I dove in and shared my story regarding emotional/verbal abuse as a child. Now I’m going to move on to what I experienced as a pre-teen and teenager. In Part 3, I will share with you how these events have contributed to my adult life.
Despite all of my blacked out memories of childhood, this is the only one I can remember like it happened yesterday.
I was 12. It was the summer between 6th and 7th grade. Two of my older brothers had recently moved back home and I was in heaven! They would play video games with me, taught me how to play Magic, and they were the coolest guys on the planet! One of those brothers I had never been very close too until he moved back home in May. His name was Darin. Sweet, kind, and quiet, he was so much fun to hang out with. He loved animals, especially Cats. He ran a paper route in the wee hours of the morning. My Mom never approved of me going with him (he was well known for his reckless driving), but once a week or so I’d wake up and sneak out with him to enjoy the time together. It was quiet, we would get to watch the sunrise together, and I would tease him for running all the red lights (to which he always responded ‘it’s 3am, do you see anyone around here?’) and it was just the two of us. This time we shared I always loved, and I had no idea how much it would come to mean to me all too soon.
August 18th 2002. It was a Sunday, and I should have been in church. My family wasn’t exactly actively engaged in religious behavior. My Step-dad never was much for religion. My mom grew up LDS, and would take me if I asked, but there were many points of doctrine she either didn’t grasp or justified herself out of. Darin was a returned LDS missionary, longing to save up money and return to Brazil where he served. He felt like he fit in there better than he ever did at home. My other brother moved out a month ago. My Mom and I decided to paint my room (I was redoing it in an ocean theme). The day started off normally enough. We wondered why we hadn’t gotten any phone calls by afternoon, and where my brother was. We assumed he had decided to get new tires for his truck since it was not in the driveway and we knew he was planning on that. We kept painting away through lunch, thinking it was just another ordinary day.
Then he knocked.
I answered the door. The sheriff asked for my parents. My Mom and Step-dad went outside. I hid underneath the kitchen window, because in my gut I knew something was not right. This part is a little fuzzy, because suddenly I was overcome with emotions I had never felt before. I thought I was going to throw up. I hoped I was dreaming. My mom came inside, we tried to open his bedroom door, but it was locked. After getting it open, we found his note. It was the longest letter he had ever written.
We didn’t get any phone calls because he didn’t want the sheriff’s phone call to ruin our day (he disconnected the line). His truck was at the lake 15 minutes away from our home because he didn’t want to cause any trouble. He was found with his feet on the dashboard looking like he fell asleep watching the sunrise.
Now life became a blur again. Phone calls, funeral arrangements, people bringing food by offering condolences, but none of it could bandage up the hole in my heart. He was gone forever. I was suddenly aware of the times I said “Hi” instead of “I love you”. I realized that the arguments he had with my Mom were more serious than she would’ve ever let me believe. Instead of attending my first day of 7th grade, I was attending my brother’s funeral.
It’s been 11 ½ years, and I’m finally ready to talk about it (most days). I made it through the grief, but not on my own. I had been baptized at 8 years old, but did not become wholeheartedly converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints until my brother had committed suicide. I was faced with a decision: go down the same dark path he had followed, or trust that God could get me through this. I had already been struggling with depression and abuse for as long as I could remember, and life at this point was unbearable. I prayed like I never had before, and began to feel a blanket around me through this difficult time.
Since this experience, I grew up. I begged my Mom to take me to church every week. I was conflicted in many ways. I had no self-esteem, depression issues, and a laundry list of reasons why I should have wound up on a completely different life path. I was headed there pretty fast. Yet something deep inside of me knew better, and kept attending church and praying for a miracle. Just before I made some of the worst mistakes I could’ve possibly made in my life, God sent my future husband into my life. I was only 16, but we both knew when we met that we had found real love. We were married on his 18th birthday, got to the Chapel in Reno as soon as we could (6am and I am NOT a morning person)!
As our relationship grew stronger and overcame many obstacles, I began uncovering the lies and abuse I had lived through. He held my hand, wiped my tears, and held me till I fell asleep many nights. When I couldn’t deal with the pressure of 18 units of college and a newborn and a continuing abusive relationship with my Mom, he took me to the lake and sat by my side until I was ready to talk. He stood by me through it all, and has saved my life quite literally several times. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t been through it. When you suffer from severe depression, it doesn’t matter how much is going right in your life. My mom was emotionally attacking me daily at this time, and I now KNEW that was NOT how people who love each other acted! I was 19 when I attempted suicide for the first time. My husband found me at home at the bottom of the stairs. He lovingly INSISTED I make an appointment with my Dr. right away.
My Mother did not like Dr.’s, so unless I was puking profusely or had a kidney infection we did not go to the Dr. When I broke my back as a 6 year old, she never took me to the doctor. I had not yet built up the confidence (obviously) to keep her at a distance in my life. After my appointment I came home with a brown paper sack with medications in it. I was unbelievably embarrassed that I even had them in my possession, but I knew I needed to trust my husband. The day she came over, saw my brown bag, and silently said with her eyes and read between the lines words “You are such a wimp!” was probably the most humiliating day in my life. I knew exactly how she felt about doctors in the first place, and I knew if she found out I was seeing a psychiatrist she would flip (they were never allowed in our home. I refused free counseling from the school when by brother died because I was afraid my mom would never let me live it down). This was when my husband started standing up for me until I learned how to do it myself (which took about 4 years).
We moved further away, but the abusive attacks continued. I kept taking my medication because it was helping. I no longer had suicidal thoughts every day, and life was improving. But being in the same state just wasn’t going to give me the space I needed to sort out my relationship with her and get the counseling I needed. So when our second baby was 9 days old we moved to Washington State. By now I had been off my medication to have my baby and was again suffering severe depression (the continuing abuse was not helping). I started down the spiral of depressive behaviors again, without even realizing it until one night I came home knowing I was having harmful thoughts normal people just don’t have. I told my husband, and he again insisted I see someone about it and get the help I need. I followed his advice and this time I was able to take Cognitive Therapy in addition with the medication I needed. This time, I was free of my Mother’s judgment. This time, she was no longer at my door every day with new ways to hurt me. This time was different. I made real progress! She would come up for visits months at a time. I spent months mentally preparing myself for her visits, but it was never enough. Every time she would leave, I would want to hurt myself again.
I just wasn’t going to give up on our relationship though. It is a commandment to love your parents, and for a long time I thought loving her meant allowing this behavior to continue on so we still had a relationship. I spent the summer of 2012 helping her leave my Step-dad. I put my life on hold for 3 months to help her, and this was the last straw. I was very sad she was leaving my Dad, but I knew they couldn’t work things out because she was already in another relationship. I encouraged her to leave because I couldn’t bear the thought of her lying to him every day about her affair. I told her I would help her so long as she: Did not put me in the middle of her and him, Did not go after his money or financial assets any more than a minimal amount, and that she be honest with me and my Dad. I returned home early from my summer of helping her pack because I could no longer handle the daily attacks. I was very familiar with where I was headed and knew I did NOT want to go down that road again. So I rented a car and returned home.
Since then she broke every single promise she made to me when she needed my help. The only times we’ve spoken have consisted of attacks on me, my dad, or my husband. I found out about several attempts she had made to take my children away from me and to split my husband and I up. She knew with him in my life I no longer needed her and would no longer be there for her to use. The last time I spoke to her was the day after Mother’s day 2013. She sent me a mother’s day card with a 2 page letter about my dad and how horrible he was. I took time to collect myself, and pray. I called her knowing I would have to be strong and not react to her. I asked her to not send me letters like that ever again. I wished her a happy mother’s day, and told her I loved her. I told her I deserved to be treated with more respect, and I did not appreciate the lies she had told about my Step-dad (I didn’t even mention the abuse or other lies from my childhood). Her response was something yelled back at me to the effect of “I’ve never lied to you, how dare you say that! and if you can’t agree with me on this then I guess we have no reason to speak to each other anymore!” and she hung up.
This concludes Part 2 of my story. Stay tuned for Part 3: What have I learned from all this? Why am I sharing this with the world? What has happened with my relationships currently?
**please note: I am currently fine and am no longer having suicidal thoughts. My husband, children and I are doing very well!**
*This is a dance I choreographed in 2009 about my brother and I. The young man dancing with me has a striking resemblance to my brother*