Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Getting to The Hard Stuff

In my previous post I talked about on of the most vivid memories I have of my father. It was not an easy memory to share, but it is my memory and my story to tell. Not anyone else's, so I persist and move on to the next vivid memory I have of my father.

I spoke before about my mother not having the strength to leave my father even though he was abusive. I don't know why that was, why do battered women stay in abusive relationships? It is not my question to answer, that is my mother's story and hers to tell. For me what stands out more is what it was that made her leave.

I don't know every detail, I don't know how she caught him, I am not sure why this night was any different than all the other drunken nights, except that I do know that my mother caught my father outright attempting to force himself on my sister. You have to understand that this was my father's daughter from a previous marriage, the age between my sisters and my mother was barely noticeable, but she was the wife and the step mother. She may have had a million reasons to stay through all of the hell. But on this night my father had crossed a line that she could not ignore. She had no option but to leave.

You will learn as this blog goes forward that my mother and I never had a seriously close relationship, as it goes boys cling to their mothers and girls to their fathers. I wouldn't say we hated each other, I wouldn't say we didn't get along, I would even say she showed some interest in my life once I was old enough to come and go and have a job. I will even go so far as to say my mother loved me and my sisters, the problem was that my father had beat the hell out of her for so long, that throughout my life that torture reflected on her parenting skills. They say abused women are drawn to abusers, and as a reflection of that her interest was never as clearly invested in my life as it was the lives of my brothers. Even having a clearly stronger bond with my brothers, my mother was in a position that she could not allow me, nor her step daughter to remain in a home where my father's wrath was not just physical abuse but sexual abuse as well.

I remember very little about that night but what I do remember is very clear. I remember my mother and brother holding my hand as I walked barefoot down a paved street. I don't recall where my little brother was. I want to say she was pregnant with him, but not too far along. This fact resulting in many family rumors over the years that my little brother was not my father's child.  Looking at my younger brother today, there is no doubt that he is my father's son.
I do remember not knowing where we were going, I remember my mother crying and I remember that we were walking and I remember that we ended up with a man who was in my life for a short time yet left a huge impact on me.

I also remember very clearly that the man who we ended up staying with took me to a store to buy me a dress and shoes. I recall wanting the same dress in many different colors, but my mother telling me that one was all I could have. I chose a yellow dress. I remember having that dress until I was 16 years old when it was lost in a house fire. I recall that man taking my brother and I to the park and pushing us on the swings. I clearly remember him teasing me about a birthmark that is in the center of my forehead and pretending to remove it with sand paper. I clearly see him even today in my child's mind. He was Mexican and he was the nicest man I had ever met. He worked hard and came home dirty every day.

I also remember the first time that I had to have a court ordered overnight stay with my father. I won't beat around the bush, it was my first experience with sexual abuse and every detail of it has staid with me my whole life.
  I will never forget my father's new home, if you can call an efficiency apartment a home. I remember it clearly. As you step in the door to the left was a kitchenette, to the right was his bed, straight ahead was the living area and a door to the restroom. We had barely arrived when my father packed us off to bed.  I remember that I was on the side of the bed closest to the door and my older brother was in bed next to me. As soon as I was in my night gown and in bed my father stepped out of the apartment and returned with another man. The man brought a pack of beer with him. The two men talked next to the bed, next to me, as if I had no clue that they were talking about me. The entire time they talked the man stroked my legs and tummy. After the deal was made the man handed over the beer and my father stood there drinking, chatting and watching as the man fondled and fingered me throughout the night. I was scared shitless and my brother was laying there wide eyed, as stiff and afraid as I was.

The next morning the moment we arrived home my brother blurted out about the man touching me and how our father allowed him to in exchange for a box of beer. My next clear memory was of me in a room on a hospital bed allowing a male doctor to examine me, it was the night before all over for me, in my mind he was touching me just like my father's friend had. I do not recall anyone comforting me, explaining why the doctor was touching me too or even holding my hand throughout the exam. I recall my mother and the man who had taken us in being furious. They didn't tell me why they were furious, they were just furious.

The next memory I have about this ordeal was me standing on steps outside the courthouse in my yellow dress listening to my mother and the man who saved us discuss how unfair it was that my father's friend had gotten away with what he had done because my brother and I were just to young to tell the judge. I also recall setting on the shoulders of the man who saved us as he promised me that the man would not go un punished. I sat there watching many other Mexican men beat the living shit out of my father's friend on the court house steps. I remember hearing my mother say the cops had arrived, and I clearly recall the cop watching my father's friend be beat on the courthouse steps and doing nothing about it.

I don't remember much else about that time except that the man who saved us, the man who's friends punished the bad guy died a few months later because some how the work he did, the work that brought him home dirty every night had made him sick. I do remember his name, I remember what he looked like, I remember how funny he could be and the yellow dress that I clung to for years after he was gone.