with him (my grandmother got into these rages that were often directed at me because I wasn’t wearing what she considered to be ‘proper attire for a young lady’). I preferred jeans, tank tops (suck it mom), sweat shirts, athletic leggings (eat it) and running shoes over dresses, skirts and blouses.
I kept my hair short because I’m a very simple wash and wear girl, I don’t fuss over it. The most high maintenance thing I did with my hair was dye it at home. I don’t want to bother with curling my hair. I rarely wore makeup cause, I was frankly sick of it after all the time I spent in dance performance, I wanted to get away from heavy makeup for a while. I’d use foundation and coverup if I had a few blemishes, sure but beyond that, hell no.
I had a cell phone and if I was out with my (ugh) boyfriend or some newer friends I’d made she’d blow my phone up every 5-10 minutes. “what are you doing?” “are you still pure?” “Are you doing drugs?” “are you drinking?” Well mom, I’m 20 years old. So to answer your questions: Clubbing, no to drugs, no to purity, not by my choice not that you’d really give a damn because as far as you’re concerned he owns me, yes and I’m about to throw my phone into the club toilet to stop you from harassing me. I’ll later claim it was an accident.
My friend Liz once commented that my mom calls my phone a lot while I’m out. Lady Gaga had yet to release her single “telephone” but every time that I heard that song later on I’d laugh internally thinking back to when my mom would blow up my phone while I was out with them. Even though the song is about a partner behaving in this manner, for me it more pertained to how my mom was with me. I also knew that the medication that I was on at this point intensified the effects of alcohol 4x over. Which medications? Effexor and Carbamazepine, to treat what my mother had insisted was bipolar disorder.
I’m going to deviate from where we are in this story to go back a little and explain something: I never reacted well to anti-depressants which my mother insisted I needed when I was 9 years old after I’d shut her up about making plans for my future wedding (God save me!) by telling her that I was never going to get married. If a little girl doesn’t want to be a bride she must be depressed! Never mind that I had no other symptoms. No sleep changes, no appetite changes, no loss of interest. I just simply didn’t want to drag some poor unsuspecting guy into the seventh circle of hell. What’s so wrong about that? A friend that I’d had back when my parents were still together, had a parent who was bipolar and she had likened my attempts at standing up to her to how the mother of this friend behaved as well as my suicidal thoughts and my “anger issues”, or the fact that I didn’t handle anti-depressants well (if you don’t need psychiatric meds, don’t take them. They will seriously fuck with your head). Or you know, I could just be fed up with being treated like an inanimate object with no say over my own life instead of a human being? Just looking on the logical side here.
The first two mood stabilizers that they had me on I was found to be allergic to. Good bye Depakote (throat and tongue swelled). Good bye Lithium (throat swelled, white blood cell count bottomed out, I was literally told that they’d seen chemo patients with a higher WBC than me), while on Lithium I also had the worst bout of Strep throat and Bronchitis of my life. It took six weeks to fight off the infections with three different antibiotics (2 weeks per round). Admittedly, I’d hidden some of the Lithium while I was coming off it and thought about how easy it would be to just down 10 capsules at once and let the allergy kill me. Then I thought about that boy from 9th grade and how that letter was the last explanation he’d ever have from me. Instead, I put the ear phones on, turned on the discman that I had and listened to the song that he’d sang to me in class (I’d downloaded the song and burned it to a writable CD after that day in school) and I’d realize that I couldn’t follow through with it. If I had a chance to just let him know the problem was never him, that was reason enough to keep breathing. He deserved to know that much at least. Even if I was so desperate to get away from her and keep her away that I couldn’t think of anything else even if that meant my life ending, I couldn’t leave with him thinking that there was something wrong with him. It wasn’t his fault that I wouldn’t date him.
So I let the tears flow with my hand covering my mouth, and my teeth at times biting down on a finger to keep from making a sound. After a few minutes with the song playing on repeat and the tears finally slowing down I dried my eyes with the bed blankets and left my room to take a shower. This was my routine each time those intrusive thoughts of suicide became incessant from ages 15-20, 20 years of age is when I finally broke free of her confines and went safely back to my Dad, but her abuse continued.
When I was 20, I landed a job in the field my mother had chosen for me. She immediately began trying to use my new employment to get herself off government assistance. I went over to my Dad’s one night, and never went back to her place without a witness. She called me one day asking when I was going to be going home? “I am home,” was my answer, referring to the house my Dad and I had both grown up in. “Lou, are you afraid?”
“Yes,” I answered simply, not giving her an explanation. I was afraid. I was afraid of becoming like her. I was afraid that I would never know myself. I was afraid of never having the chance to live my life.
She then showed up one day with Dick and tried to pull me out of the house saying, “come on. It’s okay. I’m armed.”
I twisted my wrist from her grasp, and shoved her away from me before running back into the house, closing the screen door and locking it. I glared at her through the door as I told her, “I’m afraid of you. I have been for years. That changes now. You’re not going to control me anymore.”
Her jaw dropped and she exclaimed, “he’s poisoned you against me!”
“You did a fine job of that yourself,” I snapped.
Let’s recount: age of 3, kicked in the chest for playing on the floor in my tutu. Ages 6-20 every person you meet is trying to molest/rape/kidnap/kill you. Ages 11-20 “you don’t know anything about your body and I’m going to tell you everything every single time because you’re too stupid to learn anything”,. Ages 14-20 “you don’t know anything about what you need to be happy so I’m going to choose everything for you.” Ages 16- present: “You’re going to date who I tell you to date to better yoru odds of getting into entertainment and because it’s normal to date.” Never mind that I’m asexual and never had any interest in dating anyone except for the guy I met in 9th grade! Far as my mom was concerned I was straight, and nobody was changing her mind about that. Ages 19-20: “you’re going to better my life for me.” Age 20: “Why aren’t you under my thumb any more? Why do you hate me?”
Sadly, this isn’t the end of her abuse.
I was 21, when my father was diagnosed with late stage Esophagus cancer. After the gastroenterologist left the room, I immediately broke down into tears. Why did these things keep happening? Why him? Why is he terminally ill while the worst she deals with is fucking diabetes related to her being a gluttonous inactive slouch? I was angry, I was hurt, I felt betrayed, but more than anything for the first time in the 10 months after moving back in with my Dad, I was scared. I was scared of what my mother would do when she found out. My Dad told his siblings, and I told my mom and her side of the family. My Aunts were very supportive and offered to bring over food whenever we were in need or to help with doctors appointments, etc. My mom called me about six weeks after she found out about the cancer (and after several failed attempts to meet up with me as my energy was focused on two primary objectives: Starting my career, and helping my Dad fight this cancer as hard as we could which meant I prioritized his appointments over her wanting to meet for coffee). “Lou, I have a brain tumour and I have six months to live,” my mom stated.
“Huh,” I answer, well aware that just the day before I had turned her down for another coffee meet up and that this was likely her attempt at making me feel guilty and to try to force me into crying over it.
“Are you okay?”
I heard her fist slamming against a surface.
I decided to let her in on the secret, “because I know you’re lying for attention.”
“What’s the name of your Oncologist?”
“I don’t have one they don’t see a point.”
“You don’t know the first thing about being a cancer patient. Goodbye mother. Don’t call me again,” I answered as I hung up the phone.
The next day she calls, talks to my Dad, guilts him for being sick (the balls on this woman!) and insists that she is meeting with me for coffee. I let Dad in on a secret of my own: I don’t feel safe meeting her for anything, anywhere and want nothing to do with her. At some point that year my mom burned my baby pictures. She then became homeless, she attacked a cop in broad day light for asking her a civil question (and bragged about attacking him). She guilt tripped my Dad into letting her use our washroom, which she savagely destroyed (towel racks pulled from the wall, toilet came loose, blood smeared on the mirrors. I don’t even know where the blood came from as she had a hysterectomy when I was 16), guilt tripped him into letting her stay at the house over night during the winter. During this I was so anxious at the thought of being under the same roof as her I couldn’t sleep at all. I couldn’t stay still either. I wrote my Dad a note so he wouldn’t be worried, then left the house and went for a walk. It was late 2008, and I had absolutely no idea where I was walking to but I hoped walking and the cold air would be enough for to tire me out so I could sleep.
Unfortunately my Dad saw this as I need to change the dose of my Carbamazepine. More artificial chemicals wasn’t the answer, I needed this psychotic woman out of my life, permanently.
The psychiatrist that I was sent to for these changes disagreed with the bipolar diagnosis based purely on two things: I was never on a very high dose of either medication. In fact what I took was next to nothing, yet it had been enough for me to be stable and functional for six years and then suddenly when there’s a lot of stress in my life my symptoms come back even with nothing else changing and the main indicator this wasn’t bipolar is that my symptoms worsened when I was in close proximity to my mother. We began exploring a few other things, including my mother’s treatment of me over the years. It would take mood charting for the next two years to confirm her suspicions however.
During this time when I was 22, something else happened, Quincy (not his real name) got kicked out of the house and with good reason. He refused to go to college, he refused to get a job. All he was doing with his life was playing video games, getting high and drinking. Once again my gentle father shows just how deadly being nice to everyone can be, he opened the doors to Quincy to try to help him get his life on track. Quincy only lived with us for about two years but within that time. Quincy had begun to believe what my mother had told him. He owned me. I didn’t want to have sex? Too bad, we were going to because he wanted to. I didn’t want to do any back door action? Not my call! He even tried to force me into taking up smoking and tried to get me to drink as much as he was. On those things I firmly stood my ground, largely because I always had an audience. When I had people around me I was a very strong woman, but one on one, he towered over me at 6’2, he was 200 lbs, I had gotten my weight down to 125 lbs. I fought but I couldn’t over power him while we were laying down which is when the attacks leading to rape would always start. I began kicking and punching in my sleep, trying to fight him off when he wasn’t even touching me, but in my nightmares he was.
I began having panic attacks so severe I couldn’t leave the house if I wasn’t with Dad. Just walking out to the pool in the backyard (which was my sanctuary growing up, but that was no longer the case as Quincy would follow me out and do things then claim it was my fault for having the body that I did) caused continuous waves of nausea to wash over me, my palms would sweat, my knees would become weak, my mind raced like a freight train going off its tracks, my chest would tighten, and all air disappeared from the atmosphere. The only way I could end the panic attacks was to either have Dad at my side, or go back into the house. Agoraphobia, and yet the reality is I was less safe within that house due to Quincy! If Liz was with me, I was okay. More or less it came down to I was facing everything that my mother had put me through in these sessions with the psychiatrist and due to facing them I lost my nerve to go out into the world alone for fear for running into her in public. I began learning more intensive ways to deal with the flashbacks and panic attacks that aren’t usually implemented including saying something that I wouldn’t have dared to say to her in the moment of the event that I was reliving. When I was 24 two major things happened. 1) Quincy and I were having an argument about him over staying his welcome, his laziness, and how he never does anything to help out around the house. The only thing that changed in the two years that he’d been living with us (for the better) is that he was attending college for a bartending course, which was only a part-time course. He had every opportunity to pitch in, but in his words “that’s the woman’s job” Oh really? Men can’t wash dishes or laundry? Men can’t cook? Men can’t tidy up a washroom? This guy was so stupidly lazy he couldn’t even be bothered to change blasted toilet paper roll! I felt like I had one man in the house willing to help but too sick to do much and a child disguised as a man living under the same roof as me. I didn’t use those exact words although I did say, “men can’t do those things? I thought men are adults, not pre-school children.” I normally wouldn’t be that verbally aggressive but after two years of fighting his misogynistic views on house work, I was pushed to my limit.
I had a split second to react when his hand reached for my throat and I did. Quickly tucking my chin as close to my chest as I could. It kept him from getting a firm grip on my larynx, but I could feel the pressure of him squeezing my throat as best as he could against my jugular which I also knew to be dangerous. In this moment I realized that I wasn’t panicking. I was clear headed. I could think. I could calculate. I could get myself out of this. I was wearing 3 inch heeled boots, and his foot was right next to mine. So I stomped the heel of my boot into his foot as hard as I could from my seated position next to him. Quincy let out a bellowed curse as he let go of my throat. I seized the opportunity to stand, and put distance between us before stating to him calmly, “get out.”
“No,” he refused.
“Then I’ll call the police and they can escort you out.”
“I have no where to go,” he attempted to guilt me.
“Not my problem,” I stated as I snatched his key chain from him and took the house key off it before throwing the rest of the keys back to him.
“You have to leave sometime. You’re not getting back in. Get yourself into therapy, you need it,” I insisted. It was April 26th 2011.
I wish I could say that was the last I heard of Quincy, but it wasn’t. Dad and I sold my grandmother’s house (the one we’d been living in) since my grandma passed away in January 2011. In mid May, we moved into a two bedroom apartment. Dad was no longer responding to chemo and radiation and we took the plunge, going for experimental chemo.
My father passed away four days after I turned 25. His funeral was just four days later, I didn’t tell my mother until after. I didn’t want her there, nor did I want her believing that I needed her to do anything for me. My Aunt, my mom’s younger sister, was with me when I told my mom about my Dad passing over the phone. I also informed my mom that I still had some estate things to take care of and would be away from the apartment for several hours on a specific day, and not to call I would call her when I got back in. I returned that day to the answering machine FILLED with messages from my mom. All of them were left back to back. You see while my father was sick I had taken up working from home as a freelancer, now I was trying to find employment outside of my residence, and had been waiting to hear back from potential employers, I had also informed her of this. I immediately called the half-way house where my mother was court ordered to live. I called her out on disrespecting my boundaries, that I had made it VERY clear that I would contact her when I got in.
“Well I figured you’d be lying and I wanted to make sure you were safe. I mean you are bipo—”
“No, mom I’m not. I got reassessed by a psychiatrist after you guilt tripped Dad into letting you stay that one night, when you conveniently showed up after all of the shelters had closed for the night and thus you arranged for your overnight stay under the same roof as me and I became so anxious I had to go for a late night walk in a blizzard to tire myself out so I could sleep. Remember that? I don’t have bipolar disorder. What I have is called complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and the primary abuser is you. I gave you one last chance to respect my boundaries, you didn’t. I have consulted a lawyer and I am stating this now: Do not contact me again. You have no daughter,” I interjected.
“I have rights!”
“Which expired when I turned eighteen. Since then I have the right to set my own boundaries, to decide what I want you to know about my life and what I don’t. You can’t respect my boundaries therefor you have no right to contact me. If you call my home again I will be pressing charges for harassment. I will also be disconnecting this number. You do not know where I moved to. You do not have my cell phone number. It stays that way. I hope this is enough for you to wake up and realize you don’t control everyone in the world and never will,” I answered before disconnecting the call.
She called back immediately after. I disconnected the call instead of picking it up, and then called the phone company to disconnect the phone line even telling them, “if you can do it immediately, I would appreciate it.”
A year after this, and another extensive incident with a narcassistic relative (ironically a relative of my mother’s) Quincy tried to get in touch with me through Skype, I declined his request. He then had a mutual (guy) friend pass along the message, “Quincy says that he’s sorry, for everything.”
I replied back, “In the words of JoDee Messina: My give a damn’s busted.” I even added, “I’ll never say what happened between he and I, but to say we’re through is an understatement. Between us, the whole damn relationship never should’ve happened.”
Quincy apparently then became a bit belligerent with our friend who quite literally told him, “Dude, I’m gonna hunt you down and throw you into an ice box if you don’t chill out!”
I wasn’t surprised. Narcissists will always favour their own kind, so of course my mother would pick out a narcissist for me to date and force me into it.
I’m going to make this very clear: when I found out that Quincy was interested in me, I was going to tell him not to bother. That I wasn’t interested, and decline any invitations to hang out, my mom had other plans. His mom was a musician in a local orchestra, and she’d figured this out by his surname, there for I absolutely MUST date him. I told her I didn’t want to. Double password on the computer, no phone, no music, no books, no tv, no going out, no school. 100% isolation until I agree and if my therapist tried to help me she would sue her and the city for parental interference not only that she would take me to church to have an exorcism performed on me (what the fuck?) I was raped by him repeatedly, I was choked, I was hit. I lost count how many bruises I had from him, all of this would happen while he was either drunk, or high, or sometimes just feeling entitled, which was pretty frequently. The worst part? He never remembered that he forced himself on me, or seemed not to. An infamous scene between he and I:
Quincy: I remember when you gave me a blow job once in your bedroom, you had a tear running down your cheek and I always wondered why.
I’d silently stare at him as if he’d lost his fucking mind. The reason I had a tear going down my cheek was very simple: I just wanted to go swimming. I didn’t want to do anything sexual that day. I never did. But he’d blocked me in my bedroom, barred me from leaving it and wouldn’t move until I did what he wanted me to. Thus I cried while doing it. I was sixteen and being told that I had no value by everyone around me. My “boyfriend” my mom, the only one who backed me breaking up with him back then was my Dad as he saw how arrogant Quincy was.
But my Dad didn’t have a lot of say in what happened. My mom had final say in everything and with her threat, I didn’t dare break up with Quincy until he tried to kill me. I knew that even if my mom found out and began blowing up the phone every hour of the day and night it wouldn’t be as bad as dying. Annoying to be sure, but Dad would only take so much before he’d threaten her with charges. In truth after I left my mom’s, it was Quincy’s threats of having a hit put out on me that kept me seeing him. After he proved it didn’t matter if I was with him or not, I was in danger either way, I was freed. To hell with him his threats, his control, his abuse, I was done.
Unfortunately right away my family was at me to get back into dating. I wanted to rip my hair out and scream from the rooftops, “I AM NEVER GETTING MARRIED EVERYONE CAN BACK OFF AND GO TO HELL WITH THEIR GUTS ON FIRE!”
No really! I will never sign any papers that legally bind me to another adult. After surviving all of that, do you really think that I want to get into another situation where I feel trapped? That’s all I’ve ever known! I finally at the age of 26 have a taste of sweet, delicious freedom and I don’t want to give that up. At least that’s how I felt then, it’s taken six years of therapy and self-healing but now I feel that if I did by chance encounter the right person, perhaps if by some off chance miracle I had a chance with that guy from 9th grade again and things went really well I could see myself maybe cohabiting and being common-law married, but until marriage certificates are completely digital and don’t require physically signing a piece of paper (I don’t like using paper products, trees die to make them) I won’t get married in a traditional sense.
I finally know who I am, and what I want out of life. I’m thirty-three this autumn. It’s taken thirty years since the first incident of abuse, but finally for the first time in my life, I can truly breathe.